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Top 10 Most Common SEO Mistakes

It’s hard for me to pick the top 10 SEO search engine optimization mistakes, because really there are hundreds of things that can effect search rankings that we test for and monitor,  I tried to make a list of the top 10 most common problems the GlowHat team runs into on an everyday basis.

  1. Targeting the wrong keywords, the wrong audience, too large or small of a phrase etc.
    With all the time and effort it takes to do quality white hat SEO, it would make sense to not be wasting your precious time on optimizing phrases that won’t help you reach your goals. If you’re unsure then why not test the search phrases with a small PPC campaign etc. and confirm that they drive the types of site traffic and conversions you’re looking for. Also you have to be realistic and efficient, it doesn’t make sense to target phrases that are too generic and competitive, and would take you 10 years to rank on the first page for. Also don’t pat yourself on the back because you’re now #1 in Google for “Needle point supply SomeHickTown, AK”, the key is to target phrases that have the most traffic and least amount of competition first, then work your way up to more difficult but higher traffic generic phrases later on or never, if you have a niche site. As the generic phrases can be a huge waste of time, they’re the “sucker” phrases. Let your unschooled less savvy competitors toil away on these while you own all the secondary and long tail phrases in your market.

  2. Lack of content, don’t expect to get visitors or rankings on your site if you have no textual content about it.
    Realize that search engines look at the text on your pages as the first step into deciding on which site and which page to show first the in the SERPs search engine results pages.
    SEO is like the process of polishing your silverware and helping it look the best to the search engines, now if you don’t have any silverware, what will an SEO polish? But you’d be surprised at the number of sites that try to rank high, but offer very little in the way of quality unique content on their sites that targets the phrases they’d like to rank for. They think somehow by magic their site will suddenly explode with site traffic and high rankings. Just like in the real world, SEO takes hard work, it’s not easy to make dozens, hundreds or even thousands of unique useful pages of site content, but it’s worth the effort and will pay off in the long run.

  3. Not putting your content on your own domain/hosting.
    Free hosting and blog sites aren’t “free”. In reality when you setup a site on a free hosting space like your local ISP folder or free hosting sites like Geocities, wordpress, blogger, typepad, etc etc the search engines will credit with any content or links, worse yet there’s a good chance that through your TOS or user agreement they might actually even own the rights to your content.

  4. Only linking to your home page.
    Deep links help bring in traffic and rankings to the rest of your site. This issue sort of goes hand in hand with the other of not having enough content on your site and being overly focused on your main keywords.  Site owners often don’t realize that every single page of a site is potential “home page” a landing page that the new site visitor that has never been to your site before will first find you by. They might type in a long search phrase and the keywords all happen to be on a page you made, they might not ever see your home page. Take the blinders off and look at your whole site’s visibility online not just your home page. Yes your home page is normally the most important page of the site, but it’s not your only “home page”.

  5. Not redirecting to i.e Canonicalization
    We see this all the time, even with big sites that have been around for years, they forget to pick which URL will be their main URL and redirect traffic from the other one.  What this can do is cause duplicate content issues and also reduce the SEO power of your site, as its getting slit in two with some SEO power going to the “www” version and the rest going to the non-www version.

  6. Lack of site links
    links drive traffic to your site and send a powerful positive SEO signal to the search engines. For competitive phrases, site links are probably one of the most
    important factors the search engines look at in ranking a site. The whole reason why Google is Google is because of site links and scoring sites based on site links.
    On page SEO factors are still critical but once that is straighten out on your site then typically link building is the area of focus that will help increase your site rankings.

  7. Focusing exclusively on main keyword rankings
    while neglecting secondary and long tail phrases.  Humans like to simply things, and even though the internet and SEO can be complex people still like to put their blinders on fixate on their most generic phrases.  It’s easy to put all your attention on a couple of your main phrases, not realizing that they’re so generic they don’t really produce that much bossiness for your site. Often it’s the longer phrases the unexpected combinations of phrases that people are finding your site on that are turning into conversions.

  8. Poor URL structure
    having long URLs full of parameters in them is bad for a number of reasons, in regards to SEO  it can prevent the search spiders from crawling your site.

  9. Duplicate content
    There are several types, the most common is same exact page, but two or more different URLs on your site.

    1. Same exact page but two or more different URLs on your site, is common in dynamic sites that add parameters and are database driven like shopping carts and CMS systems.
    2. Same URL that serves up two different pages
    3. Same exact page is found on completely different sites, might be one or more.
    4. A page on your site that has a high percentage of similar content, and a lack of unique content on the page.
    5. A page on someone Else’s site that has a high percentage of similar content.

  10. A slow site, and or excessive downtime
    This can reduce the frequency, depth and speed of search engine spider visits.

There are hundreds of variables that the search engines look for when deciding on how to rank a site, that we test for, if you’re interested in having us review your site visit our free SEO report page and fill out the form and we can provide you with a more in depth look at your site and the possible SEO issues holding it back from ranking highly.

Stijn Amundsen is the Founder and Principle at GlowHat of Scottsdale Arizona. He enjoys sharing his passion for internet marketing and helping others reach their true potential in business and life. Stijn has been helping clients market high performance web sites for over 10 years, generating millions of dollars of business through high ROI strategies.

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  1. I think there is one big one that should have been added, submitting to directories in categories that are not relevant to your page. So many people are using auto-submit programs that place you in totally irrelevant places. Please what we had to say about it at and let me know what you think. Thanks for a great post!

    • Not sure if it’s a top 10, you could probably group that under #1 targeting the wrong audience, doesn’t make sense to get irrelevant links that don’t pass much if any SEO juice.

      But I agree,that sites with a theme that matches your keyword you’re trying to rank do seem to help more, but I think the more important things the algorithms look at is this an authority site, a trusted site the link is coming from, or is it a low quality spam type free for all directory with 10,000 outbound links and 3x inbound links? And I’m talking about pure rankings here. Now if we’re talking about driving traffic to the site from other sites we’re getting links from, then obviously you want to get links from sites where the users interest and intent would match what your site has to offer. The best of both worlds if we can get a trusted authority link that will pass lots of SEO juice, but also drive lots of human visitors and is a site or page that matches our site and is a link that many of their users are likely to see, not a buried link on a links page that nobody looks at, but a link like a featured guest blog post on heavily trafficked blog for example.

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