Search Engine Optimization for Mere Mortals

The biggest SEO mistakes (by volume) that website content managers make are not because they haven’t hired a fancy SEO firm. That’s at least according to Matt Cutts, who leads Google’s web spam team and regularly blogs and answers questions about best SEO practices.

In fact, by following some basic guidelines, you can probably significantly boost your search engine rankings, especially if you are not in a particularly competitive keyword space.


Here are the 3 most common SEO mistakes that website content managers make:

1. Broken Links

Click around your website and make sure that every link goes where you think it should and of course, that no links are broken.

You can also use this handy Broken Link Checker Tool or install a Broken Link Checker plugin.

2. Important Content is Hard to Find

In the world of journalism, we would call this “burying the lead”. You want to make sure that within 1-2 seconds of a user landing on a given page of your website that they understand what the page is about and what they should do. SEO and user-friendliness should go hand-in-hand. If you don’t have clear calls-to-action, have too much text cluttering up the page, or vary the sizes of text and the colors on the page a bit, your audience is going to get lost.

Users tend to scan websites and not really read. Make your content scannable with short sentences, broken up into paragraphs. And of course, make sure to use your keywords.

How do you come up with the keywords?

Get inside your clients’ heads.

What sort of information are they looking for? What are they going to type into search engines in order to find?

If you are a fruit and vegetable store, maybe your can post what produce is currently in season, or recipes.

3. Title and Description of Critical Pages is Missing or Inaccurate

If a user bookmarks it, will the title be something that they can use? Your description will influence what shows up on the search engine results.

search engine results


To easily manage this, use the Yoast SEO Plugin.

On each page and post, you can control what the title displays, as well as the description underneath it.