When it comes to traffic generation, there are many paid options for driving traffic to your website. Facebook Ads and Google Adsense are among some of the most popular options for bringing attention to your business in the online space. Unfortunately, unless you have a large marketing budget, it can sometimes be hard to compete with the big players in your space. You can easily be outbid by the bigger companies, leaving your business unfound.
That is where many have taken to learning SEO or hiring professionals to manage their website SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is one of the best ways you can drive FREE traffic to your site. By optimizing the pages on your site, you can start getting recognized by search engines like Google or Bing and start ranking your website on the first page. This will not only get you seen by more people but will inevitably result in more traffic, and hopefully customers, coming to your site.
Nevertheless, it can never be as easy as just following one online tutorial and watching your traffic skyrocket. There are several mistakes beginners make when first starting out. Some mistakes can be costly to your traffic and ultimately your bottom line if you are not careful. To ensure that doesn’t happen, you need to avoid making these on-page SEO mistakes:
1. Keyword Stuffing
One of the big ways that Google knows how to rank your website, is by the types of content you have on your site and keywords that are in that content. It is pretty well known that if you want to rank for a keyword such as baking recipes, you will want to make sure that the word baking recipes appears several times throughout your page copy.
Years ago, website creators and SEO strategists could easily rank their websites higher in Google by putting many instances of their keywords in their content, known as “Keyword Stuffing.” Google would recognize the usage of the keyword, and end up ranking those pages higher.
Well since then, Google has gotten smarter.
Now, if you use the keyword too many times in your content, Google starts to think something is up. To avoid getting flagged as suspicious or “spammy” by Google, you’ll want to avoid Keyword Stuffing. The most important thing to remember is to keep your copy natural. If you are sacrificing the quality of your content to make your keywords “fit,” you’ll most likely be doing more harm than good.
If you are still concerned about how much or little you are using your keyword on your page, a good rule of thumb is to have a keyword density of around 1-3% for your target keyword.
2. Having Duplicate Content
Just like it sounds, duplicate content means blocks of text on your website are showing up in more than one place on the web. As I’m sure you could guess, this can have a huge negative impact on your site’s SEO. In many instances, Google will recognize the duplicate content and choose the “best” page to show in the results. In turn, the other page may be entirely removed from the results. Duplicate content isn’t just specific to copied content outside your site. Issues can arise when there are instances of the same “chunk” of text between multiple pages on your own site as well.
Luckily, there are ways to help fight against this. There are several tools out there, like Copyscape, that can help let you know if your content is popping up in other locations.
If you happen to find your own content appearing in other places on the web, it is a good idea to reach out to the site owner and request they take the plagiarised content down. Even though it is your own content, if Google deems their page as “better,” your site may get penalized for it.
If you are working with a team of individuals, avoiding duplicate content on your own website can be tricky at times. Using team-based software, like Trello can be a great way to keep everyone organized and allow you to develop specific processes for you and/or your team to follow.
3. Forgetting to Include Title Tags or Meta Descriptions
Title tags and meta descriptions are extremely important for the SEO of your website. The title tag defines the title of your page, while the meta description is a brief summary of what the page is about. In simple terms, title tags and meta descriptions help let the reader, and Google, know what your site or page is about.
When writing your titles and meta descriptions, it is important to include relevant and engaging information about the page. This will help Google better understand what the page is about, and will entice readers to click on your results over the competition.
Important to note when writing title tags:
- Make sure the title is relevant to the page content
- Include any important keywords in the title (preferably keywords you are looking to rank for)
- Put important keywords near the front of the title
- The title should sound natural
- You should not utilize your target keyword more than once in the title (no keyword stuffing)
- Utilize your brand name in the title (see search results example above “- Expeerent”
- Avoid using the same title as previously published pages
- Keep titles around 60 characters (if you add too much, the title will be cut off by “…”)
Important to note when writing meta descriptions:
- Use a unique description for each page of your site (some options allow you to keep the same description for all pages on your site – try to avoid this!)
- Use relevant keywords, and your target keyword, in the description
- Make sure your description is compelling for the reader
- Keep the descriptions around 150 characters (if they are too long, search engines will cut it short)
4. Having Broken Images or Missing Alt Tags
According to a study conducted by SEMRush, 45% of websites have images with missing alt-text (aka alt tags) and 10% of websites contain broken images. When uploading images for your website, most systems like WordPress, Squarespace, etc have a dedicated setting specifically for adding alt-text to your images.
One of the main purposes of an alt tag is to allow visually impaired users, who use screen readers, to understand what the image is. Additionally, alt tags also allow search engines to understand what the image is about.
Note: Search engines want to ensure that everybody is able to consume the content on the page. If your images are missing alt-text, this means those who use screen readers will be unable to understand the images on the webpage.
Broken images and missing alt tags get treated by search engines similar to having broken links (also not good for your on-page SEO). If there is a broken image or link on your website, this can result in a poor experience for the end-user. It is extremely important to do regular checks on the links and images of your website, especially if you are linking to other websites in your content. Sitechecker is a great tool for analyzing your website and looking for SEO issues.
5. No Internal Link Structure
If you are not linking to other pages of your website in your content, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to increase the SEO for many of your pages at one time. I’ll explain what I mean.
When a company writes content for their page and provides a link to one of your website’s pages, articles, blog posts, etc, search engines recognize this. When high authority sites start linking to your content, search engines think “Hey, these websites that we think are authoritative online are linking to this page on xyz.com. Maybe this page should have a little more authority.” When a website links to a page on your site, “link juice” is passed onto that page of your site.
If you don’t have any internal links on that page, the “link juice,” in essence, stops there (your entire website will see a slight rise, but it’s very minimal). Instead, when you use internal links, you can essentially pass that link juice around to other pages of your site. This will not be as powerful as having a direct link to your other pages, but it can make a difference. Ahrefs refers to this as the Middleman Method.
SEO can seem very intimidating at first. There is a lot of helpful information about SEO out there, and the information and strategies are constantly changing. However, these common on-page SEO mistakes can easily be avoided:
- Keyword Stuffing
- Having Duplicate Content
- Forgetting to Include Title Tags or Meta Descriptions
- Having Broken Images or Alt Tags
- No Internal Link Structure
If you are currently making these mistakes, don’t feel too bad. You can still take corrective action to fix these issues and you will see your website’s SEO start making major improvements.