Having seen and worked on countless websites, we often notice that some basic SEO errors are being repeated over and over. There are many different types of SEO mistakes that people can make, so below we have outlined the 5 most common ones. Many of them will be easy to find and fix.
1. Ignoring Duplicate Content
Duplicate content means that you have identical (or nearly identical) content on more than one of your pages. This can often happen without your even realising it. One of the most common errors is the duplication of the homepage. For example:
When search engines come across identical content on different pages, they do not know which page they should index. Eventually, they will stop showing the pages in the search results altogether.
You should use the rel=”canonical” tag on all pages that contain the duplicate content. This tag points search engines to the original page which is also the one which will be ranking in the search results. (However, search engines may occasionally choose to ignore the rel=”canonical” tag and show one of the duplicate pages if they deem that page more relevant.)
Alternatively, you might want to 301 redirect alternate versions of a page to the original page. Opposed to the rel=”canonical” tag, a 301 will actually take visitors to a different page.
Write unique content for each of your pages. For example, if you have a store with separate pages for different locations, make sure each page contains unique content.
Last but not least, delete the duplicate pages if possible.
If you have the suspicion that another website stole your content or that your pages contain content from other sources, you can use Copyscape to make sure your content is unique.
2. Not implementing Image Alt Tags
Search engines (and screen readers!) cannot see images as humans do, they need the image alt tag to tell them what an image is about.
If search engines can’t identify what your images are about, they won’t be able to show them in the image search results. This may lose your site some good exposure and visibility.
When you insert an image on any of your pages, make sure to fill in the alt text with short descriptive phrases. You can also use a few relevant keywords, but be careful to avoid keyword stuffing! Find out more about image optimisation.
3. Using 302 redirects instead of 301s
A 302 redirect is meant to be temporary, whereas a 301 reflects a permanent redirect.
When search engines come across a 302 redirect, they understand that the redirecting URL will be put back at a later point. The search engine will not associate the new page with the redirecting URL in the search results. This is no problem if you are only planning to unpublish a page for a certain amount of time.
If one of your pages has been deleted permanently, however, a 302 redirect will not pass link juice to the new page, and the page won’t be assigned with the new URL in the search results.
So if you are deleting a page and thus the URL, you need to 301 redirect the URL to a new one. This signals search engines that the redirect is permanent.
4. Not updating your website regularly
A website that hasn’t been updated in a while reduces its perceived value. Search engines favour sites that have fresh content, they notice if you are making regular updates to your site, and will re-index your site. Keeping your site fresh also signals to them that your website is being taken care of.
If your content is outdated or hasn’t been updated in a while, you may lose visibility in search results. Keep your content fresh by blogging regularly, adding new pages, making changes to existing content and generally looking after your site by fixing broken links etc.
5. Paying more attention to search engines than your visitors
SEO is important, but your visitors are what matters most. Don’t compromise usability with your SEO activities, and don’t undermine your content’s quality to the point that your visitors no longer want to stick around and engage with your site.
Keep your focus on providing high value and satisfaction to your users. If your audience is happy, it is very likely that you will be rewarded with high rankings in the search results as well as increased traffic and conversions.
If you’d like to chat to us about any SEO questions that you have, get in touch!