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15 Common On-Page SEO Mistakes Newbies Make (And How to Fix Them)

On-page SEO refers to optimization techniques you implement directly on a web page to improve its rankings and visibility in search engines like Google. This includes improving the content, HTML tags, site architecture, internal linking, image names, and so on.

Getting on-page SEO right is crucial, as it impacts over two-thirds of your overall SEO performance. But with so many elements to optimize, new SEOs often make mistakes that end up hampering their rankings without them realizing.

In this guide, I’ll share the 15 most common on-page SEO mistakes beginners make, why they are detrimental for SEO performance, and tips on how to fix them. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll see vastly improved SEO and user metrics.

Common On-Page SEO Mistakes Newbies Make

1. Not Doing Keyword Research

Many new SEOs don’t conduct keyword research before creating content or adding optimization elements. As a result, they end up targeting low-intent, low-volume, or overly competitive terms. This leads to very low organic traffic and revenues down the line.

How to fix it:

Before creating any page or post, use free keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs to identify high-potential SEO-friendly keyword targets. Look for terms that have sufficient monthly search volume and low-medium competition that match your offerings. Base your optimization strategy around those.

2. Not Optimizing Title Tags

Your page/post title tag is displayed as the clickable link in SERPs, so optimizing it properly is key for higher click-through rates (CTR) and rankings. But many new SEOs stuff it with random terms or branding elements that are irrelevant to searchers. Others simply copy-paste the headline onto the title tag without refinement.

How to fix it:

Every page or post’s title tag must contain your target keyword close to the beginning. For example, for a post on “social media marketing,” the title tag should be “Guide to Social Media Marketing in 2023 | MyWebsite”. It should be descriptive of that page’s content, enticing, and under 60 characters.

3. Weak Headings Hierarchy

Over 90% of beginners just use H1s and H2s in their content and neglect other heading tags like H3-H6. But a balanced headings structure signals a well-organized, information-rich resource to search engines. It improves readability for visitors and SEO impact.

How to fix it:

Structure your content using a mix of H1 down to H3 tags, with H2s separating different sections under the main H1 topic focus. Make headings descriptive using target keywords for better semantic optimization.

4. Over-Optimization of Content

New SEOs have a bad habit of awkwardly over-stuffing target keywords in posts without realizing. They focus too much on search engines rather than the actual human reader. But unnatural optimization creates spammy, low-quality content that hurts rankings and user metrics.

How to fix it:

Avoid keyword density over 2-3% as that’s often a red flag for Google. Don’t force keywords where they don’t belong. Instead, research related long-tail variations and synonymous wording to incorporate so optimization flows naturally within high-quality, helpful, human-focused content.

5. Not Including Enough Multimedia

Many beginners fail to add any media elements like charts, info-graphics, images, or videos in their content outside paragraphs of text. But multimedia makes posts/pages significantly more engaging and shareable for visitors. It also offers more optimization elements for improving SEO visibility as Google is visual.

How to fix it:

Insert relevant photos, illustrations, data charts, quotes, or videos within your content to reinforce and visualize key points. Ensure you optimize image file names and ALT tags using target keywords. YouTube embeds also help satisfy video search intent for Google.

6. Thin Content Pages

Creating content with too little word count is a common SEO newbie mistake. Light pages with minimal information provide little value to human readers or search engine bots, so struggle to rank well. As a rule of thumb, you need at least over 2000+ words covering a topic comprehensively enough to satisfy user intent and queries.

How to fix it:

Any service, product, category, location, or informational pages/posts must be meaty with 2000+ words discussing that focus in-depth from different angles. Link internally to other related pages on your site to reinforce that topic cluster strength for Google.

7. Ignoring Internal Links & Architecture

Another mistake many new SEOs make is treating each new piece of content in isolation without interlinking it to related pages on their site. But a well-integrated, interconnected site architecture with contextual internal links signals to Google which topics are most important to focus ranking power on.

How to fix it:

Link out contextually from each page or post to at least 5-10 other relevant pages on your site to build an internal link structure reinforcing your main site-wise and category-wise topic clusters. This distributes “ranking juice” more efficiently improving ROI.

8. Weak Call-to-Actions (CTAs)

Many beginners neglect adding visible, compelling calls-to-action within their content or pages. As a result, visitors coming from search engines have no guidance on next steps to engage further with your brand after consuming the content. Missed lead generation and sales opportunities!

How to fix it:

Every page or post must contain user-centric visible calls-to-action reinforcing your desired conversion goals like “Start Free Trial”, “See Pricing” or “Book Appointment”. Ensure CTAs stand out and links connect directly to conversion-optimized pages. Tracking analytics on CTA clicks is also essential.

9. Slow Site Speed

Site speed impacts over 30% of your overall page experience metrics in Google’s ranking algorithm. Faster sites achieve much higher SEO visibility and conversions. But many newbies overlook resolving speed issues like unoptimized images, inefficient code, or overloaded servers.

How to fix it:

Test your overall site speed and individual page speeds using Google PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix. Identify and fix speed bottlenecks through image compression, upgrading hosting, implementing browser caching, deferred JS loading, and more. 85+ mobile scores should be the goal.

10. Duplicate Content Issues

Having duplicate or thin copy-pasted content across different pages hurts uniqueness signals to search engines. But new SEOs often create pages with very similar or outright identical word-for-word content without realizing the downsides for poor rankings.

How to fix it:

Avoid creating identical pages targeting the same keyword topics. If you need multiple location or category pages with fundamentally similar base content, make them at least 30-40% substantially unique while interlinking them to reinforce the overall topic cluster.

Table Comparison Of 15 Common On-Page SEO Mistakes Beginners Make

SEO MistakeWhy It Hurts SEOHow To Fix It
Not Doing Keyword ResearchEnd up targeting weak non-commercial terms with low search volume and high competition.Use keyword research tools to identify high-potential SEO-friendly targets first before any optimization or content building.
Not Optimizing Title TagsTitle tags that are too long, keyword-stuffed, or irrelevant end up hurting click-through-rates (CTR) from search engines significantly.Make title tags under 60 characters containing your most important target keyword phrase towards the start.
Weak Headings HierarchyOverlooking heading tags beyond H1s and H2s hurts semantic SEO signals and content readability for visitors. Too many H1s is also problematic.Use a healthy mix of H2s, H3s and H4s within each post or page to reflect semantic heading hierarchy.
Over-Optimization of ContentStuffing keywords awkwardly without context ends up hurting readability and comes across as spammy to visitors and search engines alike.Avoid going over 2-3% keyword density and focus more on using long-tail variations and synonyms so optimization flows naturally.
Not Including Enough MultimediaPlain walls of text fail to engage modern readers in an increasingly visual internet. Overlooking images also misses out on visual SEO signals for Google.Insert relevant images, charts, videos throughout your content to improve engagement metrics and provide more elements to optimize.
Thin Content PagesLight pages with barebones content fail to offer any real value to visitors or adequately cover topics with enough depth to rank well in search engines.Create more 2000+ word pillar content targeting commercial terms to satisfy user intent and queries much more effectively.
Ignoring Internal Links & ArchitectureTreating each new page in isolation with no integration into your site structure via contextual internal links misses out on reinforcing important topic clusters to focus SEO ranking power on.Interlink every new page or post with at least 5+ other authoritative relevant pages on your site to shape site architecture reinforcing your main topics and categories.
Weak Call-to-Actions (CTAs)Without visible, compelling calls-to-action, you lose out on guiding search traffic further down the conversion funnel improving lead gen and sales.Include engaging, benefit-oriented calls-to-action linking to your desired conversion pages like Contact, Pricing/Purchase, Booking and so on.
Slow Site SpeedSearch engines factor page speed as an important ranking signal now. Slower sites achieve lower SEO visibility. And you lose visitors from higher bounce rates.Use PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix to diagnose optimization areas like images, caching, code efficiencies, server resources and aim for at least 85+ scores.
Duplicate Content IssuesCopy-pasted content across different pages dilutes uniqueness signals in search engine’s eyes making it tougher to determine relevance for either version.Either merge very similar pages together strengthen one combined resource targeting that term or ensure there’s at least 30-40% unique content across different category/location versions distinguishing each enough.

11. Bad Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions summarize page content in SERPs. But new SEOs either omit them or stuff keywords awkwardly into 156 characters without framing any compelling user benefit causing low CTRs relative to competitors.

How to fix it:

Craft compelling, benefit-focused snippets under 156 characters that entice searchers to click and align to the headline and opening content. Include keywords naturally like “[brand] offers PPC services helping ecommerce brands drive 100+ new customers every month through Google Shopping Campaign Management.”

12. Irrelevant External Links Out

Too many beginners link out excessively to domains with no topical relevance or domain authority strength. However, Google factors both relevancy and authority of sites you link out as signals of your own site’s topical relevance and trustworthiness. Too many weak or irrelevant outbound links raise spam suspicion.

How to fix it:

Only link out to trusted, high authority editorial sites like BBC, New York Times, Techcrunch etc or niche sites with relevant topical context. Guest posting on such sites to earn contextual links can greatly boost relevance and authority signals for your own brand over time.

13. Suboptimal Image ALT Tags

Images boost content engagement but also offer extra keyword targeting real estate in ALT tags and file names. However, newbies skip keyword research and optimization best practices here missing out on significantly higher image-based discovery and click-throughs.

How to fix it:

Research most common keyword variations searchers use around images and insert them naturally into longer 2-3 phrase ALT tags. Instead of product.jpg, use buy-black-leather-jacket-mens.jpg reinforcing semantic signals.

14. Overlooking Local SEO Signals

Many new businesses fail to include any local optimization elements like region-specific pages, keywords, address markup (NAP), or GMB listings. But ~20% of searches have local intent so missing out there forfeits significant organic visibility and calls.

How to fix it:

Set up and optimize a Google My Business listing reinforcing your NAP and key services. Create location/region pages on site optimized with city keywords. Embed maps, opening hours markup etc to satisfy geo-search signals.

15. No XML Sitemaps

Most beginners miss out on submitting XML sitemaps directly to search engines like Google and Bing detailing all pages to be indexed. As sites grow over time, search engines struggle discovering new pages causing critical visibility gaps.

How to fix it:

Create and submit XML sitemaps showing all pages/posts search engines must index for better crawling reach. Implement efficient site architecture and internal linking for improved discoverability as well. Tools like Yoast or Screaming Frog help create dynamic sitemaps easily.

Just avoiding these few common fundamental mistakes that most new SEOs make will drastically improve your site’s overall on-page optimization and authority signals in the search engine’s eyes. And you should see sizeable improvements in organic visibility and traffic within as little as 2-3 months as Google recrawls to assess the improved optimization quality.

Combine strong on-page practices with smart link building strategies to reinforce your site’s topical relevance and you’ve got an SEO strategy that consistently delivers lasting high conversion visibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

What aspects does on-page SEO actually cover?

Some key elements of on-page SEO include:

  • Optimizing page content including word count, topic focus, multimedia usage, content structure etc
  • Proper utilization of heading tags H1 to H6 reflecting semantic structure
  • Title tags and meta description optimization
  • Image optimization including ALT text and file names
  • Site speed performance through testing tools like PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix
  • Ensuring indexing Friendliness for better crawling through sitemaps
  • Keyword optimization including density, placement, prominence and natural integration across content

So in a nutshell, any website factor you directly control page by page falls under the domain of on-page SEO. Whereas off-page SEO covers link signals, trust metrics and brand visibility elements externally like backlinks, brand mentions social media etc.

What’s a good length for title tags and meta descriptions?

Ideally, title tags must be kept at under 60 characters to prevent awkward truncation in search results on mobiles. Google will cut off any titles longer than that which hurts click-through rates (CTR).

For meta descriptions, up to 156 characters is optimal before getting truncated, allowing for compelling page summarization and hooks to entice searchers. Any longer, and the extra description won’t even be shown.

Is there such a thing as “over-optimization” when it comes to on-page SEO?

Absolutely. You can absolutely go overboard stuffing target keywords unnaturally into content to game search engines. Any keyword density exceeding 2-3% raises red flags unless it’s an extremely focused niche topic that warrants it.

Similarly using keywords where they don’t belong grammatically just for the sake of it creates a spammy user experience. The best practice is to optimize content naturally through variations like long tail keywords and synonyms. The focus should always be creating high quality content for human readers first rather than search engines alone.

How much should I care about site speed optimization? Does it really impact organic rankings that much these days?

Site speed optimization for both mobiles and desktops is extremely important now given how heavily Google factors actual page experience metrics into its ranking algorithm. Pages taking too long to load achieve much lower rankings visibility.

According to Google’s research, they found even a 0.1 second delay in site load speed above 1 second leads to over 10% drop in user engagement metrics and traffic.

Testing individual pages with PageSpeed Insights highlights exactly where you can optimize page load speed through caching, image compression, server upgrades and efficient code.

I recommend aiming for at least 85+ scores on mobile to ensure site speed isn’t limiting your actual SEO visibility versus competitors in the long run.

Hopefully the tips in this guide help you identify and fix some of the most common on-page optimization mistakes. Just avoiding these alone can drastically improve overall SEO authority and search visibility over time.

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