Common SEO mistakes which affect ranking and sales

Identifying critical SEO mistakes that you can avoid or manage

At the start of any project we embark on a research and planning phase which always involves auditing our client’s website and those of their competitors. We realise that there are common SEO mistakes that the majority of website owners make, that can drastically harm website visibility on Google search results and their business as well.

It’s normal for website owners to believe that if they simply list hundreds or thousands of products on an eCommerce store, the traffic and search rankings will start to improve. But the stark reality is, it won’t. Similarly adding lots of new content on non-commerce website is not guaranteed to bring the visitors to your site in their 1000s.

So, here’s a list of critical SEO mistakes that you can avoid or manage.

Common website problems that affect your SEO

1. Bad mobile experience

Over half of online traffic occurs on mobile devices and this is rising year on year. Many websites are either not optimised for mobile or the website developers have not considered the experience that mobile visitors will encounter when navigating through the pages. A poor mobile experience is a common reason why site visitors disappear quickly, and search engines are well aware of this. Google have lead the way in prioritising websites in search results that offer a good mobile experience, and at the core of all their updates is the need to deliver the best experience for mobile users. As a result, websites that perform well for mobile browsing are ranked higher.

2. Dead links

As a website ages, new content is added, and often older content which is either less relevant or no longer needed, is either moved or deleted. Sometimes when this occurs, links that pointed to the old location of the content are not updated and Google identifies them as dead or broken links. These links are frustrating for visitors, and because of Google’s need to prioritise website’s that offer the best experience, a dead link can have a negative impact on ranking.

3. Forgetting About Your Audience in Keyword Research

When researching keywords, many e-commerce businesses spend so much time focusing on finding keywords relevant to their products that they forget to focus on keywords their target audience is actually searching for. The most appropriate keywords should be based on the unique questions an audience has that they might type into a search engine. These are often long-tail keywords, which are actually easier to rank for because they have less competition than generalised keywords.

4. Keyword stuffing

A very common mistake, particularly on ecommerce websites is keyword stuffing, where the density of a keyword’s use on a page is too high. Over-using or spamming keywords in meta tags, URLs, product descriptions, and other content will be picked up by Google and can lead to a drop in rankings instead of a boost.

5. Missing ALT Tags

Over 35% of Google’s SERPs show images — and that’s likely to increase. That means, despite many website owners best SEO efforts, they are missing out on another source of organic traffic: your website’s images. Each image on your website should have its own image alt tag. This is a keyword rich description of what the image is about. Not having alt tags included will have a detrimental impact on search engine rankings, and prevent the website benefiting from images being shown in search results.

6. Text within images

A common mistake is using text within an image. These are often added in Photoshop or similar photo editing tools. Text within an image often causes issues for responsive design and while it may look great on a large screen, it most cases it won’t look great on a smaller screen and the result is the text never displays correctly for a majority of site visitors. Many smaller devices also use retina displays, and whilst an image may look great on a retina screen the text will not look sharp compared to the rest of the text content on the website. Similar to point 1, deliver a bad experience and your website visitors will not hang around for long.

7. Poor heading structure

Headings throughout the website must be well structured so that Google can understand the content effectively. The main heading on each page should be an H1; and further structuring of heading should use H2 and H3. While most website developers will be aware of creating a heading structure, admins managing the website are unaware of this and don’t assign headings using the correct hierarchy. This is a missed opportunity to help Google fully understand the purpose of the page impacting search engine visibility, and we have found that it’s one of the most common mistakes/ommissions.

8. Missing or poorly written meta tags

Hidden meta tags are often missing too, including meta title and meta description which search engines use to display search results. The clearer the title and description, the more likely people are to click through. When we review an existing website, on many occasions the meta tags are either left blank or are pre-populated with content that doesn’t promote the business well.

9. Large images

Beautiful images and video content can add depth to your visitor experience. However, if they are not optimised and are too large, they may increase your page load speed. The slower a website loads, the more traffic abandons the site, so Google pays close attention to page load speed and penalises websites that are not up to scratch.

10. Duplicate content

The content on a website should be a good length and original. Publish content that is too short and Google will not consider it for search results. But the biggest mistake we have found on websites is the duplication of content not only across the same website, but also from other websites. There are many reasons why a content section or boiler plate may need to be used across multiple pages, but if the content on a page is relatively short, the recurring boiler plate content becomes more visible to Google, and will be viewed as duplicate content. It is also very tempting to use third party content, e.g. from suppliers or manufacturers to use in product description. This will have a negative impact on ranking because Google sees it as not original and as deliberately duplicating content.

How SEO Results can help your visibility on search engines.

It can be overwhelming for a typical business who wants to organically rank highly in search engines, identify the errors in their website and optimise it for search engines. SEO Results are experts on creating long lasting, high ranking positions that deliver relevant visitors to websites. Optimising a website and building its authority within an industry sector so that search engines like Google will rank it higher than competitors is why we exist. We follow Google best practice guidelines to achieve results, but equally important is identifying with our clients the website issues and errors which will prevent a site performing well in an SEO campaign.

For help identifying mistakes in your website and setting up an effective SEO campaign for your business contact one of our experts on 0121 726 3861 or send us an email here.

By John Anderson, SEO Results

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