Top 10 Biggest SEO Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Biggest SEO Mistakes

As a business owner, fighting for that top spot on Google for your desired pages can not only fill you with pride but it will seriously impact how many people view your website and take action on what you’re providing.

The click-through rate (CTR) significantly drops off after number one and that is because people trust the person who is at the top and, quite frankly, don’t have the time to waste scrolling up and down Google.

Therefore, although there are tons of resources and tools out there to help you get to that desired top spot, there are also many common mistakes that you’ll be making unintentionally.

That’s why, in today’s article, we want to break down the top 10 biggest SEO mistakes so you can identify what you may be currently doing wrong and also things you can potentially implement to further boost your chances of ranking No. 1 on Google. Keep reading on to gain a deeper understanding!


What Are the Types of Mistakes You Can Make?

Before jumping right into the common SEO mistakes, we feel it is important that you know the two areas of your website where the issues below will occur. Within SEO, you can either make mistakes on the technical SEO (off-page and less transparent for the viewer) side of your website or the on-page (easily recognised by the viewer) part of your website.

Off-page mistakes are less likely to be seen by the reader, but Google will pick up on these mistakes and harm your rankings for that page. Whereas, on-page mistakes are not only noticeable by Google, but the reader may pick up on them too, leaving you with less chance of them interacting with your website.


10 Biggest SEO Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Below are the top 10 biggest SEO mistakes that we see businesses making nowadays. However, rather than just listing them for you and leaving you to figure it out on your own, we’re going to break down each issue and guide you through avoiding the problem in the first place.

  1. Not Defining Who or Where You Want to Target
  2. Lack of Quality or Duplicate Content
  3. Only Optimising the Website For a Laptop
  4. Not Completing Any Keyword Research
  5. Keyword Stuffing
  6. Having a Slow Website Speed
  7. Not Letting Google Crawl or Index Any of Your Content
  8. Not Optimising Images in Any Way
  9. Not Building a Backlink Profile
  10. Not Creating Effective Meta-Data


1. Not Defining Who or Where You Want to Target

Mistake: You are not focusing on who your target audience is or whereabouts in the world your product or service is most suited to.

The consequences: It can result in unfocused SEO efforts and missed opportunities for reaching the right audience. When you fail to identify your target audience, you will risk creating content that doesn’t resonate with potential customers.

How to avoid: Before beginning your SEO strategy, you need to map out and complete some market research beforehand. Using tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush, along with Google Analytics, you’ll be able to find whether your target audience is suited to a more local SEO campaign or whether they can be targeted nationally or even worldwide.

(A quick example:) You’re a brick-and-mortar company providing personalised wedding cakes for those in your local area and you don’t have the capabilities to deliver nationally. Therefore, targeting young and middle-aged couples in your local area will reap the best results for the SEO campaign, driving the most traffic and sales to your website and in-person store.


2. Lack of Quality or Duplicate Content

Mistake: You create low-quality content using AI or copy and paste pages with the same content. Or, if you target internationally, your UK and US pages, for example, will look the same.

The consequences: If you don’t focus on quality and are duplicating content, you will run into issues such as…

    • Google won’t understand what page to rank where (chaotic rankings)
    • A different and irrelevant page may show for the keywords you’re trying to target
    • Google’s human evaluators will avoid it, and E-E-A-T guidelines won’t be met
    • Search algorithms will pick up on low-quality and duplicate content, leading to low rankings

How to avoid: We advise you to build every page with care and quality. Although it may take more time, once you have high-quality pages set up, Google will recognise your efforts, and all you have to do is keep optimising over time with solid SEO practices, and you have a much higher chance of ranking No. 1.

Taking the time to read the E-E-A-T guidelines and what makes a high-quality page will also help you increase your effectiveness in the SERPs.


3. Only Optimising the Website For a Laptop

Mistake: You are creating and editing your website solely for laptop users and not checking how responsive the website is on other devices, such as a mobile phone or tablet.

The consequences: If you’re only creating the website for laptop users, you will find that mobile and tablet users will bounce immediately after going through your website. If it isn’t aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, or easy to navigate, no one is going to purchase or look through your website.

How to avoid: As you build your website or a page you’re creating, you should always check how it looks on a phone or laptop before publishing the content to your site. This way, you will ensure that no matter what device your target audience is using, they’ll have a great user experience and be more willing to act on your offerings.

(Tip →) You can also use tools such as Site Audit on SEMrush to identify technical issues on a mobile device if you cannot see them visibly yourself. See below to see how:

Showing the mobile issues section on SEMrush site audit feature


4. Not Completing Any Keyword Research

Mistake: You are most likely creating content that you feel is necessary for your viewers, rather than researching the keywords in your industry to base your content around. You create content based on feeling rather than cold, hard data.

The consequences: Your content will never be seen organically on Google. In fact, a study by Ahrefs shows that 90.63% of all pages created on Google never get any organic search traffic!

How to avoid: Using tools such as the Keyword Magic Tool in SEMrush, or Keyword Explorer in Ahrefs will allow you to search for terms in your industry and create pages around keywords that are actually getting search volume on Google. Make sure you choose keywords that are high in volume and as low as possible in keyword difficulty (how hard it is to rank for that keyword).


5. Keyword Stuffing

Mistake: You find the keywords that are relevant to helping you rank on Google but are overusing them or “stuffing” them within your content.

The consequences: Your content will look unnatural and unprofessional, and people will be able to tell you’re trying to over-optimise your content for SEO performance, leading them to not trust and leave your website.

How to avoid: When trying to implement keywords within your content, try to implement them naturally. If you read your content and it doesn’t look natural, write it again without the keyword and try to fit that keyword into your content elsewhere. Or, if a keyword is completely irrelevant, don’t include it at all.


6. Having a Slow Website Speed

Mistake: Slow website speed comes from a multitude of factors: high traffic volume, too many images and plugins, outdated code, server performance issues, lack of caching, and many more that you may not be aware of.

The consequences: Slow website speed creates a frustrating experience for users, and if it happens over and over, the chances of them bouncing from your website because of it are very high. Google also takes into consideration your site speed as a ranking factor, so it can harm your rankings if your website loads slowly.

How to avoid: When you audit your website, it will show unique errors affecting its speed and all you need to do is act on them. For example, you may need to optimise and compress images, change your server location, and reduce the number of redirects on your website. Every website has unique issues, but seeking a professional in this realm may be handy.


7. Not Letting Google Crawl or Index Any of Your Content

Mistake: Google can’t see or crawl any of your content, and your content isn’t indexed on Google.

The consequences: If Google can’t see or index your content, you won’t be able to rank at all on Google, never mind in the top spot.

How to avoid: To allow Google to crawl your content, you will need to allow Googlebot to crawl your site, as it may be blocked from doing so. You need to do this by going to robots.txt ( and removing the piece of code below (if it’s showing).

User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: / User-agent: * Disallow: /

To index your content on Google, you need to use Google Search Console, set that up and then index it by pasting the URL you want to show on Google into the URL Inspection tool and pressing the request indexing button, as shown below.

Showing the URL inspection tool on Google Search Console


8. Not Optimising Images in Any Way

Mistake: You are adding images to your website without making any changes to them before placing them on your page.

The consequences: If you don’t resize your image, download the image at below 100KB, or add any alt text, this can affect your SEO performance significantly.

Images that aren’t sized correctly are poor for the user experience; images with too much storage space can cause your website to load slowly; and no alt text limits the accessibility of your website, all affecting your SEO performance.

How to avoid: Make sure to use resizing tools such as Canva or Squoosh, and ensure that the downloaded image is below 100KB. Also, when adding your image to your site, there will be a section where you add alt text (a section describing what the image is for the visually impaired).


9. Not Building a Backlink Profile

Mistake: You’re not building enough backlinks to the key pages you want to rank for.

The consequences: If a page is an integral part of your website and you want more people to see it, backlinks to it are vital. If you use tools to look at pages in your industry ranking well, they most likely have lots of backlinks to that page from high-quality websites, meaning you will not stand a chance against their page for your relevant search terms.

How to avoid: If you’ve decided that a page is important to you and you want it to rank No. 1 on Google, you must start building backlinks from it right away. In this case, you will need to begin reaching out to relevant and high-quality websites that would be willing and interested in linking to your content, so you can begin building authority on that page.


10. Not Creating Effective Meta-Data

Mistake: Often, when you create a page, you may just be creating the content of the page without looking at the SEO meta title and meta description.

The consequences: If you don’t have effective SEO title tags and meta description, Google won’t be provided with any context of what the page is about and other details such as the source, type of page it is, who owns it, and relationships to other data sets, making it difficult for them to rank you for anything related to the keywords you want to target.

How to avoid: When creating your page, no matter the CMS, it will provide you with an SEO meta title and meta description. From here, you need to make sure that, first, the meta title is the relevant title of the page, followed by your brand and the meta description includes the target keyword within it.

Another important metric is that your meta title should be between 50-60 characters and your meta description should be between 145-155 characters for Google’s best practices.


Don’t Let Mistakes Stop You From Starting Your SEO Strategy

Although there are an unlimited number of mistakes you can make with SEO, the worst mistake you can make is not starting at all. Not all practices have to be perfect at the start and you can always optimise your site over time to make it more SEO-friendly, but creating a website with none of these in mind will get you in trouble.

If you’re an ambitious business owner and understand the power of digital marketing, the No. 1 position on Google, and the success it can give you, from more website visits to more brand awareness and more sales, then it may be time to get a free SEO audit of your own to see what you can improve on.

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