SEO mistakes

If only we all had a big red SEO warning button that would stop us from these 5 common mistakes.
Credit: Thinkstock

Earlier, we wrote about how important it was that your business has a website that drives potential customers to your pages, and while we touched briefly on the importance of good SEO practices, we thought we’d venture a little further into the important marketing medium that is search engine optimization (SEO).


When writing copy for your website, it’s imperative to keep in mind the fact that you want to not only continue to create interesting content, but also that you want to use your text to drive traffic to your website. Here’s a list of five of the most common SEO mistakes websites make – remember to avoid them at all costs!

1. Avoid duplicate content. 

Creating original content may seem like a lot of work, but it will help boost your Google search rankings. Too many times have we seen websites copy and pasting content from other publications (this can be anything from a Wikipedia quote to an online dictionary definition; no matter what the duplicate content is, Google will not be happy to see it replicated across varied indexes). Not only is this sometimes illegal, if information isn’t appropriately sourced and credited, but will knock you down instead of lifting you up. In severe cases, Google has been known to block websites entirely due to extensive or repeated cases of content copy-catting.   

On a smaller scale, keep in mind that the same rules should apply with regards to the content within your own website. Even if the text is relevant to two separate pages, or even two separate websites you manage, Google will always keep the end-user in mind, and does not like to see duplicate content. Why set yourself up to compete against your own writing?

2. Avoid keyword stuffing.


Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of stuffing a website full of repeated, search-friendly words and phrases in an attempt to manipulate its ranking in Google’s results. (Like adding pizza to all of the pizza shop copy when you’re trying to sell pizza on your pizza website. Was that sentence engaging to read? Probably not. And it won’t help you sell pizza, either.)

While this may work in the short- term, the good people of Google will eventually pick up on it, and you will find your website falling rapidly down in search rankings. Not only this, but overstuffing your content with keywords doesn’t look great from a copy writing standpoint either, which can turn off the people who are being driven to your site, so it’s best not to try it.

3. Don’t skip keyword optimization.

When it comes to creating copy for your website, it is important to fill your pages with words that not only reflect what your business and products are about, but also what people would actually type into search engines.

Creating website copy that mimics the vocabulary of your customers may seem like a total no-brainer; however, many companies fall very short of doing this, attempting to rank for keywords that are completely unrelated to their business. For example, you don’t want to chase a broad and very popular keyword like “pizza” if you own a pie shop; you want to target phrases like “jalapeno pizza Detroit” or “best Detroit calzone” – your own specialties and niche phrases that your customers will search for. You need to aim to be as specific, targeted and simple as possible, while still creating read-worthy content.

4. Avoid omitting keywords in URLs.

You want your customer to take one look at your URL and know exactly what the page is about. (For example, www.johnsmithpizza.com or www.johnsmith.com/pizza if you own an Italian food shop and use “pizza” as one of your keywords. But you’ll probably want to avoid using a generic keyword like this – remember rule No. 3!) This is a simple SEO strategy that yields excellent results, yet one that many companies still overlook.

When it comes to e-commerce, instead of putting your product code in the URL, you can code it so that the name of the product itself is a part of the address.

5. Avoid using Flash without an HTML alternative.

While Flash graphics might be a visually appealing way to get your customers’ attention, search engines can’t read videos and images the same way that it analyzes text. Flash, generally, contains very little written content, and therefore makes a website very hard to rank by Google. If you have your heart set on having a Flash-driven website, it is recommended that you create back-end pages that are HTML compatible or find other discreet places within your URL to add text enrichment in order to pick up a Google ranking.