Search engine optimization or SEO is a tricky thing. You should always watch out for pitfalls in order not to lose traffic, get penalized, or find yourself with yet another bunch of problems. Here are some of the SEO mistakes because of which you can lose money.
- Optimizing Anchors
Optimized anchor text has gone out of fashion and stopped working. It simply isn’t as useful as it used to be and you should stop optimizing your anchors. To put it simply, an optimized anchor is the text you use for links that has certain keywords that you want to rank. For example, e-commerce websites would want to rank the phrase “apparel online store”.
Google, however, released a document called the “Link Scheme” that warned against this technique. Optimizing your anchor text is extremely risky and can lead to gradual worsening of your site’s SEO. Instead, it’s better to use one of the three:
- Branded URLs
- Naked URLs
- Long Phrases
- Keyword-Heavy Content
This is probably not news to you, but it’s still worth mentioning. Keyword stuffing is terrible and will do you no good. Even though many people now know of all of its negative sides, they still keep doing it for some reason. Matt Cutts in his 2011 video illustrated the effect of keyword stuffing quite well. In fact, many online stores love using a multitude of keywords in their content (and that’s a huge mistake).
It’s kind of similar to what you can see with hashtags on social media. Several keywords are fine, but once you start adding more and more, it gets only worse. Long-tail keywords are worse than head terms though. And try to focus on your content rather than your keyword density. You can also use some related keywords instead.
- Too Many Links Too Fast
Building too many links too fast is also not a good way to go. It’s logical that you want to rank higher as fast as you can, but you actually don’t need that many links to rank better. What you do need, however, is maintaining a slow pace and taking your time. If you have an e-commerce store, structure your digital campaign in a way that will show that your links increase gradually.
Try to opt for authoritative links. For example, if you can find some customer surveys about online stores (if you run one), you can include those in your articles in your blog. Google can easily identify the sites that have an unusual pace of link growth. You don’t want to seem suspicious to the search engine’s algorithm or you may be penalized.
- Spammy Guest Posting
It’s not that guest posting is bad entirely. What really is bad is spammy guest posting that gets in the way of good SEO. Good guest blogging can help you improve your search engine optimization, brand awareness, and author rank. As long as you use it properly, you will be good. By the way, guest posting is one of the best techniques for e-commerce stores to generate organic traffic.
Make sure that you create relevant, high-quality content for your guest posts. Always ensure that you have links in your guest blogs that are related to the website’s topic. Google may be already tightening the penalties for irrelevant links and content. Keep in mind the website’s authority too as it plays a huge role in this matter.
- Link-Backs over Content
Link-backs are definitely very important. On the other hand, they are still not the most important aspect of SEO. Simply throwing many links to one site will not magically create a lot of authority, traffic, and high rankings. Search engine optimization is comprised of a variety of factors that are extremely important in every sense.
You should never prioritize links over the quality of your content. It is essential that you create and publish only the content that is truly valuable and useful to your audience. Otherwise, you will be simply spoiling your own reputation. Links and great content make up amazing SEO, not just the links by themselves.
- Too Many Low-Quality Backlinks
As mentioned before, building too many backlinks too fast will do you no good. Moreover, having many low-quality links is even worse than that. Sure, you can buy a bunch of links from an agency that will build them for you in a matter of a few days. But is it worth it if you end up with trouble after that?
You don’t want links from sites that have been penalized. You need links from the websites that have authority preferably in your field or industry. It used to be the other way around, but it’s not the case anymore. So, in order to succeed, you will have to adapt to the current situation. You can even outrank some high-authority sites if you have the relevant backlinks.
- Too Many Links to the Homepage
The best way to go about linking is to build links not only to your homepage but also to your internal pages. In fact, the latter ones should be your priority. For instance, consider Wikipedia that is the sixth most popular website in the world and always ranks very high for nearly anything. This could only be achieved with the magic of internal page backlinks. Besides, you will benefit more as an online seller from links to your product pages than to your homepage.
If you are looking to improve your rankings with the help of backlinking, you will need to start building links to your internal pages rather than your homepage. You will notice that such a technique is more effective and efficient.
- More Pages Equals More Traffic
To continue on the topic of Wikipedia, let’s look at another aspect of SEO. Wikipedia is a website with lots of pages and tons of traffic. You would think that having more pages on your website would increase your traffic, but that is not true. Adding too much mediocre content will not help you, especially if you are an e-commerce store owner looking for a way to get organic traffic.
Instead, you need to provide high quality to rank higher. Google has such a feature called Panda that targets websites with low-quality content and penalizes them. Then, their traffic drops. Focus on your content rather than your website pages and you will be able to rank higher and get more traffic.
- Mediocre Content
eHow, for example. It’s similar to Wikipedia in a way that it also has numerous pages and backlinks, but the content is much scarcer and less detailed. It’s hard to find value on eHow.
If you follow eHow’s strategy, you will not get a lot of traffic, but your rankings might improve. Your audience will choose other websites that have more useful content that will solve their problems. Longer articles that provide value work much better.
- Code, Links, and Content
SEO used to be all about code, links, and content. But now everything’s changed and it is way more complicated these days. The websites that do well nowadays usually also have a good social media following. Social media does have an impact on rankings. The more people know about your website’s existence, the better.
If you can build a dedicated fanbase on social media platforms, you will be able to attract more attention and, consequently, get more backlinks. Besides, social media gives you an opportunity to test your content and see what is most popular and in-demand.
- More Text Equals Better Ranking
To put it briefly, no, it doesn’t. Many experts have stated that more text will help your rankings and it may be true to an extent, but it’s never entirely. Numerous sites such as Upworthy have managed to beat other, more well-known ones even though most of their content is shorter than 2000 words in length. This is also true for any online store out there: you can get good results even without having overly long articles on your blog.
Text isn’t the only valuable aspect of search engine optimization. Images and especially videos can help a lot for improving your rankings. Use different kinds of posts in order to rank even higher. These include:
- Articles & Blog Posts
- Illustrations, Photographs, & Infographics
- GIFs & Videos
- Podcasts, E-books, etc.
- SEO Localization Is Meaningless
If you are translating the content on your website, blog, social media, or anywhere else, you must always remember that your SEO should also change. For example, if you hired someone from a translation and localization agency like The Word Point, you will need to inform them that you need your SEO to be localized too.
People in one country use different phrases and words for the same concepts even when these two countries have the majority of the population speaking the same language. For instance, people in the UK and the USA use completely different words for many things while also having different spelling, grammar, pronunciation, accent, and so on.
- Bad Links Can Hurt Your Rankings
Google is constantly trying to find ways to prevent its algorithm from being manipulated by link building. This means that bad links can indeed hurt your rankings but not as much as you think. The bigger your site gets, the more smaller, “junk” sites will be linking to you and it will not always be easy to get rid of those backlinks.
You shouldn’t encourage such links and you can even disavow every link, but more often than not they will not get you penalized. Spend your time working on a great product or service as well as creating great content.
- Higher Bounce Rate Equals Lower Rankings
Many marketers believe that the bounce rate affects rankings and lowering your bounce rate will help you rank higher. Of course, having a smaller bounce rate is definitely a good thing, but it actually doesn’t influence your rankings that much if it does at all. You won’t have higher rankings if your bounce rate is smaller. Of course, your online sales will definitely decrease if your bounce rate is smaller.
This is true both for bigger and for a smaller website. Even if your bounce rate changes, it is unlikely that there will be a dramatic increase in traffic. Stop lying to yourself about this and instead focus on something more important.
- Writing Keyword-Rich Content
The best thing you can do when writing content is making it user-friendly. Google has this feature called latent semantic indexing that its algorithm uses. This means that synonymous words and phrases will make you rank for the keyword you are targeting. If you use synonyms, you will be able to make both your readers and Google happy.
Nobody wants to read keyword-rich content. Your text should flow naturally or it will sound awkward instead. For instance, if the word “shirt” appeared in an article on an online store’s blog about a hundred times, the reader would get tired of hearing it.
- Authority Sites Can Republish Your Content
More often than not, bigger sites with more authority that republish your content are a good thing. You get a link-back and generate more traffic that may lead to bigger sales. The only problem with this is that it creates duplicate content. The authority site will be ranked higher even if you get a link to your own website, even if you are an online store with your own prominent brand.
Another downside is that you may get penalized by Panda, Google’s algorithm feature mentioned earlier. Allowing authority websites republish your content is still a great practice though. The only thing to keep in mind is that they have to use a canonical tag pointing back to your URL. This will guarantee that you don’t get penalized for duplicate content.
17. Buying Links Is Bad
Such a technique is not very loved and search engines actually hate it as buying links manipulates rankings. But that doesn’t mean that this tactic is bad and you shouldn’t use it. Links are one of the best ways to drive traffic to your website. It can kickstart your e-commerce store just like it did for Quicksprout when they bought $10,000 worth of links and ads.
In order not to make your bought links seem suspicious to search engines, you will need to use nofollow links. This way, search engines won’t count such links and it will not damage your search engine optimization with your website getting a lot of traffic nonetheless.
- Keyword Density Influences Rankings
Packing your content with a keyword you are targeting is not only ineffective when it comes to rankings but can also make your audience annoyed. They are not getting any value, so why should they be interested in your content? Keyword stuffing has been considered bad for years now, but there are still some questions when it comes to keyword density.
Many marketers believe that keyword density still influences rankings and dedicate a lot of time and effort to this aspect of their content. However, keyword density, while still being a ranking factor, is not as important as you may think and there is no point stressing about it so much.
- A/B Testing Hurts Rankings
Google actually offers A/B testing solutions which is one of the reasons why A/B testing can’t possibly hurt your rankings. Check Google Analytics and go to the Content Experiments section which is a form of A/B testing in a way. Besides, A/B testing is essential to figuring out what your customers like.
A/B testing usually doesn’t affect traffic in a bad way. Besides, you will be creating duplicate content temporarily and it will increase the potential in conversions too. Rankings are never affected badly while A/B testing, so don’t worry about that part either. If you are still worried, you can opt for using the noindex variation which will prevent duplicate content.
- Pop-Ups Work Best
Back in 2017, Google introduced the Intrusive Interstitial Penalty update which aimed to provide a better experience for mobile users by ensuring that their browsing doesn’t get disrupted by pop-ups. Many marketers in the SEO community were worried back then, but now everything seems not as scary and actually a lot less damaging.
Your attention should be on making your pop-ups as seamless as possible so that they don’t disrupt your audience’s experience. Google’s update usually doesn’t work as well as you would expect it to anyway, so being less annoying is all you can do to make things better. Look at other online stores and think of a similar pop-up for your own e-commerce shop.
- Exact Match Keywords Are Essential
As mentioned earlier, Google has a feature in its algorithm that takes into account synonyms. This logic also works for keywords that are not an exact match, so you shouldn’t both about using exact match keywords all the time. It’s annoying and doesn’t sound natural at all making your readers feel disappointed with your content.
In addition to that, you will be decreasing the quality of your text by using only exact match keywords and stuffing your writing with them. You should ditch such practices and start focusing more on user experience instead.
- Inbound Links Are Crucial
Links are crucial and nobody is arguing with that. However, focusing solely on inbound links and forgetting about outbound ones will do you no good. Of course, you need many sites with a good reputation to link back to you, but don’t forget about outbound links as they can actually positively influence your authority.
All links are important. If you use relevant outbound links, you will be rewarded by Google. You may think that your bounce rate will increase this way, but there are other advantages that good outbound links bring. Link out to helpful resources and your readers will be grateful.
- Title Tags and Meta Descriptions Don’t Matter
Many marketers take these for granted, but you shouldn’t. All of your title tags and meta description on every page should be unique and have around 60 characters. Don’t include your website name in every title tag because that will look like it’s duplicate, so use the name in your title tags for the home, about, contact, and other generic pages. Consider spicing up the tags you use on the product pages of your online store.
Make your meta descriptions original and around 25 words in length. They have to reflect what is on your page. Coupled with good backlinks, title tags and meta descriptions can help your rankings a lot and bring in more traffic.
- Affiliate Links Are Great
It’s no wonder that almost every site owner tries to cash in on affiliate links. Affiliate marketing is still considered one of the best ways for seemingly passive income with not too much effort put in. However, stuffing your content with affiliate links will only make things worse and you should never opt for it.
Google’s “Fred” update back in 2017 changed the game and using many affiliate links now is the equivalent of tempting fate. You should keep in mind that affiliate marketing is fine as long as you include only several affiliate links in your content.
To sum up, there are many things that could go wrong with your search engine optimization so you must always be alert. Don’t make these stupid mistakes that will cost you money. Find other ways to do things how you want them to be done.