5 Expensive SEO Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

October 31, 2017

Your SEO could be costing you money.

Yes, you read that correctly.

While SEO done well improves your visibility, drives traffic and increases revenue, SEO done poorly means you sacrifice those opportunities.

And it’s not just about getting clicks – it’s about getting clicks from the most targeted and relevant users. It’s working, too: 82 percent of digital marketers surveyed by Ascend2 in 2016 said SEO was becoming more effective, and 42 percent said that the increase was significant.

Google, of course, is the 500-pound gorilla when it comes to SEO. Despite the growing presence of other search engines, Google has the market share of global searches by far – 79 percent on desktop computers and 91 percent on mobile devices, according to NetMarketShare.

So, what’s the difference between good SEO and bad SEO? Here are five expensive SEO mistakes that companies can make and how to fix them:

SEO Mistake #1: Poor or duplicated content

Why it’s a problem: Google rewards websites that have original, quality content and penalizes those with shallow content, content that has been scraped from other websites or content that is duplicated from within its own site. Google search strategist Andrey Lipattsev told WebPromo that high-quality content was one of the two most important ranking factors (a strong backlink profile is the other one).

How it could cost your company: If your content doesn’t pass Google’s muster, your page ranking will be lower, attracting fewer users – and the opportunities that accompany them.

How to avoid or correct it: Pay close attention to these points:

  • Quality content is unique, focused and well-sourced (usually with multiple sources).
  • It contains natural and relevant links to your own internal pages and reputable external pages.
  • Google rewards longform content in the 1,000-2,000 word range – in fact, according to this Backlinko report, the average number one Google search result contains 1,890 words.
  • Use Copyscape to check for duplicate content.
  • Do a page-by-page inventory of your website’s content. Get rid of copy that is taken from elsewhere, is out-of-date or is poorly written, and upgrade anything that needs it.

SEO Mistake #2: Not researching keywords/keyword stuffing

Why it’s a problem: To attract the kind of users you want to your website, you need to know the terms they’re using in their searches. Guessing at keywords, using keywords that are too general, or stuffing content with repetitive keywords won’t pay off in SEO land.

How it could cost your company: If you’re fishing for users with inefficient or poorly chosen keywords, you’re simply not going to catch the ones you want. Not only that, but if you’re keyword stuffing, Google will penalize you in the SERPs.

How to avoid or correct it: Learn how to use a few of the multiple sites that analyze keywords and phrases ranked by how consumers are searching. A few to try:

SEO Mistake #3: Not having a crawlable website

Why it’s a problem: Are you afraid of spiders? You shouldn’t be, at least not the kind that Google sends to find your content and rank your site.

How it could cost your company: If your website isn’t “crawlable” by these bots – also called crawlers – all the great content in the world won’t increase your SEO rank. They are looking for new content, and they want to find and index it. The more they find, the better you look in search results.

How to avoid or correct it:

  • Make sure your robots.txt file isn’t blocking your site (for more on this, read this Yoast article)
  • Make sure you have a good internal link structure between pages, and check that none of those links is broken
  • Add fresh content on a regular basis (when you post new/update existing content regularly, you give Google more occasion to stop by and index your site)
  • Use analysis tools like SEMrush’s Site Audit, which helps you see how you’re doing and what needs fixing. And avoid building a Flash-powered website; not every search engine sees it.

SEO Mistake #4: Failing to have a blog

Why it’s a problem: Blogging is the perfect vehicle to add fresh content, introduce quality internal and external links and use a few proper keywords. If you don’t have a blog featured on your website, you lose these opportunities.

How it could cost your company: Google values web pages that are changed and updated with new, relevant content. If your website is stale, it will fall in SEO rankings – and you’ll lose traffic.

How to avoid or correct it:

  • If you have a blog but it’s not updated regularly, change that. Your website needs fresh content at least once a week (most SEO pros agree, the more often you post, the better – as long as you’re not sacrificing quality to do so).
  • If you don’t have a blog, consider what your most-valued users would most be interested in seeing and find an experienced freelance writer to create content for you.
  • Don’t just post content; you need to promote your blog posts on social media and via email. The more times it’s shared and clicked on, the higher it will move in SEO rankings. And remember, every blog post shows up as a “new” page to Google, so that’s a distinct advantage of blogging.

SEO Mistake #5: Bad linkage

Why it’s a problem: Broken links – dead links, links that lead to empty pages or those that bring up 404 errors – are not only terrible for user experience, but they’re bad for SEO, too. In addition, links from low-quality, shady sites could be hurting your site’s ranking.

How it could cost your company: You are competing with sites that do SEO linkage properly – over time and by building original content. If dozens of backlinks suddenly appear on your site, search engines will see them as spammy links and penalize your site in SEO.

How to avoid or correct it:

  • Use a link-checking tool such as Screaming Frog to find bad links on and to your site. You can fix the bad internal links yourself; for low-quality backlinks pointing to your site, email the webmaster of the offending site and ask them to remove them. You can also disavow the links or get rid of the pages.
  • Make sure that your content priorities are focused on regularly creating topical pages with original information that will attract the users you want.
  • Link to a few – but not a ton – of appropriate external sites.

Cracking the code on SEO

Learn more about SEO – and content, social media, mobile and email marketing, UX, and a host of additional digital marketing topics – by attending one of our Digital Summit conferences, scheduled now through midsummer 2018 in big U.S. cities. The conferences feature the best speakers, networking opportunities and workshops in the nation. Contact us to learn more and receive registration information.