30 mistakes that will hurt
your SEO ranking

Anyone who has worked in digital marketing has had the feeling of anxiety when they hear that Google has rolled out another one of its many updates to its algorithm.

Trying to understand how Google does this is considered by many the key to acing the SEO game. But as history shows, the changes are fickle and Google is as crafty with its updates as ever.

Google has a lot of factors that you should consider doing in order to rank better. But, as you probably heard nobody got time for that. One of the best ways you can do is to keep yourself from making these mistakes that can gravely affect your SEO ranking. 

Mistakes That Will Hurt Your SEO Ranking

Another thing we know about Google is that it puts heavy penalties for those which it found to be using illegitimate steps to get ahead of others. Here are the mistakes to avoid if you don’t want to suffer those penalties.

1. Keyword Stuffing

In what seems like ages ago, for you to rank on top of the search results page is that you just need to use the keyword as many times as you can.

That doesn’t work today anymore and it may lead to really heavy penalties. As algorithms get more and more sophisticated, they can determine if a website tries to use this strategy to get an edge.

2. Choosing the Wrong Keywords

keyword research tool

3. Forgetting Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

It’s quite fascinating to find SEO “professionals” who still overlook the importance of using meta descriptions and optimizing the title tags. Let the record state once and for all that meta descriptions and title tags are among the most important things you can do to improve your SEO ranking.

meta description

MOZ wrote some really usefull guideline on how to use and write proper meta description and title tags in 2020. 

4. Writing Meta Tags that Do Not Have Anything to Do with the Content

Writing Meta Tags that are not relevant to you webpage content is not only confusing, but it is also a bad practice that will give out a bad impression for your users. If your Meta Tags are only to increase your click trough rate (CTR) and people bounce to quick from your landing page search engines will decrease your ranking and hurt your overall SEO.

Code example:


<meta name=”description”

content=”We think it’s time for an upgrade. From brands such as Toyota, Kia, Mazda, Dacia, Peugeot and more, you can get an affordable deal with us.”>


5. Using Generic Descriptions

“This website is about cars.” These types of descriptions are the nadir of descriptions. Spend an hour’s worth of creating content and you will get a huge amount of better descriptions than that. What’s more, it will help your user and Google figure out what your website is really about.

Try and be more specific about what you’re presenting to your potential customers. You can say that “This website is about quality, used, and branded cars. No need to worry about initial maintenance. Just gas-up and drive!”

meta description

6. Using the Content for Your Meta Tags

This is not going to help you increase your relevance. Make sure you write unique descriptions for each page. Placing the important keyword in the begining in the meta description tag will help you boost your ranking.

7. Paying for Backlinks

WordStream shared one of the most good examples of black hat SEO. One of the things that Google is fine-tuning its algorithms to find the most organic and authentic pages and makes sure that the pages it crawls up the search results are within those boundaries.

Paying for backlinks may result on a Google penalty, so we strongly suggest not to employ this kind of tactic. 

black hat SEO

8. Forgetting to Audit Your Website for SEO

Let this be a reminder for you to audit your website, especially if you haven’t done so in the past 3 to 6 months. You will find out if there are things you need to improve on or see an opportunity to apply something new to your SEO strategy.

SEO audit stages - Inforgrahic

9. Having Duplicate Content

When your website is found to have things duplicated over and over, not only will Google find it suspicious, but the people will think less of you as well. You will give off the impression that you’re not serious about the content you put out and you’re not too keen on the details.

duplicate content check

There are a lot of tools you can use to check duplicate content. Here are some tools you can try: Siteliner, Copyscape and Seo Review tools

10. Missing H1 Tags

These are triggers for Google to understand your website content structure better. If you don’t have these distinctions, such as the use of headings or H1 tags, there may be a gap as to how Google views your website.

heading tags - H1,H2,H3,H4,H5,H6

11. ALT Texts Missing

ALT attributes are used by people who have a visual impairment to navigate your website. If these are not present, then your website relevance will also suffer.

The required alt attribute specifies an alternate text for an image, if the image cannot be displayed. The alt attribute provides alternative information for an image if a user for some reason cannot view it (because of slow connection, an error in the src attribute, or if the user uses a screen reader).

A perfect example is the picture below. You can just write in the Alt text “SEO audit stages – infographic”

image alt tag

12. You Have Links to Old HTTP Websites

Updating your links should be your priority if you want to have a good impression from both your audience and Google algorithm. Being linked to old and suspicious websites can damage your reputation.

SEMrush offers a free 7 days trial for backlink checking and other things

sem rush free trial

13. You Have Too Many Outbound Links

This is simply considered spammy by search engines. It can also distract your user away from your website to different links. The links should be natural and used within context.

too many backlinks are annoying

14. Using URLs with Underscores

This is just confusing to the search engine. These are prone to misinterpretation. Use hyphens instead. Google wrote a comple guideline how to use your URLs in best way for SEO.

url structure

15. Broken Internal and External Links

Make your website lean by removing these dead-end links. Update them or replace them with better ones if you can.

404 page not found

16. Nofollow Link Attributes

Google only considers links with Dofollow attributes. This is why it pays to check if the links you have on your website have value in them.

17. Title tags that are too short or too long

The recommended length of title tags is 60 characters. Anything too long will be cut off and anything less is an opportunity missed to provide relevance to the user.

title tag lenght

18. Low word-count

Even if the article is complete in thought, anything with a low word count may be dismissed as lacking content. Make sure to provide your user and Google with the right amount of content in each of your articles.

Low word-count

19. Using Just One Long Tail Keyword

Creating small pages to rank for a specific long-tail keyword is a no-no for search engines. Instead, use a large skyscraper post. This is far better and more effective.

20. Forgetting to Update Content

Neil Patel has cited the benefits of updating your content regularly. In essence, Google prioritizes fresh content. And if you update old content, then it considers it “fresh”.

21. Content Doesn’t Contain Any Multimedia

A vast array of multimedia is found to be a factor for ranking up websites because it helps convey the message to the reader better. A mixed media post is a sure sign of high-quality content that can easily be indexed by search engines.

22. Not Using Bulleted Lists

User-friendly websites get a better chance of going up the search engine results because they are easier to navigate and contain all the information the searcher is looking for.

23. Missing hreflang and lang Attributes

Multilingual websites will suffer if problems with hreflang attributes are not addressed. The reason is that search engines may get confused about indexing the website because of some conflict in the source codes.

24. Slow Page Load

Website speed directly affects your ranking. Take it from the developers themselves. So make sure to do everything you can to boost the navigation on your website.

slow page speed load

25. Length of Domain Registration

Google takes note of websites that do not register their domain for the long term as illegitimate websites. So if you want to increase your reputation with search engines, register for longer periods.

26. Not Putting the Keyword in the Title Tag

Title tags play a huge role in making search engines understand what your website is all about. Additionally, it is how the user first experiences your website.

27. Not Optimizing It for Mobile

Mobile-friendly sites are a priority in the SERPs because they tend to have a good combination of good ranking factors: site speed, user-friendly, and have content readily available for the searcher.

mobile responsive optimization

28. The User Experience on Your Website is Clanky

If you want to have a successful website, you have to strike a good balance between SEO and UX. logically, people will not stay long on your website if the information is hard to find.

crazyegg user experience heatmap

29. Undiversified Link Types

Not only will you seem like a clone website if you have just one link source, but it will also be dangerous if that website is taken down. It will take you down with it for sure.

30. Not having YouTube and LinkedIn Pages

Since Google owns YouTube, you can expect it to put it in front of people when they’re searching for information. This is especially crucial nowadays since video  content is king, and consuming it makes up for millions of hours spent on the internet.

As for LinkedIn, most legitimate businesses have LinkedIn pages so that’s also worth looking into. Not only will you have a credible site for recruitment and hiring, it will also provide you a proper online directory of sorts for your company and your brand as well.

Bonus: Forgetting to Do a Site Audit

SEO audit

This is a grave mistake. Being too confident in what you have done in the past is not a practical thought process. Make it a point to regularly check your website every three to six months and align it with what search engines are looking for websites.

It’s better to know which areas you need to improve on than to bask in your achievements. This way, you can find ways to improve your website as well as make the necessary changes to make it as relevant to your audience as possible.

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