June 21, 2024

10 SEO Mistakes You Are Probably Making Right Now

Whether you’re responsible for your company’s website or are just getting into digital marketing, you probably know search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial tool for getting found online. While SEO isn’t the only tool in a digital marketer’s tool belt, it is essential to your company’s digital marketing goals.

However, when auditing new clients or prospects, we often find a pattern of SEO mistakes that are hurting your rankings and results. Here are ten SEO mistakes that you are probably making.

1. Google Search Console Is Not Set Up

Google Search Console is a free tool offered by Google that allows you and Google to communicate with one another. Search Console consists of many different tabs and tools to help your website get crawled and indexed by Google’s crawlers.

One of the most important features is its messaging system. Hopefully, your website will never get penalized by Google. However, it can unfortunately happen if you are not following proper protocol.

If this does happen, Google uses the Search Console to communicate the penalty and what the next steps are to remove the errors. Messages that may come through aren’t always negative—most of the time, Google will message you to communicate updates, new features, and small tweaks to keep improving.

Search Console offers so many other useful tools to help websites get found, including directly submitting your XML sitemap, reviewing inbound links, viewing your index status, and much more. If you don’t have Google Search Console set up for your website, we definitely recommend doing so as soon as possible. Once your dashboard is set up, you should complete the following tasks:

2. Your Website Contains Duplicate Content

Content marketing is a great way to drive traffic to your website. However, content marketing can actually hurt your SEO if it’s done incorrectly.

Whether you’re writing one blog a month or five blogs a month, you are bound to come across topics that are similar and have already been talked about in a previous blog. When this happens, it’s extremely easy to copy sections from previously written articles and paste them into your newest article.

In fact, if you do this often, you could run into penalties from Google. While this may sound like an extreme rule, it’s all to protect the content you work so hard on. Imagine if websites could have duplicate content. Everyone would be copying and pasting content left and right (even if it does break the law).

To prevent this, Google notates what they have crawled before. If it is the same as another page (whether it is on your website or not), they could remove that page from its index or penalize the entire site.

While you’re writing an article or a landing page and you come across a topic you have written about before, link back to that previous article. This helps avoid there being duplicate content and promotes internal linking. You could also paraphrase or switch up the content so it is not identical.

3. Difficult or Impossible Navigation

Are there broken internal links on your website? Are pages not found when you click on them? Navigation issues on your website can really hurt your SEO value, so it’s important to check the website and ensure it’s easy to navigate and reach all the pages you say you offer. If you or your users cannot access certain pages, search engines won’t be able to see the information either.

Knowing some basic error and redirect codes and what they mean can help diagnose any navigation issues you might have:

Ensuring that your SEO sitemap—the list of pages available to users and search engines—is both up-to-date and correct helps ensure that your navigation issues are eliminated. Check your website regularly for issues that may arise; a difficult-to-navigate website can be frustrating to your users, ruining their experience with your brand.

4. “Black-Hat” Backlinks

Backlinks are a powerful tool in building your website’s authority. If other people online are linking to your content, search engines register you as having higher authority on your chosen subject matter. “Black-hat” is a term used to describe shady practices designed to generate backlinks without creating useful material. In particular, Google has been cracking down on these “spammy” links and penalizing offenders who have been using “black-hat” to build authority and rank higher on their search results page.

Paying someone to link to your page, keyword stuffing, spamming your users, or other pages with links to your site is considered “black-hat.” Bottom line: focus on creating useful, thoughtful content that will be useful to others, and you are more likely to see long-term growth and higher rankings on Google.

5. Improper or Missing Labels

Search engines can’t “see” web pages the same way users can—they only read the text on the page to determine what your subject is. Because of this, make sure that your headlines describe the content on your page and clearly state your subject matter. It’s also good to remember search engines won’t register or “see” any images you might have on your page. Having alt tags that describe the image helps search engines understand what you want to express with your image.

Having a checklist is a good way to ensure that you have relevant and clear labels on all your web pages:

Consistent messaging is part of focusing on user experience. It’s frustrating to click on a webpage that you think will help, only to find that they aren’t offering what they claim. Once you have labeled every element on the page, check that you are delivering what you claim to offer.

6. Google Business Profile Isn’t Claimed or Verified

The businesses in the Google map, also known as the local pack, are made up of business profiles called Google Business Profiles. These listings are where customers can leave reviews, upload photos, and where customers can see your hours, get directions, and learn more about your business without ever visiting your website.

Oftentimes, your business has a Google Business Profile without you ever creating it. Google can pull data from Yellow Pages, Facebook, or your raving fans can create one for you. If you’re unsure if you have a page, simply Google your name. If you don’t see it at first, add your location to your search query. For example, I searched, “PHOS Creative Gainesville, FL” to find our own page.

If you do have a page created and it says, “Own this business?”, this means your page is not claimed nor verified. If you see this for your business, click on that link and follow the steps to get it verified.

7. Slow Page Speed

Page speed measures how quickly it takes to load a page on your website. Not only is it very frustrating to come to a page and have to wait for it to load, but the slower a page loads, the lower your ranking may be.

Google has suggested that page speed affects its rankings. Often, the bots that search engines use to crawl websites only have a certain amount of time to index a site, so slower page speeds mean that your entire website might not be indexed. If pages are not being indexed, that means that search engines don’t know those pages exist, giving you zero SEO value.

Here are a few tips to boost your page speed:

Faster websites are more pleasant to use. People searching for answers are often looking for quick answers. It is now believed that an adult’s attention span is eight seconds. Slow page speed can mean dropped leads as people back off your website to look for something quicker.

8. Poor Mobile User Experience

According to Google, 50% of all searches conducted on their engine come from a mobile device. In the United States, that number is approaching 60%. That means that most of your internet traffic could be coming from a mobile device.

Because of this major shift in search, Google has focused on rewarding sites that are optimized for mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices you could be dropping in rank on search engines, frustrating potential customers, and losing traffic.

Responsive design means that your website recognizes the device that has accessed it and adjusts the layout so that it is user-friendly with that device. There are a few things you can do with development to ensure that your device is mobile-friendly:

By focusing on the mobile experience for your website, you are sure to delight users who are shifting away from the traditional desktop or laptop.

9. Using HTTP Instead of HTTPS

HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol. It’s the application that allows your website’s server to talk to your web browser.

A secured HTTP, denoted by HTTPS, encrypts the data passed along that connection so that it is secured. Until recently, a secured link was only required for pages where you entered login or e-commerce information (credit card numbers, home addresses, etc.), but the growing consensus is that now all pages should strive to have a secured link.

Switching to a secure URL is a forward-thinking technical SEO strategy, and it provides peace of mind to those using your website.

10. SEO Is Your Only Strategy

SEO is just one tool in a digital marketer’s tool belt; however, it is not the only tool. SEO experts suggest that you can actually improve your SEO through other forms of digital marketing such as paid ads and social media postings. Paid ads through Google Ads are one way to help get a head start on your SEO campaigns and to help be seen for specific keywords.

Social media, such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), or Instagram, release what is known as “social signals” (likes, shares, retweets), which are shared and seen with search engines. These signals can help boost your SEO results and are just another way to help potential customers find you online.

Where to Begin?

Optimizing your site for search is a big undertaking. While there are some simple steps that can get you set up in the right direction, there are 200+ ranking factors search engines like Google consider.

Before you can think about that coveted spot on page one, you need to make sure you’re not hurting yourself. Contact PHOS Creative for an SEO audit and strategy to sustainably optimize your website for search engines through trust and awareness.

Dominick Kreider

As a marketing assistant, Dominick is excited to learn what agency life is all about and how he can play a role in helping clients bring their company’s vision to the forefront in the digital marketing space.

In his free time, Dominick enjoys doing CrossFit, playing pickleball, or listening to a good audiobook on business. He is always up for an adventure…as long as good food is involved.