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10 Common Mistakes That Hurt Your Google Rankings & Downgrade Performance

8
  Minute read

If you have a website, you probably already know how important it is to rank high on Google. Equally, you are probably aware of the effort that has to go in to making sure you rank on Google. 

Higher rankings mean more visibility, which translates into more traffic, leads, and sales. But did you know that there are several common mistakes that can hurt your Google rankings? 

In this article, we'll discuss the top 10 mistakes that you should avoid if you want to improve your website's visibility on Google.

Avoid these 10 things…

1. Not Using Relevant Keywords 

Using irrelevant or overly competitive keywords that do not match your content can have a detrimental effect on your Google rankings. 

This is because Google's algorithms are designed to prioritise high-quality, relevant content that is tailored to the user's search query. 

If you use keywords that are not relevant to your content or are overly competitive, you may attract visitors who are not interested in your content, leading to a high bounce rate and a decrease in your rankings. 

keyword research
Image Source

Additionally, Google may penalise your website for using misleading or spammy tactics to manipulate search rankings, which can result in your website being removed from search results altogether. 

Conduct keyword research using tools like Google Keyword Planner or Semrush. Look for keywords with high search volume and low competition that are relevant to your content.

2. Neglecting On-Page Optimisation

Neglecting on-page optimisation elements such as meta descriptions, title tags, and alt tags can make it difficult for Google to understand your content and therefore have a negative impact on your rankings. 

These elements provide important signals to search engines about the content and context of your web pages, which helps them determine how relevant and useful your content is to users.

If you fail to optimise these elements, Google may struggle to accurately interpret your content, which can result in lower rankings or even exclusion from search results altogether. 

“Note: Video descriptions and accurate mark up is becoming more and more important since Google started serving video in the SERPs in 2022.”  

Furthermore, optimising these elements can also improve click-through rates by making your content more attractive and informative to users. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to on-page optimisation and ensure that your meta tags, titles, and descriptions accurately reflect the content of your web pages to improve your visibility and rankings on Google.

3. Ignoring mobile responsiveness 

It seems an obvious point but it’s often neglected. Mobile responsiveness is an absolute basic when it comes to website optimisation. We shouldn’t even need to mention it but ignoring mobile responsiveness can be detrimental to your website's rankings as it can cause it to look and function poorly on mobile devices. 

Today, mobile devices account for a significant portion of internet traffic - Google's algorithm prioritises mobile-first indexing, and has for a long time, which means that Google indexes and ranks the mobile version of your website first.

Mobile page experience

If your website is not mobile-friendly, it may not display correctly or load quickly (in under 2.5 seconds, ideally under 1!) on mobile devices, leading to a poor user experience and high bounce rates. In turn, this can lead to lower rankings on Google. 

It is crucial to ensure that your website is mobile-responsive, meaning it can adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions, providing a smooth user experience across all devices. 

In today's mobile-first world, businesses that prioritise mobile responsiveness are better positioned to succeed online, as they can improve their visibility and ranking on search engines, ultimately driving more traffic and conversions.

4. Having a slow website 

Long  website load times can lead to frustration for users and ultimately result in higher bounce rates, which can negatively impact your rankings on Google. 

When a website takes too long to load, users are more likely to abandon it and seek out faster alternatives. This not only hurts your website's traffic and conversion rates but also sends negative signals to Google's algorithms, indicating that your website is providing a poor page experience - a crucial ranking factor in the Google Algorithm.

As a result, Google may demote your website in its search rankings, making it less visible to potential visitors. Therefore, it is essential to prioritise website speed and ensure that your website is optimised for fast loading times. This can be achieved through various tactics such as:

  • Compressing images to reduce LCP
  • Reducing the number of HTTP requests
  • Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to cache and deliver content more efficiently 

By improving website speed, you can provide a better user experience and increase your chances of ranking higher on Google.

5. Poor quality content 

Publishing poor quality content that is not useful or informative can have a negative impact on your website's engagement and rankings on Google. 

When users visit a website, they are looking for content that is informative, engaging, and relevant to their interests or needs. If your website fails to provide high-quality content, users may quickly lose interest and look for better alternatives. 

This can result in a high bounce rate, low engagement, and ultimately lead to a lower ranking on Google. Google's algorithms prioritise websites that provide high-quality content that is relevant to user search queries. Therefore, it is crucial to invest time and resources into creating valuable and informative content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience. 

By doing so, you can improve engagement and increase your chances of ranking higher on Google, ultimately driving more traffic and conversions to your website.

6. Ignoring backlinks 

The power of backlinks should not be underestimated - they are a crucial signal that help search engines determine the authority and relevance of your website. 

Backlinks are essentially links from other websites that direct traffic to your website. The more high-quality and relevant backlinks your website has, the more likely it is to be seen as an authoritative and trustworthy source of information. 

backlinks example from semrush

Neglecting to build up a strong backlink profile can make it difficult for Google to accurately assess the authority and relevance of your website, leading to lower rankings. 

There is no set number of backlinks that guarantees a high ranking on Google but the quality of the backlinks is also important. Low-quality backlinks from spammy or irrelevant websites can actually have a negative impact on your rankings, so make sure you check regularly if they’re from trusted sources within your industry. 

7. Not updating your website regularly

Failing to update your website regularly can lead to outdated and less relevant content, which can negatively impact your website's rankings on Google. Google's algorithms prioritise fresh, relevant content that addresses the needs and interests of users. 

If your website's content becomes outdated, it may no longer be useful or informative to your audience, resulting in lower engagement and higher bounce rates. This sends negative signals to Google's algorithms, indicating that your website is providing a poor user experience. In turn, this can result in lower rankings on Google. 

8. Not having a clear website structure 

Not having a clear website structure can make it difficult for both users and search engines to navigate your site, ultimately resulting in lower rankings on Google. 

A well-structured website provides a clear hierarchy of content, making it easier for users to find the information they need and for search engines to crawl and index your site. 

It’s important that your website has a clear and logical structure that organises content in a way that makes sense for users and search engines.

This can be achieved by:

  • Using clear and descriptive page titles
  • Implementing a logical menu hierarchy
  • Incorporating internal linking to connect related content

By improving your website's structure, you can provide a better user experience and increase your chances of ranking higher on Google.

Image Source

9. Ignoring local SEO 

Ignoring local SEO can have a significant impact on your website's rankings in local search results, ultimately affecting your overall ranking on Google. Local SEO is the practice of optimising your website for local search queries, such as "restaurants near me" or "plumbers in [city name]". 

By ignoring local SEO, you may miss out on valuable local search traffic, leading to lower visibility in search results and ultimately lower rankings on Google. 

Local SEO strategies include optimising your website's content and metadata for local keywords, building citations and listings in local directories, and claiming and optimising your Google My Business profile. 

google my business maps listing

By implementing these strategies, you can improve your website's visibility in local search results, drive more traffic and conversions to your site, and increase your overall rankings on Google. Therefore, it is important to prioritise local SEO efforts if you operate a business or provide services in a specific geographic area.

10. Overusing ads 

Overusing ads on your website can create a poor user experience and ultimately lead to lower rankings on Google. 

While ads can be an effective way to monetise your website, it is important to balance revenue generation with providing a quality user experience. If your website is cluttered with too many ads, users may become frustrated and overwhelmed, leading to a high bounce rate and lower engagement. 

In addition, since Google's algorithms prioritises websites that provide a positive user experience, overusing ads may signal to the search engine that your site is not providing a good user experience. 

To avoid this, it is important to balance the use of ads with other revenue streams and focus on providing high-quality, informative content that meets the needs and interests of your audience. .

Ready to improve your Google rankings?

By avoiding the 10 common mistakes outlined in this article, you can improve your website's visibility on Google and reach more potential customers. 

  1. Use relevant keywords
  2. Optimise your on-page content 
  3. Ensure all pages are mobile responsive
  4. Optimise load speeds 
  5. Writing high quality content 
  6. Build a backlink profile
  7. Update your website regularly
  8. Use a logical website structure
  9. Leverage local SEO
  10. Avoid overusing ads

You won’t go wrong investing time in these aspects - it will pay off in the long run but it’s not an overnight solution so have patience!

Emma Fieldhouse Founder of Beyond Agency
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