8 Costly SEO Mistakes That Were Hurting My Rankings

This is a guest post full of blogging tips to improve search visibility, written by our friend Toby over at Travelling Minimalist (formerly Abdicate Convention).

When scouring the internet, there are an exceptional number of articles on blogging tips and SEO tricks to choose from, leaving the viewer overwhelmed and most of them repeat the same list of 5 blogging tips that have been recycled for years.

After Mike helped me tidy up the backend of travellingminimalist.com with some blogging tips of his own, he offered me the opportunity to do a guest post for him. I was determined to write something different than the thousands of articles already out there, and to hopefully help some of his readers who might be making the same mistakes that I did, as my way of paying it forward.

Related: Browse our Blogging tips archive

8 Costly SEO Mistakes That Were Hurting My Rankings

1. Domain Renewal

It’s no secret that my blog hasn’t been around for ages and it’s sometimes painful to watch the affects of still being stuck in the Google sandbox due to how recently I registered Travelling Minimalist.

Mike’s blogging tip, based on his understanding of all the 200 ranking factors as described by Backlinko, was that one way around this was to extend the registration of my domain name, signalling to Google that this is a serious site that intends to stick around.

Because I only had 8 months left on my registration, I renewed for an additional 4 years taking it out to almost 5 years. It cost me almost $100 USD but I can already see the benefit from it and know that it is more than worth it.

Related: 5 Zero-Bullsh*t Reasons to Become an Online Influencer

2. Alternative Text and Image Name

This is a pretty obvious one, but I imagine that there’s plenty of other people who are just as lazy as I was being, not realising how important the alt text for an image can be in the context of SEO. I have several photo blog posts on my website and these were of no SEO value at all until I added a description in the alt text.

Another related mistake I was making due to laziness, was not changing the default name that my camera gives my photos, and they therefore had no keywords or description. On the plus side, I would have ranked really well if anyone was searching for DSC1000689.

Related: 3 Problems Ninja Outreach Solves for Bloggers

3. Permalinks

I use WordPress, as most bloggers do, and since making this change I have seen just how often this mistake is made on other blogs. Even a few big names are doing it.

The URL travellingminimalist.com/2017/06/24/im-not-lucky-youre-just-an-idiot/ is not only aesthetically displeasing, but the additional directories/slashes are not favoured by Google, which prefers clean URLs. (You can read that article here).

Whereas travellingminimalist.com/im-not-lucky-youre-just-an-idiot looks much nicer and also gets better results. You might also notice that there is no trailing slash on the end which is intentional. You can make the changes in WordPress quite easily.

Blogging tips

I am using the “custom structure” option and don’t include a slash after /%postname%

4. Categories

Like a total fool, I wasn’t using categories or tags on any of my posts and this also was leading to practical and site navigation issues on top of any SEO implications. What I have been able to implement since setting up categories and tags, is that I now have pages on my site so that you can click on “Travel Stories”, “How To’s and Tips” etc. instead of having to go through my chronological archive which is very user unfriendly if you’re not one of my regular readers who only wants to read my latest post.

Related: 5 Strategies for Building Links with Ninja Outreach We Can’t Stop Talking About

5. Identify Keywords

This one isn’t really a mistake I was making, but upon Mike’s suggestion I installed the “Keywords Everywhere” extension in Chrome. It’s super handy as it shows volume, cost per click and competition for keywords, just by typing them into Google. It has been a game changer for researching new posts and titles, and is a great place to start for your on page SEO requirements.

While I’ve got you here, I may as well share a few `blogging tips that I’ve learned myself. I will say though, that it was only after my discussion with Mike and the resources that he pointed me to, that I came to realise this mistakes I was making.

6. Private WHOIS

When I first registered the domain, I accepted the offer from my hosting company for 1 year of free WhoIs cloaking, not realising that it looks “shady”. It’s no surprise then that anything considered shady is incorporated into Google’s algorithm and drops your rankings.
I changed this, making sure to change my contact details from my personal email to my blog email first. Yes I do get more spam from SEO companies and other people who can now see the email registered to the site, but it has absolutely been a worthwhile change.

7. Not using Google +

When I first got into blogging, I only had a facebook account. I now spend a lot of time managing my Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Pinterest accounts daily, so why on earth would I want to take on the task of managing another social media account that no one seems to use?

It’s no secret that Google favours Google and want their content to be seen. On top of that, I’ve heard from several very credible sources that having a Google + profile is great for SEO when your posts link back to your site. Google likes to know who the author is.

Even though Google Authorship has been discontinued, where they would show a profile picture next to a search result that had been verified to that profile, Google have been on record saying that verifying the author of an article matters. The information might no longer be public, but I think we can assume that it still matters. This is why I’m now using a plugin that links my WordPress user details to my Google + Profile which links back to my blog in my profile information.

Since adding my article to Google +, I can now see immediate results, as when I search for one of my articles by name, the Google + post shows up substantially higher in the rankings and also conveniently shows my profile picture next to it, adding a level of trust and personality that I can’t get with a standard search result.

Related: Follow These 10 Steps to Write Better Blog Posts

8. Not Completing my WordPress User Profile

Your profile includes your Twitter, Facebook and Google + account details. Google have stated several times that your social media authority is taken into account. I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to think about this, especially when my Twitter account is where I generate the most traffic and is my most successful social media account with ~25,000 followers.

Related: Improve Search Visibility by Building Links to Your Blog with Ninja Outreach

Have Any Blogging Tips You’d Like to Share?

Drop them in the comments and let everyone know!

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  1. Hmm, interesting about the WHOIS. According to CIRA rules, all .ca domains belonging to a Canadian citizen are automatically made private. I don’t pay extra for it, there’s no option, they just do it. I wonder if Google takes that into account?

    1. Very thoughtful –I love CIRA for this personally, as I too am Canadian.

      Different countries have different rules; most readers of Hobo with a Laptop come from the US, and other countries like Australia, the UK, and so on. Most countries don’t make this information private by default, although even as a Canadian with private registration we still have to ensure accuracy as per CIRA rules. It doesn’t hurt.

      Thanks for your comment Marie!

  2. Great tips!

    I just started using Google + and participating in its communities. After reading this, I’ll definitely have to prioritize working on my WordPress user profile and bringing everything together.

    Also didn’t know about the Keywords Everywhere plugin – downloading that, too!

    1. Yeah, Toby laid it all out pretty great in this one! Keywords Everywhere is a great tool. On our massive list of things to do is a post that outlines all of our WordPress plugins, what they do, and why we use them. If anyone wants a mention in it, feel free to reply to this comment with your suggestions and we’ll cite a few from these comments.

      Thanks for stopping by Krista, hope to run into you soon!

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