Are these SEO rookie mistakes costing your search rankings


30-second summary:

  • SEO has increasingly become a key area of practice for businesses to gain visibility, however, if done wrong can stagnate or even sabotage your online visibility
  • From optimizing your website for the wrong keywords to putting too many keywords in the meta keywords tag or creating lots of similar doorway pages
  • We have listed the most common SEO mistakes to avoid and be future-ready

Through SEO, marketers can improve their websites’ rankings in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) and thus reach top results.

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While doing SEO, however, there are some common SEO mistakes to keep away from. In case of committing any of these mistakes, marketers might end up harming their search ranking and reputation.

Below are seven of the common mistakes that you must avoid.

SEO Mistake #1: Optimizing your site for the wrong keywords

The first step in any search engine optimization campaign is to choose the right keywords for which you should optimize your site. If you initially choose the wrong keywords, all the time and effort that you devote to trying to get your site a high ranking will go down the drain. What good will the top rankings do if you choose keywords which no one searches for, or if you choose keywords which won’t bring in targeted traffic to your site?

The good news is that there are some warning signs that say you’re maybe optimizing for the wrong keywords. Amongst these, we find the following:

According to Neil Patel, an SEO expert, and co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar:

If you go about optimizing site content for every keyword you can think of, chances are, you won’t rank highly in search engine results pages.

Worse, you’ll experience a high bounce rate, because search engine users who eventually find your web site will leave without doing anything that you want them to do.

….In fact, not optimizing site content for the right keywords will cripple your search engine rankings.

SEO Mistake #2: Putting too many keywords in the meta keywords tag

We often see sites that have hundreds of keywords listed in the meta keywords tag, in the hope that will get a high ranking for those keywords.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Contrary to popular opinion, the meta keywords tag has almost completely lost its importance as far as search engine positioning is concerned. Google does not use keyword meta tags directly in its rankings.

Hence, just by listing keywords in the meta keywords tag, you will never be able to get a high ranking. Since there is no correlation between the keywords you stuff into a Meta tag and your search engine rank. To get a high ranking for those keywords, you need to naturally add the keywords to the actual body content on page.

SEO Mistake #3: Repeating the same keyword too many times

Another common mistake that people make is to endlessly repeat their target keywords in the body of their pages and in their meta keywords tags.

Because so many people have used this tactic in the past (and continue to use it), the search engines keep a sharp lookout for this and may penalize a site that repeats keywords in this fashion.

Sure, you do need to repeat the keywords a number of times. But, the way you place the keywords in your pages needs to make grammatical sense. Simply repeating the keywords endlessly no longer works. Furthermore, a particular keyword should not ideally be present more than thrice in your Meta Keywords tag.

SEO Mistake #4: Creating lots of similar doorway pages

Another myth prevalent among people is that since the algorithm of each search engine is different, they need to create different pages for different search engines. While this is great in theory, it is counter-productive in practice.

If you use this tactic, you will soon end up with hundreds of pages, which can quickly become an administrative nightmare. Also, just imagine the amount of time you will need to spend constantly updating the pages in response to the changes that the search engines make to their algorithms.

Furthermore, although the pages are meant for different engines, they will actually end up being pretty similar to each other. Search engines are often able to detect when a site has created similar pages and may penalize or even ban this site from their index.

According to Google,

“…they (Doorway Pages) can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.”

Hence, instead of creating different pages for different search engines, create one page which is optimized for one keyword for all the search engines.

SEO Mistake #5: Using hidden text

Hidden text is text with the same color as the background color of your page. For example, if the background color of your page is white and you have added some white text to that page. That is considered a black-hat SEO practice.

Many webmasters, in order to get high rankings in the search engines, try to make their pages as keyword rich as possible. However, there is a limit to the number of keywords you can repeat on a page without making it sound odd to your human visitors.

Thus, in order to ensure that the human visitors to a page don’t perceive the text to be odd, but that the page is still keyword-rich, many webmasters add text (containing the keywords) with the same color as the background color. This ensures that while the search engines can see the keywords, human visitors cannot.

Search engines have long since caught up with this technique, and ignore or penalize pages that contain such text. They may also penalize the entire site if even one of the pages on that site contains such hidden text.

However, the problem with this is that search engines may often end up penalizing sites that did not intend to use hidden text.

For instance, suppose you have a page with a white background and a table on that page with a black background. Further, suppose that you have added some white text in that table. This text will, in fact, be visible to your human visitors, that is, this shouldn’t be called hidden text. However, search engines can interpret this to be hidden text because they may often ignore the fact that the background of the table is black.

In official guidance from Google, they state:

“Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

Hence, in order to ensure that your site is not penalized because of this, you should go through all the pages in your site and see whether you have inadvertently made any such mistake.

SEO Mistake #6: Using page cloaking

Cloaking, which is against Google’s webmaster guidelines, is defined by Google as follows:

“Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines. Serving up different results based on user agents may cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from the Google index”

People generally use page cloaking for two reasons:

  1. To hide the source code of their search engine-optimized pages from their competitors
  2. To prevent human visitors from having to see a page that looks good to the search engines but does not necessarily look good to humans

The problem with this is that when a site uses cloaking, it prevents the search engines from being able to spider the same page that their users are going to see. And if the search engines can’t do this, they can no longer be confident of providing relevant results to their users. Thus, if a search engine discovers that a site has used cloaking, it will probably ban the site forever from their index.

Hence, our advice is that you should not even think about using cloaking in your site and if you are already doing any cloaking and getting away with it, I guess you may have to be on the lookout.

SEO Mistake #7: Devoting too much time to search engine positioning

Yes – we lied. There’s another common mistake that people make when it comes to search engine optimization – they spend too much time on it.

Sure, search engine placement is the most cost-effective way of driving traffic to your site and you do need to spend some time every day learning how the search engines work and optimizing your site for the search engines.

However, you must remember that search engine optimization is a means to an end for you – it’s not the end in itself. The end is to increase the sales of your products and services. Hence, apart from trying to improve your site’s position in the search engines, you also need to spend time on all the other factors which determine the success or the failure of your website – the quality of the products and services that you are offering, the quality of your content, and so on.

You may have excellent rankings in the search engines, but if the quality of your products and services is poor, or you’re not producing high-quality SEO content, those high rankings aren’t going to do much good.


Jacob McMillen is a copywriter, marketing blogger, and inbound marketing consultant.

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