Understanding common on-page SEO mistakes is a vital part of getting your website ranking high on Google’s results page.
Many bricks and mortar companies and long-standing online companies understand the importance of having a website. Having a website allows you and your business to grow its reach far beyond the local sphere and into the national and international sphere – leading to more reach, more website visits and, hopefully, more sales and repeat business.
Many business owners and other individuals may think that they can’t take on the SEO process themselves without the help of an SEO expert or marketing company to guide them and complete some of the more difficult work on their behalf. Thankfully, SEO is one skill that can be taught in a basic sense by partaking in tutorials, online seminars and forums. On-page SEO is vital, allowing you to optimise your website and run your website through the long process of ranking on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). If you are looking to make a start on your website’s on-page SEO in-house and not alongside the help of an expert or dedicated SEO manager, then you may run into a few common mistakes that can affect your ranking over the next couple of months.
SEO starts and ends with keywords. Without quality keywords, your website would not be able to rank anywhere near the highest-ranking held by those on the 1st page of Google, especially those in the first, second and third spots (these positions are more likely to sweep up a majority of the traffic related to that keyword or query). Most on-page SEO mistakes start with keyword relevance.
A majority of mistakes relating to SEO come down to the keywords you choose to focus on; it is well known that keyword quality beats keyword density. For instance, targeting a keyword just because it has a high search volume doesn’t guarantee success; targeting keywords with lower search volumes that are relevant to your business will offer you a better chance to succeed. If your keywords aren’t relevant to the subject of your site, don’t wait around for your high search volume keywords to take off. The likelihood of this happening is slim as you haven’t built up your name in the SERP, take the time to build a tangible following through local SEO keywords and those offer decent search volumes with very little in the way of competition. Implementing irrelevant keywords means you won’t reach your target audience, allowing you to grow your customer base and increase revenue – it’s as simple as that.
High Keyword Difficulty Level
As mentioned in the previous point, keywords with incredibly high search volume may seem like the best course of action for any on-page SEO project. However, this type of keyword also has a high keyword difficulty level. If you are hoping to take on extremely popular phrases and keywords, then you may want to think again (at least at the start of your SEO process). Going for a niche set keywords at first will allow you to build your domain authority and to rank to take on higher searched keywords in the future.
Keyword stuffing is a major mistake many people will make when writing content or updating their website. Key phrase stuffing is defined as intentionally or unintentionally placing your chosen keywords across multiple paragraphs or areas of your site with the hopes that the Google crawler bot will pick up on the keyword usage and reward you with raking increases, this usually means that you’ll see the same keyword after every 10 to 15 words of a website page. In the early days of SEO and SERP, this tactic used to be a common practice and allowed many companies to grow their presence with very little effort by abusing a certain keyword. In the eyes of Google, keyword stuffing is considered manipulation of SEO practices and is highly punished.
Forgetting Meta Descriptions
Like a title tag, a meta description is basically the short story version of your page or blog. It allows you to place your keywords and website contents into a small, succinct and user-friendly format. Google will take a section of your text and form a meta description of your website page for you, but most of the time, it is best for you to define the meta description for yourself. Every meta description should be like your website pages – individual and detailed. Your meta description should contain your chosen focus keyword and any additional keywords you are using on that page. Unlike your website content, there is a limit to the number of characters you can use. You shouldn’t be using more than 160 characters to define your meta description. This is the sweet spot for creating quality, detailed but purposeful meta descriptions.
Misleading and Irrelevant Title, Slug and Meta Descriptions
Title tags and meta descriptions are other vital aspects of the on-page SEO process. They form a snippet that is shown in the SERP and detail the title, slug and a short description of your website’s page, blog or store. This snippet tells a potential visitor everything there is to know about your page and whether or not they should click on your link or look for someone else’s. Like using irrelevant keywords, using unrelated meta titles and descriptions may cause deterioration of SEO ranking. If you run an online store and decide not to detail this important factor in your title, slug or meta description then you may turn off a potential customer who clicks expecting one thing and receiving another – this can dramatically affect your bounce rate if people are leaving your website just as soon as they arrived. Avoid writing a misleading title, slug and meta description. Be Informative and relate your meta description and title tags to your content. Competitor research is not only a great way to explore how rival companies are progressing and gaining potential customers, but it can also give you ideas and strategies to use in your own SEO process.
Website Speed and Other Technical Optimisation
Having a slow website may not seem like a big deal; it may make people frustrated, but what harm can it do? Well, in reality, website speed is probably the most important on-page SEO process and can make or break your website’s abilities to rank effectively.
The three most important subdivisions of technical optimisation are:
- Low website speed
- Poorly optimised visuals
- Poorly optimised website for a mobile audience
When creating a website, the design is important. You can add all of the most flashy design elements, high-quality images, videos and downloadable documents you want, but all of these technical elements have a massive impact on website speed.
Nobody likes a slow website, especially Google website crawlers – not optimising your visual elements can greatly harm your ranking. Optimise your visual elements using a jpg format for photos and a png format for graphics – these are the best formats for proper optimisation and will help to greatly increase your website caching and speed.
Finally, Don’t forget proper mobile layouts and optimisation. Most newcomers may forget about mobile optimisation and focus on desktop optimisation; this may lead you to lose out on valuable website traffic. It is now figured that roughly 50% of all online traffic comes from mobile devices when you finalise your desktop traffic, you should take the time to optimise your website for a mobile website.
External and Internal Links
Internal and external links are important for any website looking to build up their reach and following. Internal links build up a web inside the website and allow you to link to different parts of the website – improving the user experience and website flow.
It is best for you to focus on connecting pages that are relevant to each other. For instance, if you have a services page for your website, you may want to link to your contact page for easy access to your contact details so allow those that are interested in your services to quickly get in contact with you. Footer links are usually mentioned as a great way to create quick and easy internal links, but your footer links have little bearing on the grander picture of your website and your SEO efforts.
External links are a bit more of an anomaly. External links form the basis of your link building strategies; they allow you to link to outgoing websites and allow others to link to your website (hence, link building). Follow external links are the best form of link as they allow you to absorb a small out of a website’s domain authority and use it to build up your website’s notoriety in the world of SERP.
Start by building up your internal links to help flesh out the website experience.
Have you ever visited a website and felt like you’ve read that exact same content before? You might be reading duplicate content. Creating content for your business is the foundation of on-page SEO work. Creating quality, detailed and lengthy content allows you to tailor your keyword choices, all the while providing Google crawling bots with the opportunity to sample your content and get a feel for what your website has to offer potential visitors. High-quality content allows you to climb the SERP ladder with a higher chance of success.
You may think that directly copying and pasting content from another website onto yours will be a quick and easy fix to your website copy needs. This is not the case. Using duplicated content or content that you haven’t written yourself can massively impact your ranking abilities and will more often than not lead to your website being devalued in the search engine results page. In some cases, your website may even be filtered out of all searches completely because you have nothing new or unique to offer the Google crawler bot.
Always aim to write your content in-house because you’ll know exactly the markets you want to reach as well as the services, history and elements that make your company unique. Alternatively, you can hire a copywriter or out-sourcing team to write your content for a small or large fee, depending on the number of pages and blogs you may need to have written.
Insufficient content is almost as bad as ripping content from another page. Your content may be unique, but it lacks the depth and breadth that Google crawl bots require to promote your content, and therefore, your website.
When writing or updating your content, take the time to find out your word count. It’s a simple tip that can help you to easily know whether or not your content is up to scratch. As a basic content test, follow this handy guide:
- 0 – 300 words = very low word count; this will give the Google bots little in the way of contextual information and will not affect your ranking positively.
- 300-600 words = decent word count; this is the standard word count level to allow you to rank more effectively. This is a great threshold to aim for when writing content for website pages.
- 600-1000 words = a very good word count that we certainly have a positive impact on ranking as the Google crawl bots have a lot more context as to the purpose of your website.
- 1000+ words and beyond = this word count is going above and beyond the established sweet spot for a home page or about us section of your site. 1000+ word blogs are perfect for a long-form blog and can allow you to reach a wider audience with very little effort.
Hidden Text and Content
Hiding content from Google may seem like one way to trick the system, allowing you to appease the Google crawler bot and gain the SERP system, all the while providing visitors with only the information you think that they need. This is a bad idea. Pasting white text onto a white background may work for a short amount of time, but sooner or later, Google will catch on and punish your website drastically. Hiding content in the web builder or your code will allow you to feed the Google crawler bot useless information, but you can expect to see your website devalued and punished further if you continue to carry out hidden text against the rules of Google.
In conclusion, organic search is a great way to build a proper foundation of visitors and repeat sales through SEO, but this can take many months and will not guarantee success, especially in globally recognised marketing like eCommerce or fashion. Organic search requires you to do vast amounts of research, testing and prediction before you can even begin work on tailored content, meta descriptions and links. Before you try giving on-page SEO a go, make sure you have the time, patience and drive to make your online presence the best that it can be.