A good SEO strategy is essential for any business to stay competitive but it’s not always plain sailing. Get it wrong and you could find yourself languishing in the doldrums of page 10 of the SERPs (search engine results pages), or perhaps not even feature on the SERPs at all.

In this article, I’ll guide you through six of the most common SEO mistakes we encounter time and time again here at Adido and offer some helpful tips on how to avoid them.

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Why SEO matters

‘Don’t be fooled by the site that I’ve got. I’m still, I’m still, in need of a solid SEO strategy to ensure my rankings don’t drop’ as Jennifer Lopez once sang. Of course, she never actually sang that. If she had, she might also have gone on to highlight the misconception that having a great product or service will be enough to see your site rocketing up the rankings.

Perhaps in an ideal world, it should be like that, but until we reach that utopia, it’s a minefield of continuous pushing, elbowing and shoving to get your brand seen. You don’t necessarily have to fight dirty, but you do have to box clever. Is it all the effort worth it though?

100% yes – as the image below from Semrush demonstrates:

Semrush organic ctr image

The difference between position 1 and 2 in the SERPs alone is vast. Being on page one alone is not enough – you need to be in those first few positions to avoid a loss in user engagement and, subsequently, profits. No pressure there then!

But what are the common SEO faux pas we should all avoid? And how do we ensure we gracefully sidestep those particular pitfalls?

Let’s find out.

SEO mistakes to avoid

There are obviously more than six SEO mistakes you can make. The ones I’ve included here are perhaps more commonplace than others though, with the most to lose if you fall foul of them.

1. Misjudging the importance of technical SEO

Content is king but technical SEO is the butler, making sure the king has all he needs to go and do his regal activities. This involves in depth analysis of not just site speed, but site structure, crawlability and accessibility, ensuring your website is easy to navigate and free of any technical issues that prevent it from being found and ranked by search engines. Quite simply, it’s the wind beneath content’s wings.

For example, if a webpage has a noindex tag, this informs search engines that a site doesn't want the page to appear on SERPs. Also, if any pages (or potentially the site) have disallowed search engines from crawling pages in the robots.txt, this could present a big issue. Both of these errors may happen accidentally but could have huge repercussions on organic traffic. A very well-known confectionary brand fell foul of this recently, as demonstrated in the graph taken from Semrush below:

Thorntons SEO image

This just goes to show that a mistake like this can happen to anyone, including big brands!

When making a structural change to your site, consider the following:

  • Implementing 301 redirects to retain authority
  • How many clicks it takes a user to reach a page – no page should be more than 4 clicks away
  • Whether the new structure will result in any duplicates
  • Site hierarchy - are unimportant pages more accessible and linked to then high priority / good search pages
  • Always seek a second opinion - something done with the best intentions can sometimes impact indexation and crawlability (so ask as many questions as possible if you’re not sure!)

When in doubt, get a professional to carry out a full technical audit for your website.

2. Targeting the wrong keywords

When it comes to keywords, the sad reality is the higher the search volume, the less chance smaller businesses have of ranking for it. Take for example the travel industry. Search for something like ‘holiday in Spain’ and here are the sites taking the top five organic positions.

Holiday in Spain SERP image

All well known, big industry names with mega bucks to spend. Goliath 5, David 0.

It’s not all doom and gloom for lesser-known brands though. Let’s look at ways you can target the right keywords for your business.

How to avoid targeting the wrong keywords

  • Do your keyword research carefully to ensure you choose the right ones, with the right intent, at the right point in the booking or buying journey. Generic phrases might look appealing but are probably too far away from conversion to be right for your business.
  • Use tools such as Semrush or Google Keyword Planner for keyword insights and Google Search Console to identify and boost your current rankings.
  • Opt for keywords with low Keyword Difficulty (KD) when doing your keyword research. This won’t mean you will be seen by fewer people – it means you have more chance of success and will likely be seen by the right people who are more likely to convert.
  • If your target audience is in a specific location, include local keywords or phrases. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses serving a particular area, such as ‘plumber in bournemouth’ or italian restaurant poole’.

3. Slow page speed – quick bounce rate

It’s a competitive jungle out there and when it comes to site speed, every second counts. You can have the best website in the world, but if it takes forever to access it (in page loading terms ‘forever’ can be classed as three seconds or more), the user will likely hop on to a competitor site instead. Harsh, but true.

Not convinced? Take a look at the bounce rate stats below from Backlinko:

Backlinko Bounce rate image

If your site or page takes anything over a couple of seconds to load, that’s a huge chunk of your audience running off into the arms of the competition, leaving you stuck on the starting blocks still tying your laces.

It’s not just the user you have to worry about either – page experience is a ranking factor so you need a good load speed to keep Google happy too.

How to avoid slow page speed

  • Regularly monitor your core web vitals to keep your website’s loading speed, interactivity and visual stability in check.
  • Use tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights to help you identify where you can make improvements to boost the speed of a particular page.
  • Large image files can seriously slow down your page load times. Ensure all images are appropriately compressed or resized to help decrease the bandwidth used up by images without sacrificing quality.
  • Use browser HTTP caching to temporarily store static webpage files. Developers can set instructions in HTTP headers to reduce server data transfer, thus speeding up load times for returning visitors.

4. Using black hat techniques

Black hat SEO is the practice of tricking Google’s algorithms to rank higher on the SERPs. Once fairly commonplace, Google has cracked down on this form of ‘cheating the system’ in recent years, but that’s not to say there aren’t some marketers still using shady tactics to boost rankings. Traditional examples of black hat SEO include keyword stuffing, hiding text and including paid or ‘unearned’ links on your site.

How to avoid black hat techniques

Google may keep these naughty techniques in check by rolling out regular algorithm updates and administering harsh penalties for offenders, but that’s not to say the practice has gone away completely and many will still try their luck, sometimes getting away with it too (albeit in the short term).

To keep your SEO halo sparkling, be sure to adopt the following white hat tactics:

  • Use keywords only where appropriate
  • Keep your content original, relevant and useful
  • Earn backlinks from reputable sources
  • Improve site navigation
  • Be reader-first, not search engine-first

5. Promoting AI content

Tools such as ChatGPT have become increasingly commonplace over the past year with some scarily well-established names using it to write articles (no naming and shaming here - my lips will remain sealed!).

To be clear, AI content is not a black hat tactic or ranking factor (at least, not yet), but nor is it something search engines want to prioritise on their platforms. AI can be great for loosening up writer’s block, but when it is used to churn out generic, samey content, that is when it becomes a problem. Why? Firstly, it does your E-E-A-T credentials no good whatsoever – the reader wants to read what you have to say, not a robot. Secondly, AI chatbots still have the ability to hallucinate (i.e. produce incorrect information and pass it off as fact). Thirdly, AI generated content is becoming much easier to spot, meaning at some point your audience will pick up on this and the trust will be gone. Let’s face it, you’re basically demonstrating to your audience you don’t have confidence in your own content…so why should they?

Prof Lee Cronin image

How to avoid promoting AI content

  • Keep it real – draw from your own expertise and experience to produce valuable, relevant content.
  • If using ChatGPT, Copilot, Gemini, etc , edit the output carefully, taking out words you wouldn’t normally use and weave in your own content to ensure ‘your’ tone is present.
  • Consider it an assistant rather than a crutch or shortcut. Use it for inspiration but ensure the final draft is your own work.
  • Don’t use it! Just because everyone else is, doesn’t mean you have to. Trust your own content and your readers will too.

6. Viewing SEO as a one-off task

SEO is a long-term game. While the fundamental rules of SEO remain the same, the landscape is constantly evolving so keeping your hat in the ring is essential.

Even if you’re sitting pretty at the top of the SERPs today, there is absolutely no guarantee you’ll still be there tomorrow. There’s no time to rest on your laurels, as your competitors will be constantly exploring ways to knock you off your perch.

How to avoid viewing SEO as a one-off task

  • Update and refresh your content regularly.
  • Perform regular SEO audits (or hire an SEO agency to do one for you).
  • Respond to reviews (good and bad) in a timely manner.
  • Monitor your competitors' SEO strategies. Analyse what they are doing well and use this information to improve and refine your own strategy.
  • Keep tabs on Google. If you lose rankings, it could well be because the SEO goalposts have shifted. Make sure you read about the latest SEO happenings as much as you can (did somebody say SEO roundup)?

Final thoughts

The hoops we jump through to get it right, eh? With so many plates spinning, it can all feel a tad overwhelming. Getting SEO right every time is tricky and sometimes learning from previous mistakes can help make our approach to SEO stronger in the long run.

Let’s strip it back though and remember what’s at the heart of every SEO strategy - creating great content that genuinely connects with people. By all means, keep maintaining good SEO practices to make sure you're visible but don't forget the real reason you're doing it in the first place.

Need help with your SEO strategy?

Time is money, we know that – and SEO can take up A LOT of time. This is where Adido can help. Our team of SEO specialists live and breathe all things rankings-related. We know our stuff too – from producing great content to ensuring keywords are right on point, we can nail down an achievable SEO strategy which yields great results. Contact us today to learn more!

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Meet the author ...

Anna Heathcote

Content Manager

Based way up on the Northumbrian coast, Anna uses her creative copywriting expertise and SEO experience to ensure clients have fresh, relevant and optimised content on their ...