11 Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2024

SEO is an industry where accuracy and precision are valued more than anything else.

So, if you do not manage to avoid these 11 SEO mistakes, you will fall behind on ranking.

1. Misunderstanding Search Intent 

When you don’t understand the user’s search intent, you create the wrong type of content for a keyword, which won’t rank and get you traffic.

Simply put, search intent is the reason behind the user’s search which you need to fulfill with your content. 

If a user is searching for “how to make an omelet”, it’s clear that the user wants to know about making an omelet. 

But if you understood his intent, you could conclude that he doesn’t cook much because he isn’t familiar with how to make omelets, which are quite easy to make.

That means you need to focus on giving the user a simple omelet recipe with step-by-step instructions with beginner omelet-making tips, what to do, and what not to do,  preferably with a video.

Now, if you create engaging, in-depth content with tons of omelet recipes for the keyword “how to make an omelet”, you won’t be matching the user’s intent. That’s because it’s not what the user wants.

So, focusing exactly on the keyword can tell you a lot about the target audience but understanding what’s not in the keyword can tell you a lot more. 

Tips for Understanding Search Intent Better

  • Try to think from the user’s perspective.
  • Analyze the high-performing competitors. 

2. Ignoring Keyword Research 

If you are not answering the relevant keywords that are related to the primary query, you can’t create content that completely satisfies the user’s requirement. Not completely fulfilling user requirements will lead to higher bounce rates and the search engines will take it as an indication that your content is not high-quality.

In 2024, creating helpful content is the first priority, as you can see from Google’s helpful content guidelines

With sloppy or completely ignoring keyword research, you can never “provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic” or “provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond the obvious.”

Let’s go back to the omelet example. A person who’s never cooked an omelet will probably have questions like-

  • Do you add milk to the omelet?
  • Do you cook an omelet covered or uncovered?
  • Do you cook omelet fillings first?

As an SEO who wants to rank for “how to make an omelet,” you need to answer these questions in your content, so the reader gets all the answers he needs. 

This you can only achieve with thorough keyword research.

Tips for Proper Keyword Research

  • Learn to take advantage of Google autocomplete search results and people also ask section.
  • Create content to end the user’s search journey as soon as possible.
  • Optimize your title tags and meta description with the target keyword.
  • Use keyword research tools. 

3. Publishing Content for Search Engines

The goal of your content must always be satisfying the user’s requirements, not ranking.  With the Helpful Content update, Google made sure that keyword-stuffed content while not being informative will not rank.    

That means you can’t stuff keywords into an article and expect it to rank on the first page while providing little or no value to the user.

For reference, let’s quote Google again; they have two whole sections about creating “people-first” content.

If you look at Google’s guidelines, they are discouraging you to over-optimize your content and prioritize your readers.

Also, if you mass-produce content with AI and push in irrelevant keywords here and there, it won’t get you the results you want.

When follow such tactics, your content becomes robotic and lacks the human touch. These types of content will fail to engage the readers and eventually get pushed down in the SERP.

Tips for Making User-first Content

  • Focus on fulfilling your audience’s needs.
  • Use keywords naturally. 

4. Not Prioritizing E-E-A-T

Content that does not show experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness will not rank in 2024.

Allow us to elaborate.

The most common method SEOs follow to create content is just to scrape the first page of Google SERP and make an integrated version. This also increases the chance of creating duplicate content.

But, Google hates scraped and duplicate content and now your content must have-

  • Original research
  • Interesting insights
  • Accurate and up-to-date information
  • Verified author

That means you have to produce quality content that offers value to the reader not mirror your competitors’ articles. 

For example, if you want to rank for the keyword, “potty train cat”, your content needs-

  • Your own experience in successfully potty training a cat (experience and expertise) 
  • Backed with evidence from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or cat experts (trustworthiness)
  • Provide your qualifications with cats (authoritativeness). 

Now, Google neither has the time nor resources to verify if you are an expert on cats. Rather, it measures your EEAT signals from the following aspects:

  • Your content’s research depth and accuracy.
  • Your content’s ability to engage readers.
  • Your website’ topical authority.
  • Your website’s “About Me” section.
  • Your website’s backlinks, and more. 

Also, after publishing content, try to update them at least once after six months. This practice will keep the contents fresh and sustain their rank on SERP.

Tips for Prioritizing E-E-A-T

  • Produce well-researched and structured content.
  • Create an authentic “About Me” page with social links.
  • Build backlinks and topical authority.
  • Update old content frequently.

5. Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization hurts your SEO by confusing search engines and users. As a  result, you lose visibility, CTR, and link equity.

When multiple pages on your website compete for the same keyword, it’s called keyword cannibalization. It confuses the crawler and both pages lose their rank value.

For example, you have published content for “Best Coffee Beans for Espresso” and  “How to Make the Perfect Espresso”, both optimized for the keyword “espresso beans.”

In this case, the Googlebot will struggle to determine which page is most relevant for “espresso beans.” Because of this confusion, both pages will rank lower than they could if focused on separate keywords.

That’s why, you need to be very careful with keyword and content optimization.

Tips for Avoiding Keyword Cannibalization

  • Create a topical map.
  • Use internal linking.

6. Building Irrelevant and Low-quality Backlinks

Building low-quality and spammy backlinks will have a multidimensional effect on your site which will lead to a manual penalty. If you get penalized by Google, consider months of your SEO efforts being wasted. 

Suppose your site has irrelevant or low-quality backlinks. In that case, it will-

  • Result in a negative user experience, as the links will be useless to the reader or lead to a broken link.
  • Hamper your site’s reputation because search engines will see you associated with unreliable websites. 

As a result, you will lose your website authority and page rankings; worst-case scenario, you can get penalized by Google. 

Tips for Building Quality Backlinks

  • Invest in the quality of the links, not quantity.
  • Create high-quality content that naturally attracts backlinks.
  • Focus on building relationships with other websites in your niche.

7. Not Having a Mobile-Friendly Website

Google prioritizes websites that offer a smooth and optimal experience on mobile devices. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you will fall behind in traffic, conversions, and sales.

Since 2019, Google has used the mobile version of your website as the primary version for indexing and ranking. Without a good mobile version, search engines will struggle to understand your content which will lead to further ranking issues.

Also, according to an SEO statistics report, 58.99% of global website traffic comes from mobile devices. So, if your site is not mobile-optimized, you will lose 60% of your potential traffic. 

So, if your site is not mobile-friendly, you will have a high bounce rate from mobile visitors, which will lead to decreased click-through rates, ranking, and conversion.

Tips for Making Your Site Mobile-Friendly

  • Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool
  • Use AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) for news or blog content. 
  • Prioritize mobile-friendly site design, image optimization, and navigation.

8. Ignoring User Experience and Site Speed

A website that is not user-friendly, will have higher bounce rates and lower dwell time, which will harm the site’s traffic and conversion.

Would you want to browse a site that is slow, hard to navigate, or confusing? Neither do the search engine bots.  

If your site’s loading speed is more than 5 seconds, Googlebots will not crawl your site. That means your content will not be indexed.

Even if it does, users do not have the patience to wait for your site to load. In that case, they will just go to your competitors and you will lose out on traffic and sales.

Webmasters often prefer using videos or animation in the hero section of their landing pages. This may look appealing to visitors but it’s a bad practice because it will increase the time it takes for pages to load and slow the load time. 

Except for page speed, if your site’s navigation is confusing, your site will have a higher bounce rate and a lower dwell time. Search engines will see that your site is not helpful for your reader and you will lose ranking.

Tips for Improving User Experience

  • Optimize your site for speed.
  • Make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for with menus, search functions, and breadcrumbs.

9. Not Securing Your Website

Having an SSL certificate on your site (an HTTPS connection) is more effective than an HTTP connection as this is considered a ranking factor for Google.

An SSL certificate protects your site’s and user’s data, verifies your site’s identity, secures transactions, and more. This is why search engines prioritize sites that have an SSL certificate. 

That means a secured website will have higher rankings than a non-secured one.

Tips for Securing Your Website

  • Switch to a hosting provider that offers SSL certificates.
  • Regularly back up your website.

10. Having a Bad or No Sitemap

When a website has an improper sitemap or no sitemap at all, it hampers crawlability, indexability, and ranking.

Sitemaps are maps for Google crawlers, which they follow to crawl your website. Without a proper sitemap, search engine bots will miss important pages and you will miss ranking opportunities. 

Tips for Improving Crawlability

  • Link your sitemap in your robots.txt file.
  • Sitemaps should not have broken links or incorrect pages.

11. Not Keeping Up with Google Updates

As Google updates its guidelines frequently, not keeping up with Google updates will prevent you from knowing what’s trending in SEO. So, you will not be able to create an SEO strategy for the future and fall behind. 

Imagine, one day you are happy because your site’s at the top of SERP. But the next day, it’s nowhere to be found.

That’s because Google often changes its ranking factors. So, if you’re not in tune with these changes, your site will drop in rankings. 

As a consequence, you will have less traffic, conversion, and sales.

Tips for Keeping Up with Google Algorithm Updates

  • Regularly check Google’s guidelines.
  • Join online SEO communities or forums.

Keep Up With Your Competition

By avoiding these SEO mistakes and implementing SEO best practices, you will surely get the best results from your efforts. All you have to be is patient, persistent, and proactive. 

Remember, the biggest mistake newbies make is to treat SEO like a one-time time thing. 

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