In today’s do-it-yourself world, many are taking on search engine optimization. There’s nothing wrong with learning SEO on your own. Plenty of people learn SEO to improve their site’s rank in the search engines. Learning SEO gives you a shot at troubleshooting poor site performance.
For example, if you aren’t getting much traffic to your website, basic SEO knowledge tells you to promote your content through PPC ads. However, what would you do if you discovered your site wasn’t indexed in the search engines at all? If you’ve taught yourself SEO without any formal training, the following mistakes will make it harder for you to achieve your goals.
1. Not Keeping Up With The Latest Changes
SEO pros stay up-to-date with changes because they have no other choice. They’re working with clients on a daily basis, and their job depends on their knowledge. When you’re only using your SEO skills for your own website, there isn’t much of a reason to subscribe to industry newsletters and read about SEO daily.
The problem with that is the parameters of SEO change daily, albeit slightly. Not keeping up on a daily basis means you’re falling behind. Search engines are constantly refining their search algorithms in a way that isn’t noticeable day-to-day.
However, if you don’t know how to stay informed, you’ll miss the major changes. For example, Google removed the public form to submit URLs for indexing. To submit a URL for indexing, webmasters must use the Search Console or sitemaps.
If your site isn’t showing up on Google, it’s possible you’ll need to submit the URL. However, there could be other issues preventing your site from showing up in search engines, which leads to the next mistake often made by DIYers.
2. Not Knowing The Nature Of Platform Settings
When you learn SEO informally, and you’re not exceptionally familiar with your website’s platform, you might not be aware of settings that block SEO efforts. For example, if you’re using WordPress, you might be unaware of settings that block search engines.
For example, when setting up your site, you may have checked the box under Settings > Reading that reads, “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.” When you’re staging your website and don’t want unfinished pages to be indexed in Google, it’s smart to check that box. However, if you forget to uncheck that box when you launch, your SEO efforts will be useless; a site that isn’t indexed won’t rank.
3. Relying Too Heavily On Your Blog’s Content
The DIY SEO world places heavy importance on having a blog. Having a blog is important, but it’s not enough. While you’re running PPC ads to drive traffic to your blog, you also need your content disbursed throughout the web.
That’s easily accomplished through hiring an SEO reseller that has existing relationships with major publishers. It helps to get your content published on other high-ranking sites while you work on ranking your blog. Your blog might take years to achieve high domain authority.
4. Not Understanding robots.txt
Your robots.txt file might be setup to disallow crawling. Depending on what software powers your site, you might need to manually edit your robots.txt file to allow search engine spiders to crawl your site.
There’s another problem many DIYers don’t realize. You don’t necessarily want search spiders to crawl your entire website. Say you have 10,000 pages on your website. It’s going to take search engines longer to crawl your site, and the Googlebot has a crawl rate limit. If your site slows down or returns server errors while it’s being crawled, Googlebot will stop crawling.
You want Googlebot to use your “crawl budget” to crawl your most valuable pages. Neil Patel does a great job of explaining how to use robots.txt to disallow crawling of similar or less important pages.
5. Not Understanding Elements That Affect SEO
Did you know that it’s essential in 2019 to convert your site to HTTPS, even if you don’t collect information from visitors? In 2014, Google announced that they use HTTPS as a ranking signal. Although originally a lightweight signal in 2014, it’s sure to become heavier over time as Google wants to keep everyone safe on the web.
While the foundation of SEO never changes, search engines are continually refining how sites are ranked. The details that didn’t matter yesterday matter today. The biggest mistake you can make is to stop learning.
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