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16 Deadly SEO Errors That Kill Your Rankings


92.96% of global traffic comes from Google search, Google Images, and Google Maps. (Sparktoro)

However, if you make the 16 SEO errors that we will cover in this article, you can forget about getting a piece of the cake because Google won’t rank your website.

Luckily for you, we’re going to break all of these mistakes down and teach you how to fix SEO errors that kill your rankings.

16 SEO Mistakes That Kill Your Rankings: The Ultimate SEO Checklist

Here are the 16 SEO Errors that hurt your rankings:

  1. Low word counts
  2. Covering too many topics (unless you’re a news website/magazine)
  3. Duplicate content
  4. Orphaned pages
  5. Slow loading site
  6. Using iFrames
  7. Optimizing for the wrong keywords
  8. Not using Analytics correctly
  9. Publishing poorly written content
  10. Broken links
  11. Harmful link building
  12. Missing SSL certificate
  13. Not satisfying the search intent
  14. Using the no-index tag on the wrong page
  15. Not optimizing for the local search market
  16. Forgetting about Schema & Featured snippets

These SEO mistakes are a mix of on-page, off-page and technical SEO. Why are they all vital? Because they all play an individual and unique role in helping Google determine why your website is a better result than all the other pages competing on the internet.

  • On-Page SEO: Helps Google understand what your page is about
  • Off-Page SEO: This is comparable to a voting system that shows what other websites have to say about the ones competing.
  • Technical SEO helps ensure no technical errors that are harming the user experience or stopping search engines from understanding your site.

Below we’ve explained all of these in much more detail and how to fix these SEO errors. Make sure to keep a copy of this PDF, as it’s an excellent SEO checklist to ensure you’re not making any of these mistakes. 

1. Low Word Counts

Have you been cutting corners in your content?

If so, you’re probably harming your search performance. This is one of the most common SEO mistakes we see from businesses because there are many wrong instructions on the net.

Backlinko found that the “average Google first page result contains 1,447 words.”

Therefore, if you’re consistently posting 300-500 word counts, you’re never even hitting the average – meaning it will be much harder for you to rank. Of course, not every keyword is equal. So, how do you determine how long your content should be?

We recommend looking at the pages that are already ranking. This is effective because Google has shown they agree with the word count.  Why not use that indicator?

Of course, this should only be treated as an indicator, and it doesn’t have to be exact.

2. Covering Too Many Topics

Google has become very smart over the years. One of the things it can do is determine whether a website is an authority on a topic. It does this by looking at their related content, how well they have covered a topic, and natural language processing (NLP).

We recommend making sure that you cover each topic on your website in lots of detail. For example, on our website and blog, everything is tailored toward digital marketing, which helps us establish authority on this topic in Google’s eyes.

Of course, some websites like Mashable or Huffington Post manage to cover a wide variety of topics. However, they have large teams and have often been around for a long time, allowing them to provide that much authoritative content.

If you’re a website owner, we recommend specializing in the industry related to your business.

3. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content confuses Google and other search engines. In most cases, they will credit the piece that they think is the original one – but it often isn’t.

It’s also essential that you don’t have duplicate content on your own website, as this can also mess up your rankings because Google doesn’t know which one to use. To find duplicate content, you can get a technical SEO audit from the tool of your choice.

4. Orphaned Pages

Any page that is on your website but has no internal links is an “Orphaned page.” This is bad for your overall internal linking structure, and it also makes it very hard for Google to find it – let alone understand where it fits in your overall site structure.

SEO tools like Ubersuggest or SEMrush show you if you have orphaned pages in their Audits. From there, you can go to pages that cover similar topics and create relevant links pointing toward them.

We also recommend that you force index those pages again using the Google search console after doing this. Doing this will help Google notice those changes faster.

Tip to avoid orphaned pages in the future:

  • Add internal linking to your on-page SEO checklist
  • Consider using the plugin Link Whisper if you’re on WordPress. It will give you internal linking suggestions.

5. Slow Loading Site

The recent Google Core Web Vitals update was supposed to go live in May 2021. However, it’s postponed until mid-June 2021. Nevertheless, site speed will become even more important after this update, as it’s one of the most important factors for the user experience.

Besides, having a slow site affects your conversions negatively anyway. Recent studies have shown that a single second in load time can harm your conversions by 4.42%. If your website is taking an extra 2 or 3 seconds to load… You’re leaving some serious money on the table. 

How To Check Your Site Speed:

  • Google Pagespeed Insights
  • GtMetrix
  • Pingdom

Once you have checked your site speed, each of the tools named above will suggest what is slowing your site down. If you’re on WordPress, you can also use tools like WP Rocket to speed up your site.

6. Using iFrames

iFrames are pieces of HTML code that sit inside another piece of HTML code. The problem is that search engines render these invisible, so anything inside of an iFrame won’t be understood by search engines.

But it gets worse…

iFrames are often used for malicious activities, so many browsers will flag them. And if that wasn’t enough, they also slow down your site. So, no, you shouldn’t use iFrames on your website.

7. Optimizing For The Wrong Keywords

This is another mistake that can KILL ALL your SEO efforts. Why is it so important that you target the right keywords?

Suppose you’re targeting keywords that are too competitive; it’s highly unlikely that you will rank. Or, if you’re targeting keywords that aren’t getting any real search volume, you’re not going to see any significant traffic either.

This is why it’s essential that you find the right keywords for your business and also do a comprehensive competitor analysis.

In your competitor analysis, you should look at them:

  • Backlink profile of the domain
  • Backlink profile of the individual page

Again, you can use a tool like Ubersuggest for this. However, for backlinks specifically, Ahrefs is known to show the most detailed data.

Should I use the same keywords on every page?

No, you shouldn’t, as this will lead to keyword cannibalization. This will lead to the pages competing with each other (if at all), and it will also confuse Google. If you’re new to SEO and managing your own content, it may be easier to focus on one primary keyword per page. 

8. Not Using Analytics Correctly

Using Analytics (Google Analytics, search console & other tools) will give you key insights that will help you make better decisions for you and your visitors. Like what?

For example, your bounce rate will help you notice when the user experience on one of your pages is not good – so you can make the needed edits. Or, your click-through rate (CTR), which you can find in your Google search console, can indicate that your meta information is insufficient.

Besides, you should also be using a tool like Ubersuggest or SEOlyzer to track the performance of your keywords.

All of these errors could be the reason why you’re not ranking as well as you would like to. So, we would recommend that you take an hour or two and look deeply into your analytics and the indicators to see what can be improved.

9. Publishing Poorly Written Content

One of the most common yet most deadly mistakes is publishing poorly written content. AI-generated spun, or other types of low-quality content will do more harm than good. And, yes, that also includes low-quality handwritten content.

Even if the content is optimized well, it’s still not a good idea. As mentioned earlier, Google is getting very smart – and can tell who is an authority on a topic thanks to natural language processing (NLP).

If you are outsourcing your writing, make sure that the writer is knowledgeable in your industry. And avoid very low-cost writers that don’t produce the quality content you want associating with your brand.

10. Broken Links

Have you ever clicked a link – to find out it’s broken, and you get a 404 error?

We all have. And it’s really frustrating.

If you have broken links on your website, this is what will happen to your users. Google wants to provide its users with the best experience possible, and if your site is full of broken links… Well, you’re not helping them achieve their goal, so they won’t help you achieve yours (i.e., ranking in search engines). 

So, how do you fix them?

Again, you can use a tool like Ubersuggest or SEMrush to find these errors using their audits. If that sounds a little too technical for you, you can also get started with us.

11. Harmful Link Building

Gone are the days where you can use automated tools to create backlinks for your website. When it comes to link building, you should always go for quality over quantity.  So, what type of backlinks should you put your efforts toward?

You should look for three things:

  • Traffic
  • Power
  • Authority

A simple yet effective indicator to determine the value of a link besides obvious authority metrics in tools like Ubersuggest or SEOLyzer is organic traffic. If Google is ranking a website highly for several keywords, it’s a great indicator that it’s trusted, has power and authority on a topic. Therefore, it’s a good link to get for your website.

12. Missing SSL Certificate

It’s 2021, people… We should really all have SSL certificates by now, especially since they’re accessible for free.

If you don’t know what an SSL certificate is, it’s that little security lock that sits next to the URL. It ensures that the website a user is on encrypts private information.

Many hosting providers come with a free SSL certificate. However, if they don’t, you can use the Let’s Encrypt project to get an SSL certificate for your website.

13. Not Satisfying The Search Intent

SEO isn’t just keywords and technical tasks that help Google love you. It’s also helping the user find what they want. What do we mean by this?

In all your SEO campaigns, your primary goal should be to satisfy the user intent of the keyword you’re targeting.

This means you shouldn’t just pick keywords because they relate to your content. You should pick keywords where your content will satisfy the search intent. The way you do this is by putting yourself into the user’s perspective and analyzing what it is that they’re looking for.

Additionally, you can also get an idea of the search intent by looking at the pages that Google is already displaying. Based on Google’s algorithm, these pages match the search intent so that you can create a similar (but better) page.

14. Using The Noindex Tag on The Wrong Pages

Using the no-index tag on the wrong pages will definitely stop you from ranking. This tag basically tells Google and other search engines NOT to index your page, so they won’t. So, why would you have this activated? 

Well, most people do it unintentionally. But there are some cases where it makes sense to activate it; for example, if you have a paid membership area behind a locked door (i.e., a login page), it makes sense to use it – as you don’t want search engines finding this content. 

Make sure to keep track of all the no-index pages you use so that your pages are indexed. 

15. Not Optimizing For The Local Search Market

If you own a local business or anything location-specific, then you must optimize for the local market. This starts with creating and optimizing your free GMB – and ensuring that your website is optimized for searches in the local area. 

You can do this by creating location-specific service pages, as this will help Google understand that your offering is available in that area.

16. Forgetting about Schema & Featured snippets

Finally, another error and mistake that can harm your organic search performance is forgetting about Schema and Featured snippets. These will have a big impact on your CTR, which affects your rankings – despite what an SEO myth says. 

Schema markup is a type of microdata added to a web page, which displays in the snippet. This is basically additional information that makes your snippet look more appealing than your competitors, resulting in more traffic for you. 

You can add schema to your pages using and add it into your website’s PHP file. Depending on your CMS, there may also be an app or a plugin that you can use to add Schema to your pages.

A featured snippet is when Google uses one of the snippets and features it at the top of the Search engine results page (SERP).  You can optimize for featured snippets by writing an answer in a clear and concise format that Google understands, such as bullet points – or short paragraphs. 

SEO Errors: Frequently Asked Questions

What is keyword cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is when several of your pages target the same keywords. This leads to competing with yourself, which can harm both of the pages’ performances or confuse Google. To avoid keyword cannibalization, you should ensure that all your pages target different keywords.

What are the most common SEO mistakes? 

Here are 6 of the most common SEO mistakes: 

  • Not analyzing the search intent
  • Targeting the wrong keywords
  • Not optimizing the user experience
  • Harmful & Unnatural link building
  • Publishing poorly written content
  • Low word counts

What Are The Best Tools To Fix SEO Errors? 

Here are the best tools to fix SEO errors: 

  • SEOLyzer
  • Ubersuggest
  • ScreamingFrog
  • SEMrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz Pro

On each item above, we gave you actionable instructions on how to avoid and fix them. However,  to ensure that your website is error-free and healthy, you must run an audit highlighting errors specifically on your website.


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