Let’s talk about the most common SEO mistakes to avoid that businesses usually make. But before we get into the technical stuff, just a tiny disclaimer – there are three pillars that you should always keep in mind! 

The first one is to do the basics well. Secondly, don’t be lazy. And the third is to do your job well! Well, of course we know you do, but we all make mistakes and sometimes it’s because we encounter really difficult problems, but most of the time it’s just because we’re missing the basics. It’s much better to do a great job at your SEO already, then go back at it and fix the mistakes. Without further ado, here are the six most common SEO mistakes to avoid!

#1. Use H1 and H2 as they are intended

These headline tools matter. Sometimes content creators aren’t really well-versed at SEO, so someone publishing a blog might use headlines treatment as design elements. For example, using H1 or H2 format to highlight a quote. It might look nice on the page, but it’s really, really bad SEO practice. To avoid that, here’s a few tips to remember.

H1s are for your on-page title only. Once you’ve made your title, don’t use H1 for anything else. And think of the keywords your audiences are using when crafting that headline.

Think of H2s like chapters. If you’re building a table of contents for a book, H2s are there to separate your chapters or sections in a blog post.

H3s are often overlooked, but strong for subsections within a chapter. They’re great for structure and flow, and they are another opportunity for inserting your keywords.

And remember the H1, H2 and H3 elements are not design-focused. If you want an aesthetically beautiful way to make words stand out, you should check out the style sheets tools in your CMS, or work with your developer team for design elements.

#2. Don’t skip over meta titles and meta description

Plain and simple: don’t cut corners. Too often content creators just breeze through meta titles and meta description, just simply going with the default. Trust us when we say that if you spend just a few more minutes checking if the settings are actually correct, that can pay off in a really big way for ranking in SERPs!

The search engines might not use metadata for ranking, but if your metadata is used in the search results, your users do! So put in a few minutes and make the description fields sing. That headline might be a great headline, but when the headline also defaults as the meta title, it can be too much. 

So a couple of tips on this: Aim for around 50 characters for the meta title and 150 for the meta description. Be crisp, get the essentials in and nothing more. Remember all that keyword research you did? This is the time to put the keywords in the metadata!

#3. PDFs

It’s perfectly fine to serve certain types of content as PDFs. But what many neglect and forget is that they have to treat them as any other webpage. All the linking and all the things that you would do in a regular blog post is also what you should be doing in any PDF that serves up content!

PDFs also have metadata fields, including description, author company, and other key information. If you don’t fill it in, it’s another missed opportunity. Defaults might even put in gibberish or no info at all. And guess what shows up in the SERP? Nonsense. Also, files’ names matter! Don’t name that PDF as “SEOfinalvers2”, because that can also sneak into the SERP. It’s not as funny as it sounds when that happens to you 🤭

And finally never output a PDF for online publication as “image only”. It needs to be actual text because the search engines will crawl the text, treat the headlines and subheads just as we discussed when it comes to H1, H2 and H3.

#4. Images and alt-text

So everything we said about the metadata earlier applies exactly in the same way here. So basically, do the work and fill in all the gaps. This is info that Google crawls. And it helps you ensure WCAG compliance for accessibility to boot.

For people following us from the US: all the things we just described pertain to the US American Disabilities Act’s laws and regulations. So unless you want a lawsuit in your hands (which we guess you don’t) you really need to put in attention into all the images, text, PDFs, alternative texts, and all the things you have on your website. They need to be accessible to everybody. It’s really important. Besides the law thing, it’s just a human thing to do.

#5. Play nice with the PPC team

SEOs and PPC folks need to be playing nice in the sandbox together. Why bid on a keyword that is crushing it in the SERP? By working together, SEO and PPC teams can identify the keywords that need spending and those that serve up content for free.

Let’s bring all this back to some of the SEO tools that you use. In fact, a recurring theme in all these common SEO mistakes to avoid have been… Keywords!

A tool like Semrush’s Keyword Overview or Moz Keyword Explorer helps you decide on keywords that you can or should compete for organically. In Semrush, Keyword Magic Tool helps you identify the keywords that can help you build profitable SEO or PPC campaigns. And remember that part about playing nice in the sandbox? You can keep track of all your favorite keywords and track ongoing metrics with data that is always fresh.

But don’t forget the three things we mentioned at the beginning of the video. Do the basics, don’t be lazy and do your job well. Now you know what we mean!

What are the worst SEO mistakes you have made in your career or the most common ones that you think we haven’t mentioned? I mean, there are tons that we could mention, this could be a whole series. I just put the most, most, most common ones.