Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2021

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As we approach the new year, it’s important to refine our SEO processes to match best practices.

This helps to keep Google (and our users) happy.

Yet, there are still common SEO mistakes out there that severely stunt organic visibility.

To avoid stunting your organic visibility, here are six common SEO mistakes that you should avoid in 2021 and beyond.

Note: If you’d prefer to see the video version of this post, you can watch it on YouTube.

1. Focusing too much on rankings (and not enough on traffic)

I’ll start off by mentioning that search engine rankings are vanity metrics.

Reason being, they don’t directly impact the bottom line.

Sure, having 100s of #1 rankings might sound awesome, but if the reality is that nobody really searches for those queries or clicks through to your website, then what’s the point?

What's the point Squidward

Ranking alone won’t guarantee results, rather, the focus should be on the traffic that you can generate from your rankings (no matter where you rank on the SERP).

Take a look at your traffic data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console to see which pages are driving the most traffic.

Doing this is much better than checking your rankings (which may fluctuate very frequently).

2. Not internally linking

Internal linking is absolutely fundamental to help search engines discover content on your website.

They’re also great for sending down the funnel, so they can access the money pages you want them to.

Without a good internal linking structure, you may be limiting the amount of SEO power being distributed across your domain.

The best way to identify internal linking opportunities is to perform a site: search on Google with a keyword to see if you’ve talked about it in multiple pages.

Google Site search example for digital marketing trends

Then, you can internally link these pages as some of the content will be related.

Internal link example for digital marketing trends

In this example, I found other pages on my website where I talked about digital marketing trends, so I added an internal link to that article.

3. Changing URL slugs instead of page titles

If you’re going to make updates to a page, don’t change the URL.

Changing the URL of a page essentially means that you will have to redirect all occasions of the previous URL to the updated one.

This can take a long time, and is especially tedious if you have backlinks pointing to the old URL.

If you don’t ‘enforce redirects, then those links to the old URL will end up being 404s, which are bad.

404 errors are bad mr mackey meme

When updating a post, it’s fine to update the content itself (and even the title/H1).

But whatever you do… don’t change the URL slug.

4. Not considering user intent

Users are at the heart of content, as they are the ones who want to seek and consume it.

When you create content without considering user intent, you might miss out on what that user actually wants.

For instance, when people search for ‘Apple’, the main intent is to look for Apple products (and not the fruit, sadly).

Apple SERP layout

A great way to determine the user intent is to manually perform a search for a keyword you’re targeting.

The results that show up are a good indication of the intent that users predominantly have when they search for that keyword.

Use this guidance to shape your content so that you are better matching for your user’s intent.

5. Inconsistent link building

Consistency is key, especially when it comes to link building.

Building loads of backlinks one month and then not generating any in the next few months will give negative signs to search engines.

They might think that your content isn’t good enough anymore, or that it’s outdated.

Your link building activities should run over the course of many months, where you’re actively acquiring backlinks in a natural way that reflects how your content is better suited to match a query on an ongoing basis.

A good way to think about this is going to the gym.

You might get some gains over the first couple of months, but as soon as you stop training over the following few months, your gains will disappear.

And in this example, gains are rankings.

Consistent actions

6. Not checking the SERP

The problem that arises when some people use SEO tools is that they rely on them too much, without performing manual checks.

The SERP should always be your first port of call, as you can see what content Google is rewarding for a particular keyword.

I’m not going to say that SEO tools are bad and you shouldn’t use them, but don’t solely rely on SEO tools without manually checking the SERP.

Linking back to what was mentioned earlier about user intent – the best way to know this is by looking at the SERP.

So please, don’t neglect the SERP!

Summing it up

SEO is and will continue to develop over time, but it’s important to avoid these mistakes that can cost your website its rankings, traffic, and potentially, leads.

If you want someone to guide your SEO strategy so that you won’t make these (and other) SEO mistakes, contact your SEO consultant in London.

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I’m a London-based SEO expert with a passion for all things digital marketing.

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