5 common mistakes in SEO (and 6 good ideas!)

5 common mistakes in SEO (and 6 good ideas!)


I’m Maile Ohye. I work at Google as a Developer
Programs Tech Lead, normally from our headquarters
in Mountain View, California. But today, I’m at home in San
Francisco to talk about the five most common mistakes
I find in SEO. Mistake number one is working on
SEO before your site has a value proposition. Ask yourself, why would
a user choose my site and search results? Let’s say you have a site that
promotes your offline business, like a local
bike repair shop. What differentiates your
business from your competitors? Are you a nonprofit
organization? Or perhaps you offer free
estimates, a free demo, or you’re the oldest independent
dealer in the city. Or if you’re an e-commerce site,
what separates your site from the others? Do you have lower prices, free
shipping, great customer service, or better product
descriptions? Starting with a value
proposition, simplifies SEO. No matter where your site ranks
in search results, if you want to stay on top,
searchers need a value prop to click on your site, to come back
and revisit your site, and to recommend your site
to their friends. Start with a value prop, and
then focus on a quality user experience. Let’s move to mistake
number two, a segmented approach to SEO. I call this the bento box approach, because I’m Japanese. And it’s like your dinner
plate, with every item segmented and none of
it working together. It’s great for your sushi
and your salad. It’s not as great when there
is no communication between your marketing, bus dev,
and SEO teams. So mistake number two is about
working on SEO in a silo. A better, more holistic approach
to SEO is to consider the entire user experience, from
marketing campaign all the way to the actual conversion
and potentially repeat business. Vanessa Fox, a consultant and
author on search engine strategy, wrote about this type
of bento box approach with respect to the Superbowl,
when it’s difficult for companies to completely
integrate their offline television ads with their
online SEO efforts. She noted that a car company
spent millions on TV ads to lead users to a website,
edityourown.com, where they could then edit their
own car video. On Superbowl Sunday, this
commercial probably not only brought users to the website,
but actually helped the query, edityourown, to rank number
36 on Google Hot Trends. Now, imagine if this
were your company. As the SEO, you can’t just focus
on your regular keywords that you do every day. But you also need to integrate
marketing campaigns and optimize for the words
“edityourown.” Mistake number three is
putting effort into time-consuming workarounds,
rather than researching new features or best practices that
can simplify your tasks. For example, for sites with
paginated content, in the past some webmasters tried the
workaround around of using rel=”canonical” on subsequent
pages to their page one. This unfortunately can
cause a loss of content in Google’s index. The good news is that there
are new best practices. We now support rel=”next”
and rel=”prev” markup. So your paginated article or
product category is treated as a single series, rather than
having page rank diluted into the various components. Also in the past, to have
several new or updated pages crawled as quickly as possible,
web masters might have performed the lengthy task
of updating their site map with the new URLs, then
uploading the new site map file, and then submitting
it to Google. But in 2011, we expanded
Webmaster Tools “Fetch as Googlebot” so that, per week,
you can submit up to 500 new or updated URLs that you’d like
to be crawled or up to 10 URLs that you’d like crawled,
along with their linked pages. When submitting through “Fetch
as Gogglebot,” most URLs are crawled within 24 hours. An easy way to stay in touch
of new features and best practices is to subscribe to
the Webmaster Central Blog. Now, while mistake number three
is about time-consuming workarounds, often because an
SEO isn’t as up to date, mistake number four is along
a similar spectrum. But now it’s getting caught
in SEO trends. In the early days of search
engines, both webmasters and search engines chased
the user. We were running the same
race, get more users to visit and convert. Then, as the market matured,
things went a little crazy. It was as if this race split
into two simultaneous races. And rather than chasing users,
some websites started chasing search engine algorithms. In over six years at Google,
I’ve seen SEO trends take many forms. Around 2005, SEOs lost
focus and spent countless hours editing their content
for the optimal keyword density, meaning key
words per page. Not a great use their time. Instead, they could have better
spent their time making their content readable,
compelling, and informative. I’m sure you have a long list
of tasks for your site. Try to avoid the SEO trends,
and instead prioritize the tasks that will bring
lasting value. Finally, this brings
us to mistake number five, slow iteration. At Google, we’ve been know to
say that the main constant in SEO is that it’s constantly
evolving. The faster your team is able
to iterate, the better. A good recipe is to, one, define
metrics for success. Then two, implement
improvements. Next, measure the impact, and
then create new improvements. And then last, prioritize those
improvements based on the market and your
team’s personnel. And then, of course, repeat. The advantage to having
an agile SEO cycle is quite clear. In 2009, we launched
Rich Snippets. Recipe or event sites that
could iterate quickly and implement the proper markup
could now show much more appealing search results. The same was true of video
sites that were able to quickly create and submit
video site maps. Again, those who are agile
could get the benefits. Those are the five most common
SEO mistakes that I find. But now, let’s cover good
practices in SEO. First, do something cool. Have a value proposition that
separates you from your competitors. Second, include relevant
keywords in your copy. There’s no need to think
about keyword density. But make sure your content
includes the keywords people actually search for. Three, be smart about your
tags, title tags and meta-description tags, and
your site architecture. Four, sign up for email
forwarding in Webmaster Tools. This allows important messages
from Google, such as notifications for crawl issues,
to be forwarded directly to the inbox you
check regularly, whether that’s your work account
inbox, Yahoo, or Gmail. Five, attract buzz. This helps bring natural links,
great reviews, votes, +1s, and follows. And last, stay fresh
and relevant. Perhaps expand your reach to
social media sites, if that’s a great place to reach
your audience. Or make sure your site is
accessible on smartphones, if your product is great
on the go. I hope this video helps you
avoid the common SEO mistakes and , instead, focus on the good
practices that can bring lasting, positive benefits. Thanks for watching.

99 comments

  1. This was helpful! Please check out our site full of SEO tips, let me know what you think. Appreciate it!

    – Thanks, Kyle

  2. Ive already been examining your video on SEO and I am pretty fascinated by Search engine  optimization. I actually have gotten on the first page of Web optimization for my city however have since dropped off again, simply not sure how to get off the top of page 2 to get back on page 1.You look as if you have been at this a while ?   

  3. Learning from your mistakes is extremely important, its what makes business grow stronger every month…

  4. You can get SEO tips anywhere. But nothing like the tips coming from those who work from the very website SEO is trying to figure out: GOOGLE.

  5. Great! Thank you so much for sharing it. This kind of mistake is very common in seo world. Many seo specialist are making it a habit so we need to avoid it now.

  6. Hi Maile,  Thank you very much for your pointers, though I'd like to see more description for some of the points.  In your SEO Instructions, what does "Be Smart about your tags and Site architecture" mean?

    My four small sites seem to be avoiding all the SEO mistakes and black-hat no-no's.  They're listed in Webmstr Tools and Analytics and I manage those frequently. I'm always adding well researched content, and minimizing affiliate links.  Although they are getting some traffic, and there's been no manual actions against them, none of them are ranking anywhere for any keywords I'm trying to rank for, and they seem to be non-existant in the SERP's for anything, though they are indexed and the sitemaps are up-to-date.  I want to be on Google's good side.  What am I missing??  These are the kind of answers I've been searching for.

    After a page has been indexed, is it detrimental to adjust the site title to a more descriptive one?

  7. I sure appreciate you making clear these factors when planning my Search engine optimization. I will definitely concentrate more when i go forward.

  8. This would be very helpful. Thank you for sharing great points and methods to optimize our own website.

  9. If you’re just getting start with SEO, this is a must-watch video. Not only can you avoid these 5 mistakes and save yourself the time and trouble, but you can also benefit from the tips that Google gave. Thanks Google, we can always count on you for tips and advice.

  10. Hi Maile, I really enjoyed your video about mistakes in SEO. I especially liked the great point about keyword density rather than great compelling content that will engage users for lasting value. I definitely have adjusted my focus. I think your video is timeless:)! Thanks. 

  11. Hi would anyone know why my website does not show up at the top when i search for it by name when i am the only company by that name?

  12. great video…but I guess i need the layman's version.  Alot of the terminology whet straight over my head.   Where do I get the for dummies version?

  13. I really delighted in viewing your video. I discovered your understandings are fascinating and cannot wait to view your other video. I do have a concern however, how long have you been in this market?

  14. Good video! Watching this video will help you cope up with failures and mistakes you often experience in SEO.

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  16. I believe that a lot folks should really get started promoting their small business on the web. I also reckon that ranking in the major serps will be an incredible starting point. Wonderful video!

  17. There are a number of tutorial about how to make your zero position site to function as the top rank on search engine. But for more information, please watch http://youtu.be/-LnaSNfl_x4 .

  18. no links about any of this tools and topics in the description, otherwise, very interesting, hopefully helpful too! thanks

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  20. Thankyou very much for this, i shall pass the video on. Did you know i also do lots of SEO my self for clients, feel free to ask me any questions

  21. So fetch as googlebot should be done in addition to submitting a sitemap or does it make submitting a sitemap redundant?

  22. she talks about having good site architecture. Does anyone know what or how to look for good site architecture when looking for a wordpress template?

  23. Mistake 1: No value proposition. Why would a user select my site in search results? 0:20
    Mistake 2: Taking a segmented approach isntead of a holistic online strategy 1:30
    Mistake 3: avoid rel="canonical" isntead use: rel="next" and "prev" for paginated content 3:07
    Mistake 4: Following SEO trends 4:48
    Mistake 5: Slow iteration. 6:05

  24. Useless tips, value comes from visitors finding your website. There are so many websites out there with informative content but they are no where to be found because of some other websites knows exactly how to put their website in the first page of google search for keywords.

  25. About that being agile point. How long should the cycle be? So I make a change, how long should I keep that change before I try something else and see if that something else will do better?

  26. Interesting vid. YouTube video marketing is now becoming more lucrative than Google and if you want to make a large impact quick theres nothing better.

    It's crazy to think that…

    YouTubers watch 6 billion hours of vids every month.
    YouTubers play 4 billion videos every single day.
    YouTubers upload 300 hours of video every minute.

    Just imagine if you could tap into a small amount of those viewers. Its expected YouTube will very before long surpass Google as the number 1 search engine.

    A great place to get started is with a YouTube marketing course which can have you earning in next to no time. I have a excellent "How To" video on my YouTube channel with links for anyone looking for help.

  27. How much of this is still relevant in 2017? I'm thinking most of it but it's always good to ask especially with a video 5 years old!

  28. Indeed working on SEO before your site has a value proposition is a common mistake we firstly should make sure to create our product and services more compelling. Great advice!

  29. I call this "Thinking around the corner." We can't always see/hear, but we have an "intuition" , perhaps, or what's to come. Thinking around the corner is really about getting back to basics. Get out there, tell people WHO you are, WHERE you are, and WHAT you do. Billy Lowe

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