SEO mistakes that sites are still making

SEO has changed a lot over the last few years, but many sites are still making the same mistakes and hurting their performance. Here are some of the main offenders.
Almost everyone running a business knows the importance of getting online and getting discovered, and that means investing some time and effort into SEO. However, optimising a site can be harmful if it is done badly, and many organisations are still falling victim to the same SEO mistakes that have been doing the rounds for years.

If you run a website, it is worth checking through this list and making sure you aren’t falling victim to any of these common SEO errors that are still showing up.

Keyword misuse
Keywords are an integral part of SEO, but it’s easy to get them wrong. This commonly tends to happen because sites are using the wrong keywords. For example, both search engines and the people that use them give precedence to long-tail keywords: phrases of three or more words. However, often organisations choose single words and attempt to rank for those.

While this will not help your site rank particularly high, at least it won’t hurt it. However, the same cannot be said about keyword stuffing. Many sites still consist of transparent attempts to feature their keywords as much as possible. Not only do search engines pick up on this – and penalise it – it is also a good way to get a user to leave your site immediately.

Neglecting metadata
The content on a site is important, but it is not the be-all and end-all of SEO. The metadata is incredibly important as well, but many organisations neglect it. A good title tag and metadescription will be considered by search engines, so can give a webpage a boost up the rankings with relatively little effort.

One of the most neglected elements of metadata is image alt tags. A search engine cannot ‘read’ an image – it will have no idea what that picture of your product is actually showing – but it can analyse the text of an alt tag and work out what pictures your site is using from that. This makes the tags another great – but easily missed – opportunity for optimisation.

Paying for links
Link farming has got enough bad press that most people are staying away from it. Buying links like this is very spammy and will almost certainly get your site penalised. However, there are also downsides to offering giveaways in exchange for links, such as sending out free products to bloggers who will review it and link back to your site.

This is not harmful, it’s just a really inefficient way of link building. You’re paying out money or sending out products in the hope that the reviews will be positive and the links will boost your SEO. A better method is simply to produce interesting and useful content that is likely to be shared. You’ll get much more links for your money that way.

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