Search engine optimization (SEO) is still an effective way of attracting new visitors or clients to your website — if done correctly.

With nearly 80 percent of users preferring organic results over paid advertisements, more establishments and businesses are turning to SEO as their go-to internet marketing strategy. To top it off, a good number of those searchers are converted into clients or customers.

The extent of its effectiveness depends on how well you’ve implemented the SEO initiatives you’ve planned out, but it’s also important to know what mistakes people make in order to not do them yourself.

A firm understanding of SEO mistakes to avoid can combat technical issues early on and allow your website to perform at its best.

Here are the six SEO mistakes every business makes.

1. Not Defining Your User 

What makes SEO highly effective is that it uses search intent to connect you with your target audience. This means failing to define your user or your target audience will send your SEO campaign into a downward spiral, which will cost more to fix.

To figure out the search intent, you have to determine who your target audience is and what they want.

Understanding your audience and knowing how they think will tell you what kind of content your website should provide them.

For example, if you’re a dentist, you have to find out what your target audience is looking for to get them to land on your pages. If a user types “purpose of veneers” or “veneers,” it means that the searcher wants to know what a veneer is and how it works. However, if someone looks for “veneers cost” or “cosmetic dentistry,” then you have someone looking for a dentist. You may be targeting both keywords (“veneers” and “veneers cost”), but they serve different customer intent.

Although SEO for dentists will be most helpful in this case, it’s first important to know who will be looking for you. Then, SEO will help you to figure out what they’ll likely search.

It’s crucial to define your target audience because you’ll be able to satisfy their search intent. This will lead them to the right pages in your website, which will eventually translate to higher conversion rates for you.

2. Not Having a Realistic SEO Plan and Strategy

A well-thought-out SEO plan will maximize your opportunity to gain traffic and increase conversion rates. It’s also the easiest way to manage your SEO campaign. In SEO, random initiatives won’t do you any good.

When devising a plan, it’s important to have a deep understanding of SEO to set up a realistic and achievable SEO goal.

An SEO plan should involve thorough keyword research, competitive research and analysis, on-page SEO initiatives, off-page SEO initiative and technical SEO initiatives.

SEO Tips:

  • Define the goals and objectives of your SEO campaign. Have a clear and realistic understanding of your goals.
  • Conduct an SEO audit. Put your website through an SEO audit in order to see how it’s performing in search results. It’s a crucial step to determine what activities are needed to accomplish your goals.
  • Define the initiatives that are going to be implemented based on the SEO analysis. This is where you’ll decide what methods you’re going to use to achieve your goals. If you decide to work with an SEO company, then they’ll be the ones presenting the SEO services you need for the campaign.
  • Conduct thorough keyword research. In-depth keyword research is crucial to the success of your SEO campaign. This includes studying keywords that are ranking for your competitors too. By determining the target keywords, you can then plan how they will fit into the optimized pages of your website.
  • Make sure you have the right SEO tools for tracking and monitoring your campaign. Since SEO is an ongoing process, you have to always be on top of things. Knowing how to track the results will allow you to adjust and modify the strategy as necessary.

3. Neglecting Fresh and High-Quality Content

Relevant content is important in SEO since it’s what search engines use to determine if your website is valuable and worthy of being ranked.

This means if you don’t have fresh or updated content that provides answers users need, then it will be ranked lower and Google will prioritize competitors who possess more rank-worthy content.

SEO Tips:

  • Write with the user in mind. Search engines like Google are a medium to reach your target audience. It’s your audience you’re aiming to engage, not the bots. Write content that brings value to your users. Avoid low-quality and duplicate content at all costs.
  • Make sure that it follows the SEO plan that you’ve devised beforehand.
  • Follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

4. Not Optimizing Meta Tags, Title Tags, and Alt Texts

Another common mistake in SEO is forgetting to optimize “title tags,” “meta descriptions” and “image alt texts. These are the visible and clickable texts that appear on the search engine results pages (SERPS). They don’t appear in the main content itself but rather in the page’s source code. It’s the title and description you see when you enter a query on search engines. Search engines use this information to understand and rank your content, too.

Another mistake (and also an opportunity that people tend to miss) is neglecting alt texts for images. Some may think that having beautiful graphics and images will be enough to draw in your users, however, you must also think about how search engines will crawl those images.

One way you could help search engines understand the images that you post is by providing a description in the form of an alternative text (alt-text).

However, there are also things to avoid when doing alt text. Like including alt texts for decorative items, such as dividers or design elements. Those that don’t provide much information to the page. Another mistake is being overly complicated in the description. The simpler the text is, the easier it will be for search engines to crawl.

SEO Tips:

  • Pay attention to the length of the title and meta description. The title length should be no more than 60 characters long while the description should be no more than 155 characters long.
  • Use the root keyword in both title and meta descriptions.

5. Unresponsive Web Design

There are nearly three billion smartphone users worldwide. This means that more people are using other devices — aside from desktop and laptop computers — to access the internet.

Most websites don’t take this into consideration. Note that 50.81 of all traffic comes from mobile devices (not including tablets) and Google now predominantly uses the mobile version of any content to rank and index.

If your website isn’t ready for mobile, Google will lead users to those websites that can be viewed in mobile format.

You also have to consider speed. Having a responsive website means that it’s performing at its best no matter what device it’s viewed on. Not only does it look good, but it should also be fast and responsive.

Google found out that 53 percent of users will leave if a page took longer than three seconds to load. Another 10 percent will exit for every second wasted on waiting.

A responsive, beautifully designed and fast-loading website makes for a professional first impression. No matter how great your products or services are, they won’t matter much if your website is difficult to access and navigate.

Build your website with the user in mind. It should deliver the best experience to your user, so you can get the best possible result.

6. Not verifying your Google My Business Page

One mistake that can cost you a bunch of clients is not verifying your Google My Business (GMB) Page. Local businesses or establishments will benefit from Google’s own public listing. At the root of it, GMB is important to a local business because it gets you leads, increases traffic to a website, or foot traffic to a store. Ultimately, leading to more sales.

When a user searches for a local product or service, Google automatically presents a list of the first three businesses it considers the most relevant.

For example, if you own a law firm in Washington, and a user searches for “lawyers near me,” then Google will show the first three firms or practices complete with their description, information, location, phone number, direction and reviews. This is called the Google Map Pack.

For businesses to appear in the top three results, they’ve incorporated the best practices in SEO that Washington businesses need to dominate that particular query (i.e., “lawyers near me”). This is a great lead generation tool that shouldn’t be ignored.

It’s important to know the best practices in SEO, but it’s equally important to be aware of the mistakes that can hold a website back from performing at its best.

An awareness of these SEO mistakes will help you avoid a significant impact to how your website and business will perform. Once you’ve identified what you’ve done wrong and applied the right solutions, you’ll start to see just how effective optimization can be in bringing lucrative results.

Itamar Gero is the founder of, a digital marketing solutions provider that empowers agencies and their local clients all over the world. When he isn’t working, he’s traveling the world, meditating, or dreaming (in code).

SEO Mistakes stock photo by Artur Szczybylo/Shutterstock