There are quite a few SEO related mistakes to be found on most blogs and majorities of them are easily avoidable. The rest may be a bit technical, but if you wish to rank, you must find out if you are okay on the optimization front. We shall categorize them, but only for convenience: all mistakes ought to be corrected without exception.
1. The Obvious:
We mean, poor quality of content. This cannot be stressed enough: Google puts content ahead of everything else, and if you are not writing quality posts with the proper citations and outbound links, you are never going to rank or hold your rank for very long if you do. Hire an expert if necessary, but make sure this basic part of SEO is taken care of at all times.
2. The Anchor Text:
You probably know enough to avoid keyword cramming – gone are the days of 3 -4.5% keyword density – the term keyword density itself is obsolete now. But have you paid attention to your anchor texts lately? It is okay to use a keyword rich text as anchor text that leads to another of your posts or sites, but if you keep repeating it, even for valid reasons, it does not become too different from keyword spamming. Use meaningful variations that convey to the reader what to expect from where the link leads to, and leave it at that.
3. Internal Links:
This is part of the anchor texts thingy, but deserves special mention because without proper internal links, your site may not be crawled in its entirety. Make sure each page leads to at least some of the other pages, which in turn will follow a similar pattern of leading. If a page stands unconnected to the rest of your site, it may not be crawled in spite of its presence in the XML site map you surely have submitted to the major search engines.
In addition, it is good for your home page to contain many links, but if it they are in excess, you have a link stuffed page (not a technical term) which does dilute each link’s value. Be choosy and follow a pattern where your pages are interconnected with all or most major pages starting with select links appearing on the home page.
4. There’s just one H1:
Don’t put more than one H1 tag on the same page. This may happen without your knowing it because some blog themes automatically put a post title at the H1 level, but keep the text size small. This can appear deceptive, and you may want a ‘real’ H1 standing tall inside the post which would ultimately lead to a repetition.
Use the Edit link in WordPress dashboard to check out your theme’s coding. If that is too difficult for you, pay attention to Bing! site analysis – Bing! being even more particular about this aspect (as well as about any kind of repetitive element in the code including the meta description) than Google.
5. The Meta Factor:
This may not appear in the visible part of your content, but the connection is very clear. Without proper Meta description that reflects the essence of your content you wish your prospective readers to see, not even holding the first position on SERP will draw the expected percentage of visitors. Do NOT ignore this one!
Search Engine Perception Related:
1. Duplicate Stuff, Redirects and Canonical:
Of course, everything is search engine related, including content, but there are certain technical parts of your site’s appearance to search bots that can make or break your ranking despite having great content. Duplicate URLS (yoursite.com or yoursite.com/index.html), whether Google sees your site as having or not having the WWW with its URL (settle this simply by making the appropriate changes in your Google Webmaster Tools Home page), duplicate content that appears without your knowledge because of category, archive and search results pages (which are very much visible to the bots) are all signs of a shoddily built site.
The solution can be to use a 301 redirect where all duplicate pages point to the one page you want to be visible. WordPress lends itself to many tweaks that can get rid of the category, archive related duplicate content if you take the time to use them. If all else fails there is the rel=canonical to be inserted in the ‘head’ section of your pages to show which of the similar pages the search engines should take note of. To learn more about this, take it from the horse’s mouth, here: support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139394?hl=en
2. Bad Link Appearance:
The link you see in the earlier point is a good example. There is no way of knowing where it leads to – no descriptive text. Your blog can generate similar looking links – make sure it doesn’t. Pay attention to the ‘slug’ when creating posts. The slug can be anything you wish it to be; make it count so that people know what they are clicking into.
Also, make sure your WordPress Blog (Blogger has, of late, incorporated something similar as well) shows the /%postname%/ attribute instead of the default link structure. Go to Settings > Permalink > Common Settings and make the necessary change.
3. Error 404: Do You Need It?
Yes, you do! Well, not invariably, and never in a 10 page blog or site, but if you were, say, displaying certain wares in a large site which you are no longer offering, it is best to show a ‘soft’ 404 error to the search engines instead of redirecting to a category page. One redirect is fine, but too many simply shows that you don’t care if your visitors are repeatedly disappointed and frustrated. It is one thing to tell them that you don’t store Item X any longer, and quite another to lead them away to something else altogether each time they search for it.
To put it simply, a soft error is when you know it exists and have taken care to put in a helpful message in a customized 404-error page. A standard or hard error is when you have no idea where things have gone wrong and your visitors keep ending up clicking dead links. This kind of 404 you don’t need.
Finally, we have the case where you either have hired the wrong experts or are doing things on your own without updating yourself. SEO is changing, and you have to keep abreast of the latest algorithm changes to know what is good for your site. Unless you have hired an SEO expert with a completely flawless reputation, it is always best to learn the basics on your own.
For the purpose of diagnosing crawl errors, link details and the like, you can use the Moz Crawl Diagnostics Summary, the Screaming Frog desktop app and, of course, Google and Bing! Webmaster Tools and Google Analytic.