5 SEO Pitfalls for websites to avoid

woman's hands holding a laptop.

Having a website to highlight your business is necessary, but just having a site isn’t enough. You must make sure that your site is fully optimized. If you feel that your website isn’t currently reaching your ideal client, you may have fallen victim to some of these common SEO pitfalls.

Ignoring Keyword Research

Keyword research involves finding and analyzing the words or phrases that people enter into search bars. You need to ensure that the words that you are using on your website match the ones that your potential customers are searching with.

Sadly, this is a big one that many businesses do their best to avoid.

Ignoring keyword research is like shooting in the dark. You must know what your potential customers are searching for and optimize your website accordingly.

On the left is an image of a woman in a tan jacket sat at a laptop with her fingers on the keyboard. To the right is a burgundy background with the text "Know what your potential customers are searching for and optimize your website accordingly."

For example, if you owned a bakery in Toronto and you want to attract more customers, you might use keywords like “best bakery” or “delicious cakes”.

After a bit of keyword research however, you might find that people are actually searching for “gluten-free bakery in Toronto” or “custom birthday cakes in Toronto”. By optimizing your website with these specific keywords, you can attract clients who want to buy what you are selling.

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Poor Website Design

The site that you created in 2004 will not perform as well as a site updated with a 2024 template. In fact, a poorly designed website can harm your SEO efforts.

Search engines favor websites that provide a good user experience. They want to showcase sites that:

  • load quickly.
  • look good as good on a cellphone as they do on a laptop.
  • are easy to navigate around.
  • have fresh content.
  • are easy to read.

Consider your own experience. How do you feel when you land on a website that takes forever to load? How frustrated do you become when you can’t find the navigation bar?

You don’t want your users to get frustrated and leave. Search engines notice these things and may rank your website lower as a result.

Again, a website that is loads up quickly, is mobile-friendly, and easy to navigate can lead to a better user experience and higher search engine rankings.

Your website should Load quickly.
Look good as good on a cellphone as they do on a laptop.
Be easy to navigate around in.
Have fresh content.
Be easy to read.

Duplicate Content

On the left, a woman in pink blazer pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration. On the left on a burgundy background is the text "Remove duplicate content"

Duplicate content happens when you use the same keyword on a number of pages. It confuses search engines and can harm your website’s SEO.

Let’s imagine that you sell handmade soaps. You have separate pages for lavender soap, rose soap, and jasmine soap. If the product descriptions on these pages are identical except for the name of the soap, it can be seen as duplicate content.

A better idea would be to have a unique description for each page that highlights the specific features and benefits of each soap.

Read more about editing dupicate content in a

Neglecting Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions give users a preview of what they’ll find on the page

Meta descriptions are brief snippets that describe a web page’s content. They appear under the page title on search engine results page.

Meta descriptions are like ad copy. They give users a preview of what they’ll find on the page. For example, if you have a blog post about SEO tips, a good meta description might be “Discover 10 actionable SEO tips that can boost your website’s ranking on Google. Read now to start improving your SEO strategy today!” This gives users a clear idea of what the post is about and why they should click on it.

Purchasing Backlinks

Backlinks are links to your website that exist on someone else’s site.

Using a service to purchase or actively purchasing backlinks rather than earning them is a violation of Google’s policies and can result in your website being penalized.

Quality backlinks show Google that your site have valueable content and that you are recognized as an expert. They include things like:

  • reviews of your products.
  • a link to your homepage from a podcast that you were a guest on.
  • a referral from a collegue’s website.
  • editorial backlinks or citations from another website.
  • comments you make on someone else’s post that link back to your site.
  • press releases.
  • social media posts.
Quality Backlinks Include: reviews of your products.
a link to your homepage from a podcast that you were a guest on.
a referral from a collegue's website.
editorial backlinks or citations from another website.
comments you make on someone else's post that link back to your site. 
press releases.
social media posts.

Avoiding SEO pitfalls

woman in tan coat standing at a white board with marker in her hand. On the left is a burgundy text block that reads "Avoid: Ignoring keyword research. 
Outdated webpage designs.
Duplicate content. 
Forgetting meta tags.
Using poor quality backlinks."

Avoiding these common SEO pitfalls can help your website bubble up to the top of a search engine results page.

Make sure to regularly

  • review your keywords to ensure that they are still relevant.
  • keep your design fresh and easy to view on all sized devices.
  • regularly review your website and audit it for things like duplicate content.
  • ensure that all of your meta descriptions are engaging and have a compelling call to action.
  • review backlinks to verify that only quality sites are linking back to your website.

FREE KEYWORD TREE

5 website pitfalls to avoid

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