Semalt Advice On How To Avoid The Most Devastating SEO Errors 

After working a certain number of years in the field of SEO and browsing thousands of websites, you inevitably begin to pay attention to existing trends in this area.

So, Semalt noticed that there are several SEO errors that are repeated on many sites over and over again. Most mistakes are things that a competent SEO consultant should be well aware of. Those mistakes are usually easy to find and fix.

If you have a website, but no SEO consultant, then you should definitely read what these errors are, and then check your site for their presence. If you have an SEO consultant, then he should draw your attention to such errors. If this did not happen, then it makes sense to ask the question: "Have we chosen the right person as a consultant?" 

Here are 10 common SEO errors that should not be allowed.

1. Duplicate content

What is duplicate content? In the context of SEO, this means that the same content appears on multiple pages (URLs) with the same or different domains. The problem with duplicate content is that search engines cannot determine which content to index, and as a result, they simply don't show this web page in search results.

There are various types of duplicate content:

Homepage duplication

First of all, you need to make sure that the site does not have a duplicated home page. Here are some examples of a duplicate home page:
With multiple duplicate versions of the homepage, search engines usually try to figure out which one to index. Although sometimes those robots index the wrong version. Therefore, it is better not to mislead search engines.

URL duplication

Sometimes the reason for the low position of the site in the search results is duplication of URLs through inconsistent use of uppercase and lowercase letters.

For example, if all your internal and external links point to / apple-iPhone or, while the "real" version of the page is -iPhone, it turns out that you share the link value between these two URLs.

Different pages with similar content

The problem of duplication of content is inherent in almost all sites.

Duplication of content also takes place when you or your employees post information copied in another internet resource on the site, or post the same materials on different pages of the site.

This problem also appears if SEO principles were not taken into account when creating the site. The site developer or content author may simply not pay attention to this - they are not SEO experts.

How to solve this problem?

Minimize the amount of similar content. If you have many similar pages, try expanding each one or combining those pages into one. For example, a restaurant's website with two separate pages for two addresses (with similar information) can be replaced with one page. Or you can write unique content for each page.

Delete duplicate versions of pages.

301 redirect redirects browsers and search engines from duplicated to original versions of pages. Also, to focus the "attention" of search engines on the desired version of the page, you can use the "rel canonical" tag.

URL design rules. Use hyphens when necessary to separate words for readability. URLs must not contain spaces, underscores, or other characters for separating words. URLs should be as informative and concise as possible, should not contain capital letters.

2. Double or low-quality Meta tags on pages

Often a fresh site, which has never been in the hands of an SEO specialist, is added to the indexing one with temporary or generally test Title, Description and Keywords, and as a result it does not occupy any positions at all. Keep in mind that tags have a significant impact on online items, especially Title and h1. The tags can be formed according to the template, but all the same it must be strictly unique within the site and relevant to the content of the page on which they are placed.

It should also be remembered that the Description tag is responsible for generating a snippet in Google, and by making it catchy, you can increase the likelihood that among the neighbors in the search results the user selects and clicks on your site.

Keywords, we advise you to remove and forget as a nightmare. This Meta tag has not affected anything for a long time, but it can bring a lot of confusion and harm it.

3. Forgot about content marketing

Do not rely on the fact that the SEO team you hired simply through internal site optimization and link building will dramatically increase its traffic. You cannot do without a competent content strategy. In the past few years, content marketing has become one of the key elements to the success of an SEO company.

Do not expect that the traffic of your website will soar up only thanks to external optimization (link building and social signals). Even if you occupy the first positions for some keywords, the maximum traffic that you provide for yourself is xxx visitors per day and this traffic will not grow. Especially considering the constant updates from Google, your positions are not insured.

4. Poor site structure

Often, when developing a new site, your web developer does not integrate the best SEO techniques into its structure. This is quite logical, because the web developer is not an SEO specialist. Therefore, the foreseeable aspect of the site's architecture (in other words, how the site is presented and how pages are related to each other) is very similar.

This is perhaps one of the most underrated areas of SEO.

Basically, the homepage of the site has the highest authority. It accounts for the bulk of incoming links. Authority (or link weight) moves across the site from pages with higher authority to pages with lower authority through links. The farther the page is from the home, the less is its credibility. Also, the farther the page from the home page, the worse is its ranking.

Sometimes pages with high authority are hidden deeply in the architecture of the site, that is why those pages lose their position in the ranking. Sometimes, on the contrary, the page approaches the home page and immediately receives several additional positions from Google.

Ultimately, you want to create a site structure that is convenient and understandable to users.

A flat structure often meets these requirements and helps to attract more visitors through search engines.

5. Ugly page 404

Unfortunately, for many sites, the 404 error page is included in the ranking of the most visited pages, especially while the site is new and all possible errors have not been found in it. Turn the problem to your advantage - let the error page be attractive and contain links to the most popular sections of the site, motivating the user to continue on the site.

6. The site is not optimized for different versions of mobile phones

In light of the trend of continuous growth in the use of the Internet via mobile devices, Google made it clear to the owners of the sites - if there is no mobile optimization, do not expect love from Google (and also from Yandex)! Informing the ranking of sites, Google also takes into account this factor.

Therefore, the creation of a convenient version of the site that works well and quickly on various devices, especially mobile phones and tablets, is a must.

There are several methods for creating mobile sites, including a separate site for mobile phones, responsive design (Google's favorite method), or a native application (for a complex user interface).

The best option for those who have limited resources and an unlimited desire to create convenient SEO sites is an adaptive design.

7. The domain is not on a secure protocol

For three years now, the HTTPS protocol has been one of the ranking factors on Google. Moreover, Google Chrome marks sites that do not use it as unsafe for the user. Moving to a new protocol after the start of indexing the site is possible, but will require gluing the old and new "mirrors" of the site and cause fluctuations in the position of the site. To avoid this, it is recommended to buy an SSL certificate already at the development stage.

8. Lack of a site map

The site map in XML format will allow robots to quickly go around the site and include its pages in the database of search engines. It, as a rule, is generated by means of CMS and its creation does not take a lot of resources. Do not forget to include a link to it in robots.txt; otherwise search robots will not be able to find it. Especially important is the availability of a site map for large sites, with a complex structure and a large number of pages.

9. Unreasonable SEO expectations

SEO is not easy, fast and cheap. The days of simple, affordable SEO tactics exploiting loopholes in algorithms are over.

Many people think that SEO comes down to the position of a site in the ranking for certain keywords. In fact, this is far from the case.

Most often, clients use short phrases in search queries, such as:
  • Construction financing
  • Equipment loan
The reality is much more complicated. People formulate their search queries in different ways, often using long keywords and phrases:
  • Loan for financing construction without additional documents
  • How to get a loan for equipment, having a bad credit history?
And you know what? Such phrases are not included in keyword lists. And this despite the fact that a recent study showed that such long searches generates a higher conversion rate.

Search queries from one or two words due to the high degree of competition and, accordingly, the high costs of ranking provide only an insignificant level of conversion. But with long requests, things are the other way around.

Many sites with high traffic are characterized by a low level of conversion. This is due to the fact that visitors leave immediately. Does ranking help in this case? Not particularly.

The success of an SEO company should not be based solely on ranking. Other factors, such as traffic, length of stay on the site, failure rate, and most importantly, requests and sales, should also be analyzed.

In addition, if you want your SEO company to be successful, your site must earn it. If your user interface is poor, the design is out of date, the prices are too high, the content is business-focused and boring, and the customer service is disgusting, solve these problems first. And only then do SEO.

10. Hired a bad SEO specialist

It doesn't matter why this happened - whether you don't want to spend extra money or because your SEO consultant is lazy, incompetent or old-fashioned, but hiring an SEO specialist who is not doing his job is the most dangerous SEO error from all.

In the best case, a bad SEO specialist will waste your money, and in the worst case, he can just bury your business. Here are the most common mistakes of such "professionals":
  • Ignore all the above items.
  • Embedded in the content a huge number of links to disgusting with anchor keywords texts from spam blog networks and directories.
  • Claim to have embedded links that they cannot show to the client because it will reveal all their secrets. If the SEO agency with which you collaborate gives vague and indirect answers to your questions, refuses to show reports on links of existing customers (if they have such a right), just look for new consultants.
As practice shows, it is better not to have an SEO consultant at all than to have a bad one.


The article describes the most common mistakes that are often made by those involved in search engines optimization. There are many mistakes you should be wary of. However, there are many others that need to be left to SEO specialists' attention. You, as a site owner or marketing manager, should consider SEO at a higher strategic level to be sure that your SEO company is moving in the right direction.