This article has been contributed by Jyoti Roy.
So, you have created a new website and now you want to monetize your blog. Not a problem – it can be a straightforward process.
But to make money from your website, you need web traffic – and the key to generating traffic is successful search engine optimisation (SEO). There are plenty of SEO related articles on the internet that will help you get started.
You start working hard – publishing 5-6 quality pieces of content per week, building backlinks and auditing your website.
But, after several weeks or months, you see none of your articles have shown up on Google’s search results. You wonder, “I’m doing everything right, so why is my site not getting any traffic from Google”?
If this is happening to you, you aren’t alone. This happens to plenty of us when we first start our website.
But, there’s no need to worry – I’m here to share my experiences so you don’t have to make the mistakes I did. Here are 14 SEO errors that most beginners make and how to avoid them, so that you can grow your web traffic.
1. Choosing the Wrong Keywords
If you are not getting organic traffic to your site, it’s possible that you’ve chosen the wrong keywords to target.
Choosing the right keywords for your business or website is crucial. If you focus on keywords that people don’t search on Google, you simply won’t get any traffic.
Think about what types of content people search on Google. For example, the keyword best dog leash has over 1,500 monthly searches in the U.S. So, if your webpage does successfully rank, it will be seen by a decent number of people.
But, if you rank for beautiful dog leash for my puppy instead, you won’t get much exposure or traffic at all – because no one searches for this term.
Likewise, if you target a broad, popular keywords that really strong, authoritative websites already rank for, you probably won’t have a chance of ranking on the first page.
For example, Apple webpages account for almost the entire first page of results for the keyword, apple iphone. If you write a blog post targeting this keyword, you have basically no chance of ranking successfully.
So, you won’t get any traffic by targeting high-competition keywords either.
“OK, this makes sense, but how do I find the right keywords?”
Well, you’ll need to do keyword research, using a keyword research tool. These types of tools tell you all sorts of things about keywords – like search volumes, difficulty to rank for them against current competition (existing webpages), and related keywords.
SEMrush is a great tool for keyword research.
With SEMrush, you can find keyword trends, competition metrics, search engine results page (SERP) comparisons, search Amazon and YouTube keywords, and much more.
The best thing about SEMrush is that it provides you the top 100 Google results that appear for the analyzed keyword. This helps you optimize your content to outrank competitors.
2. Keyword Stuffing
Once you find worthwhile keywords to target, don’t make the mistake of overusing them in your content and tags. This is known as keyword stuffing, which is not looked upon favorably by search engines, and as a result, can limit your site’s SEO performance.
Instead, make sure you use semantically linked keywords. These are words that are conceptually related to each other, that are not synonyms and don’t sound like or include one another. An example is graphic design and logo, Photoshop, color, and typography.
Search engines use latent semantic indexing (LSI) to identify and understand these keywords. They recognize the relationship between LSI keywords and are inclined to reward the content for being rich and high-quality.
3. Not Optimizing Your Content
Once you have keywords to target, you need to start writing new content or update existing content.
But how do you optimize your content for SEO?
Firstly, it helps to know the SEO tactics you can use to help you rank successfully on SERPs.
If you want a more foolproof solution, use an SEO tool to tell you how many keywords you should use, how many words your article should be, and if you have added the keyword into your post title, meta description, and image alt tags. They generally give you green signals if you’ve done everything right, which is especially useful for beginners.
4. Duplicating Content
Writing a new piece of content is not easy. It requires research, knowledge, and most of all it takes time to produce meaningful, well-written content.
Unfortunately, some bloggers take shortcuts. They either steal other people’s content outright or use content spinning tools to rewrite other author’s articles. They mistakenly think that simply by increasing the volume of content on their own site, for instance by copying other author’s work, will increase their chances of rank on the first page.
However, Google and other search engines have very sophisticated algorithms, which can detect duplicate content. They do not reward websites with duplicated content, so you won’t be successful in attracting organic traffic to your site if you take this approach.
Instead, focus on creating high-quality, original content. Publishing one piece of useful, relevant content for your readers each week will be far more beneficial than 4-5 pieces of low-quality, copied content.
5. Buying Backlinks
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to SEO. They work like a voting system, meaning that having more links to a page from other websites helps it to rank higher on SERPs.
But not all links are created equal. If you want to rank higher, you should focus on building high quality links rather than low quality links. This means securing links from websites with high Domain Authority scores, that are directly relevant to your website content.
To make link building fast and easy, some beginners buy hundreds or thousands of spammy backlinks. Rest assured, getting a lot of links from small, new, low-quality sites that are not related to your subject matter will not improve your rankings.
6. Only Focusing on External Links
So, you now know the importance of link building. For successful link building, both internal and external links are very important.
But most beginners focus on building external links (links coming to your site from other websites) only and forget to build internal links (links between pages within your own site website).
By building internal links, you help search engines discover more content on your website. You also point them to concentrations of relevant content, so they can recognize your authority in your particular field. Not to mention, internal links help your readers find more content they will be interested in.
Internal links also help to pass link juice which means they can help other pages on your website rank in relevant SERPs.
7. Not Optimizing for Speed
Many beginners often ask if website speed affects SEO. The short answer is YES!
Web users are very impatient – they don’t wait longer than around 3 seconds for websites to load. So, if your loading speed is slow, expect users to bounce off your page back to the SERP. This obviously results in a loss of both customers and revenue.
But perhaps just as importantly, search engines see these users leave your site and recognize these bounces as a negative indicator of your site’s user experience. This bumps your rankings down in the SERPs from where they could potentially be.
Many beginners build their websites, unwittingly installing plugins and scripts that slow their site down. They often don’t realize their images are not optimized (more on that below) and how much that slows down their site too.
Additionally, using a shared hosting server can slow your page loading speeds. Instead, choose a premium quality hosting server for your business website.
If you have a WordPress site and a decent budget, WP Engine hosting is a good option. It’s fast, secure, and most importantly, it provides you dedicated resources. However, if you want cheaper hosting, there are good WP Engine alternatives available.
8. Not Optimizing Images
Adding images to pages or articles makes your content more interesting and shareable.
But are you using images properly?
Most beginners use images that are too large. While this can make for a better viewing experience than using lo-res images, they may take too long to load and will soon eat up your server resources.
What’s the solution?
The first thing you need is to optimize your images. There are several tools and plugins available that will help you optimize your images without losing quality.
9. Not Adding Alt Text to Your Images
Most SEO beginners take a little while to get familiar with alt tags and how to use them to their advantage.
Alt text is the written content that you assign to an image to enable Google to understand what is pictured.
Just like text content, you need to optimize your images with keywords. This can add to the page’s ability to rank for the target keyword, but can also bring additional traffic if the image ranks in image search results for keywords.
10. Not Using Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
Once you finish building your website, you need to submit your website to Google Search Console. Google Search Console is a free tool that monitors your site’s presence in Google search results and alerts you to changes.
It also shows how often your site appears in Google search results, which keywords are bringing traffic to your site, which search queries show your site, and more.
You can also upload your sitemap to Google Search Console each time you add a webpage (or weekly, for instance, if you frequently add pages). This ensures Google crawls the new pages and indexes them for relevant keywords.
Similarly, you can submit your website to Bing Webmaster Tools.
11. Not Publishing Constantly
A common mistake that many beginners make is not publishing articles regularly. You don’t need to publish 4-5 articles per week. But do aim for around 1-2 high-quality articles per week.
Don’t get into a race. Take your time, research, check how your competitors write articles, check the competition for keywords. Once you have the data, then start writing. There is no problem if it takes 4-5 days to finish, but your content needs to be meaningful, genuinely useful to your readers and SEO-optimized.
Once you start publishing content consistently, you will see your traffic grow and your readers engage with your content more.
12. Not Formatting Your Content
Yes, high quality, unique content ranks best. But are you properly optimizing your text content?
Even when newbie writers do manage to produce good content, they often make the mistake of not applying heading tags and appropriate formatting.
Here’s what I mean:
This is hard to read, and most importantly, doesn’t provide a good user experience. It’s also not optimised to take advantage of the benefits that SEO has to offer.
Before publishing any page or post, make sure your article is easy to read, has appropriate heading and subheading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc), bold and italic text, bullet points, etc. Simple edits like this can boost your chances of appearing in Google’s featured snippets, which can significantly increase your website’s exposure.
13. Not Making Your Site Mobile Friendly
SEO is not just about creating content and building backlinks. It’s also about the overall quality of your website – including speed, design, and most importantly, mobile friendliness.
Google now prioritizes mobile searches over web searches. So, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, your site may not rank well in Google searches – on mobile or desktop.
How can you make your site mobile friendly?
- Make sure your website loads quickly on all devices
- Use a responsive theme
- Create mobile-friendly content that provides a good user experience
To check whether you’re ticking the right boxes, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. It will tell you how easily a visitor can use your page on a mobile device. Simply enter a page URL to see how your page scores, and get advice on how to improve it.
14. Not Cross-Promoting Content on Social Media
Social media is one of the best ways to promote your content, and drive clicks to your website. Not only will you get more eyeballs on your content, but organic traffic from social media sources is a positive SEO ranking factor. Search engines recognize that users coming from these sources are finding content that they find worthwhile on your website, which is what search engine algorithms are all about.
You don’t need to be active on all platforms. Instead, find out which social media channels your target audience uses most. Focus your efforts on just one or two to start with, then you can expand to more once you have a good handle on them.
SEO is a crucial part of securing organic search engine traffic. While you can find plenty of SEO tips online, it’s common to make a few mistakes, especially when you first start out.
Use this guide to avoid the most common SEO errors made by beginners, and you’ll have a head start to increasing brand exposure via SERPs and generating clicks to your site.
About the author: Jyoti Ray is the founder of WPMyWeb.com. He writes about blogging, WordPress tutorials, hosting and affiliate marketing