The world of SEO is constantly changing, but the most common SEO issues are found in the basics, the stuff that rarely changes. So, why is it so hard for webmasters and online business owners to tackle the world of SEO without making these common mistakes?

The only answer is a lack of understanding. Optimizing a webpage properly for SEO can be overwhelming to a webmaster with little SEO experience. Below are some of the most common SEO issues, and a brief explanation as to how to fix them.

1. Targeting the Wrong Keywords

Keyword research is an intricate part of building and optimizing a webpage for search engines. Choosing keywords that are irrelevant to the site is not only a waste of time, but it gets you nowhere in the rankings. It does not matter if “smartphone games” is a popular keyword that everyone seems to be searching, if your site does not offer smartphone games, your bounce rate will be ridiculous, and that is if the search engines even index your page.

Another way webmasters go wrong with keyword selection is competition. Some keywords or keyword phrases may be perfect for their pages, but if they are used by too many competitors, or used by competitors with a much larger marketing budget then their own, they are wasting their time trying to rank anywhere with those words. Instead, look for long-tail keyword phrases that are close to the highly competitive ones, but different enough to offer less competition.

Long-tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are known as small-value search terms, and those queries make up about 70% of all queries…so, yes, those primary keywords bring in massive traffic to your site, but if you are unable to compete with the larger websites for a particular keyword, creating a long-tail keyword phrase is the next best thing, and quite possibly, the best thing!

Long-tail keywords are more specific to a search, making them very effective for driving traffic, even to smaller sites. If you tried to rank in the top position for the keyword “Furniture”, you would be swallowed up by the enormous amount of competition, but if you created a long-tail keyword or phrase that offered more specific details about your product, such as Art Deco chaise lounge or Victorian dining room table, well now you have a chance to swim with the big fish!

When working with shorter keywords, of course, you get more traffic, but by creating the longer more specific keywords you are going to get better traffic. Why? The answer is simple…because if someone searched furniture…they may be looking for a vintage coffee table and you do not have it…and that only matters if you actually ranked on the first page of the search engine for them to find you, so what good does it do to have that person land on your page if you do not have what they want? It does NO GOOD for your traffic, your business, your profits, and especially not your bounce rate…which is bad for your overall rankings. So, now consider the fact that you sell vintage coffee tables and a person entered that long-tail keyword phrase into the search engine…when they come to your site, find you DO have what they want…they may actually make a purchase, and not to mention they may explore deeper into your page, which increases your chances for higher sales, creates larger profits and helps increase your page relevancy…which helps your rankings. Do you see what I am getting at here?

The cost through Google AdWords is extremely lower for long-tail keywords as well, making them a very beneficial tool for businesses, especially smaller businesses. 

2. Duplicate Versions of the Home Page

Duplicate versions of a webpage sent to the search engines just end in confusion, even when the search engines determine which one to index, there is no guarantee they are right. You also have to check to ensure your page is not split between your internal links with different versions of your site's URL.

Click on the logo of your site header and check that it goes to the real version of your site,, not

3. Un-Optimized Title Tags

A title tag is one of the most important on-page SEO elements, and should not be ignored. The title tag of your page is what helps you rank well in the search engine's result pages, but it is also what people see when your listing is displayed in the search results. Use your best keyword in the front of the tag, or a combination of relevant keywords that describe the page. Notice the example below from this article's page, you see there are proper keywords, a description of the content, as well as an organized category. 

Google generally displays 50-60 characters of a title tag, so keeping the character length to about 55 is a great way to ensure that almost all of your title tags display properly.

A title tag is the most important on-page SEO element, other than content and is displayed in three areas, the browser (many times on the top of the page as well as on the tabs), the search engines (as seen below), and external websites (such as social media sites which use the title tag as the link anchor text). Notice how in the search results displayed below that certain words are in bold. This is because the search was conducting using the keywords search engine optimization tools, so all the keywords matched from the search to the title tags are in bold to create more visibility, which helps to increase click-thru rates.

4. Duplicate Tags

Each page is unique; therefore the title tag and Meta tags for each page should be unique. This may seem like a no-brainer to the SEO expert, but many beginners and new online business owners make this mistake. It is ok to have a couple of pages with the same title tags, as long as they are offering the same information that pertains to the tag. If you have a large site, chances are you do have some duplicate tags, but as a rule of thumb, try not to exceed two or three duplicates for any size site.

Google Webmaster Tools offers a quick way for you to check if you have duplicate title tags on your site. Under Optimization and HTML Improvements your duplicates will be displayed. You can click the links to see what pages are duplicated.

5. Forgetting Alt Tags

Search engines are fairly sophisticated, but they have not figured out how to scan an image and tell what it is, that is where alt tags come in. This is your way to tell the search engines what the image is and gain some more ranking ammo for keywords along the way. Make sure you enter relevant title and alt tags for each image on your site. So, if you have a picture of a man working, name it manworking.jpg instead of image1.jpg. Be as descriptive as possible.

When creating alt tags, follow these 4 simple rules:

  1. Keep it simple – less is more in this instance
  2. Be descriptive, not wordy – again, less is more
  3. Consider placement- placing an image near relevant text creates a better experience for non-visual traffic
  4. Use keywords- keywords help images rank

6. Duplicate Content

Duplicated content is a HUGE problem for website owners and a major no-no for search engines. Content within your site MUST be unique from page to page, which means not repeated anywhere on your site, or outside of it. Most new website owners just think they get penalized for stealing content from other sites, but the truth is, they can get penalized for stealing content from their own site as well.

Check It:

Checking for duplicate content on your site may sound tedious, especially for larger sites…but it really is a simple task and it is extremely important for good rankings as well as a good reputation online.

Google penalizes sites that offer up duplicated content, even if they are duplicating it from their own site, so remember, even if the content is yours, it does not mean you can reuse it throughout your website!

There are many causes of duplicate content:

  • Content syndication through RSS feeds
  • A non-consistent internal linking system
  • Guest bloggers
  • Meta description issues with SEO plugins
  • Duplicated content on multiple pages within a site internally or externally

Google Webmaster Tools will help you find your duplicate tags, titles, and headers…but there are plenty of other places to go to find duplicate content on your site. – offers a list of all duplicated, common and unique content within your site, as well as a comparison to other sites of similar size. The tool is free to use and scans 250 of your pages and provides a quick glance at your content, allowing you to make changes that were needed before getting penalized.  For a complete scan of up to 25,000 pages, there is a fee.

The image below is a sample of what you will see, and by clicking on the duplicated content link you are given a detailed analysis of the content and shown whether it is an internal or external duplication, as well as given the source of the original content.

7. Low-Quality Content

The days of stuffing keywords into useless content are over, thankfully! With the latest Google updates, content quality is one of the most important aspects of on-page SEO. Keywords must still be used, but the tags are where they become the most important for placement these days, and when used in the content, they must flow naturally. Google gauges the content on every website to a very high standard, so what you decide to put on your page better have a purpose, offer something useful to the reader and be on target for your topic.

There is no special wand you can wave over your content to determine if it is low quality or high quality, but there are a few things that the search engines are looking for…

  • Duplicated content (as discusses above)
  • Broken links within the content
  • Low word count
  • Over usage of the keyword(s)
  • Content with low or no traffic
  • Content with high bounce rates

Google Webmaster Tools is a great way to monitor the traffic of your site and get a quick glimpse of what pages are not doing so hot; those are the first to target in your low-quality content search. Now, start reading…yes reading! You can weed out pages with poor content based on traffic rates, but the only way to know for sure that your visitors are getting only top-quality content is to read through it and see for yourself. 

8. 404 Errors

404 errors are displayed when the site no longer exists, never existed or has an incorrect URL direction in the link. If a visitor clicks a link that either is meant to take them to your page, or clicks a link from your page to a site that displays a 404 – page not found error, it looks tacky, and you lose traffic. You need to check your backlinks and internal links to ensure there are no 404 errors on your page. You can use a variety of tools to check for the bad links, including and Google Webmaster Tools.

Google Webmaster Tools offers a list of sites that failed to produce while crawling your site, which is a quick way to find out what needs to either be repaired or unindexed.

9. Slow Page

A slow-loading webpage creates a problem for the user, the search engine, and then of course, you! Too many images, no compression, a slow server, and a variety of other things can be causing your page to load slowly. Use to check your page speed and get some helpful tips on how to optimize it.

 It may not seem like much, but a 1-second delay in page load time results in: 

  • 16% decrease in overall customer satisfaction
  • 11% fewer pages viewed
  • 7% loss in conversions
  • With just a 1-second site improvement, you can expect to see increased revenue and conversions…so this section is worth your focus!
  • So, what can you do to increase your site speed?
  • Minimize HTTP requests – reduce elements on your page
  • Reduce server response time – Google’s Page Speed Tools can help
  • Enable compression – large pages create slow load times, so zip them up
  • Enable browser caching – reduces time visitors spend loading your site when they return
  • Minify resources – Use PageSpeed Insights Chrome Extension for minimizing HTML code and YUI Compressor for CSS and JavaScript
  • Optimize images – reduce image size and stick to JPEG, PNG, or GIF formats
  • Reduce the number of plugins used – too many plugins can cause loading issues as well as security issues and site crashes
  • Reduce redirects – Use an HTTP redirect for mobile users 

10. Flash Sites with no HTML Counterpart

Flash websites are attractive and users enjoy easy navigation, but search engines cannot crawl them. This creates a problem when the search engine cannot index your site. Your content and your keywords are all useless in a flash site to the search engines, so an HTML alternative site needs to be created to rectify the problem. This also provides your visitors the option of choosing between which of the sites they prefer, because even though many people love the flash site, there are just as many that do not.

11. Not Using SEO Tools

One of the largest mistakes new online business owners make is to not take advantage of all the available SEO tools. There is no need to be an expert SEO specialist, or even to hire one…most of the tools are simple to use and there is always information on what each SEO topic means, so take the time to read, learn, understand, and then take advantage of the amazing tools offered to you. offers an easy-to-use ToolBox that gives you a quick glance into your on-page and off-page SEO issues, and best of all; they offer you valuable tips to repair them.

You do not have to shell out a ton of money to an SEO specialist, at least not for the basics. Once your site starts to take off or grow, you may want to devote more of your time to your business and turn the SEO aspects over to a professional.