Making mistakes with search engine optimization can not only lead to poor rankings but also site-wide penalties. In this article I will outline the 6 worst SEO mistakes people make all the time.
1) Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing first became popular in the early days of Google, when you could easily exploit the basic algorithms to rank for a variety of terms by simply stuffing a bunch of keywords in the footer or somewhere else on the page.
The most common form of keyword stuffing was to place locations + targeted keywords and do this for every location possible. Many website owners still make this mistake today.
Not only does this no longer work, but it’s actually one of the easiest ways to penalize your entire website. Avoid any sort of keyword stuffing and always write your content with real people in mind.
2) Lack of Anchor Text Variety
Anchor text is the clickable text in a link. It’s important because it helps a search engine determine the relevancy of your website. It’s common practice in SEO to place keywords that you want to rank for in the anchor text of the inbound links to your website.
The problem is that website owners and even some internet marketers will build too many links with the same anchor text. Why is this a problem? Remember, Google does not want you to be manipulating your rankings. When your anchor text profile consists of only one or two terms, then it becomes obvious that your profile is not “natural.”
Think about it, most things that get naturally linked will consist of dozens and even hundreds of different anchor texts. For example, I may link to a funny article with simply the URL as the anchor text. If I am placing the link on my blog, I may use the anchor text “go here,” or “check this out.” You get the idea.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go after links with your desired anchor text, but keep these links below 20% The rest of your profile should consist of all sorts of anchors, some relevant, and some not.
3) Duplicate Content
All though it’s now common knowledge that duplicate content is bad for SEO, there are still tons of people that missed the memo.
If you find yourself posting any content, word for word, even if you’re referencing the author it’s better not to. Always aim to add only unique content to your website.
Some marketers will argue that there is a level of duplicate content that you can get away with, but in my experience it’s better to not take the risk.
Furthermore, duplicate content is not the only thing to worry about. There is now plenty of software that will automatically rewrite full articles. These pieces of software are known as article spinners. And even though some of these tools do a great job at rewriting articles, it’s still something Google and other search engines can detect through periodic algorithmic updates.
The bottom line is, if you want to stay out of trouble, avoid duplicate content and content that is rewritten on a sentence by sentence level.
4) Content in images
If any pages of your website are thin on content to begin with, then avoid placing content in images. A lot of times webmasters are not even aware that they have content in images.
Content is important to a search engine because it helps determine the relevancy of a website. Far too often, I see paragraphs of important and unique text as part of an image. By not placing text into images, your website has more opportunities to rank for different search queries.
The only time it’s a good idea to place text in images is when the exact same text appears on many pages of your website. For example, the author box on this article is an image because it appears on every article I write. I do this to avoid any potential duplicate content issues.
5) Buying Low Quality Links
Everyone knows that getting inbound links is important and perhaps that’s why so many webmasters still fall into the trap of building low quality links.
Low quality links are usually unnatural looking links that are built in large numbers through some sort of automation.
If someone offers you 500 directory links in 3 days, then you know it’s low quality links. The same goes for comment links, forum links, link exchanges and a few others. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get links from comments, forums or whatever else, but you should definitely avoid getting these types of links in large amounts within short periods of time.
6) Changing URLs
This one is pretty brutal and it happens more often than it should. Changing URLs on an established domain, which already appears in search engines is like committing search engine suicide. This typically happens during a redesign.
When you change the URL of a specific page, for any reason, that page eventually losses it’s ranking in the search engine. All the referral links will also throw up an error page (404 page). The replacement page you have created will not rank at the same position because it’s no longer receiving the links that the previous page had.
When changing URLs is unavoidable, then it’s important to implement 301 redirects. These redirects tell a search engine that you have moved your page. This helps you maintain as much of your previous ranking as possible and all your referral links will be automatically redirected to the new page.
Redirecting your website is an advanced technique, so unless you are naturally tech savvy, you should get some help.