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Are You Making These 5 Common SEO Mistakes?

By Victor Melendez on Oct 25, 2022

There is a lot to devising and implementing a successful SEO strategy. And it doesn’t help that nothing about SEO remains static. Google is always tweaking its algorithms. Markets shift and audience preferences change. Staying on top of everything requires focus and thoughtful analysis.

Given the complexity and changing nature of SEO, It’s not surprising that businesses unwittingly make a lot of SEO mistakes. If we had the space, we could easily write about 100 of them rather than only five. But let’s do one thing at a time. Make sure you are not making these five common SEO mistakes. Even if you have hired a professional, you should be aware of the basics.

1. Not Understanding Search Intent

There is nothing more important in marketing than knowing who your audience is and understanding them. SEO is no different.

It’s not enough to just use some related keywords in your content. You need to understand the search intent behind the words people use to search. You don’t want someone looking for pizza delivery to be sent to your page about pizza recipes.

Also consider whether when people do a specific search if they are just looking for information, if they want to buy now or if they are looking for a specific company or product.

For more details about search intent, see our blog post Search Intent Strategy to Raise Your Search Engine Rankings.

2.    Trying to Rank for Impossible Keywords

One of the most common among SEO mistakes is small businesses trying to rank on the first page of Google with broad, general keywords. This isn’t feasible for a small business, because it puts you in direct competition with businesses worldwide. If you run a small business, think about what keywords might actually get you on the first page of Google.

Don’t be afraid of longtail keywords that narrow the playing field. Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific. Although they may produce less traffic, they are likely to attract more traffic that is actually interested in what you are selling. That translates into higher conversion rates. You may want to check out this article from Yoast on the topic.

If your business is local, you will certainly want some keywords that include your location. For example, instead of “Thai restaurant” you might want to use “San Francisco Thai restaurant.” You may no doubt want to narrow it even more on a page that adds your neighborhood to the keyword, such as “Fillmore Thai restaurant.”

3. Publishing Badly Written or Unoriginal Content

Some businesses hire the cheapest writers they can find, give them a list of keywords and turn them loose writing web pages and blog posts. These businesses don’t care if their content is original or thought-provoking. They may even sanction copying a competitor’s content with only change a word change here or there. They think this will drive traffic and ultimately increase sales.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, it’s bad for SEO. Search engines are getting smarter all the time. Google and other search engines want to present search results that are of value to users. They don’t want to send them to a page of useless, ungrammatical word salad with a lot of keywords woven throughout.

  • Pages that read like they were written for search engines instead of human users are not helpful and ultimately will be penalized.
  • Text that keeps repeating itself will be penalized.
  • Plagiarized content will be penalized.

Not only are bad writing practices bad for SEO, they are also bad for your brand. Articles that are ungrammatical, repetitive and boring will reflect badly on your company’s brand. If someone lands on your website and finds shoddy content, that bad impression will reflect poorly on your company.

Sure, you can take content your competitor has written and spin it, or even get software to spin it. But if you invest in thought-provoking, original content, you are on your way to projecting a professional, competent image of your company.

4. Failing to Complete Metadata

You must write good metadata if you expect search engines to find your website. Yet we sometimes see businesses get lazy about this. That’s why we are listing failure to complete metadata among one of the most common SEO mistakes.

You don’t see metadata when you look at a web page or blog post, but you do see some meta data such as title tags and meta descriptions in search results.

Title Tag: It lets search engines know what your page or post is about. Your title tag appears as a link in Google search results even though you won’t see it in the article itself. Include your primary keyword in your title tag. Your title tag should be about 50 to 70 characters, because it will get cut off if it is longer.

Meta Description: A meta description also appears in the search result and enables you to give a bit more information. It shouldn’t be longer than 160 characters.

Image File Name: Change the file names of any images you use to be relevant to the content. This just gives more information so relevant searches find your site.

Image Title: The image title should contain your primary keyword if it makes sense as well as a few other descriptive words. Once again, this will not appear when the user views the page.

Image Meta Description: Much like a page meta description, this just gives a bit more information about the image.

Alt Text: Alt text is a literal description of what appears on the image. If the image does not load, alt text will inform the user that the image is one of a family of four eating pizza for example. Website accessibility technology also enables the visually impaired who cannot see the image to know its contents through alt text. And finally, of course, alt text gives additional information to search engines.

Image Caption: An image caption appears below or next to the image. You can decide whether or not you want to include a caption. It’s really not necessary for SEO since you have a lot of invisible metadata to inform search engines.

5. Missing the Importance of User Experience on Mobile Devices

Mobile websites are so important that now Google analyzes the mobile version of your site rather than the desktop version in order to determine search engine ranking.


It’s astounding how many businesses treat their mobile site as the poor step sister. If you aren’t paying close attention to your website on mobile devices, all your other SEO practices aren’t going to get you very far.

A quick and easy way to find out if your site works well on mobile devices is to use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

We’ve Barely Scratched the Surface about SEO Mistakes

These are just a very few of the many mistakes businesses make in SEO. For a longer list, you may want to read this list of 27 SEO mistakes that damage websites. Just know there are a lot more than that.

If you are not an SEO expert, at some point you will want to call one in if you want your business to succeed. We invite you to contact Umbrella Local right now to discuss how our experts can help your website attract more traffic and increase conversions.

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