Top 9 SEO Mistakes Not To Make

Learn some of the top SEO Mistakes that are made

Avoid these mistakes and put your best SEO foot forward

I would love to say the following is a list from pure knowledge and wisdom but unfortunately some of them are also from experience. We see so many sites and SEO attempts or web development activities that affect SEO performance.

Top SEO Mistakes not to make
Top 9 SEO Mistakes Not to Make

In this article, we explore the top 9 SEO mistakes so you can avoid them.

  1. Not preventing search engines from crawling a staging site
  2. Not removing a noindex from a staging site and deploying it live
  3. Changing URLs due to platform migration
  4. Redirect chains
  5. 302 Redirects in navigation
  6. Missing canonical URLs 
  7. Orphan pages
  8. Not using internal links
  9. Missing ALT attributes

Not preventing search engines from crawling a staging site

One of the more common and unfortunate things we see is a web development company host a staging site that gets indexed first and becomes the original source of the content.

Search engines are very good at indexing content, thats their job, and if you don’t tell them not to not to, they are going to find a way to index the content.

Many people believe that there has to be a link or the page specifically submitted to a search engine for a page to get indexed, but that just isn’t the case.

Just browsing a page in some browsers is enough to get it crawled and then indexed.

We have seen some horror shows where a staging site ranked ahead of the live site as it was the original. The live site the client paid for ends up being seen as duplicate and severely struggling in organic search ever after.

Many people often don’t even realize that this is the case. Only a thorough audit and analysis from an experienced SEO can uncover an issue like this.

Not removing a noindex from a staging site and deploying it live

Now, in a very well-meaning attempt to prevent the former issue of a staging site from getting indexed, placing a no-index tag on a development site is prudent 

But ……..

You must remove it when deploying the live site. Unfortunately, this is one that we learned the hard way.

Changing URLs due to platform migration

Many an SEO “guru” will tell you how to optimize your URLs and many an unsuspecting business owner will change all of their URLs following the advice of said SEO “guru”. What they neglect to tell you is while they may be best practices, they should only be followed for new URLs.

When you change a URL that Google knows about to something else, all of a sudden they don’t know about it anymore and guess what – they don’t return those URLs in search results.

Changing your URLs just to be fancy is one of the worst pieces of SEO Advice ever.

Changing URLs is also a common symptom of migrating to a different CMS or web platform.

Very often we hear – “we had to change our URLs because we moved to platform X” or “but now we use pretty URLs because they are SEO friendly”.

While these might be standard defaults they are very rarely required to change, they just need some more work usually.

If it is absolutely not possible to stay with the same URL format, then you absolutely must create a detailed map and 301 redirect all old URLs to the new ones for at least 12 months. This is based on recently updated Google guidance. 


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Redirect chains

Redirect chains can kill your crawl budget. Also, they can stop search engines in their tracks. Google will quit following a redirect chain after 7 hops. This might sound like an unlikely situation but it is more common than you may think. After a couple of site migrations and redesigns its entirely possible. Even certain ways of handling https and www. And then a trailing slash / after a URL can lead to 3 or 4 redirect hops, couple that to a further previous migration and all of a sudden you can get to 7 or more before you know it.

Worse still is you usually don’t see this so its not super obvious unless you are regularly doing a detailed technical SEO crawl.

302 Redirects in navigation

We often see platforms that implement 302 redirects in navigation elements or where URLs and redirects are “fixed” using a 302 redirect.

The trouble with 302 redirects is that they are temporary redirects and essentially act as a brick wall to a search engine. 

If you need to place a redirect, make sure it is a 301 redirect, however its best to link to the actual source.

A common occurrence where we see this is in URLs with trailing slashes . e.g domain(dot)com/pageA/ and domain(dot)com.pageA 

Missing canonical URLs 

Canonicals are often misunderstood and not used as much as they should be.

A canonical basically specifies the original source of the content. So any other URLs or ways to reach the content are canonical to the original version. This helps to prevent mass duplicate content (particularly in eCommerce sites with multiple faceted navigation).

When you don’t specify canonicals you can often find that you have multiple pages competing for the same keyword. There is quite a bit of debate about the significance of this, however, it’s best practice to ensure that you have accurate canonical declarations on all pages.

As with most things in SEO, it's the process of continual optimization, following best practices, and prioritizing efforts in the most efficient manner. Click To Tweet

Orphan pages

Orphan pages are pages that exist on a site but don’t have any links to them. This usually occurs when a site has been redesigned. Sometimes you see an index full of orphan pages that are diluting the effectiveness of the main site and giving an overall lower quality signal to Google. 

This is one of the bigger issues and one of the easier to solve. If you are not internally linking from within your content to relevant sections on your site you are missing out. Internal linking is so powerful.

Make sure you have effective use of internal linking. A general rule of thumb is 3-5 links per 1000 words, but that is just a guide. If it fits, use it, if it doesn’t don’t.

Missing ALT attributes

Last but not least, not applying ALT text to your images is a big missed opportunity.

ALT text is like anchor text for images, especially when those images are clickable elements too. You further enhance the page relevance by having contextually relevant surrounding text and matching ALT text.

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