If you’re a Ghanaian business owner looking to make a mark online, SEO is your secret weapon. It can help your business reach more people and increase your chances of success in the digital marketing world. However, as a beginner, you may make some SEO mistakes.
In this article, I will highlight common SEO mistakes to avoid. I will also recommend how to solve such mistakes if you have committed them. This will help you navigate the SEO landscape with confidence.
If you would want us to do your search engine optimization (SEO) for you, you can find our search engine optimization packages here.
Poor Website Structure and Navigation
Having a well-organized website structure is like building a strong foundation for your online presence. However, many beginners make the mistake of overlooking this crucial aspect of SEO.
A supermarket with cluttered aisles and no clear signage will make customers struggle to find what they need. And they might leave frustrated.
The same applies to your website. If it’s poorly structured and difficult to navigate, both users and search engines will face challenges using it.
To fix this mistake, start by organizing your website into logical sections and categories. For example, if you have an e-commerce website selling clothing, you can have separate sections for men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing.
This way, users can easily find what they’re looking for. And search engines can understand the different sections of your website.
Clear navigation is another essential element of an SEO-friendly website. Just like road signs guide drivers to their destinations, navigation menus help users navigate your website.
Make sure your navigation menu is prominently placed and provides easy access to different sections of your website. Use descriptive labels for menu items so that users know what to expect when they click on them.
Additionally, ensure that your URLs (web addresses) are user-friendly and descriptive. Instead of using long strings of random characters, create URLs that give users an idea of the page’s content.
For example, if you have a page about organic gardening tips, a user-friendly URL could be “yourwebsite.com/organic-gardening-tips.”
Neglecting Keyword Research
The main mistake of SEO that companies make is neglecting keyword research. Keywords are like the secret code that helps search engines understand what your website is all about.
Let me talk about GhanaWeb. GhanaWeb is the most popular news website in Ghana. According to Ahrefs, the website has on average 3 million organic visitors per month.
GhanaWeb made sure they ranked in search engines for every keyword relevant to “Ghana” as a topic.
For example, they have a category called “Ghana’s Famous People”. This category contains the profiles of popular people in Ghana, irrespective of the person’s field of interest (sports, education, religion, politics, business, etc). I’m sure when I get popular they will even add my profile to the list.
You can make your business’s website the “GhanaWeb” in its niche. You can dominate your industry’s internet space by focusing on ranking for various keywords relevant to it.
If you don’t use the right keywords, it’s like speaking a different language than your potential customers.
To fix this mistake, start by brainstorming words or phrases that people might use to find businesses like yours.
For example, if you have a handbag business in Kumasi, think about keywords like “African print handbags Kumasi,” “ladies handbag Kumasi,” or “best handbag shop Kumasi.”
Once you have a list of potential keywords, you can use free online tools like Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest to find out how many people are searching for those keywords and how competitive they are.
Look for keywords with a good balance of search volume (how many people are searching) and competition (how many other websites are using the same keyword).
After finding relevant keywords, it’s important to incorporate them strategically on your website. For example, you can include keywords in your website’s page titles, headings, and within the content itself.
However, don’t just stuff keywords everywhere! Make sure they fit naturally and make sense to your readers.
Let’s say you own a toy store in Sunyani, and you discover that “educational toys Sunyani” is a popular keyword. To incorporate this keyword strategically, you can create a page titled “Explore a Wide Range of Educational Toys in Sunyani” and write content that highlights the educational value of your toys.
If you’ve already neglected keyword research, don’t worry! You can still fix it. Start by identifying relevant keywords for your business and optimize your existing content.
Update your page titles, and headings, and sprinkle relevant keywords throughout your website. Additionally, consider creating new content focused on these keywords to attract more visitors.
By conducting proper keyword research and strategically incorporating keywords on your website, you’ll increase your chances of ranking higher in search results. This means more people will find your website when they search for products or services related to your business.
If you would want us to do your search engine optimization (SEO) for you, you can find our search engine optimization packages here.
Ignoring On-Page Optimization
On-page optimization involves making specific improvements to each webpage on your website to improve its visibility in search engine results. It’s like giving your webpage a makeover to make it more attractive to both search engines and users.
To fix this common SEO mistake, let’s look at some essential on-page optimization factors that you shouldn’t overlook.
Title tags play a crucial role in on-page optimization. They are the main heading for your webpage that appears in search results. Make sure each page has a unique and descriptive title tag that accurately represents the content of the page.
For example, if you have a page about healthy recipes, a good title tag could be “Delicious and Nutritious Healthy Recipes for the Whole Family.”
Headings are like signposts within your webpage that help both users and search engines understand the structure and content. Use headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to break up your content into sections and include relevant keywords in your headings where appropriate.
This helps search engines better understand the context of your content and improves readability for users.
Meta descriptions are short snippets that appear below the title tag in search results. They provide a brief summary of what the webpage is about.
Write compelling meta descriptions that entice users to click through to your website. Include relevant keywords naturally in the meta description to improve its relevance and visibility.
Image alt tags are important for optimizing images on your webpage. Alt tags are descriptions that appear when an image can’t be displayed or for visually impaired users who rely on screen readers.
Use descriptive alt tags that accurately describe the image and include relevant keywords where appropriate. This helps search engines understand the image content and improves accessibility.
By optimizing each webpage on your site, you improve its chances of ranking higher in search engine results. This means more visibility and more potential visitors to your website.
Lack of High-Quality Content
When it comes to SEO, creating high-quality content is of utmost importance. Your website’s content is like the heart and soul of your online presence. It’s what attracts and engages visitors. And it plays a significant role in search engine rankings.
However, one common mistake that beginners often make is not focusing on producing valuable and engaging content.
To fix this common SEO mistake, let’s explore why high-quality content is essential for SEO success.
Search engines aim to provide the best possible results to users. They prioritize websites that offer valuable and relevant information.
When you create high-quality content, you’re providing valuable information, answering users’ questions, and addressing their needs. This builds trust and authority, making search engines more likely to rank your website higher in search results.
Imagine you have a blog about cooking tips, and you consistently publish informative and well-researched articles on various cooking topics. Your readers find your content helpful and share it with others. Search engines notice the engagement and relevance of your content and reward you with higher visibility in search results.
On the other hand, neglecting high-quality content can have adverse effects. Imagine you have a website selling fashion accessories, but your product descriptions are poorly written, filled with spelling mistakes, and lack relevant information.
Visitors will quickly lose interest, and search engines will view your content as low-quality. This can lead to a lower ranking in search results, causing potential customers to overlook your website.
To fix the lack of high-quality content, focus on understanding your target audience’s needs and interests. Conduct research and create content that provides value and engages your audience.
Use a variety of formats like articles, videos, infographics, and guides to cater to different preferences. Incorporate relevant keywords naturally within your content to make it more discoverable by search engines.
Start by reviewing your existing content and improving it. Edit and proofread for errors, add more relevant information, and make it more engaging. Consider creating a content calendar to plan and produce regular, valuable content going forward.
By prioritizing high-quality content, you not only improve your website’s visibility in search results but also establish your brand as an authority in your industry. So, don’t underestimate the power of content when it comes to SEO success.
Overlooking Mobile Optimization
Mobile devices have become an integral part of our lives. People use their smartphones and tablets to browse the internet, search for information, and make purchasing decisions.
Therefore, it is crucial for beginners in SEO to understand the significance of mobile optimization. Unfortunately, one common mistake is neglecting mobile-friendly design and responsiveness, which can negatively impact your website’s visibility and user experience.
Consider this scenario: You have a travel agency website, and a potential customer is searching for the best vacation destinations in Ghana using their smartphone. If your website is not mobile-friendly, she will struggle to navigate through tiny text, distorted images, and overlapping elements.
Frustrated, they may leave your website and move on to a competitor’s mobile-friendly site. By neglecting mobile optimization, you miss out on valuable mobile users and potential customers.
To ensure your website is mobile-friendly, consider the following steps:
1. Adopt a responsive design: This allows your website to adapt to different screen sizes and orientations automatically.
2. Optimize page loading speed: Mobile users expect quick-loading websites. Compress images, minify code, and leverage caching techniques to improve loading speed.
3. Use mobile-friendly fonts and font sizes: Ensure your text is easily readable on smaller screens without requiring users to zoom in.
4. Design intuitive navigation: Simplify your menus and navigation to provide a seamless user experience on mobile devices.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to test the mobile-friendliness of your website. Identify issues such as text readability, image sizing, or touch elements, and work on resolving them.
By prioritizing mobile optimization, you ensure that your website provides an enjoyable user experience across all devices. This not only improves your search engine rankings but also attracts and retains a larger audience, leading to increased engagement and potential business growth.
Having a Slow Website
Having a fast-loading website is crucial for both user experience and search engine optimization. Slow website speed can frustrate visitors and lead to lower search engine rankings.
A slow-loading website can have a negative impact on user experience. Imagine clicking on a link that takes forever to load. Impatient, you hit the back button and choose another website that loads quickly.
Visitors expect websites to load within a few seconds, and if yours is sluggish, they may leave and never return.
Additionally, search engines like Google consider site speed as a ranking factor. They prioritize websites that offer fast-loading experiences to provide the best results for users. If your website is slow, search engines may rank it lower in search results, reducing its visibility and organic traffic.
To fix the mistake of slow site speed, consider the following steps:
1. Optimize image sizes: Large image files can slow down your website. Compress images without sacrificing quality using tools like TinyPNG or JPEG Optimizer.
2. Enable browser caching: Browser caching allows visitors’ browsers to store certain elements of your website, reducing the need to fetch them each time. This speeds up subsequent visits.
4. Upgrade your hosting plan: If you’re using shared hosting, consider upgrading to a dedicated or VPS hosting plan. This can provide better server resources and faster load times.
5. Utilize a content delivery network (CDN): A CDN distributes your website’s files across multiple servers worldwide, ensuring faster loading times for visitors across different locations.
Analyze your website’s performance using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. These tools provide insights into areas where you can improve speed. Follow the recommendations provided, such as compressing images, optimizing code, or utilizing a CDN such as Cloudflare.
By optimizing your site speed, you enhance user experience, improve search engine rankings, and increase the likelihood of visitors staying on your website longer.
Bad Reviews on Google My Business (Google Business Profile)
Having a strong online reputation is essential for the success of your business. However, most businesses neglect the management of reviews on their Google My Business (GMB) profile. Bad reviews can tarnish your online reputation and deter potential customers.
Online reviews hold a significant influence over customers’ purchasing decisions. I was once looking for a hospital in Accra. The several negative reviews mentioning poor service and indifferent attitudes of health workers of most hospitals changed my mind about them. I was discouraged from visiting those hospitals, Instead, I chose one which had better reviews.
Negative reviews can harm your business’s online reputation and affect your search engine rankings. Search engines consider customer reviews as a ranking factor and prioritize businesses with positive reviews.
If your GMB profile has many negative reviews, it may be ranked lower in search results, making it harder for potential customers to find you.
To fix the mistake of bad reviews on GMB, consider the following steps:
1. Monitor your reviews: Regularly check your GMB profile for new reviews. Respond promptly to both positive and negative reviews.
2. Respond professionally: When replying to negative reviews, remain calm and professional. Apologize for any negative experience and offer a resolution. This shows potential customers that you value their feedback and are committed to resolving issues.
3. Encourage positive reviews: Actively engage with satisfied customers and politely request them to leave a review on your GMB profile. This helps balance out any negative reviews and improves your overall rating.
4. Address customer concerns: If a negative review highlights a genuine issue, take steps to rectify it. This can include improving your products or services, enhancing customer service, or addressing any underlying issues.
5. Learn from feedback: Negative reviews can provide valuable insights into areas where your business can improve. Use them as an opportunity to identify and address weaknesses, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction.
By actively managing your reviews on GMB, you can build a positive online reputation, attract more customers, and improve your search engine rankings. Remember, reviews are a reflection of your business’s credibility and customer satisfaction.
Having Duplicate Content
Duplicate content refers to content that appears in multiple locations on the internet, either on your own website or on other websites. This can negatively impact your search engine rankings and confuse both users and search engines.
Search engines strive to deliver the most relevant and valuable content to users. When they detect duplicate content, they may struggle to determine which version is the most authoritative or relevant.
As a result, search engines may penalize websites with duplicate content by ranking them lower in search results or excluding them altogether.
I do regular reviews of websites on Ghana Yellow Pages’ Instagram account. And I have seen several Ghanaian online stores, even popular ones, copying product descriptions from another website or using the same content across multiple product pages on their own site.
Search engines may view this as duplicate content, diminishing the visibility of your website in search results. Additionally, users may lose trust in your brand if they come across the same content on different pages.
To fix the common SEO mistake of duplicate content, consider the following steps:
2. Rewrite or rephrase content: If you have duplicate content on your own website, rewrite or rephrase it to make it unique. Ensure that each page offers valuable and distinct information to users.
3. Use canonical tags: If you have similar content across multiple pages, use canonical tags to indicate the preferred version to search engines. This helps consolidate ranking signals and avoids potential penalties for duplicate content.
4. Create original content: Focus on creating high-quality, unique content that provides value to your audience. This could include informative blog posts, product descriptions, or engaging articles relevant to your industry.
By emphasizing unique content, you improve your chances of ranking higher in search results, attracting more visitors, and establishing your brand as a reliable and authoritative source.
Not Having Pages Targetting Local Audiences
Local audience pages are designed to target local audiences and can significantly improve your visibility in local search results.
When users search for businesses or services in a specific location, search engines strive to provide the most relevant results. If your website lacks local audience pages, you may miss out on valuable local traffic and potential customers.
Imagine you own a plumbing business in Accra, and you have a single page on your website that covers all your services without focusing on specific locations. When someone in Accra searches for “plumbers in Accra,” search engines may not consider your website as relevant because it doesn’t specifically target that location. As a result, your website may not appear in local search results, and you could miss out on potential customers.
To fix the mistake of lack of location-specific pages, consider the following steps:
1. Identify target locations: Determine the specific areas or cities where you want to target customers. For example, if you provide accounting services, you might target Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale.
2. Create dedicated pages: Develop separate pages on your website for each location you want to target. These pages should include relevant information about your services in that specific area.
3. Optimize content: Incorporate location-specific keywords naturally into your content. For instance, mention the city or region in headings, titles, and throughout the page where appropriate.
4. Include local information: Provide details about local landmarks, events, or community involvement to showcase your connection and credibility within the specific location.
By targeting local audiences through location-specific pages, you improve your visibility in local search results and increase the chances of attracting customers who are specifically looking for services in their area. Remember, catering to local searches can give your business a competitive edge and enhance your online presence.
Not Keeping Your Website Fresh and Relevant
One common mistake that beginners often make in SEO is neglecting to update their website’s content and information. Outdated content can harm your website’s credibility, user experience, and search engine rankings.
I have seen the websites of HR agencies in Ghana with the last time they posted a job being two years ago. There are even eCommerce websites in Ghana that hardly update their product stock on their website. This is not good for SEO.
Search engines prioritize fresh and relevant content to deliver the best results to users. If your website contains outdated information, it may be considered less relevant and receive lower rankings in search results.
To fix the mistake of outdated content and information on your website, consider the following steps:
1. Review your content regularly: Set aside time to review and update your website’s content periodically. Check for outdated information, expired promotions, or obsolete product descriptions.
2. Update important pages: Focus on updating core pages such as your homepage, about us page, contact page, and product or service pages. Ensure that they accurately reflect your current offerings, contact details, and business information.
3. Freshen up blog posts: If you have a blog, review your older posts and update them with the latest information or insights. Consider repurposing or republishing older content that is still relevant.
Try to publish at least one blog post per week on your website. This will keep your website fresh.
4. Remove or redirect obsolete pages: If you have pages that are no longer relevant or have been removed, ensure they are properly redirected to relevant pages or consider removing them altogether.
5. Stay engaged with your audience: Encourage users to provide feedback, ask questions, or report any outdated information they come across. This can help you identify areas that need attention.
By keeping your website’s content and information up to date, you enhance user experience, build trust with your audience, and improve your search engine rankings.
Having Broken Links on Your Website
Broken links are links that lead to non-existent or inaccessible web pages. They can negatively impact user experience, frustrate visitors, and harm your search engine rankings.
Imagine you’re browsing a website, and you click on a link that should take you to more information about a product, only to be greeted with a “404 Page Not Found” error. Frustrating, right?
Broken links create a poor user experience and can lead visitors to leave your website in search of more reliable sources.
Additionally, search engines view broken links as a sign of a poorly maintained website, which can lower your rankings.
To fix the mistake of broken links on your website, consider the following steps:
1. Regularly check for broken links: Use online tools like Google Search Console or free website crawlers to identify broken links on your website. These tools will provide a list of pages with broken links that need attention.
2. Update or remove broken links: Once you’ve identified broken links, take action to fix them. If the linked page still exists, update the link to point to the correct URL. If the linked page no longer exists, remove the broken link altogether.
3. Set up proper redirects: If you’ve removed a page that had incoming links, set up 301 redirects to direct visitors and search engines to a relevant page. This ensures a seamless user experience and preserves your search engine rankings.
4. Conduct periodic link checks: Make it a regular practice to check your website for broken links. As your website evolves and content gets updated, new broken links can occur. By regularly monitoring and fixing broken links, you ensure a functional and user-friendly website.
By ensuring functional links on your website, you enhance user experience, improve your website’s credibility, and maintain a positive relationship with search engines.
Not Indexing Your Pages With Search Engines
Pages that are not indexed by search engines do not appear in search engine results, which means they miss out on valuable organic traffic.
Search engines use a process called indexing to analyze and catalogue web pages. Indexed pages are those that search engines have discovered, analyzed, and added to their database. When someone searches for relevant keywords, search engines can then display indexed pages in the search results.
Imagine you have a website offering various services, and you recently added a new service page. However, if search engines haven’t indexed this page, it will not appear in search results when users search for that specific service. As a result, you’ll miss out on potential visitors and potential customers.
To fix the mistake of having pages not indexed, consider the following steps:
1. Check index status: Use tools like Google Search Console to check the index status of your website. It will show you which pages are indexed and which ones are not.
2. Ensure accessibility: Make sure that search engines can access and crawl your website. Check your website’s robots.txt file to ensure it is not blocking search engine bots from indexing your pages.
3. Submit sitemap: Create an XML sitemap of your website and submit it to search engines. A sitemap is a file that lists all the pages on your website, helping search engines discover and index them more efficiently.
4. Optimize page content: Ensure that your pages have unique and relevant content that aligns with users’ search intent. Include relevant keywords naturally in your content to improve their visibility and chances of being indexed.
By having all your important pages indexed, you maximize your website’s visibility in search results, attract more organic traffic, and increase your chances of reaching your target audience.
Not Allowing Google to Crawl Your Website
One common mistake that beginners often make in SEO is preventing search engines like Google from crawling their website’s content. By doing so, they inadvertently hinder the search engine’s ability to index and display their web pages in search results.
Search engines rely on web crawlers, also known as bots or spiders. They navigate through websites and gather information about their content. When a website blocks these crawlers, search engines are unable to access and analyze the website’s pages, leading to missed opportunities for visibility and organic traffic.
To fix the common SEO mistake of not allowing Google to crawl your content, consider the following steps:
1. Check your robots.txt file: The robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers which pages or directories to exclude from crawling. Make sure your robots.txt file does not unintentionally block important pages or your entire website.
2. Allow access to important content: Ensure that your website’s important pages, such as your homepage, product/service pages, and blog posts, are not blocked from search engine crawlers. They need to be accessible for indexing.
3. Submit your sitemap: Create an XML sitemap that lists all your website’s pages and submit it to Google Search Console. This helps search engines discover and index your content more effectively.
4. Optimize your website structure: Ensure that your website has a logical and organized structure. This allows search engine crawlers to navigate through your site easily and access all relevant pages.
By allowing search engines to crawl your content, you increase the chances of your web pages being indexed and displayed in search results. This helps improve your website’s visibility, attract organic traffic, and connect with your target audience more effectively.
Having Faulty Redirects
Redirects are used to guide users and search engines from one webpage to another. However, when implemented incorrectly, they can disrupt user experience, confuse search engines, and negatively impact SEO.
Imagine you have a website that offers various products, and you decide to discontinue one of them. Instead of properly redirecting the old product page to a relevant new page, you mistakenly set up a redirect that leads to a generic homepage.
When a user clicks on a link expecting to find information about the discontinued product, they are redirected to an unrelated page, causing frustration and confusion.
To fix the mistake of faulty redirects, consider the following steps:
1. Audit your website for faulty redirects: Use tools like Screaming Frog or Google Search Console to identify any problematic redirects on your website. These tools can highlight errors, including redirects that are not functioning as intended.
2. Implement proper redirects: When redirecting a webpage, use the appropriate redirect type based on the situation. The most common redirect types are 301 redirects (permanent) and 302 redirects (temporary). Ensure that the redirect points users and search engines to the most relevant and appropriate destination.
3. Update internal links: Review your website’s internal links and ensure they point to the correct and relevant pages. Update any outdated or broken internal links to maintain smooth navigation for users.
4. Monitor and adjust: Continuously monitor your website for any new redirects that may arise due to changes in your site structure or content. Regularly check for errors and adjust redirects as needed to maintain a seamless user experience.
By implementing correct redirects, you provide users with a smooth and intuitive navigation experience on your website. Additionally, search engines can understand the structure of your site and index the correct pages, positively impacting your search engine rankings and visibility.
Not Seeing SEO as an Ongoing Effort
Search engine optimization requires continuous attention and adaptation to keep up with changing algorithms and user expectations.
As time goes by, search engine algorithms evolve, user preferences change, and competitors make adjustments to their SEO strategies. Without ongoing SEO efforts, your website may gradually lose visibility in search results, impacting organic traffic and potential business opportunities.
To fix the mistake of treating SEO as a one-time thing, consider the following steps:
1. Stay informed: Keep up-to-date with the latest SEO trends, algorithm updates, and best practices. Follow reputable SEO blogs, attend webinars, or join online communities to stay informed about industry changes.
2. Regularly review and update content: Conduct periodic content audits to ensure your website’s content remains relevant and valuable. Update outdated information, add new content, and optimize existing pages to align with evolving user search intent.
3. Monitor and adjust keyword strategy: Continuously analyze keyword performance and make necessary adjustments. Research new keywords, identify high-value opportunities, and optimize your content accordingly.
4. Improve user experience: Focus on enhancing user experience by optimizing website speed, improving mobile responsiveness, and ensuring easy navigation. Regularly monitor user behaviour on your site and make adjustments to improve engagement and conversion rates.
5. Build quality backlinks: Establish a strategy to acquire quality backlinks from reputable websites in your industry. This can improve your website’s authority and visibility in search results.
By adopting an ongoing SEO approach, you ensure that your website remains relevant, visible, and competitive in search engine rankings. Remember, SEO is an ongoing process that requires continuous attention and adaptation to achieve long-term success.
In conclusion, we have discussed several common SEO mistakes that beginners in Ghanaian businesses should avoid. It is important to recap these mistakes and emphasize the need for action to overcome these challenges.
In the dynamic world of SEO, knowledge is power. By continuously learning and applying best practices, Ghanaian businesses can leverage the potential of SEO to establish their online presence, attract customers, and ultimately thrive in the digital marketplace.
If you would want us to do your search engine optimization (SEO) for you, you can find our search engine optimization packages here.