As much as we’d like to think it is, SEO isn’t an exact science. Even those of us who are familiar with SEO and understand its basic principles get it wrong sometimes because of circumstances out of our control. However, there are some mistakes that will, and will probably always, be disastrous for your SEO efforts.

If you’re just starting to build an SEO strategy and doing everything in-house, it can be easy to commit crucial mistakes without even realizing it. In this article, we’re going to show you some of the most common reasons people fail with SEO and what you can do to turn the situation around.

Using Outdated Tactics

Google and most search engines change their algorithm and the way they rank websites constantly. Most of the time, these changes are either to counter manipulative tactics and put more emphasis on actual user data to generate more relevant results. Google won’t actually come out and say it, but they have a general dislike of SEO – and it’s understandable. At the end of the day, it undermines what they’re trying to do. But that shouldn’t mean you should just roll the dice and stop using SEO altogether. It just means that your SEO tactics should align with their goals.

That means using fewer manipulative methods like keyword stuffing and link farming. There was a time long ago when these methods worked, but guess what, they made search results a mess and Google moved swiftly to penalize those using such practices.

That doesn’t mean that keywords and links have lost all meaning. As a matter of fact, they are still in many ways the backbone of SEO. But you have to use them intelligently and naturally. Instead of focusing on keyword density, focus on using your keywords as a theme for the page, and let your keywords fall organically into your site’s content. Have a detailed FAQ section where you can put query-based keyword phrases and attract voice searches. Let links build naturally by understanding how to create and publish content that will stick and will be shared through the right channels.

Content is king and high-quality socially active content will always be a winner with search engines. But good content does much more than just get you some link juice. It also establishes you as an authority in your niche, builds brand awareness, and promotes engagement. So, if you were to spend all of your efforts on one thing, it would be on creating engaging content and focus on getting it in front of the right set of eyes. This is the only way to build a sustainable stream of organic traffic to your site and stay in Google’s good graces.

Your Website is Bad

On-page SEO should never be neglected, but these days, things go way beyond keywords and internal link structure. Google increasingly uses metrics to calculate performance and actual engagement with your site. This means that a poorly designed or underperforming website could end up ruining your efforts, even if you’re doing everything right.

That means you have to do everything in your power to give your users the best experience and make sure that your site runs on all cylinders. Ditch the cheap shared hosting plan and get a dedicated host. Compress images or use more compact file types. Streamline your navigation. And always make sure that your mobile experience is just as enjoyable as your desktop. As a matter of fact, Google just unrolled its mobile-first index, which means that your site’s results will be based on the mobile experience first. So even if your desktop site is top-notch, you will be penalized if the mobile experience is sub-par.

You Don’t Use the Right Tools

But if you want to be able to improve your site’s performance, you have to be able to track it in the first place. If you aren’t using analytics or goal tracking tools on your website, all your efforts will be in vain. Using advanced analytical tools will allow you to pinpoint exactly what you’re doing right, where you need to improve, and where you’re making mistakes. Only then will you be able to make the right adjustments and spend the effort where it’s needed.

You’re in a Rough Niche

In some cases, the niche you’re in is just too competitive. Big players in those niches may have years and years of SEO and brand building work behind their belt and thinking that you’re going to take them over overnight is sometimes unrealistic. So, in some cases, you’ll just have to capitulate and turn to other tactics like social media or content marketing.

You’re Using the Wrong Keywords

Like we said earlier, while keyword manipulation in the old school sense will get you nowhere, keywords are still essential to good SEO. SEO experts have long stressed the importance of laser targeted keywords, but they aren’t always the best option. If your keyword phrases are too targeted, they might also get very little volume, and basing your off-page or on-page SEO strategy around these keywords won’t get you good results. So, it’s always better to cast a wide net and use broader keywords when it comes to SEO.

Your Link Profile is Horrible

It’s always important to keep an eye on your link profile and don’t deliberately build bad links. If anyone promises you hundreds of links for X amount of dollars, run right away. As a matter of fact, run from anyone who advertises themselves as a “link building service”.

Also, make sure that your profile isn’t polluted by links that you don’t want. You just never know where one of your links might pop up, and you don’t want your links to come from low-quality sources. You could also be the victim of negative SEO from one of your competitors. Checking who is linking to your site is easy, and most analytics tools will allow you to do that. You can then head over to Google’s disavow tool and submit those links, so they won’t end up hurting your rankings.


SEO is not a sprint, but a marathon, and you constantly have to adjust if you want to get the results you want. Always make sure that you monitor your efforts and always find ways to improve your on-page and off-page SEO. Also, focus on providing the best experience to your users and being an actual resource instead of trying to game search engine algorithms.

By Kar

Dr. Kar works in the interface of digital transformation and data science. Professionally a professor in one of the top B-Schools of Asia and an alumni of XLRI, he has extensive experience in teaching, training, consultancy and research in reputed institutes. He is a regular contributor of Business Fundas and a frequent author in research platforms. He is widely cited as a researcher. Note: The articles authored in this blog are his personal views and does not reflect that of his affiliations.