Mistakes happen! We’re all human. Here are 9 common SEO mistakes that may be impacting your search performance & how you can fix them.
There are a number of SEO mistakes that can lurk beneath the surface of your website and sabotage your search performance. So it pays real dividends to stay on top of the latest trends and search rank policies because the SEO game is constantly changing.
One major change is right around the corner with the rollout of Google’s Core Web Vitals as ranking signals. If this is news to you, and you want to make sure your website is ready for this massive switch in May 2021, take a look at Ryte’s “Web Vitals” report, found under Performance.
And if you want to get proactive about elevating your website’s SEO success, download our free eBook Guide in cooperation with Hubspot: How to Increase Your Traffic With SEO in 30 Days will walk you through a month-long program to turn your website into a mean, lean SEO machine.
Download the Complete SEO Starter Pack to get a copy of How to Increase Your Traffic With SEO in 30 Days E-book
But first, let’s identify those bugs and glitches. Here are the 9 Most Common SEO Mistakes Holding Back Your Search Rank Success:
If you’re looking to fix just one thing about your website, make it page load speed. Especially on mobile devices, because 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
The single biggest reason for frustratingly long load times? Bloated image files that lack compression or mobile-friendly formats like JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP! Trimming down mobile load times is more crucial than ever, as the switch to Google’s Core Web Vitals means severe search rank drops when important images take more than 2.5 seconds to load.
Start by understanding what pages should take priority. You can test pages individually using Google PageSpeed Insights or test your entire website at once using the Ryte Core Web Vitals report.
Figure 1: Get an overview of your website’s performance score to easily prioritize which pages need improvements first.
There are several different methods to load time which are covered in this extensive page speed guide.
In 2021, mobile optimization is a must-have for any website, not an option. More than half of web traffic worldwide comes from mobile, and with the introduction of page experience as a major ranking factor, Google is prioritizing mobile performance this year.
But as our recent independent industry study revealed, mobile site performance is still lackluster even among market-leading e-commerce websites. So most users still experience long load times, visual inconsistency, unresponsiveness, and annoying pop-ins. Perhaps because website operators test from a desktop bias? Don’t be one of those websites! If in doubt, start with a Ryte mobile crawl to see how your site performs.
Every website has some skeletons in the closet, aka dead links to pages that have since expired into the great big trash can in the sky. Users may or may not happen across these links and receive an error code 404 (file not found). Your webmasters may or may not be aware these links exist, either.
But guess who sees every single one of those misdirects? Crawlers from Google and other search engines! And if search engines find too many 404 errors on your website, it not only interrupts their crawl, they take it as a sign that your website is not properly maintained – and dock your search rank. Ouch!
But not to worry, finding broken links is quick and easy if you have a crawling solution, like Ryte.
Figure 2: Use a crawling solution like Ryte to find all the broken links on your website and fix them ASAP to improve your user experience.
Duplicate content arises when the same content can be reached using various URLs. Near duplicate content or similar content occurs when from paragraphs or blocks of the same or nearly the same content. In general, you can avoid Near Duplicate Content by optimizing available content and making it unique.
Figure 3: With Ryte you can easily check for duplicate content and similar content.
Near Duplicate Content can also sneak in if, for example, your CMS automatically generates URLs for a filter. In this case, it is possible to designate the appropriate sites with the tag:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow">
In this way, you will avoid having these sites indexed and can avoid Near Duplicate Content. At the same time, you allow the Googlebot to follow all links on the site concerned.
Title tags are one of the easiest, ranking-relevant OnPage elements of a website to optimize and the page title is one of the first elements on your website that a Google user will see, as search engines use the page title as the clickable title of the search snippet.
Figure 4: Looking for sunscreen? The result with the optimized page title becomes the more appealing page to click on in the search results.
They should each be unique (so don’t use the same title tag for more than one page) and indicate what users can expect from visiting your page. Make sure you insert the main keywords of the page in the title. Title tags should be a maximum of 70 characters in the title, otherwise, Google will shorten it in the snippet.
Ryte makes it super easy to check your title tags (and it’s free!). Simply crawl your website to uncover duplicate title tags and title tags that are too long.
Figure 5: Find duplicate or long title tags with a Ryte is a cinch!
Meta descriptions fulfill an important function in the SERPs. Together with the title, they entice searchers to visit your website.
With the help of an appropriate meta description, you can increase SERP CTR and generate more traffic to your website. You also can actively steer the market image of your web presence and stand out from the competition.
If you haven’t created a meta description or if the available description is used more than once, Google will opt for phrases or other text elements from your site to create a description, meaning you’ve lost the power to influence users’ first impression of your website.
Not sure about the status of your meta descriptions? Use a free Ryte account to check for missing and duplicate meta descriptions.
Figure 6: Ryte makes it easy to find meta descriptions.
A meta description should briefly and succinctly summarize the contents of the page. Make sure to use the main keyword of the target site in the description text – it will be highlighted if it’s the user’s search query. Consider using a call to action to entice users to visit your website. Finally limit your meta description to 175 characters, including empty characters, so that your description can be shown in full. The number of characters is only approximate because, in the end, Google uses the pixel size of the description. At best, keep to between 170 and 175 characters.
Figure 7: This meta description example communicates the value propositions of the business and uses a call to action to encourage searchers to visit the website.
After you got the basics down, you should also consider enabling rich snippets and adding structured data to your pages. The ebook from Ryte and Hubspot has more information on how to best achieve this.
Internal linking impacts how well users can find their way around your website. It also supports the Googlebot in crawling your website and deciding the thematic relevance of subpages.
Common internal linking errors include:
Always use the central keyword as an anchor text in your subpages to strengthen the thematic relevance of the subpage. In contrast to detailed backlinks, internal links should be supplied with the important keyword.
In the Google Search Console or your Ryte account, regularly check whether there are crawling errors or broken links.
Ensure that you link to a further subpage only once on a site because the Linkjuice is divided among all the available links in the internal linking. The less often you use internal links, the more link power is transferred to the subpages.
A Sitemap.xml is a file that lists all the URLs of your website in a machine-readable form – like a complete table of contents for your website.
Sitemaps can be uploaded in the Google Search Console or BING Webmasters Tools to support the search engine crawling. With a Sitemap.xml, you can ensure that crawlers are informed about new or changed URLs in your domain.
The transmission of your XML sitemap does not at all guarantee that the URLs will be indexed, but the file will increase the chance that search engine crawlers will visit even weakly linked subpages and will include them in the index.
A Sitemap.xml can in general be created with traditional content management systems as well as shop systems.
The structure of the file is always similar and can look like this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
Store your file in the root directory of your domain, for example, www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml.
Log in to the Google Search Console and click on the point “Crawling,” then on “Sitemaps.” Now, click on the red button “Insert/test sitemap,” insert the directory path in which the file is stored, and then click on “Send.” Google will check your sitemap and show possible errors.
Figure 8: Store Sitemap.xml in the Google Search Console.
Images fulfill many functions on your website. Starting with the obvious, they enrich your content and can increase the chance of sales in your shop. At the same time, images increase the topic relevance and the user experience of your site, increasing session length and lowering bounce rates. These user signals can, in turn, have a positive effect on your rankings. However, various pitfalls can lead to frequent SEO errors with images.
If you would like to delve further into the topic of “image optimization”, you will find our Guide to Image SEO here.
Start by compressing images that you use for your website. To do this, use common image editing programs that allow for loss-free compression. After compressing, save your image files with descriptive text that contain relevant keywords for your page. When adding the image to your website, be sure to use a descriptive ALT text that includes the main keyword of your page. This helps with accessibility and allows search engines to “understand” the content of your images and may offer the bonus of showing up in the Google Image Search results.
Website optimization for SEO sure is a whole lot to keep on your radar. And it can be overwhelming. Like, where do you even begin?
But not to worry, we have your back!
In 2021, we teamed up with HubSpot to bring you a perfect planner for boosting your SEO game – one day at a time. Available now, How to Increase Your Traffic With SEO in 30 Days delivers a single tip for every day of the month.
Instead of being overwhelmed by a bulging list of common SEO mistakes, the freshly updated eBook helps you learn how to increase your organic traffic in just 30 days. Guaranteed! Or get your money back!!! Wait, the eBook is entirely free of charge… Anyhow, download it now and start climbing those search ranks.
Download the Complete SEO Starter Pack to get a copy of How to Increase Your Traffic With SEO in 30 Days E-book
Published on 03/11/2021 by Kate Aspinwall.
Kate worked at Ryte from 2018 to 2021. She previously worked as a Brand Strategist at a Boston-based creative agency. She is passionate about branding, international marketing, and finding the best vegetarian restaurant in Munich.
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