SEO strategies constantly evolve as Google and other search engines tweak their algorithms, causing website owners and SEO professionals to adjust their approach. This has had a positive effect as there are now some core SEO building blocks that everyone should implement. With that, however, comes bad habits that you need to avoid.
Here are the top five:
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1. Structuring Your Website Poorly
A significant percentage of SEO is guesswork. For example, we know that links are important, but we don't know exactly how important.
When it comes to the structure of your website, you don't have to guess. This is because Google regularly gives website owners guidelines on best practices. This includes everything from image alt-tags to URL structures and meta descriptions. Google practices what it preaches, so if it asks you to design your website in a certain way and you want that website to rank in Google, follow their guidelines.
2. Ignoring Mobile
Having a mobile website is no longer a recommendation—it's a necessity. Google has been watching the growth of mobile Internet use and, in particular, mobile search. It wants to give its users websites that look good on mobile devices, and ones that work properly. That means if your website isn't mobile-friendly, fix it.
3. Slow Websites
This is another thing that Google is explicit about—it dislikes websites that are slow to load. To be fair, Google also gives you recommendations on how to make your website faster.
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Many of the websites on the Internet don't follow the recommendations, usually resulting in slow websites. This could be because of the lack of know-how or motivation to fix them, or because the website features a certain functionality that makes the website slow. Either way, it's a mistake.
4. Using Paid and Low-quality Links
Everyone who has read anything about SEO knows that links are important. Back then, a lot of people focused on getting as many links as possible from anywhere they could—self-created links, paid for links, fake links etc. Search engines hate this because it is simply a way of trying to cheat the system. They have since then worked hard at spotting these types of links, and when they do, the links are devalued and your site gets a penalty.
5. Low-Quality Content
Google never stops reminding website owners about the value of good, quality content. It is one of the primary goals of its search algorithm—to seek out good quality content that answers the questions of its users. It therefore wants website owners to create good content. If you have thin, copied, uninteresting, or mistake-laden content you will have to make a change.
All of these bad habits could be put into one overall category—trying to game the search engines. In modern SEO, there are no cheats or shortcuts. Instead you need to create good quality websites that load fast on all devices and that have good content. If you do that, you'll be on the right SEO path.