5 Common SEO Mistakes

Editor’s Note: Even though this post is several years old, Jennifer’s comments on common SEO mistakes are still a valuable resource.

Rising to the top of Google search rankings requires a lot of variables, some known, and many unknown. In fact, there are more factors that influence your search rankings than there are characters in Game of Thrones. I bet there’s even more intrigue, too.

In my last post, I mentioned a few things clients did in their website copy which would adversely affect search engine rankings. Now I want to go into a little more detail about the three most common SEO mistakes that can drop your business to the bottom of Google’s rankings:

Removing Your H1s

An H1 is the header which typically appears at the top of your page. It’s valuable because it’s offset from the paragraph text and it tells Google what your page is about. Subheadings, or H2s (the one topping this paragraph), will help to further break up your text to increase its readability. Ideally, an H1 will contain your keywords, signaling to Google this is important and relevant content.

I was always surprised when someone asked me to remove an H1, it’s like submitting a paper without a title. If you don’t like what your H1 says, reword it. If you don’t like how it looks, redesign it. Just don’t remove it completely. That is one of the most amateur SEO mistakes to get tripped up with.

Copying = Bad

It’s surprising I even have to say this, but stealing content from another site is bad, even if you really, really like it. I saw this happen a lot in businesses which have similar services, like dentists. There’s only so many services you can offer for a cavity, right? If many separate dentists have identical copy, what makes them different? According to Google, not much.

When you enter keywords into the search engine, Google searches site content and brings you back a bunch of sites related to that keyword. These sites are distinct from one another and each has a little variety to it. This is where your relevant, one-of-a-kind content helps you get found.

In very drastic situations, where someone is using duplicate content to game the search engine, Google can either lower a page ranking or take a site out of the index completely. This is less likely to happen to a small business, but it’s still important, for many reasons, to have unique writing for your site.This is one of the easiest SEO mistakes to avoid by just spending a little time working on your copy.

It’s easy to check if your site has duplicate content. Copy a paragraph from your site into Google and see if any of the websites in the search results have the exact same content.

Not Adding Location Data

For some reason, the private browser on my phone always thinks I’m in Chicago. Why is this? I dunno, I’m not a Sprint employee. But it means if I forget to open a non-private tab and I type in “pizza,” I get Chicago pizza places. So I have to type in “pizza Indianapolis” or it’s going to be a long, hangry drive to get dinner.

This is one of many reasons you should add a location within your text. Google isn’t always going to know where a searcher is. People also naturally like to search “keyword + location.” Creating incidences in your text where your chosen keyword and your location coincide will only help you in your search results and clarify the text for your customers.

Silicon Valley Idea: Binary Chocolates

This is just a drop in the bucket of things you can implement to try to get your site to the top of Google. Other tasks you can do include adding descriptive keywords to your image alt tags, setting links within your site to enable easier crawling, or visiting the Googleplex to seduce the head algorithm engineer with chocolates in the shape of zeroes and ones. Until then, check your site to see if you can improve on any of the issues above.


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