So you’ve probably heard by now this thing called SEO.
You know you need it, heck you’ve even stumbled across some FREE SEO tools, yet you have no idea how to start.
Yep, this was me a few years back.
I made a ton of mistakes and I don’t want you to make the same ones because they don’t just hinder your success — they can actually HURT your success.
And if you thought that was scary news:
You’re probably doing a few right now and don’t even know it.
BUT, here’s the good news…
Algorithms are actually becoming more advanced to help make sure you are not being overshadowed by unverified, fake, or unethical actors in the industry.
Here’s what I mean:
There are two types of SEO.
- White Hat – Ethical
- Black Hat – Unethical
Prior to 2014 some SEO “experts” were cashing in on these shortcuts and sadly some Do-it-Yourselfers with little experience were making these common mistakes.
Google released an advance algorithm called Hummingbird to stop this with the intention of helping the ethical players avoid being stepped over by people cheating the system.
I want to make sure you understand, these are easy mistakes to make and just because you may have made some doesn’t mean you were acting unethically, but to Google it’s all the same —
If it looks suspicious they are going to penalize you and you can’t claim ignorance, because algorithms won’t hear your plea.
That said, here are mistakes you are doing and don’t even know it:
Word on the street is that words — keywords — are crucial to being found on search engines.
Site crawlers look for repeated words to get an idea of what your content is about, the more the words appear the more important they rank, and this tells the search engine what the content is about and who would benefit from it.
So here’s a terrible idea:
Let’s just find all the good words and stuff them EVERYWHERE in your site.
Why does this technique hurt you?
Hummingbird can see if your content flows like a sentence.
If it looks like a big jumbled list of words, sitecrawlers see this as suspicious because people don’t communicate like this .
And users sure as heck don’t read content like this.
After all, what phrase looks more like human speech —
1. “art, poetry, literature, books, authors, audio books, podcasts….“
2. “Our store longs to bring you the best online selection of audio books and literary podcasts from every author you could possibly find with subjects ranging from art, to poetry, to history, to nonfiction, and so much more.”
When you add content — everywhere from your page content, to your Alt tags in your photos, to your headers and footers — add content in such a way that it reads naturally like a conversation.
It can be difficult to place a myriad of keyword variations together and have them flow naturally.
And while you may be tempted to put words and phases on your website in white text to make them “invisible” to the user, but visible to the sitecrawlers THINK AGAIN!
If site crawlers see this then they are going to say:
Invisible text is an old-technique that shows the sitecrawlers you are hiding something and trying to cheat them.
Would you go into a poker game with a hidden card up your sleeve?
If so, remind me not to play poker with you.
This is how Google and other search engines see this, and when they find out, they will rank your site down.
This is how Google looks when doing it too:
Yep, they can do that.
A common mistake is having multiple pages with the same content.
This makes it extremely difficult for search engines to understand which page is more important.
Think of it like this, if you came into my restaurant and asked for my lunch specials and I handed you a menu that says “lunch” on the top, but lists my dinner items and dinner prices, you’d probably think it was a misprint.
But if my dinner menu had absolutely no difference (other than the “dinner” title) from my lunch menu, you’d probably be annoyed and confused on why I even bother to call one lunch and one dinner.
Now do you see why duplicate content is a problem?
And while it might be an honest mistake it will severely hurt your rankings.
You can do one of two things:
You can simply delete the duplicate content.
If there is a strategic reason you have similar content, use canonical tags to show which one is more important.
LONG META TITLE/DESCRIPTION LENGTH
If you are altering your meta information it’s important to make sure it’s the correct character length.
A Google listing only allows about 65 characters (with spacing) to be displayed. Otherwise, it gets truncated and cut off.
Simple, keep it under 65. (I feel like I just pulled you over for speeding). I let you off with a warning this time.
Also make sure they are unique and specific for each page, otherwise you’ll have a similar problem mentioned earlier with duplicate content.
Good news. This is the only time I’m going to tell you to ignore a warning.
Yep, Google changed this in 2017 and now allows meta descriptions to be as long as 320 characters.
So go nuts!
NOT USING KEYWORDS
And finally the biggest crime of all!
Okay not the biggest but, you know, still not a good idea to ignore.
Everything from your page content, Alt tags in photos, meta titles, and descriptions should use keywords.
Use words that represent what you do and what your customer will be looking for that should lead them to you.
Make sure the words you use are:
- Unique to each separate page or post
- Relevant to your content for each page
- What your customers are actually searching
Avoid these common mistakes and you’ll be an SEO master in no time.