7 Little SEO Mistakes That Make A Big Difference

February 24, 2014 Amanda DiSilvestro

SEO mistakes

When it comes to SEO, every little thing matters. This may make everything seem a bit more stressful when you first get started, but rest assured that everything you do can be fixed. The biggest challenge is being able to identify those little SEO mistakes that make such a big difference, which is where this article comes into play. 

Understanding these small mistakes you can make will help you recognize and fix them before your rankings drop too drastically. 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. Here's a list of 7 common SEO mistakes and what you can do to fix them.

The “noindex” box is checked on your site

If the little “noindex” or “nofollow” box is checked on your WordPress website, it means that your website is not in Google’s database and therefore you will never be seen on that search engine! Even if you don’t have a WordPress site, if there is ever a noindex or nofollow meta tag on a page of your site it, won’t be crawled by the bots. This is usually some sort of error that occurs when designing a site, so always check your source code and make sure your site is being indexed.

Visit this link if you aren’t sure how to check your source code for noindex or nofollow tags.

Using a 302 redirect instead of a 301

It seems like a very small error, but the consequences are definitely big. If you are changing your domain or changing a lot of your URLs (potentially because of a major redesign), you must take all of your old pages by using a 301-redirect. A 301 is going to make sure that all of the link juice and popularity of your old URLs will transfer to the new ones so you’re not losing all of your hard work. If you use a 302, your old pages are still being indexed by Google, so it looks like you have duplicate content (which will get you penalized), not to mention you won’t get any of that PageRank or link juice transferred. 

A 302 redirect should only be used sparingly if your website is going to be down for merely a few days—not something permanent. You can visit this link to learn more about getting started with both types of redirects. 

Constantly putting out rich anchor text

You want your anchor text to be rich, or a keyword you’re targeting, right? The problem here is that while this is true, it’s not good to overdo it with the rich anchor text. Too many businesses just focus on the fact that anchor text rich with keywords is good and then go crazy, but in reality you could get penalized because your links won’t look natural. Google only likes to see natural links, so if it looks like your links aren’t natural your rankings will go down. 

According to SEO professional Neil Patel, it’s best to try and keep your anchor text rich for less than 10% of the links that you earn. 

Tip: Check out "How To Create Content Google Hummingbird Loves" for information on creating content that works with Google's new search algorithm. 

Forgetting internal links

Internal links are a bigger part of SEO than most people realize. It seems like a small, insignificant detail that writers just use to promote their other content, but it’s actually something Google takes seriously. Internal links help navigation for users as well as the Google bots, so your overall SEO improves if you have internal links.

It’s also important to remember that internal links do not just mean any old links to a page on your website. If you have all of your internal links pointing toward your homepage, for example, it will look unnatural. You should be linking to a variety of internal pages that are relevant.

A link is broken

One tiny link being broken probably won’t alter your site too much, but I thought it was worth putting on this list because it’s such a common mistake that is often overlooked. You might have referenced a website and checked that the link worked, published the article, and then moved on with things. The truth is that this link could become broken because maybe that site was removed, restructured, that page was deleted, etc. It’s not always in your control, so the only thing you can control is constantly going back and checking your links. 

Web pages without broken links are going to outrank your page because they are better for users; it’s as simple as that. A few times per year, check your Webmaster Tools and correct any broken links Google finds - you might very well see your page improve in rankings. 

Joining one poor link directory

This is a small little mistake with probably the biggest consequences. People are still drawn to link directories because it’s an easy way to get your site’s link onto another relevant website. If you own a hair salon, you want to be a part of all the fashion and beauty directories out there because you’re a part of that industry. It makes sense, but unfortunately this is not the way that Google sees it (in fact, you may want to check out this announcement from Head of Google Webspam Matt Cutts where he discusses link spam pretty seriously). 

Too many people started creating directories that turned into a big place for spammers. Because anyone can submit their website, your link would be surrounded by spammy links and therefore it would become part of a spammy site. You might have done this a long time ago and thought one wouldn’t be a big deal, but it is. Google has been cracking down on all sites that are part of poor directories and will drop your rankings quickly. 

Of course there are some legitimate directories out there, but you really need to pay attention to the quality of URLs on the directory, if someone is moderating all links, and if there is a fee.

Forgetting to link relevant content on other websites

By now most small business owners and writers know that linking to other reputable sites helps give you and your article credibility, but people are still forgetting that this is an SEO issue. Forgetting to reference another site all week might seem like something small, but Google takes the links going out of your blog just as seriously as the ones that go in it. You want to be surrounded by authoritative links and sites as much as possible. Aim to reference at least one quality outside source for every article you publish.

The takeaway

It’s a good idea to do a check for some of these small mistakes every month or so. It usually doesn’t take long to double-check these things, and it could help clear up any question marks you’re finding in your SEO data. 

Of course, there are plenty more little mistakes that companies have found out make a big difference the hard way. Let us know your story and a few things you’ve discovered in the comments below. 

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About the Author

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small businesses and entrepreneurs SEO advice raging from keyword research to local SEO strategy. She is the online content editor and lead writer for Higher Visibility, a nationally recognized SEO company that offers a wide range of SEO services to companies across the country.

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