Blog > 5 SEO Mistakes To Avoid On Your Website
Posted By Tara Rickard
There are lots of modifications you can make to improve your site’s SEO and an abundance of advice out there for climbing higher in the ranks of search engines.
However, it’s worth considering some of the things you should avoid, which could harm your search-engine friendly site and in this blog we’ll look at some of the major points that could reduce the quality of your SEO.
1. Not having a mobile-friendly site
You’ve probably heard it lots already, or read in our recent blogs, that as of the 21st of April 2015 Google are favouring mobile-friendly sites in their search algorithm. The browsing experience has become so important that the customer’s expectation is high, no matter the device they are using - Google has taken note of this and will be boosting mobile-friendly pages in the rankings on mobile, and potentially, decreasing the ranking of those that are only designed for larger screens.
Google quotes that 61% of customers who visit an unfriendly mobile site, where they’ll have to pinch the screen or struggle to reach your shop, will go elsewhere.
To avoid your website possibly being demoted from its position in mobile search, now is a good time to think about switching over to one of our responsive, mobile-friendly templates, as Sophie suggested in her recent blog "Curious About SEO? Our Guide To The Basics".
2. Keyword heavy content and keyword spamming
You may have seen this used as a technique in the past, where a website owner will employ ‘popular’ keywords in excess to try and gain top visibility in the search engines.
This is something we still come across today and you should be aware that this type of content is deemed manipulative and an attempt to forcibly work your way up the rankings.
The consequence of this is that search engines may ignore, or even punish your site if they think your content is unnatural - Google no longer gives positive ranking for such techniques. This can include:
- Repeatedly entering keywords or phrases on your pages or in the Meta information.
- Hiding keywords or content on your pages. For example, text that is the same colour as the background, text hidden behind images or even pushed off the page from sight.
If you are concerned about this, we suggest removing this from your Meta information or deleting any keywords that might seem excessive. For extra advice on optimising your keywords and content, you can read more in our guide.
3. Over-optimising anchor text links
Anchor text is the visible and clickable text used for a hyperlink, such as "click here to read our latest blog" - "Click here" could be your anchor text. It helps the search engines to understand the relevance of links on and to a page.
In the past, using lots of keyword rich anchor text could help your website appear higher in the search results. However, as this tactic was much abused, the Penguin update from 2012 made it easy for Google to penalise any over-optimisation of anchor text.
Gaining backlinks is important, but too many keyword rich anchors can look artificial and exact match anchor tags can seem suspicious. If lots of these are linking back to you it can look like you are trying to rank for specific keywords. You should try and keep the anchor text you use varied so it looks natural.
A good way to avoid this is to create visible link text that sounds natural and is relevant to the content on that page. Try reading the paragraph aloud with the anchor text to see if it flows smoothly within context.
It's fine to use generic 'junk anchors' too, such as "read more" and "click here". These look authentic - just remember to keep them diverse.
4. Unnatural Link Building
Link building to and from quality sites is a vital part of good SEO, and there was a time when buying links in volume or entering link exchanges was a common practice.
However, website owners should be aware that trying to earn links to their sites should be done with care, as bad quality links can seriously damage your website’s organic search position. Some examples of link schemes which you should avoid are:
- Buying and selling links. Exchanging money, goods or services for links from non reputable companies who offer to boost your site’s SEO, can have a negative impact on your own site - particularly if their tactic is to try and trick the search engines.
- Linking unnecessarily in online communities. This can be guest post entries and commenting on blogs by posting links with little value or relevance, as a means of earning backlinks to your site. Instead, think about adding value to the content and those readers.
- Cross-linking and link exchanges – “link to me and I’ll link to you”. Engaging in link exchanges with poor quality or irrelevant sources, for the sole purpose of cross-linking, will poorly impact your site. To avoid this try and engage in link exchanges where the information you provide each other is useful.
If you want to find out more about link building in a positive and natural way, have a read of Rosie's recent blog "Link Building - Sowing The Seeds Of Good SEO".
5. Buying multiple domain names for a single website
In previous years buying multiple domain names and pointing them all to the same site could work to your advantage - Google would highly favour keywords in your domain name and see this as a ranking signal. This practice could have provided you with multiple sites in the top 10 search results.
However, Google and other search engines have become wise to the practice of duplicating websites and this is something which they will penalise you for.
There is nothing wrong with owning lots of domain names, for example you might intend on securing other brand terms or using a specific domain for a promotion.
If you do have multiple domain names, simply ensure that all of these are set up with a 301 permanent redirect which will tell Google which of the sites is the main one for them to spider and index. Your customers will land on that primary domain name too!
If you have multiple domain names with us, you can find out more about setting up a 301 Redirect with your domain names in our help guide "Can I set a 301 redirect on my additional domain names?".
A final thought to best practice SEO
We now know that perfecting your sites SEO is not a quick process, nor something that should be rushed. The most popular sites tend to have natural and authentic content, with information that is useful and relevant to the reader. The search engines are smart and have matured a lot, so it's best to avoid any enticing opportunity that sounds like it will boost your website's rank by performing any tricky business to manipulate the results.
If you have any questions at all, or any tips for others around common mistakes that should be avoided, please do leave your comments below :)