11 SEO Mistakes for Newbs to Avoid

Travis Bliffen
by Travis Bliffen 10 May, 2016

When your first website goes live or your take the reins for your company's website, you are entering uncharted territory.

Luckily for you, countless people have been in your shoes before. Today we are going to look at 11 mistakes that newbies are prone to making so that you don't have to learn them from experience.


1. Choosing the Wrong Keywords


A lot of people plug a website or a few popular terms into the Google Keyword Planner, click the terms with low AdWords competition, and call it a day. If you are not sure how to find keywords, check out The Keyword Research Guide here on Website Magazine; you're welcome!


2. Using Duplicate Content


At this very moment, you can still use duplicate content for local SEO sites and rank. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when you could rank duplicate content in organic search as well. When building your SEO strategy, it should be built to withstand likely updates and based upon past actions by Google, there is no room for duplicate content in your SEO strategy. Trust me on this and stop doing it.


3. Writing Too Much Content


"Content is King" has been the go-to phrase for a few years now. As a result, newcomers and experienced marketers have interpreted this as "produce a LOT of content - all the time." Unfortunately for users and companies, creating a boatload of subpar content is not going to help you rank or convince visitors to visit your site again. Forget what you may have heard and ONLY produce content when it can truly help your visitors and add value to the internet. This may be once per month for some and once every 90 days for others. Either way, quality first.


4. Over-Optimizing Your Web Pages


A few short years ago you needed your primary keyword to be seeded throughout the target page on your website. The URL, page title, heading tags, alt text and in the copy were just a few of the places to make sure your primary keyword appeared. Times have changed and your strategy for optimizing your pages should have as well.


5. Failing to create Topical Pages


As mentioned above, stuffing a page with a single keyword is not the way to optimize any longer. Instead of using a single keyword per page, you should be creating a themed page. Let's say that you are writing about auto repair. You would first start by creating a list of terms relevant to auto repair such as: engine replacement, transmission flush or brake replacement. These terms should take your page from broad to more specific. After including terms like those above, you should also look at the context of similar articles, what words commonly appear on pages referring to brake repair? Terms like: lifetime warranty, bleeding lines, drum, disc, etc., will appear. Your pages should also include these related terms. Just think of them as context clues for Google.


6. Not creating and Internal Linking Strategy


While it is up for debate whether or not user behavior signals affect rankings, there is no doubt that keeping users on your site longer means they are more likely to act on one of your calls-to-action (CTA). One surefire way to encourage users to go deeper into your site is via internal linking. This can be as simple as linking industry jargon to a page defining common terms or via using a plugin to show related articles at the bottom of your blog posts. The easiest way to build out your internal linking strategy is to group content. The broadest article on a topic should link to more specific articles.


7. Not Regularly Auditing Your Website


While many people treat their website as a "set and forget" asset, it is not one. If your site uses a CMS you need to regularly check for updates, see if those updates have caused any functionality issues on your site, and make repairs accordingly. A website audit can range from checking for broken links on the site to doing a full security audit. There are a lot of combinations of audits that could work but those vary based upon your website. Research vulnerabilities and issues common to your CMS and set up an audit protocol accordingly.


8. Not Building Links


Inbound links drive rankings, they are continually rated as one of the most important ranking factors and even without rankings, they can drive targeted traffic to your website. When looking for link building opportunities, you need to ask yourself:

- Is someone likely to click the link and visit my site?

- Does this site cover a topic related to my website?

- Does this site appear to have an active community with comments and shares?

- Is the content on this site well written, informative, and unique?

While there are a lot of factors that determine if a link is good or not, answering yes to the above four questions means you are on the right track most of the time. If you want a more technical approach, check out "Judging a Link's True SEO Value."


9. Over Aggressive Anchor Text Ratio


I see people ask all the time- what is a safe anchor text ratio? The truth is, the percentage you can get away with is different for almost every set of search results. To be on the safe side, focus your anchor text strategy on building branded and URL links. It will take a little longer to get the job done but you can avoid getting into trouble from over-optimizing your anchors. If you just can't resist a keyword rich anchor text every now and again, keep it under one percent.


10. Changing Your Strategy without Proof


The Internet is polluted with click bait headlines making preposterous claims without any information to back them. As a result of these, many business owners jump, run, and lose their minds trying to change the way they do things because of an article the ran across. Even Google has put out information suggesting strategy changes that would actually make an SEO campaign less effective. If you have a strategy in place and it is working, think carefully before changing it. Look at the costs of changing your plan vs the potential risk and if you aren't sure, consult with a few companies to take advantage of their expertise in the field.


11. Using Only SEO


I love SEO. It can drive nearly unlimited traffic to a website at an insanely low cost per visitor or conversion when you target the right keywords. Some keywords are actually better left to PPC advertising. Let's take a keyword with a cost of 0.88 cents per click and a search volume of 10. If you are a luxury home builder and could profit $10K from a single click, SEO is great for that term. If you sell cheap jewelry and make $3 per sale, PPC is likely to be a more cost effective approach. When deciding how to target keywords, customer value and acquisition costs should drive your decision.

While there are a near countless number of mistakes you could make in building out or promoting your first website, avoiding the 11 above will have you on the right track.


Over to You...


What is one SEO mistake you have made and learned from the hard way?