SEO can be a minefield, so think of this post as a map of the obvious places not to tread. Those new to digital marketing, tread very carefully and watch out for paths that look suspiciously well groomed.

What is SEO?

SEO is probably one of the mostly commonly talked about elements of online marketing in the world today. So much so, that some people are actually employed by big firms just to concentrate on this aspect alone. But what is it? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Very simply put, it is the continued practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. Many of the elements of your website work towards increasing your SEO. Successful SEO strategies are the culmination of cleverly crafted campaigns and on-site changes to your website that consider the keywords that generate traffic to your website, how many links you have on your site as well as how unique and relevant your content is. If you want your website to be first on a Google search page, it is your SEO that will get you there.

Thousands of webmasters in the past have tried to steamroller their way to the top of search engine rankings and in the process have stumbled across common and not so common problems, sometimes causing untold damage to their site’s ranking ability.

Google does not play games. The so-called Mobilegeddon is testament to that. If your website is not suitable for use on a mobile device, then you will not show in mobile search results. Simple as that!

So let’s have a look at some other SEO mistakes Google will strap electrodes to your nipples for, and the steps you should take to avoid being spurned by the internet at large.

Poor UX Design

First and foremost, make sure you have a website that provides a good user-experience. If your web design is not user-friendly you will get shot down by all sides. It HAS to be mobile-friendly, there is no excuse.

Internet users want to be able to find things quickly regardless of the device they are using. If they are not led along the path by the hand, they will run away. Users that ‘bounce’ fro your website back to Google’s search result page, send the wrong message to Google. What they’re saying is: “Thanks but I didn’t find what I was looking for, so I’m going to try something else instead.”

That’s one signal you don’t want to send to Google.

Targeting competitive keywords

This is a tough one because you do need to use competitive keywords. But if you are not already ranking in search engines, you cannot compete with sites that are using popular search terms.

So find another solution. Use fringe terms and ramp some of your page content up with low-volume phrases. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it does actually increase your chances of attracting traffic when there is less competition.

For example: you’re a furniture shop and you want to rank for the keyword ‘sofa’ …or do you? That keyword has over two-million searches a month and it’s highly competitive. Think about your offering; if you’ve got a store in Farnham, Surrey, then aren’t you better off focusing on ‘sofa surrey’ or ‘sofa farnham’? Not only are those keywords less competitive but they’re also going to be searched for by users who are far more likely to connect with your business in a meaningful way.

Paying for backlinks

Backlinks are vitally important for improving search engine rankings. SEO agencies know this, and so do some unruly web owners.

There was a time when those in the know joined forces. Web owners charged SEO agencies to host content with a backlink pointing back to their client’s site.

Google found out and was not a happy Admiral. The Penguin update was launched and websites got tanked. The search engine giant also issued a stark warning that businesses found to be paying for backlinks will be penalised or even blacklisted.

But there are still chinks in the algorithm armour and some black-hat agencies still pay for backlinks. Eventually they will be found out so avoid making this link building mistake at all costs.

Using poor anchor text in internal links

On the subject of link building, using poor internal links is also a mistake SEO newbies tend to make. The first error is not using internal links. By not doing so search engine crawlers or visitors can not navigate your website and find relevant content.

Secondly, internal links are good for SEO rankings. By creating keyword silos you can flag up the most important pages on your website so they appear in search results.

Internal links should be embedded into naturally sounding anchor text. Avoid using anchor text that reads: ‘click here’, ‘you will find more information here’, or exact keyword matches.

Ignoring local search signals

Search engines favour local businesses because a high volume of local search terms are used every day. If your website is not primed with local signals, don’t expect to show in search results.

There are various local signals you can use and this advanced guide to local seo is a good starting point. Just be aware not to go overboard when using your location otherwise you risk receiving a Google penalty for keyword stuffing.

Google penalties are no laughing matter. And if you do not keep consumers happy, you don’t keep search engines happy either. Learn which SEO tactics work and what internet users demand and you will be okay.

In this video Matt Cutts explains the common ways that webmasters make mistakes when it comes to SEO

Got questions?

We hope this guide points you in the right direction but if you have any questions, feel free to give us a call on 0207 305 55 99 or check out our Services page to see the many ways in which we can help your business.

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