Top 5 Totally Avoidable SEO Mistakes

SEO has taken a bit of a back seat lately due to increases in comprehensive digital marketing. Links, keywords and tags can take time, especially when you want to focus on content, social media and have paid ads pulling in money. Nevertheless, don’t ignore how important SEO is for your site’s performance on searches.

Take your site to the next level by taking advantage of powerful on-page and off-page optimization. You can up your rankings, increase your conversion rates and encourage traffic. But doing SEO right is hard and you know it. It’s constantly changing and search algorithm updates are being done by Google more often than you can keep up with.

Even SEO professionals are increasingly trolling for the latest updates and new information on changes. Keeping your site optimized is important and staying up to date on the latest search realities should be high on your list of priorities. Here are five common, yet trivial mistakes even professionals make that you can avoid. And avoid them you should. Making these simple mistakes can derail your entire digital marketing campaign.

Don’t Allow Your Site To Index .htaccess

This can’t be stressed enough. But what is .htaccess? If you’re not a pro, you may have never heard of it. It is a configuration file that stores directives that specifically block or provide access to the document directories on your site. Once you have learned how to effectively manage the .thaccess file, you’ll be able to build sitemaps in greater detail, create cleaner URLs, and adjust caching for better load time. .htaccess is one of the most important tools in your toolbox. It will improve your processes for indexing and you’ll realize higher SERPs.

Knowing how to do it right is critical. A .htaccess file that is set up incorrectly can be disastrous. You could, for example, completely block your site from indexing, as shown in this example:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Google.* [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^.*Bing.*
RewriteRule ^/dir/.*$ – [F]

These codes will not allow search bots to crawl or index your site. You can either seek out a professional developer to remove it or do it on your own, depending on your comfort level. Remember to make certain you’ve checked .htaccess every time you start a new project. If you don’t, you’re efforts to promote and optimize your site could be all for nothing.

Dissuade Search Engines from Indexing in CMS

Your optimization effort could very well be at risk from certain CMS platform SEO plugins (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal). Built in features within these platforms give users the option to instruct search engines to not crawl the website. This is easy to fix, though with these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click Reading.
  3. Click Discourage.

This will stop search engines from indexing your site. You’ll want to be sure that you tick the box at least once a week. It prevents anyone who has access to the CMS to inadvertently click the box. This will not be good for your campaign’s effectiveness.

Allow Your robots.txt File for Crawling

This can result in significant privacy issues and is one problem you don’t want to have. Leaving your robots.txt file open for crawling is something you should never do. You might experience a data breach and your entire site could be lost. Learn as much as you can about setting up and managing your robots.txt file, especially if you are new to managing a website. If you see something like this, take action right away:

User-Agent: *
Allow: /

This is bad. It means search bots can gain access to and crawl all over your site. This means login, admin, shopping cart and other dynamic pages can be at risk. You need to protect your customer’s personal information by keeping those paged closed. Having lots of spammy dynamic pages will cost you a penalty, as well. Be sure to disallow pages you should be blocking, but allow those that should be indexed. It might sound easy, but it does take some time to become familiar with each.

Forget to Add “nofollow” Tag Attribute to Outbound Links

Links continue to be an important ranking factor. If you only concentrate on backlinks, you’ll see your own sites pass link power to other sites. You want to drive high-quality backlinks and make sure the power stays on your site. It’s easy. Follow these steps:

  1. Scan your site with a site scanner tool.
  2. Sort your links by address to find your outbound links.
  3. Organize your outbound links in a spreadsheet or download them into a standard HTMP report.
  4. Inspect every link to implement “nofollow” tags where you need them.
  5. Don’t abuse the “nofollow” tag, though. If other SEO professionals see that you are saving all the juice, they’ll retaliate and“nofollow” you too.
  6. Neglect to Check the Code in Validator.

Your website is made up of code and the better it is, the more potential you have to earn SERPs. Clean and concise code allows for more efficient search crawler scanning and better indexing. Be sure to check the code whenever you start a new project. Don’t worry if you are not a developer. Copy and paste your URL in a validation service and a developer will fix your errors for you.

Even though Google won’t penalize you for invalid pieces of HTML and CSS, it’s best to always run the validator. It’s quick and improves your site’s performance for users and crawlers alike. Even though SEO seems to be constantly changing, it’s worth it to spend the time and effort to stay current on tactics and algorithm updates. And don’t forget the basic things. No matter how good you are at SEO, it’s the simple, trivial mistakes that can cost you the most.