5 Common SEO Mistakes You Might Be Making

By Madison Taylor
March 14, 2019
search bar over four people sitting in chairs

SEO is one of the most important disciplines for any marketer, especially in the digital world. Trying to keep up with the algorithms and trends of major websites is a moving target, but if you want to drive traffic to your site and your content, you’ll have to make the effort.

But given how complicated SEO can be, it’s easy for businesses to make significant errors that hinder their search rankings rather than helping them. Here are some common mistakes to keep an eye out for.

Neglecting Your Google “My Business” Listing

For years, Google has been trying to make search results more intuitive. What that means is that you can now search in terms that you’d use in conversation without resorting to obscure Boolean operators. It also means that you can get the information you need, from word definitions to weather forecasts to business listings, without actually clicking on a result.

Google has continued to steer focus toward local listings, so if your business is in any way focused on customers in your immediate area — and let’s face it, most are — you need to stake your claim.

Using Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a dated technique. There was a time when packing your page with as many mentions of your keywords as possible would give you a boost in search rankings, as the much more rudimentary algorithms assumed that all those keywords were an indicator of relevance.

Site owners would even cheat the system, placing keywords in metadata or in white-on-white text. But Google has smartened up to these strategies. Now, Google is more and more able to tell whether content is legitimately relevant, and nonsensical strings of keywords get penalized for being unnatural and useless.

Making Content That Isn’t About Your Keywords

It’s tempting to create content on any topic that you think will drive traffic to your site, even if it’s not directly related to your business. If you can get people to come to your site for any reason, the thinking goes, then maybe they’ll see what you do and be intrigued enough to read more and enter your sales funnel.

In the inbound methodology, however, that strategy can only backfire. There are two main issues with attracting traffic through blog posts and web copy that don’t relate to your main business.

The first is that it starts to dull your authority in the SEO space. Let’s say you make CRM software, but you also write about some current events in an effort to broaden your audience. If you’re not successful, you’re just wasting your time writing articles that no one’s reading.

If you are successful, and people start to click through to your current events articles, then Google will notice that searches for both “CRM software” and “global warming” end up at your page. Those searches aren’t related, so Google’s algorithms will start to think that you’re not an expert at either topic and your rankings will suffer.

The other downside is a matter of market targeting. Sure, you might attract readers to a blog post about current events by expanding the topics you write about, but is that reader a good prospect for your business? Almost certainly not. They didn’t click on your site because they care about what you do, they clicked for a completely unrelated reason — and that doesn’t help.

Stick to what you know, what your business specializes in, and the problems that you’re uniquely equipped to solve. You’ll establish expertise in that area, attract good prospects, and rise up the search rankings for the queries that relate to you the most.

Slacking On Your Title Tags And Meta Descriptions

It’s not just the words on the page that affect your relevance and search engine rankings. Granted, those are the words that your visitors will read, and the ones that determine whether they click through to another page, keep reading, and return to your page.

But how did they get to your page in the first place? By reading a title on a search engine results page. That title is what convinced them, however briefly, that your website was the best option to answer whatever question they may have had. The title tag on your blog posts is just as important as the title that they see, because that’s what tells the search engine what your post is about.

Nearly as important is your meta description. The meta description probably won’t appear on your actual web page, but it provides the few lines of text under the title on a search engine’s results page. That meta description helps flesh out the title, convincing searchers that you’re the best place to click.

It’s easy to forget about title tags if they don’t appear on the site itself, but you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t flesh them out, include relevant keywords, pay attention to character limits, and format them consistently. No one’s going to read your content if they can’t find it in the first place.

Forgetting About Mobile

This is the big one. Mobile traffic in the US has constituted right around 40% of all internet traffic for a few years now, and the number of devices only continues to grow. People don’t just use their phones when they’re on the go — for a lot of people, their phone or tablet is their only connection to the web.

What that means is that your website absolutely needs to be optimized for mobile. If it’s not, Google’s algorithms won’t deliver it in mobile search results, and you’ll miss out on a massive chunk of your market. And don’t think that just because you operate in the B2B space that you’re immune to the seemingly more casual world of mobile traffic. Mobile devices are used by everyone, from teenagers to c-suite executives. You can’t afford to ignore it.

Keeping Up With The Joneses

The unfortunate fact is that SEO is always changing — sometimes slowly and sometimes in huge leaps. Google updates their algorithm more than once a day, and most of those changes don’t get publicized. It’s only the big leaps that get talked about — like the focus on mobile-optimized sites — and then site owners and content creators have to scramble to catch up.

The fact is that there will never be an end-all, be-all solution to SEO, and you may never have the perfect site. What you can is make sure you’re not missing anything big — you’d be silly not to.