SEO problems are the stuff of legend. They make for great campfire tales but can damage the real world. SEO horror stories often arise when a business is trying to optimize its website and makes a mistake that costs it dearly in terms of traffic and visibility.
One common SEO horror story is the accidental cloaking of a website. Cloaking is the process of showing one version of a web page to human visitors and another version to search engine crawlers. This can be done accidentally if you’re not careful about how you code your website, or it can be done on purpose as a way to game the search engine results pages (SERPs). Either way, it’s an SEO nightmare that can lead to decreased traffic and visibility and even manual penalties from Google.
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SEO Problems to Avoid
Our search engine optimization team dove into Crystal Lake and gathered a few common spooky SEO problems to avoid this Halloween.
This article will discover some of the most common SEO problems to avoid as you venture onboard and upward. These apply to small mom-and-pop shops to international companies striving to improve organic visibility across search engines.
Here are 18 spooky SEO problems to avoid this Halloween.
1. UX/SEO conflicts
UX/SEO conflicts can significantly impact a website’s SEO performance. From how URLs are structured to content placement and CTAs, UX and SEO have to work hand in hand for a successful website. Failing to consider SEO in the design process can lead to major issues with crawlability, indexation, and overall visibility in search engines.
Including SEO early in the website design and development process can often avoid these issues. The SEO team can work closely with UX to ensure that the website meets user and search engine needs.
2. Mishandled migrations
Changing a website’s domain or URL structure can be a daunting task, but it’s sometimes necessary for rebranding or consolidating multiple websites. However, it can lead to major SEO consequences if not done correctly.
Ensure you properly set up 301 redirects to ensure that any existing links and search engine rankings aren’t lost during the migration process. And don’t forget about things like canonical tags, href lang attributes, and updating any links on your website to the new URLs.
3. Robots.txt issues
The robots.txt file is a crucial part of SEO, as it tells search engines which pages they can and cannot crawl on your website. But if there are mistakes in your robots.txt file, it could lead to important pages not being indexed or, even worse, search engines crawling and indexing pages you don’t want.
Regularly check your robots.txt file for any errors and ensure it’s properly blocking pages that shouldn’t be crawled while also not accidentally blocking important pages.
4. Implementing SEO tricks and shortcuts
Trying and game the system with SEO tricks and shortcuts can be tempting, but they can often do more harm than good in the long run. These tactics, from keyword stuffing to buying links, may work in the short term but ultimately result in penalties or plummeting search rankings.
Focus on creating high-quality content that serves user needs instead of trying to manipulate search engines with tactics that offer only temporary gains.
5. Neglecting SEO altogether
Perhaps the scariest SEO horror story of all is neglecting SEO entirely. Many businesses fail to realize SEO’s importance and potential benefits, leading them to miss out on valuable organic traffic and visibility in search engines.
Don’t make the mistake of neglecting SEO. Stay up to date on industry trends and best practices, and continually work towards improving your SEO performance for long-term success.
6. Canonicalization mistakes
If you don’t set a canonical URL for each page, you risk duplicate content issues and confusion for search engines about which page should rank. This mistake can lead to a loss of SEO visibility and traffic. Ensure that all your pages have a self-referencing canonical URL, and use rel=canonical on any duplicate or similar pages.
7. Testing/staging pages getting indexed
If you’re not careful during the website testing and staging, search engines may end up crawling and indexing these pages. This can lead to duplicate content issues and confusion for search engines about which version of the page should rank.
To prevent this from happening, block staging or development versions of your website in robots.txt and use no index tags on any testing or staging pages. And remember to remove these tags and unblock the staging version before launching your website.
8. Forgetting about local SEO
Local SEO is crucial for brick-and-mortar businesses, as it helps them show up in local search results and attract potential customers in their area. But forgetting about local SEO can mean missing out on valuable opportunities for visibility and traffic.
Ensure that your business information, such as name, address, and phone number (often referred to as NAP), is consistent across all online listings. And don’t forget about local SEO signals like reviews, citations, and Google My Business optimization. Local SEO efforts can have a major impact on driving foot traffic and sales for local businesses.
So there you have it – some SEO horror stories to keep in mind as you work towards improving your overall SEO performance. Keep these potential pitfalls in mind, and stay proactive in avoiding them for successful SEO efforts.
9. Crawl traps
It’s important to pay close attention to crawl issues, as this can affect the efficiency of search engines crawling your website. Crawl traps occur when a search engine gets stuck in a loop trying to crawl endless pages on your website, ultimately decreasing its ability to crawl and index important pages.
Avoid this SEO nightmare by identifying potential crawl traps, such as infinite spaces and URLs with multiple parameters, and fixing them accordingly
10. Google Search Essentials
Google recently updated its webmaster guidelines to Google Search Essentials, which outlines the most recent SEO guidelines from Google and offers resources for improving your search performance. Ignoring these guidelines will not only result in SEO issues but may also lead to penalties from Google.
Stay up to date on SEO guidelines and best practices, and continually work towards following them for successful SEO efforts. And don’t forget about the power of Google Search Console – use this tool to monitor your website’s performance and address any SEO issues.
12. Neglecting mobile optimization
Mobile usage continues to increase, so ignoring mobile optimization can result in a major loss of traffic and potential customers. Mobile-friendliness is now a ranking factor, so ensure that your website is responsive and easy to use on mobile devices. And don’t forget the importance of page speed – optimize mobile-friendliness and page speed to improve SEO performance and overall user experience.
13. Neglecting site security
With online threats constantly evolving, it’s important to prioritize site security. Site security is the most important SEO consideration, affecting user trust and experience. In addition, a lack of site security can lead to penalties from Google. Take steps to secure your website and protect against potential threats for successful SEO efforts.
If your website isn’t secure, Google will demote your rankings within its index and display a warning to users before they visit your site – not exactly the message you want to convey to potential customers. Implement HTTPS, use secure passwords, and continually monitor for security threats to ensure your website is safe and protected
14. Ignoring user experience
User experience plays a major role in SEO success. From page speed to compelling content and easy navigation, all factors contribute to the overall user experience on your website.
Focus on creating a positive user experience – not only will this improve SEO performance and increase conversions, but it could also result in increased brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Consider the user’s perspective and continually work towards improving their experience on your website.
15. Internal linking mistakes
Developing internal links is one of the most important SEO tasks, as it helps search engines crawl and index your website effectively. However, too many unnecessary or poorly executed internal links can harm SEO performance.
Ensure internal links are relevant and useful to users, avoid using the same anchor text for multiple links, and consider the overall structure of your website’s linking hierarchy for successful SEO efforts.
You might miss out on SEO benefits and potential website traffic if you ignore internal links. Take the time to plan and implement internal links for improved SEO performance properly.
16. Keyword stuffing
Keywords continue to be an important SEO aspect, but overuse or irrelevant use of keywords can harm SEO efforts. Keyword stuffing – forcefully inserting excessive keywords in content – not only hurts readability but also can result in penalties from search engines.
Focus on creating valuable and informative content, and incorporate keywords naturally and appropriately. And remember to diversify your keyword usage – don’t rely on just one or two keywords, but use a combination of primary, secondary, and long-tail keywords for successful SEO results.
17. Not regularly updating content
Regularly updating and refreshing website content can improve SEO and keep users engaged. Producing fresh, valuable content helps search engines crawl your website more frequently and can increase the likelihood of improved rankings.
Don’t neglect your website’s content – regularly update old posts, add new blog entries, refresh product descriptions, and continually work towards improving the content on your website. The effort will pay off with improved SEO and overall user experience.
18. Ignoring metrics and analytics
Tracking SEO metrics and analyzing data is crucial to understand SEO efforts’ effectiveness and making necessary improvements. Without tracking and analyzing metrics, it’s difficult to determine what areas are performing well and what might need improvement.
Utilize SEO tools and analytics to track and monitor SEO performance and regularly review the data to make changes and adjustments for successful SEO results. Ignoring metrics and analytics can result in ineffective SEO strategies and missed opportunities for improvement.
It’s not uncommon for small businesses to get into an SEO horror story, but there are steps you can take to avoid SEO disasters. Implement secure practices, focus on user experience, properly execute internal linking, avoid keyword stuffing, regularly update content, and track SEO metrics and analytics for successful SEO efforts. Stay vigilant and continually work towards improving SEO performance to avoid common SEO horror stories.
We understand this side of marketing requires a lot of attention to detail and energy, which most busy business owners don’t have. If you find yourself in this situation, consider reaching out to Sachs Marketing Group for help – as an agency, we provide everything from content development, social media development, SEO, reputation management, and end PPC management.