5 Common Newbie SEO Mistakes

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When you first start researching SEO (search engine optimization), it can become overwhelming. Trust me...when I started working in SEO a couple years ago I had no idea what I was doing. Fast forward two years, and I was still reading through industry publications every single day to stay on top of it all.

SEO can be a difficult industry to learn since it's literally changing every single day. But some areas of SEO continue to remain a little more constant, like what goes into ranking a page. In this post, I'm breaking down a few mistakes I see SEO newbies making on their websites or blog posts.

1. Using your full blog post title in your URL

Before you hit publish on your blog post, remove any fluff or transition words, like "and," "or," "the," etc. You only want to include your keywords from your title.

Extra tip: try to keep your title under 60 characters so that it will display properly in search results.

As you can see in the example below, only the essential words that search engines needs to read to understand my post are in the URL. "To create a" does not provide much value, therefore it stays out of the URL.

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2. Keyword or link stuffing

Everyone wants their page to rank on Page 1 for a certain keyword or set of keywords. But using keyword or link stuffing as a tactic will get you nowhere.

While this may have worked in the past to rank a page, it doesn't anymore. This can be considered spammy and black hat SEO because you're trying to manipulate the rankings. Plus, who wants to actually read a page or blog post with the same keyword placed over and over again. 

Below is an example of what you don't want to do. It's slightly exaggerated, but gets the point across.

 
SEO keyword and link stuffing.png
 

Instead, you want to find long-tail keywords (keywords with 3-4 words) that people are searching for. Sprinkle that phrase and similar keywords throughout your post in the most natural way. Your reader shouldn't feel that the keyword is being used in strange ways. 

When it comes to links, it's not only smart to include links to your own website pages, but also external links that benefit the reader. If you talk about a program or website you find useful, include the link. But don't go overboard here. Include links where it makes sense. If you have 30 links throughout your page, it will look spammy.

Your anchor text, the text that the link is attached to, should also be diversified. Again, it should look completely natural. Sure, you can link to a keyword or phrase you want to rank for, but don't do the same ones twice on a page. Search engines also take the context around the link into consideration.

3. Not optimizing your images

You don't just want search engines to understand your content, but also your images. Plus, Google is taking site speed into account when ranking pages. There are many factors that affect site speed, but file size is a big one. That includes the images you place on your website and videos you might have playing continuously in the background.

File name

Rename your images to include keywords before you upload them to your website. This can be as simple as using your blog post title. If it's going on a website page, include your business name and what the image is.

Alt text

Alt text helps search engines identify what the image is so they can index it properly. Similar to the file name, you want to include keywords here.

Sizing

Squarespace recommends that your banner images are no bigger than 2500 pixels and/or 5mb. You can edit the sizing of your images when you upload them to a page on Squarespace, but you can also edit them beforehand. 

If you're on a Mac, follow these directions:

  • Double click on the image to open it in Preview
  • Click on Tools
  • Click on Adjust Size...
  • Inside the box, adjust the dimensions to lower the file size. Every time you change the dimensions, you should see the file size recalculating.

You can also use JPEGmini to decrease the image file size while maintaining its quality.

 
SEO Preview Finder Adjust File Image Size.png
 

 

4. Using H1's throughout the page or not using headings at all

Your H1 is your title and it should be the only one on the page. Using H1's multiple times throughout your page or blog post will only confuse search engines.

Use H2's and H3's to break up sections of text. It not only enhances the user experience, but it also helps search engines identify the hierarchy of your content.

Studies have shown that Google favors pages that break up content with H2's or a bulleted list. You'll notice that most times when you Google "how to..." or "steps to..." the first result will have used H2's or a numbered list.

 

 
Google search engine results page SERP H2 List .png
 

5. Duplicate content

Whether you're using the same bio from your website across all your social media platforms or taking a full guest post you wrote on another site and posting it to your own site, it hurts all sites involved. You may not see it as a big deal because you're doing it innocently, but if you do this continuously, this can be seen as spammy from a search engine's perspective.

Here's the reason why: there are sites that use this black hat SEO tactic with link farms. They purchase dozens of domains and post the same content across these domains with similar links in order to rank certain pages. Google has been trying to stop this by penalizing these sites. 

Remember that search engines want to provide searchers with the most high-quality and unique content.