SEO refers to the process of increasing the quality of our website so that it is better optimized for both human visitors as well as bots.SEO is the single most important factor that determines the success of our website or blog. The SEO industry is so vast that we often find it difficult to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent practices. There are many SEO firms out there that offer services at a cheap cost. They may get you quick results but in the long run, your website is really going to face an SEO nightmare. Every blogger should have a basic understanding of the dos and don’ts in SEO. In this blog post, I will cover the 7 most common SEO mistakes that bloggers should avoid.
1) AVOID DMCA COMPLAINTS
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a legislation passed by the US government that deals with copyright infringement on the Internet. The use of copyrighted content would easily result in a DMCA complaint.
Google started considering the DMCA complaint as one of the ranking factors. This is especially important for entertainment-related websites. The unauthorized use of any song, music track or even short film clippings is legally a copyright violation that could easily land us in trouble. The most common practice among bloggers is to use images that may be protected by copyright laws. Although images are a great tool to improve our site’s SEO, copyrighted images do more harm than good. So always double-check before including such content on our site.
2) NEVER DO CONTENT CLOAKING
Content cloaking is a black hat SEO technique that is used to deliver different content to Google bots and users. An example would be adding many keywords to our content using a hidden div. The visitors are not able to see this content but the bots will read it. This is strictly a violation of Google webmaster guidelines and will negatively impact our site rankings.
3) AVOID KEYWORD STUFFING
Keyword density is the number of times a particular keyword appears in the total content.
In the initial stages of search engines, they might have considered keyword density as a factor to understand the relevance of a topic. But now they have the technology to understand the content much better and hence does not depend on keyword density. As Matt Cutts mentions there is no definite percentage value for keyword density that is considered optimal. The keywords should appear naturally in the content. Google is smart enough to identify high keyword density, as a result of keyword stuffing. A typical example of such a black hat SEO technique as pointed out by Google is shown below.
Here the keyword ‘cigar humidors’ is repeated again and again just to increase keyword density, which might negatively affect our site rankings.
4) AVOID KEYWORD CANNIBALIZATION
Keyword Cannibalization happens when multiple pages on the same site have the exact same keywords. This may cause an SEO issue as this is splitting CTR between two pages instead of one. It is creating a kind of competition in SERPs between the same website pages. There is no single solution to solving keyword cannibalization. If possible we could merge these contents and provide a 301 redirect for one of the URLs. Else we need to revisit our keywords and try to be more specific.
For example, if our site sells books, then instead of focusing on the generic keyword ‘book’ we could use more specific keywords like Children’s book, Lawbook and History Book, etc for different pages. This approach will also enable search engines to drive a more specific audience to our site which helps in better conversions.
5) AVOID KEYWORD UNICORNS
Some keywords might seem to be very attractive due to high search volumes. But these keywords may have altogether different search intent. These types of keywords are known as unicorns. For example, let us consider the keywords ‘google maps’.
The average search volume for this keyword per month is very high at about 100M. But a majority of these searches have the intent of visiting Google maps. If our content is about embedding Google maps to a website then the keyword we should be trying to rank must be something like ‘add google maps to any website’.
Although the search volume is much less the search intent exactly aligns with our content
6) NEVER USE PBN FOR BACKLINKS
Private Blog Networks (PBN) is a group of websites that are used to build backlinks to our website with the intent of boosting search engine rankings.
Using PBN, we could get several backlinks to our site is really no time. This SEO technique might have worked many years back. But today, Google’s algorithms are smart enough to identify such black hat link building strategies. Many newbie bloggers fall prey to such SEO mistakes believing that backlinks are going to improve their ranking. But in reality, Google will only penalize our website for adopting such techniques.
7) DO NOT TRUST LOW-QUALITY DIRECTORIES
Many SEO firms still use low-quality directory sites for link building as such backlinks are easy to obtain. Links from these sites can actually do more harm than good. Some of these directories offer paid links also. Google’s guidelines are very clear on this. They hate paid links as well as links from low-quality sites. So always use high-quality directories like Yelp, Foursquare, etc. for link building.
Note: These tips are just a basic list for beginners. Bloggers might spend endless hours creating awesome content but a few mistakes on SEO might cause extensive damage to their SERPs. I have faced many such issues during the initial stages of my blogging career. Newbie bloggers often require guidance and support to avoid such pitfalls.
It is always better to learn from the experts. Read this round up post where 10 expert bloggers share their best insights about the top 3 blogging mistakes that beginners should avoid.