10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2017

Start your year off strong by avoiding these 10 mistakes.

For many small business owners and marketers, the fear of making SEO mistakes far outweighs their desire to see the benefits that good SEO can bring. The term “SEO” (search engine optimization) is frequently perceived as scary, technical “mumbo jumbo” that is far too complex for ordinary people to understand.

We’re here to tell you that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth and incorporating good SEO practices into your business’ website and online messaging isn’t much more difficult than the myriad of other management tasks you perform on a daily basis!

When you learn how to use SEO properly, it can substantially increase customer visits in both the online world and the “real” one. This is because utilizing good SEO techniques (also called “white hat SEO”) will gradually improve your online search rankings – meaning that more people who are searching for what your business offers will discover your website and social media accounts.

10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2017

Avoid These SEO Mistakes

However, if you want to improve your search rankings, you need to use SEO correctly following the standards outlined by Google. SEO mistakes can negatively impact your search rankings and in the worst-case scenario get your website banned from search results! Here are our top 10 SEO mistakes that you want to avoid in 2017:

Assuming that a small business website or blog will never be able to perform well in search rankings.

Yes, the giant corporate blogs and websites do have an edge, because they’re large, household name brands, but they don’t hold ALL of the cards in the deck! If you’re an independent manufacturer and distributor of small-batch, artisanal carbonated beverages, trying to compete against Coke and Pepsi for a high rank on “soda” might be near impossible – but is that really your target audience anyway?  Going for the long-tail keywords that accurately describe your niche will yield far better and faster results (not to mention a customer that’s looking for exactly what you offer) than trying to win a highly competitive battle for generic keywords.

Assuming that SEO is too complex and that it’s impossible to “win” at it.

It is true that Google is always modifying their search algorithms to keep up with changes in technology (for example, mobile devices) as well as to constantly defend against the ever-evolving “black hat SEO” techniques that are used by spammers and scammers. When you’re being honest about what your business is and what you have to offer, you’re on the right path.  How do you know when you’re doing SEO the right way?

  • You’re using your target keywords in a natural way
  • Your content is consistent and aligns with your business
  • The inbound and outbound links for your website are relevant to your industry sector

Assuming that keywords are no longer necessary

In following up from the previous point, just because “natural” sounding language is valued by Google, that doesn’t mean keywords are unnecessary! Search engines need keywords and key phrases to “understand” what your web page or blog post is all about and then determine if it’s a high-quality page that people who are searching for that keyword would want to see. Are you using your primary keyword in places like the page URL, the page title, main heading, and first paragraph? Are you NOT stuffing that keyword into every sentence where it could possibly fit? If so, you’re using keywords in a way that search engines can correctly index your page.

Assuming that guest bloggers or writers are a waste of time

Picture this scenario… the agent of a celebrity chef contacts your cookware store to set up an in-store promotion for a new cookbook. Would you turn them down saying it’s a waste of time? That said, don’t turn away from having a relevant, helpful blog post on your website from a guest writer who is known and recognized in your industry! Community building is as essential in the online world as it is the bricks-and-mortar one, so welcome the exposure and the chance to network and link-build!

Assuming that quantity is better than quality

While we’re on the subject of link-building, it’s important to remember that links to and from quality websites will serve you far better in the SEO rankings than lots of links from websites that look like spammy directories. Remember, links are a vote of confidence showing that both websites uphold similar commitments of quality and integrity. Choose wisely. Receiving a link from an authoritative website will do more to boost your traffic than a dozen links from questionable sources.

Assuming you can only use one keyword per page

Several years ago, the SEO algorithms favored websites having different pages for each keyword variation. For example “best vacation spots,” “cheap vacation spots,” “vacation spots for families” etc. This forced websites to have multiple pages that were slightly different, yet still very similar – and it created a serious usability issue for visitors! These days, Google favors usability over technical keyword specificity, and their algorithms are sophisticated enough to be able to determine that a “vacation spot” can be the best, cheap, and ideal for families all on the same page!

Assuming that you can ignore what people on social media say

There’s no doubt about it, social media plays a role in search rankings. If your business hasn’t yet embraced at least one social media channel, you’re missing opportunities to reach potential customers. Social sharing also generates valuable links back to your website, which search engines are known to factor into how your website ranks. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Pinterest, social networks help to provide exposure and can increase interest in your products, content, or services. You can learn more about successfully incorporating social media on our blog, but it’s generally as simple as creating a schedule of messages and publishing content that your target audience would find useful or interesting.

Assuming that copying content is OK

If it’s been a while since you had to write a research paper for school, we’re here to remind you that plagiarism or copying other people’s work is still NOT OK. In fact, when you copy content from another website and place it on your business’ website it’s even worse than your teacher’s icy stare, a red F, and possibly detention – it’s a big SEO hit that sticks to your website as long as that content remains in place.

Crafting unique, interesting copy takes time and effort. But stealing from a competitor’s website is not only illegal (some website owners actively look for illegally copied content and images and will take action against business using their material without permission) but you’ll get penalized by Google.

Before you place any content on your website, run it through a plagiarism checker like Copyscape or Grammarly and adjust accordingly. If you find “must-have” content that another person or business has originally shared, contact them about obtaining permission to place a segment of the article on your website with a link to the original. When you follow the rules, Google will be happy, other content providers will be happy, and you might even make your 8th grade English teacher smile.

Assuming you don’t need analytics

If you’re new to Google Analytics, it can be a little intimidating to dive in and learn what you need to be looking at. In fact, if business is going well why bother with it, right?


If you’re not looking at your website’s data you have no idea what is performing well, what is underperforming, and what the general traffic patterns are. What keywords are most successful at driving customers to take the action you want them to? Where are you receiving referral traffic from? Are most of your visitors coming to your website from mobile devices? When you know these answers, and look at the analytics data every day/week/month, you’ll find ways to enhance the customer experience and increase conversions.

Assuming that your site doesn’t need to be “crawled”

Whether you’re using WordPress or some other website development platform, you’re always given the option of making your site open and available to search engines or closing it off so it’s “hidden” from search. You need to make sure this option is activated if you want Google to index your website and provide a ranking for your pages. Even if your website has been around for years and has lots of traffic and loyal customers, you want the search engines to continue visiting your site and indexing your information on a regular basis!

These are the top 10 SEO mistakes every website owner should avoid in 2017. Click To Tweet

Avoid SEO Mistakes By Hiring a Professional

If you want your business’ website to be successful and help drive more customers to your products and services, be sure to avoid these SEO mistakes! Instead, focus on developing superior, customer-centric content and a committed, long-term strategy to harnessing the power of the online marketplace. When you understand the benefits of SEO best practices, you’ll be able to leverage them to maximum advantage!

At Road Warrior Creative, we offer a variety of digital marketing services including website development, search engine optimization, social media communication, e-commerce support, and corporate identity creation. Whether your business needs market research for strategic planning or a website SEO audit to improve search rankings, contact us to learn more about how we can help you stay on top of the latest digital marketing trends. 

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