Search engine optimisation is a process that can be undone by even the most mundane of mistakes. All that it takes to derail even the most thorough of strategies is a minor mistake, leaving you with much work to be done to get back to square one.
For nearly two decades, SEO professionals have critiqued their strategy and that of others, attempting to decipher exactly what is the best practice in the eyes of Google. Some methods are more widely accepted than others, while all SEOs can agree that even the most minor of offences risk sullying the entire campaign.
Here, we look at the most common mistakes in SEO that you should take extra care to avoid.
Targeting Incorrect Keywords
Even if you are unfamiliar with SEO practices, you will likely know that keywords are a major factor when it comes to rankings. Some keywords are more competitive than others, for example, the phrase ‘cinema’, as per SEMRush) sees over 200,000 searches per month in the UK, while ‘cinema London’ is searched just under 15,000 times per month.
While it would be great to rank number one for such a generic term as ‘cinema’, 200,000 means that there is going to be a lot of competition. Targeting localized keywords for SEO, such as ‘cinema London’ yields a more convertible and precise audience. A cinema based in London is unlikely to generate convertible traffic in Scotland, so why target such a broad area?
Poor Choice of Anchor Text
Linking to credible sources within your content is a must, and making sure that the anchor text that accompanies those links is correct is even more important. Crawlers look at the anchor text for a description of what the link leads to and, if this is seen as irrelevant regarding the text and the content it is used in, this damages your SEO.
For example, proper anchor text linking to an article entitled ‘How to Pick What Movie to Watch’ would be ‘how to pick a movie’ or ‘deciding what movie to watch’. This makes use of a keyword, which in this instance is ‘movie’ and uses synonyms of other keywords such as ‘pick’ and ‘deciding’.
Vague anchor text that does not describe what is being linked to in the context of the content often includes phrases such as ‘click here’ or something that is completely unrelated. It is always good to incorporate links to high authority sites but should be done so in a relevant manner. This forms the basis of good onsite SEO practice.
Not Tracking Results
It would seem silly to put so much time into optimising your website and not track the results it produces, wouldn’t it? Well, that is a mistake that far too many make, whether that is not tracking all of their results or not at all.
Google Analytics is a tool that every digital professional should be familiar with, and if you are not then this should immediately be raising alarm bells. If you do not have a record of organic traffic and conversions on your website then how can you make an argument that your SEO strategy is working?
Tracking results are the only way that you can find out what areas your strategy is strong and where it could be improved. If you are reading this saying to yourself ‘my SEO strategy cannot be improved’, I’ve got bad news for you…
Metrics are the be all and end all of our industry, and if you are not keeping a record of yours do not be surprised when you find out that something that you firmly believed in is doing more damage than good to your website.
In conclusion, the most common mistakes are the easiest to rectify. Researching the correct keywords to target does not take too long, but forms the basis of a successful SEO campaign. All of your practices can be spot on, but if they are targeted to the wrong area, then they are pointless. Of course, you will only know this if you always track your website’s performance.
Aaron is an SEO professional, specialising in online marketing and content creation, working closely with some business to improve their search visibility.