These experienced bloggers share common SEO mistakes that can make a huge difference to the health of your website.
There is so much to learn as a blogger. It’s a whole new world of design, social media, content creation and SEO. Even knowing where to start can be overwhelming.
The world of SEO, in particular, can be daunting. It’s an ever-changing landscape, but some mistakes continually crop up and damage site health. For this blog post, 17 experienced bloggers have chipped in to outline the most common SEO mistakes you should avoid as a blogger — no matter your niche. Whether you’re a new blogger or you’ve been writing for years, this is something you’ll want to read!
For this blog, we’ll focus on on-site SEO. If you’d love common mistakes regarding off-page SEO, let me know!
While you’re here, check out my post on how to build your blog’s domain authority!
Thinking SEO is a One-Time Thing
SEO isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ deal. It’s not just something you can tick off your checklist. There is always something to address, and with constant algorithm updates from Google, SEO can be a full-time job in and of itself. This is something Debbie from Mum’s The Boss points out
“Thinking that SEO is just a one-time thing is one of the most common SEO mistakes I see. You build a website (or get one built), you get the SEO guy to do his thing and you think that’s your business straight to the top of Google on day 1. Sadly not…”
Underestimating What SEO Entails
SEO is an area that is always changing and evolving. Google is constantly trying to perfect its algorithm to make sure the best, most relevant content appears on the top of Google. This means that if you want to keep on top of things, you’ll need to treat SEO as an ongoing project and a continual learning experience.
Emma Reed says:
“I had no idea about alt text, headings, using keywords correctly and meta description when I first started. If you can do your research at the start and try to understand SEO from the get-go, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of time and extra effort later on.”
Hannah from Crunch and Cream adds:
“A really common SEO mistake is thinking that green dots on Yoast is all you need to get Google traffic — without even doing keyword research or anything like that — that’s one I see a lot!”
Long Chunks of Text
As readers, we don’t generally like to be confronted with a huge block of continual text. We like the text to be broken up into sections, often with images, as well. It just makes for a more pleasant, less intense experience.
Sharon from Jera’s Jamboree points out that there is a link between long chunks of text and poor SEO. It has a direct impact on your bounce rate, letting Google know that people aren’t having a great time on your site. If people are fleeing from your website, it doesn’t make sense to bump your page up the rankings.
Not Making Proper Use of Headers
As we mentioned above, headers are great for user experience. But headers aren’t only for user experience — they’re great for SEO, too. Headings help search engines to read and understand text.
As highlighted by Kirsty Holden of HLDN Media, some bloggers understand that headers are great for user experience, but they make the mistake of simply boldening them rather than using the appropriate tag. This is an easy error to put right, and it could make a real difference.
Not Choosing the Right Keywords
There are some great writers out there creating some really interesting content. Unfortunately, often it won’t be found, as the content isn’t optimised around the right keyword. Content needs to have a focus. Bloggers need to do keyword research and build content around target keywords, rather than creating broad posts that meander and encompass too much at once.
If you’re not optimising your content around relevant keywords, you seriously damage your odds of ranking high in the SERPs. Keyword research in itself can be a slog, but it’s well worth your time. It’s best if you target long-tail keywords — and keep competition in mind when doing your keyword research. It’s not all about volume.
Martin from Roman Britons makes an important point about keywords and getting into the mind space of your target audience for best effect:
“I’d say one of the most common SEO mistakes is not writing in the same language as intended readers. I don’t mean English/French, but for example one of my clients changed her blog title from ‘top tips on taking your own portrait’ to ‘top tips for taking selfies’, which was much better for SEO”
Once you have relevant keywords, you can build content around them. If you’re looking to create a content calendar for your blog, I have a free template for you to use!
Not Knowing Where to Place Keywords
One notable SEO mistake I often see relates to keyword placement. You can’t just have the right keywords — you need to know where to place them. It can make all the difference to your ranking. Fortunately, I have a blog post all about where to use keywords for SEO.
Stuffing in Those Keywords
When it comes to using your target keyword, it’s a case of the more the merrier, right? You can’t overuse your keyword enough, surely? You can go ahead and cram that keyword whenever you get a chance and you’ll definitely make it to page one of Google, right?
I think we all know the answer to this one. Keyword stuffing looks spammy to search engines and it’s unnatural and uncomfortable to read. Overusing target keywords can actually do you more harm than good. You’re better off using LSIs (words and phrases closely related to your keyword) to make for a more organic post.
Francesca of And So She Thinks points out
“One huge misstep is packing copy with keywords so as to make it utterly unreadable. It’s just going to turn people off! You need to keep people engaged on your site, as well as get them there.”
Not Linking Internally
Some bloggers get so consumed with gaining backlinks they forget about the importance of internal links — this is something Nicola from Travelling With Boys points out. When linking to other pages, be savvy about your use of anchor text, too. Rather than using words like ‘this post’ or ‘click here’, think about the target keyword of the page you’re pointing to, and use that keyword, or variations of it.
Not Optimising Your URL Slugs
You see some truly ugly slugs out there, filled with numbers and unnecessary words. Keep things simple with short, pretty slugs and make sure you include your keyword. If you want more information on how to do this, this is all you will need to know about URL slugs and how to optimise them.
Not Having Optimised Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
Your work doesn’t end once you’ve finished writing your post. When you’re all done, make sure you optimise your page titles and meta descriptions. Include your keyword and ensure it’s the right length. As Ali from Diary of a Detour points out, this is how people will find you in Google, and badly optimised page titles and meta descriptions can certainly affect your CTR (click-through rate).
Victoria from Lylia Rose points out that page titles don’t necessarily need to reflect blog titles.
“One mistake I often see is leaving the page title to automatically be the same as the blog title. It’s something I did, but discovered they’re the second most important onsite SEO factor. Now painstakingly editing 1000s of them! Page titles need to be optimised for search engines and don’t need to be the same as your blog post title.”
Victoria makes a great point — while it makes a lot of sense to have your blog title match your page title tag, they don’t need to be the same. In fact, if your blog title is quite long, it makes sense to tweak it and optimise the page title so that it’s the appropriate pixel width. If you use Yoast, the plugin will let you know how many characters you can use. If you don’t, you can always use this free page title and meta description length tool.
Looking for more free SEO tools for blogging? Here are 48 for you to explore
Not Optimising Images
A bugbear for a lot of bloggers appears to be the optimisation of images. Jenni of Cruise Mummy says:
“The biggest mistake I see is the uploading of huge images that take forever to load and really slow their sites down. All images should be resized to the right dimensions and then compressed for the smallest file size and fastest loading.”
Both Sarah from Arthur Wears and Katy from Katy Kicker mention the fact that many bloggers forget to name their photos, while Oli (from The Sporting Blog) says he had to learn by trial and error in this department:
“For me, it was not optimising images in terms of both size and alt-text. The load time was an issue and of course, all those images without alt-text meant a lot of time wasted adding it all in. “
Having Short Blog Posts
It’s a bit difficult to really give an answer to the question “how long should a blog post be?”. It depends on a lot of things, including what your target reader actually wants to read. What we do know, though, is longer-form content tends to do better in the search engine results. Hubspot published data revealing that the ideal length of a blog post intended to generate leads is 2,500 words. But you know your readers the best. Perhaps they prefer 800-word blogs. But if you’re writing extremely short-form blogs, chances are you’re just wasting your time. Samara from Gift Goonie agrees, pointing out how shorter blogs don’t tend to appear on page one of Google.
Slow Loading Speed
We talked about bounce rate above in relation to long chunks of continuous text. Another element that can cause terrible bounce rate is slow loading speeds. Generally, we all have poor attention spans, and they’re getting worse. We don’t want to have to wait for the information we want — we want it now. And being as we’re competing with other sites with great loading speeds, this isn’t really too much to ask. It’s something that needs sorting out for the sake of your visitors and readers.
Petra of Proper Healthy Living says:
“One huge mistake I often see is using a WordPress theme which slows down the website. Many bloggers don’t check the speed of the theme they buy or use and it affects their site’s SEO.”
Forgetting Schema Markup
Schema is code you can add to your HTML to improve the way Google reads and represents your pages in the results pages. Schema markup improves the way your post looks in the results. You might not feel schema is particularly important for your niche, but for certain niches, schema can make all the difference. This is something Jessica from Vegan Punks points out:
“For food blogs, [a common error is] not using recipe cards which allow Google to see the content’s recipe schema. And in fact, not using the relevant schema markup for your niche.”
There are many more issues to be discussed here, including duplicate content, broken external links and neglecting analytics data, but these are the most common SEO mistakes highlighted by real bloggers. I’d love to hear from you if you have any you think should be added to the list!