Even the tiniest of mistakes can lead to a big problem when it comes to SEO, but fortunately all of these mistakes can be reversed if you catch them in time. This is oftentimes something that companies miss initially because SEO is such a huge topic with so many major initiatives—link building, improved website navigation, load times, relationship building, analytics, etc.—but the very little mistakes are just as important.
According to an Uberflip article, “once you fix a small problem, you’re usually good to go the next time the Google bots do a crawl, and then you can go back to focusing on some of your larger tasks.” In other words, if you know what to look for you’ll be able to catch these small mistakes before they become big problems because they aren’t difficult to fix. The sooner you can identify the little things, the better.
Top 6 Small SEO Mistakes to Start Double-Checking Right Now
Below are some small SEO mistakes that are easy to make:
The “noindex” box is checked on your site.
This is something that you have to manually do in order to have happen, so this isn’t a common mistakes, but it’s definitely a small change that can make a big difference. If you notice that for some reason your Analytics aren’t improving, and in fact everything seems to be getting worse, check your website to make sure this box isn’t checked. You may not have checked the box, but it could have been a quick error from a new employee or a design team member that wasn’t careful. If your content is not being indexed, it means your website isn’t in Google’s database and is therefore not registering as something that should be showing up in SERPs.
The same thing can be said for a nofollow box. While nofollow links are still great, which you can learn more about here, this isn’t something that you always want for your website as a whole. Always look for these two boxes and make sure they’re unchecked.
You’re using the wrong redirect.
This is an easy mistake to make that seems small, but it’s actually a big deal in the eyes of Google. A 301 redirect vs. a 302 redirect, for example, tell Google different things about the state of your website. A 301 redirect let’s Google know that you are permanently redesigning your website and all of your old URLs (and their PR and link juice) should be transferred to the new URLs so your SEO remains in-tact. A 302, on the other hand, keeps your old pages indexed by Google. If a 302 isn’t what you wanted, you could be dealing with some serious duplicate content issues. If that is what you wanted and you used a 301, you could lose a lot of hard SEO work. See the problem?
Mixing up these two is probably the biggest mistake Webmasters make, but there are also canonical tags and 404 errors to consider. Visit this article to learn more about the different types of redirects and when to use each for optimal SEO.
Using categories like tags and vice-versa.
This may not seem like a bad thing, but the way you use categories and tags to help organize your content for the Google bots (and for your readers) is actually very important. You should think of categories like the Table of Contents in a book—keep them brief, and try and sort your content into only one category. How many categories you have on your site will of course depend on the size, but a good rule of thumb is 5 to 20 categories and subcategories.
Tags, on the other hand, work like the index of a book. You can have as many tags as you want and you should make them specific. Think about what people are searching for and use those terms and keywords as your tags. If you were to use categories like tags, for example, everyone would be confused because your content would fall into too many different places. Learn more about organizing your content as well as categories and tags here.
Using keyword rich anchor text by mistake.
By now most small business owners and Webmasters know that you shouldn’t use keyword rich anchor text. This didn’t used to be the case, but since too many people started spammy different websites and building links for SEO purposes and not for readers. Now, it’s important that you do not have a keyword rich anchor text so that you continue to look natural in the eyes of Google. This is an easy mistake to make if you’re used to doing things the old way, so this is something to constantly check before publishing an article.
A link becomes broken.
Broken links can hurt your SEO because it brings down the value of your page. The reason this can seem like such a small mistake is because it’s just one link amongst hundreds that are probably within your content, but Google analyzes each page separately. I recommend using a tool such as Broken Link Check to identify any broken links and fix them immediately. Run this test every few weeks to make sure you’re not missing anything. After all, the more common mistake here isn’t publishing broken links; it’s not realizing that they’ve become broken over time.
Getting involved with a poor link directory.
Through all of your link building initiatives a poor directory link can slip in there at the start of your efforts. It may not seem like a big deal because you have so many other great links built, and in fact many companies don’t even realize that they’re involved with a poor link directory in the first place if they’ve changed employees, strategies, or simply didn’t have a system to record links they’ve built. Again, use a tool such as Monitor Backlinks to see if you’re involved with any spammy directories. This is seen as a big red flag in the eyes of Google, and trust me, they won’t miss it even if you’ve forgotten about it.
Are there any other small SEO mistakes you’ve made in the past that had a big impact? Let us know in the comments below.