Avoid These Common On-Page SEO Mistakes

Written by: Jason Bayless | March 20, 2013

Is your website optimized for search engine success, or is it guilty of some very common errors that could get your web content flagged by Google, Bing or Yahoo? You might think your website is 100 percent optimized, but there might be some questionable on-page SEO methods left over from a previous SEO campaign or site redesign that happened at a time when certain SEO tactics that are now firmly Black Hat were just in a gray area of acceptability.

It’s also possible that the SEO mistakes on your website are newer in nature, and that you (or your webmaster, or whoever has been performing your SEO) didn’t realize that Black Hat SEO methods were used to propel your search engine rankings higher. Whatever the cause, it’s time to check your website for costly SEO errors!

Legacy website on-page SEO mistakes to watch for

Older websites have the advantage of being a known quantity to the search engines and directories. However, unless they’ve been thoroughly and systematically overhauled over the years, these legacy websites can have significant SEO drawbacks. The navigation might be a labyrinthine mess, for example. Or there might be orphan pages, or links to nowhere.

Besides orphan pages and bad links, you should also check your older website for these common SEO mistakes (in no particular order):

Too many ads in the wrong places. Google’s “page layout algorithm,” introduced in January 2012, penalizes web pages that have too many ads “above the fold” (an old newspaper term meaning the top half of the page). If you can see a bunch of ads without scrolling, you probably need to change your page layout.
Websites (or even just menus) done in Flash. This was all the rage a few years ago with webmasters, but then as now, both search engines and real people prefer a simple, straightforward design with easy-to-find content. Minimize the Flash elements for best results.
Odd dynamic URLs. At least some of your web pages should have plain URLs that contain keywords instead of numbers and symbols. For instance: www.yoursite.com/keyword. Google says its bots can index pages with dynamic URLs, but it’s more difficult. Make sure at least some of your URLs are strong, plain and make sense to real people.
Broken links. When a website is several years old and in its fourth or fifth incarnation, wonky things can happen. Links to external websites may no longer be valid. Internal links in page copy may not have survived the site being ported to a new CMS. So make sure your links on each page are current.

On-page SEO mistakes on newer websites

These SEO errors are more likely to be the result of using Black Hat SEO strategies. Check your site for these shady SEO practices:

• Keyword stuffing. For instance, pages that include several keywords that are the same color as the background so only the search engines “see” them.
• Hiding links to another of your websites in a comma or period (again, so they’re only visible to search engine bots).
• Using stolen content from another website instead of creating your own unique content. Google doesn’t like plagiarists!
• Using “doorway pages” full of keywords or copied content to try to herd readers to your real content.
Whether your on-page SEO mistakes are old or new, intentional or innocent, they can cost you search engine rankings. So take some time to review your website and make sure it avoids these on-page SEO “worst practices.”