10 SEO mistakes to avoid in 2022
We’ve all heard the potential damage that even the most simple mistakes can do to a website.
Whether it’s a broken backlink, bad grammar, or the incorrect use of an H-tag, some of the biggest SEO mistakes are often the most common.
Luckily, they’re usually relatively easy to fix.
In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive and assess some of the most common SEO mistakes we see our clients make when trying to get their website to rank higher in search engines.
Before we get started, you must remember the following:
Search Engines don’t punish you by default.
Google, Yandex, Bing! and other search engines don’t ‘punish’ you if you make SEO mistakes.
If you build lots of spammy backlinks, stuff keywords, and try and ‘game’ a search engine, then yes, you will be punished. But for the most part, the simple reason you’re not ranking higher is that you’re holding yourself back. That might be through a poor SEO strategy where you try to rank for impossibly difficult keywords or not having a site set up correctly.
Simply put, common SEO mistakes hold you back and stop your site from getting more organic traffic. Fixing these problems is key to ranking higher.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the SEO mistakes we see the most frequently.
- 1 1 – Broken links
- 2 2 – Missing ALT tags
- 3 3 – Incorrect use of H1 tags
- 4 4 – Keyword stuffing
- 5 5 – Improper use of site maps
- 6 6 – Too thin or too thick content
- 7 7 – Ignoring website’s performance – especially Core Web Vitals
- 8 8 – Incorrect use of backlinks
- 9 9 – Misunderstanding of user intent
- 10 10 – Incorrect URL structure
- 11 Conclusion
We often refer to search engine bots ‘crawling’ your website. And the use of external and internal links on your site helps Google and other search engines do that, understand what your site is about, and make it rank correctly.
But all too often, our SEO team sees broken links – both internally and externally.
Broken internal links go from one page of your site to another page on your site that simply doesn’t exist. Broken external links are the same, but they link to a website that isn’t your own – and the page on that website also doesn’t exist.
Broken links are a common SEO mistake made by e-commerce companies. When products are discontinued, they’re simply unpublished and forgotten about by everyone except Search Engines.
Fix internal links by taking a close look at the ‘links’ report in Google Search Console. Here, Google’s crawler will tell you which pages your site points to that don’t exist anymore.
ALT tags for images are one of the most common SEO mistakes we see. That’s because ensuring all images have an ALT tag is a lot of hard work for what’s usually an unseeable benefit.
The truth is that Google needs ALT tags on your images to know what your image is about. Search bots are nothing more than code that reads what’s on your site. It doesn’t have eyes to look at pictures and say, ‘that’s a picture of a red winter jacket.’ Therefore, search engines look at your ALT tags to understand what the image is about.
If you don’t supply an ALT tag, search engines simply can’t figure out what the picture is about. And that’s important, considering almost 20% of Google searches are image searches.
Make the common SEO mistake of not providing ALT tags, and Google won’t be placing your images in the image search results.
Any good SEO writer knows to put your main keyword into an H1 tag. That’s because the H1 tag, or the headline of your article, usually does a pretty good job at explaining to the reader what the article or page is about. Therefore, search engines look at your H1 tag very closely to extrapolate what your page is about.
However, many web admins make the mistake of putting several H1 tags on a page or forgetting about them entirely.
It’s easy to see why not having an H1 tag is a problem – search engines are missing the most significant signal to understand what your page is about.
However, adding several H1 tags on the same page can have the opposite effect. Google gets mixed signals and, therefore, won’t understand the topic of your article. The result is that search engines don’t pull out any keywords on your page, which is not very good for your SEO strategy.
Inspect the code of your page and articles that you’re trying to rank, and ensure that you only have one H1 tag on your page.
Protip: You can have more than one H2 and H3 tag but only use them to make it easier for the reader to consume the written content on your page.
4 – Keyword stuffing
Keyword stuffing is a huge SEO problem we see our clients make regularly.
If you want your blog article to rank for ’email designs,’ you don’t have to use that phrase in every second sentence. Nor do you have to use it three times in the first sentence and every H tag throughout the article.
The truth is that search engines can understand when you’re stuffing keywords into an article. They’re become very good at picking up when you’re writing unnaturally and are very good at not ranking your page if you use target keywords too frequently.
Keyword density is not a factor. Yes, you have to use your keyword in your copy to make it rank for that particular keyword, but there’s no magical percentage that writers must adhere to. Use your keyword in your title tag, meta tags, alt tags, and H tags, of course.
But the most important thing to remember is this:
Write for people, not for search engines.
Search engines aren’t paying customers. Search engines don’t become leads. Search engines don’t request quotes.
People do all those things.
Write for people, and write the best way you can. Write in a way that builds trust with your reader. Create a rapport and explain why your product or business is the best out there. Appeal to their pain points and show how your business can fix the problem. In doing so, you’ll use your keywords naturally, you’ll use long-tail keywords naturally, and, most importantly, you’ll win over customers.
When you do that, you’ll win over search engines as well.
5 – Improper use of site maps
Sitemaps are a fickle thing.
It’s a simple XML sheet that’s usually automatically generated by your CMS. It’s this sitemap that Google’s crawlers look at to crawl all the pages on your site.
However, we commonly see a big difference between the URLs on a website and the URLs in that site’s sitemap.
So if we, humans, can see a difference between what’s in front of us and the map we’re reading, what do search engines think?
Unclear instructions that confuse search engine crawlers mean that they don’t like your site and refrain from ranking you higher.
Solve this problem by manually looking over your site map once a quarter. Ensure that every URL listed on the site is a URL that you want Google to crawl and index. You may be surprised to see that Google is crawling multiple pages you deleted a long time ago or web pages you didn’t even know existed.
6 – Too thin or too thick content
Paid advertising gives you traffic that you pay for.
Organic traffic is awarded to you when you create the best, most relevant, and quality content out there for a given topic.
No matter what topic you’re targeting, thin content isn’t going to help you rank.
Thin content can be defined as a copy that’s not written well, doesn’t look closely at the problems, doesn’t solve those problems, and, in general, is just poor copywriting.
You don’t need to write a 4000-word article about tying your shoes to rank for such a keyword, but you need to ensure that you cover every aspect of the process.
A great way to assess your content is to look at the pages already ranking on the first page. How much content is on those pages? Find the average amount of copy on the page, and work toward creating a copy of a similar length. If you find that the SERPs for your target keyword are dominated by features like videos, images, and so on, that should tell you that perhaps you don’t need to write copy to rank for that page – maybe a video is better.
The main point is this – don’t write 15 words about the cold war and expect to rank. Don’t write 15,000 words about boiling an egg and expect to rank.
Look at what your competitors are doing to rank for similar topics and work that standard.
7 – Ignoring website’s performance – especially Core Web Vitals
Google and other search engines want to provide their users with the best possible experience – and you should, too.
But if your site is slow, clunky, and users can’t interact with it well, then you’re providing a poor user experience. This means that Google won’t rank you as high as you deserve.
One of the most common SEO mistakes we see is webmasters not spending enough time monitoring and improving page speed. It’s a complex topic that often requires expensive migrations from one server to another. But a loading time that’s one mere second faster can see our page ranking in 3rd position compared to 33rd.
Tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs have excellent site audit features that tell you how fast your site loads. But Google Search Console also does a fantastic job.
That’s why site owners should monitor the results in such tools – especially since another common SEO mistake we see is web admins not using the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console.
Core Web Vitals became a ranking factor in early 2021. In essence, it’s a report that shows not just how fast your page loads but how long it takes to become interactive, how long it takes for users to see something on your page, and if the page changes layout during its loading process.
In other words, it’s a report directly from Google about what you can do to improve your website performance. Spend the time taking a deep look at your CWV report in Google Search Console, and you’ll see how to improve your website ranking with advice directions from Google.
Backlinks are a huge factor when it comes to making a website rank in Google.
But they’re not the only factor.
We see many clients taking an intense, granular perspective when looking at backlinks, assessing what sites are worth getting a backlink from, the authority of those sites, and much, much more.
In our experience, backlinks do play a massive part in building trust for a website. But most marketers who focus on tiny details like the DR/DA of other sites often overlook the essential part of a backlink – and that is trust.
Backlinks from highly-authoritative websites won’t help you rank higher if those links aren’t in context. A link to your landing page about home loans from a blog about deep-sea diving won’t help you rank higher, no matter the authority of either site.
It’s all about context.
If someone reading the blog would naturally click on the link, visit your site and convert, then yes, that’s a great place to place the link – regardless of that site’s authority.
It’s important to remember that ‘reaching’ too far for external links can be detrimental. Don’t try and twist and contort the context of an article just to get a backlink. Again, make sure that it’s all in context and that a person reading it would genuinely click on the link.
9 – Misunderstanding of user intent
If your primary keyword involves a verb like ‘buy,’ ‘compare,’ ‘watch’ or similar, then you’re in luck. It’s undeniable what a person searching for this term wants to do.
But not all keywords have a verb.
- e-mail marketing
- Philodendron Micans
We can only guess as to what someone searching for any of these terms wants. Does someone searching for ‘e-mail marketing’ want an email marketing tool, do they want tips, do they want statistics? We simply don’t know. So how can we know if we should create a landing page, a video, a blog, a category page, or something else entirely? What will be the quality content for them?
The fact is that we just don’t know.
And truth be told, that’s why Wikipedia pages are usually the default search results for many terms – they’re generally full of information and can best serve a wide range of intent types.
One of the biggest SEO mistakes we see our clients make is not understanding the intent behind a keyword. And, quite often, the default form of content comes in a blog.
But a 4000-word blog targeting the keyword ‘spring fashion inspiration’ probably won’t do a good job at giving the searcher what they want.
So how can you solve this problem?
Assess the search results.
However, before you go and create another blog to compete with the top 10 ranking blogs, ask yourself if you can do something different. Is a blog article the best way to answer the problem a searcher wants to be solved, or can a landing page do it?
Not having an idea of the relationship between search intent and the search results is a common SEO mistake, but one that’s easily fixed by being a little analytical, as well as a little creative.
10 – Incorrect URL structure
Google’s head of search, John Mueller says (and Google itself also confirms) that what’s in your URL has no bearing on your page ranking for that keyword.
However, it’s not always the case.
One of the most important SEO best practices is to include your SEO keywords in the URL and make it short and to the point.
That isn’t to make it easier for Google to index, but to improve visibility on Google and make sure your user knows exactly what they’re going to get when they click on your link.
We regularly see URLs that are made up of a series of numbers or something generic, like site.com/blog/post-23984. Again, in theory, this is ok. In reality, it’s ugly and confusing.
To make your URL easy for Google to crawl, and to make your URLs as easy as possible for you to manage, try and make the slug of your URL relevant to the topic.
Avoid using characters like 5, %, <, _, #, and stick to plain letters and numbers. Separate words with hyphens(–) rather than underscores (_).
Protip: If you’re writing a ‘listicle’, avoid using numbers in the URL as this dates the post to this year and fixes it to the number of examples.
Eg, don’t use /10-best-summer-2022-dresses/, but rather /best-summer-dresses/ This means you can make it more than 10 and update the article with fresh content every year.
The most common SEO mistakes are some of the easiest to fix. More often than not, they just require a little persistence and patience, and you’ll come out of the process knowing what not to do next time.
If you are struggling with some SEO problems or don’t know why your organic traffic isn’t growing, reach out to the team at Rank Higher Agency, and we’ll be able to help get your SEO traffic going up and to the right!