Joel Klettke is a Search Engine Optimization specialist at Vovia. Joel's also an experienced writer and local marketing expert.

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5 Boneheaded SEO Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

boneheadIt’s been said that ignorance is bliss. While that might be true, ignorance can also lead to your SEO campaign going from a majestic sprint to a grueling crawl. Here’s 5 of the most common mistakes you might not even know you’re making:

1. Haphazard CMS/Design changes

What often seems like just a back-end change can result in SEO disaster. CMS systems often generate dynamic URLs or have different URL conventions inherent with the system.

A few problems arise:

  • It will take time for search engines to re-index all of your pages and you might see rankings drop in the short term.
  • All of your title tags, meta descriptions and so may be lost in transition.
  • The third and much bigger problem is that every link that was pointed at your old URLs is now broken. That means you’ve lost all the link value and anchor text pointed at your old URLs, and that’s a big “Whoops”.

Avoid hasty design changes-  a flashy new looking website can alter your content, your URL structure, and so on. All of those have SEO implications.

How to avoid disaster:

  • Find out how your URL’s will be affected will they change or stay the same?
  • 301 redirect your old URL’s to your new ones in order to pass along the link value.
  • Record your title tags and meta-descriptions so you can re-implement them in the new system
  • Be deliberate about these changes and carefully consider your web design’s impacts on SEO.

2. Duplicate title tags

If you’ve got duplicate title tags, you’re missing out on one of the single strongest on-page elements of SEO. You may also be indicating to search engines that the content of that page isn’t all that unique either.

How to avoid disaster:

  • Use unique title tags on every page of your site, even those you’re not optimizing for specific keywords.
  • Use keywords in the title that are relevant to the page’s content.

3. Writing for robots

When you think about your content, ask yourself: “Who do I ultimately need to impress?” The answer isn’t search engines. Search engines are trying to reward content helpful for users – so keyword stuffing and repetition isn’t advantageous.

How to avoid disaster:

  • Write content in a natural way that human visitors want to read.
  • Stop worrying about  “Keyword Density” and instead think about latent semantic indexing.

4. Accidental Cloning  (Duplicate Content)

Duplicate content usually happens by accident. In a nutshell, duplicate content is when identical (or extremely similar) content can be found on multiple URL’s, whether those are on one domain or several. Some really common examples of accidental single-domain duplicate content are as follows:

– Multiple URLs for the home page, ie:

– Dynamically generated product URLs or products found through multiple paths, ie:

– Sites built in databases that ignore preceding folders and reference the source document ie:

– Extremely similar product pages with identical product descriptions

– Multiple domains each hosting the same site

Google identifies identical pages as clones and will choose one to index while dropping the other, which is bad if those pages were meant to offer separate but similar information. Also, link value pointed at one variation of the content will not necessarily translate to the proper page.

How to avoid disaster:

  • If your site generates dynamic URL’s, include a rel=canonical tag on the source page. This suggests to search engines to consolidate link value and index the original.
  • In other situations,  change the content to make it original or use a 301 redirect to point duplicate pages back to the source.

5. Ignoring Anchor Text

Anchor text that contains your keywords is far more valuable than anchor text that reads “click here”. Also, Google only values the anchor text of a link the first time that link appears on your page. If you’re linking to the same page over and over again on a single page, you’re just blowing smoke.

How to avoid disaster:

  • If feasible, change the anchor text of the links throughout your site (including in the main nav!) to include your keywords.
  • If your navigation is image-based, use proper alt-text in the place of anchor text.
  • When link building, try to use relevant anchor text that pertains to the content of the page you’re linking to.

In past posts I’ve pointed out what makes a good link and how two major corporations got busted for their ugly linking schemes. Keep those concepts in mind.

Bonus: 6.Nothing!

One of the most boneheaded SEO mistakes is doing nothing at all. It’s really easy to ignore your SEO efforts when the going is good, but you should be maintaining that success.

How to avoid disaster:

  • Constantly develop new and engaging content.
  • Keep monitoring your rankings, and traffic and keep an eye on competitors.
  • Stay on top of recent algorithm changes – there will be a lot of them!

Wrapping it Up

If any of those apply to you, it’s time to pop your head out of the sand! Like those old 90’s commercials used to tout, knowledge is power. Now that you’ve got it, you’re armed to avoid some of the SEO mistakes that other people aren’t even thinking about.