Have you ever wondered what's holding your Google rankings and SEO efforts back? Proper SEO is complicated, and making a mistake in your SEO campaign is easy. It's possible your only roadblocks to higher Google rankings are foolish - yet fixable - mistakes. What are some common SEO don'ts, and how can you fix them?

1. Ignoring Google's latest rules. It's difficult to keep up with Google's changing algorithms. Many inexperienced businesspeople working on SEO strategies are under the mistaken impression that if a strategy works, it will work forever. Google can roll out new changes with little or no advanced notice - and SEO strategies that worked yesterday can cause your rankings to plummet today. 

Optimizing for Google's latest changes can be difficult, especially if SEO isn't your area of expertise. SEO is one of the most changeable areas of marketing out there. Failing to account for Google's latest content rules can cause a previously high ranking page to fall very low in rankings.

2. Linking to the wrong sites. The reason Google refreshes its algorithms frequently is to keep up with businesses who are trying to game their system. Their goal is to provide searchers with quality results. With every new change come new SEO strategies. However, understanding the principle of Google's algorithm updates doesn't mean your strategy for beating them will be effective. One example of this is linking to suspicious and low quality sites on your business's page.

Outbound links are a way to gain credibility for your business, but simply having many outbound links isn't enough. Your links must lead to quality pages. Too many outbound links to suspicious pages can cause your Google rankings to plummet. When linking, you should focus on quality rather than quantity. Outbound links on your page should be relevant to your industry. Avoid linking to pharmacy, gambling, or adult websites. These are specifically flagged by Google's algorithms as low quality and undesirable.

3. Too many error pages. Another way linking can create problems for your business's page is if they are broken. Google will recognize your site as having quality problems if multiple links result in 404 errors. Broken links are a loss of credibility.

Sites naturally accumulate errors as time goes on - especially in outbound links. It's important to regularly check your site for these errors and update or delete any broken links. Checking for broken links on your site is easy; check your Webmaster Tools and look for any pages under the section entitled "Not Found."

4. Duplicate or plagiarized copy. It's fairly common for businesses to take another site's content and place it on their own page. This is illegal and causes Google rankings to plummet. If your business has a high level of plagiarized copy, Google may completely de-index your site. This is a death sentence for your brand.

Even duplicating content within your own site can lead to consequences. Having multiple pages with exactly the same content can cause several problems for Google. The search engine can't be sure which version is better to retrieve. Even having the same title or meta description on more than one page can be a problem. Supply your website with unique content and titles. This allows search engines to properly index and retrieve the most relevant pages for a particular search.

5. Optimizing for the wrong keywords. Choosing the right keywords might seem like a no-brainer. Selecting the wrong ones, however, is a common error, and can strike a big blow against your business. Your site should be optimized for keywords matching its purpose and the products it sells - however, the keywords should also be words people actually search for when they need your product or service.

When choosing keywords, it's best to be as specific as possible. Broader keywords can lead to increased traffic, but low conversion - because people landing on your page don't actually want your service. There are tools online for choosing solid keywords.

6. Slow page loading. Most people know that SEO requires good keywords and relevant content. However, many are unaware that Google actually ranks pages according to loading speed as well. If your business's site is slow, your search engine rankings will suffer. Especially when it comes to mobile webpages, it's easy to accidentally create a slow loading page.

Designing your business's page according to responsive design principles allows you to omit certain pages from the mobile site. A professional can help you figure out what is causing your business's page to load slowly.

Spotting and Addressing SEO Mistakes

These SEO mistakes are common. However, if your site is performing poorly, it can be hard to figure out exactly what the problem is. The best solution for all SEO issues is regular SEO auditing. According to Chuck Aikens, CEO of Volume Nine, "Because algorithms and weighted factors shift over time, it's a good idea to periodically conduct a technical audit of your website to spot unexpected issues that may have cropped up without you knowing it. An SEO audit can analyze your site to determine where problems are and provide the best solution." Because of the ever-changing ranking factors and the highly technical nature of SEO, it's important to have a professional conduct a regular SEO site audit.

Don't let your business suffer as a result of these simple SEO mistakes. If you've never had a professional SEO audit, that's the best place to start. If it's been a long time since your last one, make a plan to regularly audit your website. It's an investment not only for the health of your website, but also the relationship you have with your customers and business as a whole.

December 8, 2014

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.

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Search Engine Guide > Jayson DeMers > The 6 SEO Mistakes Your Business Can't Afford to Keep Making