15 Top SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020

Although today there are several powerful levers to propel your web marketing strategy, optimization of the natural referencing of a site (SEO) is arguably the most effective free method to increase your online visibility. Moreover, knowing that 71.33% of Internet users do not go past the first page of search results, it is not surprising that improving SEO is a central priority for so many companies. But concretely, what is SEO?

What is SEO? A little definition

SEO, or natural referencing, consists of optimizing your website in order to increase its reliability, relevance and performance in the eyes of search engines such as Google and Bing. With such optimization, your website has a better chance of being displayed on the first page of results and thus attracting more traffic, all without paying a penny in Google advertising.

Concretely, SEO has four components, including three types of optimization. These four concepts are also crucial to the success of your web marketing strategy, and it is necessary to master them well.

SEO in four key concepts

Technical optimization

Technical optimization is about making sure that your website is well built, well structured, and that its technical performance meets the expectations of your visitors. In other words, if your SEO strategy was a house, technical optimization would be strengthening its foundations. However, much like a real estate agent, the search engine only promotes sites that it considers relevant, attractive and useful to its users, which is clearly not the case for less well-built sites. (or a house that is falling into ruins!).

On-site optimization

On-site optimization is, as the name suggests, the optimization of all the elements present directly on your website. This is for example your content, your texts and your images, but not only. This is because your meta tags, which is the information that you yourself provide to the search engine about your content, also falls into this category.

Off-site optimization

You might have guessed, off-site optimization is all about improving your site’s SEO through off-site actions. For example, using Google My Business to manage your search engine presence or getting links to your site on another blog or website are great ways to improve off-site SEO. .

SEO tools

Évidemment, pour améliorer son SEO et en obtenir la meilleure performance possible, il faut beaucoup de recherche, d’analyse, et d’ajustements constants. Il est donc crucial d’utiliser de bons outils afin de suivre la progression de vos résultats et d’ajuster vos stratégies en conséquence.

Vous l’aurez bien compris, le référencement est un domaine très vaste et parfois même un peu mélangeant. Malheureusement, plusieurs petites entreprises se lançant pour la première fois dans le référencement naturel n’obtiennent pas les résultats attendus et se heurtent à des obstacles pourtant facilement évitables.

C’est pourquoi nous partageons avec vous dans cet article les 15 erreurs SEO les plus fréquemment commises par les PME ainsi que nos recommandations pour les éviter et améliorer son SEO.

How to improve SEO at a technical level

Error 1: Your site contains errors preventing Google from crawling it

When Google crawls your site for indexing as a search result, it sometimes runs into errors in your source code, which hinders the process and can potentially hurt your rankings. Fortunately, you can easily find out if Google has encountered such errors from the crawling errors report provided by Google Search Console. This free tool allows you to make sure that all of your pages are coded correctly and that no potentially harmful errors have crept into them so that your site is indexed correctly.

It goes without saying that it is best to remain vigilant and take a little look at the state of your source code once in a while if you want to improve your SEO effectively.

Error 2: Your site loading speed is too long

Did you know that 40% of Internet users abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load? So it goes without saying that a site that loads quickly and efficiently should be a top priority. Sadly, too many SMBs make the mistake of crowding their pages with images and other files that are far too large for them.

Fortunately, there are a few tools out there that can measure your website speed and determine if you are making this mistake. We have two available for you, Google Page Speed Insight and GTMetrix, which are the most popular.

Improving SEO: The 15 Mistakes To Avoid 1

However, if, as in this example, the result is negative, don’t worry too much: it’s rather easy to remedy the slowness of your site by resizing your files and images. You can take a look at our complete guide to image optimization to help you out.

Error 3: Your website is not optimized for mobile

Another rather devastating mistake many small businesses make is not optimizing their website for mobile. Indeed, Google now favors sites with a well-developed and efficient mobile interface. However, you can test your site with Google’s mobile optimization test so that you can address this issue if it occurs. Moreover, although the task may seem complicated, optimizing your site for mobiles is a sure way to improve your SEO.

Error 4: Your site is not secure

Since last July, unsecured sites, that is, those whose link begins with http: // and not https: //, have been marked “unsecured” by Chrome.

However, not only does such a mention on your site discredit your business, but it also harms your SEO. Indeed, Google prioritizes sites deemed to be secure, reliable and harmless to its users, thereby ranking unsafe sites lower in search results.

However, you only need to obtain an SSL certificate in order to resolve the problem. We suggest you take a look at our article on the subject to learn more about how to secure your site and how to obtain and activate your SSL certificate.

Error 5: Your site contains duplicate URLs

Having duplicate URLs is not a mistake in itself: it is rather inevitable for most websites. Indeed, exactly similar pages can have different URLs for all kinds of reasons, such as, for example, to ensure the compatibility of said page with other devices (ex: a URL in m.example.com for the version mobile of a site).

However, it is important to know how to manage these duplicate URLs in order to avoid other more important worries …

First of all, you have to understand that Google chooses only one of all the duplicate URLs, which it defines as a “canonical” page. This page that Google chooses, it crawls more frequently than any other duplicate pages and derives the most information at the SEO level.

Improving SEO: The 15 Mistakes To Avoid 4

However, if you don’t optimize for the right page – which is the one Google is promoting – you’re missing out on a golden SEO opportunity.

Fortunately, you can define your canonical pages yourself in order to better guide Google in its indexing of your site using the Google Search Console. You can also learn more about duplicate URLs there if you are intrigued by the topic.

How to improve your on-site SEO

Error 6: You are not optimizing your site for the right keywords

A completely avoidable mistake that many SEO newbies make is optimizing a web page for the wrong keywords. It’s very easy to get lost in the vast array of potential keywords for your business, but it’s always best to take the time to define the words with the most real potential. So, avoid:

overly competitive keywords
overly generic keywords.
Overly competitive keywords may work, but much slower and much less effectively. Keywords that are too broad may attract a larger audience, but they will also be less targeted and therefore less likely to stay on your site.

Finally, always keep in mind that the keywords that you identify as “relevant” may not be used by your target customers.

To analyze your keywords and ensure their potential, we suggest you use tools such as Google Keywords Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer and SEMrush.

Error 7: You are doing keyword stuffing

When learning about SEO for the first time, it can become tempting to stuff your web pages with keywords in order to propel your page to the top of search results faster. However, focusing on the quantity of keywords at the expense of the quality of the content is a very risky practice. Take this example:

“We sell ice cream. Our ice cream is the best ice cream of any ice cream in the neighborhood. Come and taste our ice cream! ”

Phew. Not very pretty, is it? Overuse keywords is like creating repetitive content that is very unappealing to your readership, which is ultimately counterproductive if you’re looking to convert them into repeat visitors or even customers. So make sure you find the perfect balance between writing for humans and optimizing for robots.

Error 8: Your site contains duplicate content

We mentioned duplicate URLs, but what about duplicate content? Are your product descriptions original or a simple copy and paste of the manufacturer’s descriptions? Is your blog just a collection of content found all over the web and reposted by you?

Many websites, and more frequently e-commerce stores, recycle the same content on more than one page, or get their content elsewhere on the web. Although this practice is not directly sanctioned, it confuses search engines and makes indexing your website more difficult. So make sure to:

  • Highlight as much unique content as possible
  • Create original meta tags for each page
    limit generic product descriptions as much as possible.
  • You can use the free Siteliner tool to identify the proportion of your site that has duplicate content.

Example of duplicate content

Improving SEO: The 15 Mistakes To Avoid 7

Finally, you can also read our SEO guide for e-commerce to learn more about the best practices to adopt to improve your SEO when managing an online store.

Error 9: The meta-titles and meta-descriptions of your pages are not optimized

Meta-titles and meta-descriptions are tags that help Google users see at a glance what your web page is about. This is the information presented on the results page and therefore potentially the first impression one has of your site. Here is a small example:

It is crucial to write eye-catching meta-titles and meta-descriptions that are concise, clear and above all to the point. Three mistakes are to be avoided:

1- Avoid exceeding 150 to 170 characters, including spaces. If your meta description is too long, it might be cut off, like in the image above.

2- Do not systematically reuse the same meta-titles and meta-descriptions for several different pages: take the time to create original meta tags for each page.

3- Do not overuse keywords in your meta-tags: you would not want to pass for a spammer

We also discuss this subject in more depth in our web writing guide, in which you will also find all the crucial content creation steps to improve SEO.

Error 10: Your images are not optimized

Aside from the size and heaviness of images that can potentially hurt your SEO, a common SEO mistake is not optimizing your images. As with the rest of your content, you can communicate the relevance of your images to Google with what is called “alt-text”.

This is because the code of any image on your site gives Google two crucial pieces of information for it to better index: the name of the image and a description of what it shows. The latter is described in the alt text, which you can easily change. On a wordpress post, for example, this option looks like this:

Do not miss the opportunity to use these two elements to strengthen your SEO and to show your image in the results of Google Images.

Two main points should be remembered:

  • Avoid autogenerated image names like “IMG_12345” and take the time to rename your images according to their content

For example, this:

Improving SEO: The 15 Mistakes To Avoid 10<img src=”IMG_34.png” alt=””>

Would become:

Improving SEO: The 15 Mistakes To Avoid 13<img src=”expresswebagency.png” alt=””>

  • Write strong descriptions in the alt-text section of your image, optimizing them as much as possible without keyword stuffing.

So you would skip this:

Improving SEO: The 15 Mistakes To Avoid 13src=”expresswebagency.png” alt=””>

To this:

src=”webdesign.png” alt=”website design agency  in ottawa”>

In short. if you haven’t already, quickly review your site and optimize your images: it’s a little touch that can make a big difference!


Error 10: Your images are not optimized

Error 11: Your site is not optimized for local searches (Google My Business)
Is your SME looking for local clients? Are you looking to increase your store visits? Do not forget to optimize your SEO according to your geolocation.

Taking a moment to register your business on Google My Business can be very effective in increasing the visibility of your site among potential customers nearby. You can also optimize your keywords to include your country, city or even neighborhood. 

Finally, also bet on sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Yellow Pages, on which you can list your business and encourage your customers to leave their opinion in order to demonstrate the relevance of your site. You can also learn more on the subject by reading our article on local SEO.

How to improve your off-site SEO

Error 12: You don't have enough backlinks

Search engines gauge your credibility, and therefore your relevance to users, through what are commonly called backlinks. These backlinks are links from other websites generously referring their readers to your content.

The more backlinks your site gets, the more credible it is judged by search engines and the higher it goes in the results. It is therefore very important to write quality content that inspires other blogs to share it.

But the work does not end there! Generating backlinks often requires doing what is called outreach (yes, another English word in the same sentence!). This involves directly contacting the sites on which you would like to get a backlink and pitching your content to them. Intimidated? Don’t worry, we have an article on how to get quality backlinks just for you.

Error 13: You are not doing enough (or too much!) Internal mesh

Whether it’s to keep your visitors on your site longer by referring them from one page to another or to tell the search engine how your site is structured, internal linking is an easy, but formidable strategy. It’s simply a matter of adding links to other pages on your own site in your content.

For example, you may have noticed that this article contains several links to previous articles that we have found potentially useful to our readers: it is a very successful strategy that we strongly recommend that you adopt.

Not having enough internal networking is regrettable since it is a free, easy and yet very effective method of improving SEO. However, don’t overdo this tactic! Always make sure that the links you include are engaging and relevant to your readers. Otherwise, you risk losing their interest and appearing to be a spammer.

Error 14: You are not optimizing your link text

Speaking of links! Are you optimizing your link text? Or do they all look like this:

A rather annoying and yet so commonplace mistake is to insert a hyperlink on words like “click here”. Hyperlinks are a great opportunity to describe the page you are referring your visitors to and to use keywords that you want to optimize your SEO for. Unless you purposely want to appear as the first result when searching for “click here” on Google, make sure your link texts are thought out!

The most dangerous common SEO mistake

Error 15: Not using Google Analytics enough

Of all the SEO mistakes you can make when trying to improve your SEO, by far the riskiest is not actively monitoring the results of your strategy. After all, what’s the point of spending hours groping your site if you can’t even quantify your progress?

It is too easy to waste time optimizing your site for the wrong keywords or miss an obvious mistake, which can be very frustrating. So always check your progress with Google Analytics and make any necessary adjustments as you apply the tips you’ve learned.

How many of these common SEO mistakes do you make?

Whether you make just one of these mistakes or you do all of them, there is no need to worry. SEO is a constantly changing field and to improve SEO, you have to work continuously, whether you are an expert or a total beginner.

Stay patient, avoid the mistakes we have mentioned as much as possible and above all, constantly monitor your progress. You can also go even deeper into the subject with our guide on how to do a full SEO audit to make sure you get off on the right foot.