Not sure why you’re not ranking #1 for your focus keywords in Google? You might be making one of the mistakes a lot of site owners make. We see it happen a lot. From small local businesses to big corporate ones, lots of websites forget a few important things. Here, we’ll give you an overview of the SEO issues we encounter most frequently. Of course, we’ll also explain how to avoid or solve them. Check this list and make sure you’re not making any of these common SEO mistakes!

First off, we’d like to mention our vision on SEO: holistic SEO. With holistic SEO, you don’t just focus on the content or technical aspects of your site but also work on user experience (UX). A factor that’s more important than ever when it comes to SEO. Therefore, we’ll include a somewhat wider range of issues and tips to solve them.

1. Forgetting that faster is better

The first common SEO mistake we’d like to touch on is site speed. The faster your site, the more Google will favor it. Especially now, with page experience being one of Google’s ranking factors. Your site and its pages need to load fast enough to keep them in the search results. There’s a very useful tool from Google itself to check your site speed: Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool gives you an overview of what aspects you can improve on to boost the speed of a particular page.

A quick win and a recommendation we frequently give is to optimize your images. A lot of websites have relatively large images, which take a lot of time to load. This makes your website slower than it needs to be. Resizing your images can speed up the loading time. If you have a WordPress site, you can do this easily by installing a plugin that does that for you.

Another quick win if you have a WordPress site is taking a good look at the plugins that are activated. Are you using all of them? Perhaps some of them can be replaced by another plugin that combines those functions? The best advice we can give you on this topic is that less is more. The fewer plugins that are activated, the faster your WordPress installment can be loaded. Stick to the essentials.

2. Trying to rank for the wrong keywords

If you want to rank in Google you have to make sure that you’re using the right keywords for every page. One of the biggest mistakes we frequently encounter is that site owners optimize their pages for generic keywords. If you are a relatively small business that wants to rank for ‘rental car’, you might be aiming too high. Try to come up with something more specific. Otherwise, you’re mainly competing with the big car rental companies that have offices all over the world, which is impossible to do! You could, for example, add the area in which your company is located to the keyword to focus on your local area. But there’s more you can do to appear high in the search results for your specific audience. We call this focusing on long-tail keywords or -phrases.

The longer and more specific the keywords are, the higher your chances of ranking for this keyword. Of course, this also means that the search volume for this keyword is lower. But you can compensate for this by optimizing a lot of pages on your site for different long-tail keywords. Your site will eventually gain more traffic for all of these keywords combined than it ever would if you optimized for one main keyword, for which your page will never rank on page 1 in Google. Also, although the search volume might be lower, a longer keyphrase often means a more specific search intent. Meaning that you might reach fewer people, but you are reaching the right people.

3. Failing to invite people to your site

Let’s talk about something that often gets ignored: metadata. Metadata is the information that people see on the result pages (SERPs) when a website comes up for an online search. It includes the title of your page and its meta description. The page title is still an important ranking factor for Google, so you have to make sure it’s optimized correctly for every page. We suggest adding your keyword to the title if that’s possible and making sure that your page title isn’t too long. If your page title is too long, it will get cut off. You don’t want potential visitors to see just half of your page title in the search results.

The meta description is not a ranking factor, but it does play an important part in your Click Through Rate (CTR). If you optimize your meta descriptions with a clear and attractive message on what people can find on your site, it becomes easier for them to see if the information they’re looking for is on that page. The more likely people are to think your site will provide an answer to their search query, the more traffic a page will gain.

We’ve recently introduced a nifty feature in Yoast SEO Premium that can generate great titles and meta descriptions for you. Powered by AI, this tool analyzes the content on your page and offers you several suggestions for an inviting title and meta description. This means you can easily optimize these to invite people to your page, without losing too much time over it. Use our AI title and meta description generator to stand out in the SERPs.

4. Neglecting to write awesome content

We regularly write about writing awesome content, but we still see a lot of sites struggling with content. This is another common SEO mistake that we want to tackle. Because every page on your site must have decent content that’s at least 300 words long. Google needs enough copy to find out what your page is about and whether you’re providing the answer people are looking for. You can’t expect Google to see you as an expert on a certain topic when you have only written two sentences about it. Thin content indicates to Google that your page probably isn’t the best result to match the search query.

That being said, keep in mind that Google is not your primary audience. You need to write for your visitors first. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and provide the best answers possible. Therefore, writing quality content for your audience is the way to go if you want to rank well in Google. Writing quality content means writing original content that shows your expertise and is easy to read.

5. Failing to keep people on your site

Once visitors land on your site, the next goal is to keep them on your site. You don’t want your visitors immediately bouncing back to Google once they have read something on your page. This is why you need to encourage visitors to stay a bit longer. The best way to do this is to create a call-to-action (CTA), which is usually a button that offers an action to your visitor. This can be a ‘buy’ button on a product page or a ‘sign up’ button for your newsletter. Don’t go overboard with several call-to-action buttons and try to have one main CTA that stands out from the rest of your page.

Another way to keep people on your website is by linking to other pages on your website. This is also an important part of SEO and should not be forgotten. By adding internal links, your site visitors and Google will know what pages are related to each other and can be interesting when they’re looking for information on a certain topic. So make sure to spend time on your internal linking to create a great site structure that keeps people on your website!

6. Not taking mobile seriously

The sixth and final SEO mistake that’s quite common is not considering mobile. A few years ago, Google switched to mobile-first indexing. This means that Google now looks at the mobile version of your site to decide how high you should rank. So if the desktop version of your site is set up brilliantly, but your mobile site isn’t responsive at all, this will be reflected in your rankings. In a negative way. So if that’s the case, make sure to work on mobile SEO!

A great way to test if your site is mobile-friendly is to use Google’s mobile-friendly test. This gives you an indication of how easily visitors can use your page on mobile devices. But don’t stop after checking this. The best advice we can give is to visit your site on your mobile phone. Browse your site for a while and try to click on every button, link and image to see what happens. Is everything working as you would want it to? How easy is it to purchase something on your site while using your mobile phone? Are all pages displayed correctly? Mobile usage can no longer be ignored, so don’t miss out on all those mobile users and create a great user experience on every device.

In short

We know that SEO is a lot of work. And that it’s not easy to remember all the different parts that you need to work on. But it is important to do so, regularly. You don’t want one of the mistakes we discussed to cost you your rankings. So make sure to focus on site speed, write great content and optimize for the right keywords. Entice people to visit your site and use call-to-actions and relevant internal links to keep them on your site and lastly, optimize your website for any device. Do all of this and you’re already on your way to a well-optimized website, the holistic way.

If you ever get off-track, check out this post on picking up SEO after neglecting it for a while. In that post, we discuss everything you can do to get your SEO into shape again! Or check out our guide on how to get started with SEO.

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