Top SEO “Rookie” Mistakes

SEO can be sometimes tricky even for experienced professionals, when you’re a rookie you’re bound to run into a few teething problems along the way. My “Rookie” mistake was when I first started out nine months ago.  I was creating manual ranking reports and thought I had hit the jackpot when one of my client’s target keywords had reached the top three… until one of my workmates pointed out that I needed to sign out of my Google account to prevent ‘personalisation’. Oooops! A common mistake for a beginner…

Since then I have taken extra precaution to make sure I don’t make a foolish mistake, but alas we are only human and even SEO veterans make ‘rookie’ mistakes. This mistake had caused slight embarrassment but other common mistakes can cost the client clicks, conversions and sales. As SEO specialists our aim is to make clients money through increasing internet users’ accessibility by improving search rankings-silly mistakes can seriously jeopardise a website’s rankings.

Having asked fellow SEOer’s and doing some internet research I have devised a list of the most common SEO ‘rookie’ mistake (and how to avoid them!):

1. Not allowing Google to crawl your website

In order for Google to index and rank your website Google Bots must be able to crawl it. Remember, in WordPress you will have to change the default setting to ‘allow’ under SEO settings. Incorrect use of the META tags “noindex and nofollow” will inadvertently tell Google not to index or rank your site meaning they will not appear in search results! To check your META tags view the source code and ensure these are not present-unless really needed (example, a “Thank you for your submission” page). Check out this blog by Dan Shure about how to optimize your WordPress sites to its full potential.

2. Over-optimizing websites

It is easy to get carried away with keywords by scattering them around irrelevant or poor content, keyword-stuffing titles and tags. However, Google Penguin has penalized sites for using these tactics to manipulate their algorithm to improve search rankings. Truth is, there is no perfect keyword density. Ensure the content is valuable to readers and relevant to the keywords. The content should be created around the keywords not scattered into existing pages.

3. Link-building to sub-domains

the ‘www’ part of the URL is actually a sub-domain which means if you are linking to both ‘www.domain.com’ and ‘domain.com’ you are actually linking to two separate sites to Google. This will dilute your link-building efforts. Check if you have a canonical issue by checking ‘www’, ‘non-www’ and ‘/index.php’. If these pages do not redirect to the main domain then find out which one has the most varying root links (can use SEOMoz toolbar) and 301 redirect the others to this page.

4. Not varying your anchor-text

It may be tempting to keyword-stuff all your embedded links to your site to influence search-engine results, but it does not work anymore (Panda update)! Google will view this as ‘black-hat’ tactics and will devalue any suspicious back links. Today’s best practise is to use varying anchor text such as generic terms, plain URLs, branded and long-tail keywords.

5. No long-term content strategy

SEO is changing and for the better. It is no longer about over-optimizing for a rigid set of keywords. Google’s algorithm is constantly fine-tuning and making it harder to achieve top results without really earning the top search results. So what makes it easier to achieve the top place? Great, relevant content. It has been said many times before, but without a long-term content strategy there is no durable plan that will withstand Google’s updates. If you have great relevant content then the links will naturally build to your website, which will gain your site authority and improve search ranking thus increasing conversions for your clients.

Try and avoid these common SEO rookie mistakes and keep up-to-date with the latest news from industry leaders. Having a long-term digital marketing strategy in place will help you focus on your goals rather than over-optimizing for keywords. So, think of useful content to attract users and social shares and your search rankings will improve.