Top 10 SEO Mistakes

by Gary on April 16, 2007 · 32 comments

in Keyword Research,Link Strategies,On Page SEO,SEO

Every search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign is a double-edged sword. It’s like traveling in space: one wrong calculation here and one there and you can end up billions of light-years away from your destination. In this post I’m going to suggest 10 SEO mistakes that you should definitely avoid. There are 100s of things that can go wrong, but these top 10 SEO mistakes can cause you the most harm. Here they are:

1) Wrong title of the page

Your title is the first thing the search engine crawlers encounter when they visit your web page. Your title tells the search what your page is about. Even when your link appears in the search results page, it’s your title that attracts the users and makes them click the link. Avoid deceptive titles. Use keywords in your title and be as clear as possible. Another mistake regarding the titles is that sometimes all the pages belonging to a website have the same title: this is a big mistake. Every page of your website should have its own unique title.

2) Wrong selection of keywords

Almost every SEO effort revolves around the chosen keywords and lots of money and time is spent on obtaining a high ranking for the keywords. All the effort will go down the drain if you focus on the wrong keywords. Carefully study what keywords and key phrases your target market is using to find what you have to offer, and then optimise accordingly. Use the free and commercial keyword-analysis tools to zero-in on the precise keywords. Never assume on your own what keywords your target market is using.

3) Having no textual content

No matter how snazzy a website you have, if it doesn’t have enough text, the search engines will never find out what you represent and what product or service you intend to sell.

4) Having wrong content

It is as good as having no content because your bad content will give all the bad information to the search engines. This is partly related to selecting the wrong keywords because even by selecting the wrong keywords you can easily generate wrong content.

5) Choosing the wrong target market

You should know to whom you want to sell, and only then you can properly steer your SEO campaign. If the target market is wrong, how can optimise your website correctly. With wrong target market you’ll be choosing the wrong keywords and misplaced search engine campaigns. Always be sure of whom you want to target.

6) Indiscriminate use of graphics and animations

Graphics and animations look cool, but they only look cool once. They are like a movie: the more times you see them, the less attractive you find them. Unnecessary frills bloat your pages and push your real textual content downwards. Always remember that when the search engine crawlers visit your website they can make no sense of your graphics; they are only looking for the text content.

7) No use of header tags

Header tags — <h1>, <h2>, …, <hn> — are very important tags because they are supposed to highlight the gist of your web page. To create heading people often use bigger fonts for the <p> tag which is totally wrong. Search engines look for important keywords within your header tags so always use them to highlight the main points of your text, and if possible, use the keywords within the header tags.

8) Excessive use of keywords

People think the more keywords their pages have, the better is the chance of getting ranked hire; this is a complete misconception. Excessive use of keywords can get your website blacklisted on various search engines. Although you must have your keywords and their synonyms in your text they don’t have to appear in every sentence. Just have them in the beginning, within your title and other header tags possibly as anchor text.

9) Wrong linking policy

Linking is a very potent SEO methodology, but only if done properly. Indiscriminate incoming and outgoing links can severely harm your search engine rankings. Try getting inbound links from reputed websites and never link to websites that are considered “bad” (porn, spamming, scams, etc.) by the search engines.

10) Not blogging

Not blogging is a mistake because even if it directly may not affect your rankings (or it may), you can rest assured that your competitors are using it to boost their search engine rankings to get highly relevant traffic.

So avoid these top 10 SEO mistakes and gradually keep climbing up the ladder of higher rankings.

Black Hat SEO 

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Darren McLaughlin April 16, 2007 at 11:43 am

Nice list. Might I suggest “poor site structure” also, as a significant mistake?

KCLau April 16, 2007 at 11:54 am

HI Gary,

Thanks for your great sharing on SEO. Those are really very helpful tips. I got a question regarding the header tag. I use wordpress to blog. How do I creat hearder tag in my post?
Or do you suggest any article to read about heard tag?

Gary April 16, 2007 at 12:16 pm

Hi KCLau,

For unique meta information for each post (essential) I use the “Another Wordpress Meta Plugin“.

To create a unique SEO friendly title for each post I use “Optimal Title“.

I hope this helps.

Best of luck,


Gary April 16, 2007 at 12:25 pm


Of course your right!! – “poor site structure” is a prerequisite to all of the 10 items I have listed.

I talk futher on structure and in particular “linking strategies” in this post.

Thanks for your comment.


Carl April 26, 2007 at 1:31 am

It’s great to read a blog with good, honest content! I’ll be sure to visit regularly.

Just a quick one… I’ve also found that ignoring IMG ALT attributes can have an effect..

Webnauts May 29, 2007 at 12:23 am

Gary I just found your blog and I am reading your posts with great interest.

I must admit that it is an excellent resource of very valuable information.

To your post here I felt there was a need to add this:

You could have a website that hasn’t had changes in a year and still stay at the top of the search engine results. It depends on what type of website you have and what websites with which you are competing.

Keep up the good work buddy.

Gary June 7, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Yep, that is an excellent point.

Thanks for your input.


Jens Meiert June 8, 2007 at 10:36 am

Nitpicking: You probably mean “heading/headline elements”, not “header tags”.

Gary June 8, 2007 at 10:58 am

Jens, yes indeed I did. Thanks for taking the time to point that out.


Ferdie Frederic June 17, 2007 at 8:33 pm

Nice article, but I wish people would just focus more on building a great site for human readers more than search engines. But is indeed great information

Gary June 18, 2007 at 8:02 am

Hi Ferdie, I am in no way advocating that useability, accessibility, visuals, navigation etc are left by the wayside. In fact I believe it each is at least as important as SEO, if not more so. But each is a speciality of it’s own, and I only have the time and knowledge to write about the one I am most passionate about – SEO.

Jon Dunn November 6, 2007 at 10:18 am

Hi Gary,
Nice post, though i was expecting to find one of the points being trying to trick search engines and gaining good results quickly. I often come across webmasters with no patience for waiting for seo to flourish, links and domains to mature. Instead the temptation to turn to black hat techniques such as cloaking, keywords and domain spamming is too great and they actually jeopordise the inclusion of their site in search engine indexes. I think think it is a quite common mistake to use black hat techniques and people should really think about the consequences should a ban actually occur!

Gary November 12, 2007 at 6:00 pm

Hi Jon – Welcome to Phoenixrealm.

“Black Hat” is a swear word on this site – please refrain!! 🙂

Jon Dunn November 13, 2007 at 10:04 am

Ha ha, ok! …. I will never mention it again! 🙂

One thing about linking policies: Remember to vary your anchor text when building links, not only does this mean better rankings for more variations of keywords but with varied anchor text your ibl’s appear more “natural”. Try and get some deep links too.

Neil Cutmore February 7, 2008 at 7:10 pm

very new to this so probably making mistakes in all of the above. Interesting the comments in anchor text as these i’ve read carry alot of wait if on another relevant site linking to yours. Question is though how do you get other sites to anchor text keywords to yours?

Raymond Sluiter August 11, 2009 at 10:17 am

Neil, the answer to your seo question can be found in the Google Ranking Account

Colin Boyd February 25, 2008 at 11:07 pm

I have a bad habit of optimizing one page for one keyword and I give the other SEO guys a funny look when they try to do more than one term. The “hitting the long tail” excuses don;t do it for me for them.

Kaila March 20, 2008 at 10:12 am

Hi Gary,

These comments are very interesting. What about the importance of non-English SEO? When Google introduced geo-targeting for websites, this allowed webmasters to specify what country the site is based in, regardless of the top level domain. This offers more strategic opportunities for multilingual SEO when a site is not able to use country-level domains. Just wondered if anyone had any comments regarding this…

Dennis November 12, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Hi Gary! Great work 🙂 Your report is really interesting for every SEO (rookies and professionals) and i hope to read some more nice reports like this next time from you!

Greetz from Germany!

vitauto January 25, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Thanks a lot! I have corrected 2 mistakes

Aleksandar Ratkovic January 29, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I like you mentioned “Not blogging” as a mistake. I support that oppinion for last several years, too.

Andre Colt December 23, 2009 at 7:06 am

The most common mistake here is number 6 “Indiscriminate use of graphics and animations”.Due to overused of images and video some SEO not notice that some pages needs to load faster as much as possible.
I do not agree about number 10 for not blogging this is not a mistake because some site can achieve a good rankings on Search engine without a blog.

Optimizacija May 13, 2010 at 8:51 am

I feel “Choosing the wrong target market” is not mentioning often. And that is something all SEO got to have on mind. Every site have it’s own way and we shall work differently for different sites SEO. Great point.

Jane May 28, 2010 at 5:34 am

Aside from title and description, consider also your targeted keywords in assigning domain names.

John Courtney June 5, 2010 at 8:47 am

What about missing alt tags on images? Major error in my view!


Jane June 7, 2010 at 11:37 pm

In addition, don’t forget to use appropriate keywords on the title and description of your videos, including the proper tags and categories in blogs.

Heinrich June 12, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Thank you for the post. The 10 points mentioned should form part of the checklist that website owners look at once every 6 months.

Jane July 8, 2010 at 7:38 am

Consider also proper naming of inner pages (URL), use keywords if possible.

Optimizacija October 20, 2010 at 11:46 am

You could add point No 3.5 “Having good text but in image or flash”. Flash sites are nice, and it’s easier to solve them, but in most cases search engines can’t read those contents.

PromoTeam November 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Good work. Thanks for the info. very useful tips indeed.