Listing all the mistakes that damage SEO would take me an encyclopedia. But it’s not difficult to list the most common ones, and the ones that bring the most disastrous results. If you suspect you might be making any of them, don’t miss this Top 5 SEO mistakes. Not only will I talk about them, but I will also give you tips to solve them in the easiest way possible.
Table of contents
Top 5 SEO Mistakes
1. Poor quality content
Content with grammar and spelling mistakes, that is poorly structured or not original, is one of the most common SEO mistakes. And the same can be said of those texts that promise to develop a topic that then do not satisfy. Although it may seem incredible, search engines take all this into account when indexing a web page.
A special (and extreme) case of poor quality texts are “spinning” articles. It is known as spinning the creation of content by recycling several original texts using software that automates the process. And it is one of the factors of penalization by Google. The reason? The resulting texts often suffer from serious spelling, grammar, orthotypographical errors, etc.. In addition, they have no value for the user as they do not offer original content.
How to fix it
You must make sure that the text is correctly written, without grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. And that it also provides the necessary information to the readers. Avoid unnecessary repetition of the same word (you can use a thesaurus), sentences and paragraphs that are too long or too convoluted, excessive use of facts and figures in the text, and other bad practices that make reading difficult.
You should also avoid unoriginal content at all costs. I’m not just talking about copying content from other websites (boo to Google!), but providing the same information as the sources. The temptation to take an article and disguise it using your own words is great. But, at the end of the day, this is also plagiarism and search engines will notice. So make sure you not only write original content, but go to multiple sources instead of just one. And always stay away from translations, whether machine translations or your own, of documents from other languages, as Google also considers these to be plagiarism. That way, you’ll guarantee the reader 100% original content.
2. Content duplication
Another of the most common positioning errors is duplicate content. And I’m not talking about content copied from other websites, but original content of your authorship that is repeated. This can be completely or partially in several URLs whether they are from the same website or not. The existence of duplicate content affects the positioning, as Google penalizes it by subtracting positions to the pages or removing them from the SERPs.
But the truth is that many times it is not even our fault. For example, one of the main causes of duplicate content is having a non-canonical domain. That is to say that the domain of the website can be accessible with or without the prefix “www”. As a result, 2 pages appear with the same content but different URLs, which can be considered by Google as duplicate content.
Something similar happens with geographic domains. For example, if the same page is accessible from URLs ending in “fr” and “es” respectively, Google considers them different. What does this mean? If both pages contain the same content, it will be considered duplicate.
How to fix it
There can be many other causes for duplicate content, beyond the ones I just mentioned. And obviously, the solution will be different in each case. But in general there are a few ways to prevent this problem that usually give you a definitive solution to this problem. Among them:
- Using the “rel_canonical” tag to specify the preferred URL (if you’re interested in learning more about URL optimization, click here),
- Creating 301 redirects to take Google bots to the right page,
- Use the “no follow” tag to prevent bots from following links that they shouldn’t (e.g. to pages under construction or maintenance),
- And differentiate URLs with different geographic domains using the “hrflang” tag.
Finally, maybe someone is copying your content (very common problem). In this case, I recommend using plagiarism detection tools such as Copyscape, Plagiarism Checker and . If you discover a plagiarist, you can demand that they remove the content or report the page to Google.
If you want more details on how to solve the problem of duplicate content, I invite you to read this complete guide on the subject.
Another thing that seriously affects the positioning is the bad structuring of the document. That is to say, the bad use of HTML tags, which threatens the clarity, uniqueness and coherence of the content. Poorly structured articles are considered mediocre and irrelevant by search engines.
How to fix it
You must take into account the title (<title>), headings (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>…), formatting tags (<b>, <u>, <i>…), metatags, rich snippets, etc… Not to mention, since it is obvious, the basic structure of the HTML document with its corresponding <head>, <body>, etc. tags.
You also have to make intelligent use of the “title” and “alt” attributes in the image code, and correct formatting of lists (<ol>, <ul>, <li>). And, of course, it’s vital that you make sure links are not broken, contain an appropriate anchor text and have the “nofllow” attribute in case it’s preferable for search engines to nofollow them.
In other words, all the elements of the HTML code that give the document coherence, uniqueness and functionality, as well as offering clues to search engines about the subject matter, and ensuring the correct indexing of content and related elements.
The good news is that the CMSs themselves make the work much easier, ensuring that the web pages are well structured and have all the necessary elements from the beginning. So your job is basically limited to adding the necessary tags and attributes in the right place. And, of course, apply good copywriting standards.
4. Articles that are too short
This is called thin content in SEO jargon. That is, articles that don’t meet the minimum length for search engines to take your content seriously. In the case of Google, this minimum length is 300 words (although in recent times experts recommend 500). Google and other search engines make sure that your content provides enough information to the user.
Not doing so will have a negative impact on your positioning. On the other hand, if you write long enough articles with relevance and quality, you will not only improve your position in the SERPs, but you will achieve a longer dwell time and decrease your bounce rate. All the more reason to pay attention to the length of your content.
How to fix it
If your website is full of thin content, you should replace your texts with longer ones. In addition, it will help you a lot to deindex the pages with little content, such as contact pages. Every time you replace content, ask Google to reindex the page using the URL inspection tool. Or send a sitemap to Google if you’ve changed a lot of pages and want to save time.
5. Misuse of keywords (or not using them at all!)
The misuse of keywords is one of the worst SEO mistakes. However, some bloggers and content writers pretend keywords don’t matter. I will never get tired of saying that doing that is the biggest mistake you can make when generating content.
It’s not enough to have quality and relevant articles for our readers. Nor is it enough to have an adequate length. If you don’t create a link between the search terms that users use and the content you write, your competitors will do it, thus gaining in positioning.
Now, if not using keywords is one of the worst positioning mistakes, not paying attention to keyword density is not far behind. Keyword density is the percentage of times that keywords appear in relation to the total number of words in the text.
This helps search engines find a relationship between the keywords or search terms used by users, and the topic of your articles. For example, imagine using the search term 1 or 2 times in a text of 1,000 words, Google will not find any relationship! It will think that your article has little or nothing to do with that search term and it won’t rank you correctly.
But this doesn’t mean that you abuse keywords. This is called over-optimization or keyword stuffing, and it has a negative impact on SEO because it undermines the naturalness and quality of the article. And, just like humans, Google hates poorly written articles!
How to fix it
Before writing each article, do a keyword research that fits the topic and attracts readers interested in the information you provide. You can use Google’s auto-suggest feature, or use tools like Google Trends or Google Keyword Planner (you can even combine them for better results).
And to be sure that the density of keywords in your article is adequate, you can use Yoast SEO, an excellent Wordpress plugin that evaluates not only this point, but others related to the structure and quality of the text.
Remember that with the right planning, selection, and use of keywords in the context of relevant and quality content, you can guarantee the positioning of your website.
Avoiding mistakes is only the first step!
So far, these are the top 5 SEO mistakes that can affect the SEO of your web pages. Keep in mind that there are many others, not so much related to the content itself, but to the site’s user experience, link building, your content strategies, etc. But if you avoid and solve the ones I mentioned in this article, you’ve gone a long way.
But as I suggested with the heading of this section, avoiding mistakes is just the first step! What does this mean? That having a flawless SEO won’t guarantee you success, even if you use the best SEO tools. So, if you want to attract traffic to your website, you will have to combine SEO with SEM, email marketing, content marketing and social media strategies, among others. And, as you can imagine, SEO is a fundamental element to reach your audience. But not the only one.