5 SEO Mistakes that Cost Us Big Time on SERP Rankings: Things We Learned the Hard Way

If you think that cracking the SERP rankings is an easy deal we have a piece of bad news for you. Lots of organizations spend a lot of time to get on top SERP rankings but end up being losers. It is high time to learn from the SEO mistakes made by others and come up with a contingency plan to reach on top SERP rankings.

In the last few months, we have seen it all in the form of a vicious circle. We were stuck with the old and outdated SEO strategies which are constantly evolving as the days go by. For example, thanks to the recent update by Google, now the entire focus on a content piece is not on keyword stuffing. In fact, it can result in penalties now like getting your website suspended from the search results page (we were nearly on the verge of getting to the stage……But thanks to a useful insight that saved us)…More of that later on in this write-up.

In the forthcoming sections of this write-up, we will be looking at some of the SEO mistakes that we committed that cost us big time on SERP rankings along with the learnings that we received.

But, before we look at the mistakes it is important to decode the best SEO practices for your write-ups.

  1. Target medium tail keywords which are not more than a couple of words and have considerably less competition;
  2. Include the title of your write-up in the title tag;
  3. Commence your meta-description with an action word and end with a call to action;
  4. Include keywords in the ALT text while adding an image;
  5. Provide internal links in your write-ups;
  6. Do not forget to add social sharing buttons;
  7. Utilize tags and categories to make your write-up more crawlable on reputed search engines;
  8. Use proper formatting for your write-ups by employing proper HTML tags.

We promise that once you have read this write-up you will get a fair view about the SEO mistakes that you should never commit while trying to take your website on the top of SERP rankings.

Now that you have understood the best SEO practices it is time to look at some of the SEO mistakes that cost us big time on SERP rankings.


We tried to get backlinks for our website very quickly

Everybody today knows that getting backlinks on your website remains to be one of the best ways to get on top of Google SERP rankings. But, the one SEO mistake that we made was to focus on the quantity rather than the quality of backlinks on our website.

One of the major reasons for this mistake was the fact that we got carried away with the fact that not many people are going to encourage our request to link to our web-page content. But, we were wrong.

At the end of the day, you need to concentrate on a small section rather than a bigger one because the smaller section is more concentrated and helps in getting the desired results not soon but definitely.

Let us give you a practical example of the way we were committing mistake for our blog titled “What Is On Page SEO?”. While searching for backlinks on Ahrefs, we targeted neilpatel.com/blog/ as our base and found that there were 106,786 backlinks which were one of the biggest mistakes that we ever made.

Let us first of all share with you the screenshot.



As you can see it showed around 1,06,786 backlinks and we were very happy to see that we had so many opportunities in our hand to get our links published.

But, the one crucial mistake that we made was that we did not opt for “One link per domain” option and ignored to select from the drop-down menu of Link type to “Do-Follow Links. Let us look at the difference that it made.



As you can see the number of dofollow backlinks from unique domains is 8,969 and not 1,06,786 which sent. This was our biggest mistake.

The other problem was the fact that the 1,06,786 potential backlink opportunities had many which were from the same domain so we had to sort the results which were very taxing and the end result was not productive. So, if you want to succeed at getting your web-pages ranked on Google SERP it is important not to get carried away with the number of backlinks and instead focus on the quality.


We were more obsessing with the number one page ranking on Google Search Results Page Instead of Focusing on Getting the Most out of Our Click-Through Rate

There are lots of websites across the globe and every businessman wants them to rank on top of Google SERP rankings. But, the question is: Whether obsessing anything about the number one page ranking on Google SERP is going to make much of a difference. Your guess is as good as ours. This was another SEO mistake that we committed while embarking on our journey to getting on top of Google SERP rankings.

Today, there is a lot of organic content available online. With so much of competition around it becomes important to focus on the key problem areas of the readers. This is where we missed out big time. We did not concentrate on providing valuable problem-solving information to the readers instead we focused on delivering a maximum number of write-ups in a day’s time.

If we would have put in the same amount of time in obsessing over number one page ranking on Google SERPs if we would have focused on maximizing our click-through rate the results would have been different.

For example, look at this blog title that we created “What Is Off-Page SEO?”. If you look closely at the content piece we have formulated it in the question and answer format. But, does it entice the reader? No. Hell, it even does not have a high ranking on domain rating. We learned this the hard way that the key to getting your write-ups on top of SERP rankings on Google is to try out different titles and meta descriptions using Google Adwords or Facebook Ads to drive home the advantage. So, instead of obsessing over top rankings on SERP, it is important to increase the click-through rate of your content pieces.



We were concentrating more on stuffing keywords instead of organically placing keywords in the write-up

We were stuck in the past when it came to developing content for our business. The major problem was that we were over-emphasizing the importance of inserting keywords in the write-ups which led to our downfall. Today, with the recent updates of Google algorithm it has become evident that organic keyword placement will only work towards increasing your SERP rankings.

But, we were quite adamant in trying to place keywords and it led to a situation where we were nearly going to suffer a penalty from Google. We learned it the hard way that instead of targeting the high-volume keywords it is important to write your content in an organic manner. If your content piece is of quality it will most probably have the keywords that you are going to target without even trying to stuff them in the write-up.

The one thing that saved us was the fact a blog that we created not long ago titled “How to do SEO for my website? (A Pertinent Question Asked by our 1,000 Esteemed Clients to Drive Quality Leads and Increase Business Revenue)”.

Thanks to this blog we were able to recognize the need to create problem resolving write-ups. Although this write-up has still has not garnered a lot of traffic with time we are confident that it will help us achieve the objective of getting on top of SERP rankings.

A key thing to remember: The write-ups that you create need to provide an enhancing experience to the readers. It is your way of resolving their queries and doubts and ensuring that the content piece is qualitative enough to make the reader share it online.


We focused on churning out more web-pages than on the aspect of providing helpful qualitative content for the visitors

There is a very bad rumor that is going around: Bigger is always better”. But, when it comes to a website this is probably wrong. There are lots of websites that have a large volume of web-pages describing their services separately. Although, this thing can act as a boon to get leads. It can never be a great SEO practice.

Although we never had this problem because our website had a limited number of web-pages this is one of the common problems that we have seen. Hence, this problem has been included in this write-up.

In fact, it has been found that Google ranks those web-page content higher that cover the topic comprehensively. This, of course, does not mean that your website should only have a single page. But, it is important to segment your website in such a way that it does not look cluttered.

For example, instead of defining your SEO strategies differently on separate web-pages, you can collate it in the form of a single web-page content. A prime example of this is a blog written by Brian Dean titled “The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]”.



If you look at Ahrefs, this particular blog has 2.58 K backlinks and 241 Referring Domains. Also, if you go through the write-up you will know that Brian has covered the topic comprehensively and provided valuable insights pertaining to an SEO strategy that you can follow in the year 2019.


We were more focused on getting our web-pages on Top SERP rankings than on providing benefit-driven content for the visitors

As we have discussed earlier, this is one of the common problems faced by people when it comes to writing website content. We also faced a similar fate with ours. One thing that we missed out big time in our website content was the need to address the concerns of our readers.

It was more about discussing the services provided by our company and how was it different from others. This is not the reader is there for. They are primarily there to get their concerns resolved. Always remember: the most important thing was to first of all address the problem of the reader so that we can build an emotional connection with the readers.

This was a big thing which was missing in our earlier content pieces which we have addressed right now. You can compare our old post “What Is Local SEO?” with this new post “Lead Generation: 7 Tips to Get More Leads from your Website (No Tricks. No Gimmicks. Plain Simple Tips)”. Although the topics for both the posts are different we want you to concentrate on the benefit-driven aspect of the write-ups.

The fact that we were so driven to getting on top of SERP rankings made us make these mistakes that made us realize that only getting ahead in the race is not important. The journey to the finish line is more important than reaching the finish line. This was a major takeaway that we realize now when we look at the SEO mistakes that we have made in the past.

Let us now look at some of the key learnings that we were able to derive from this experience.


Learnings That We Derived the Hard Way

SEO is more of a long-term shot than short-term gratification

SEO is a long-term shot which takes a lot of time. If you think that you will get instant results then you need to re-strategize your SEO plans. Reason? It takes a lot of time to create domain authority of your website. Usually, the keywords that you use take your website to the next level of rankings.

According to a study conducted by Ahrefs in February 2017 by Ahrefs, it has been estimated that approximately 95% of newly published pages do not get to page one within a year. And as far as the rest 5% are concerned that do come on the first page it usually takes between two to six months’ time.

Now, if you look at the example that we gave earlier “Lead Generation: 7 Tips to Get More Leads from your Website (No Tricks. No Gimmicks. Plain Simple Tips)” it does not rank higher in domain rating but since we have followed all the principles that are needed to create high-quality content sooner or later, it will be one of the top-performing blogs on our website.

Key takeaway: The best thing to do is to strategize your SEO activities wisely by selecting a topic that is trending. By trending we mean the most talked about topic across the internet. Then devise a content calendar and ensure that you place the most shared content on the top. This will ensure that you get backlinks for the write-ups easily.


High-quality content is the need of the hour and not to forget promotion of it on the right channels

It is very important to look at the top-ranking blogs in the niche category for which you are going to write your content piece. This will give you a fair idea about how much traffic you can derive from your post.

Look at the screenshot given below.

We have taken the same example of a blog written by Brian Dean titled “The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]”.




As you can see from the screenshot, it took the blog a while to reach the kind of backlinks it was able to generate over its entire tenure. We can see that it was able to reach 236 backlinks on 30th January 2019. (This is the latest report) and it started getting backlinks from 12th December 2013.

If you keep on developing high-quality content sooner or later people are going to take you seriously. When that happens you can rest assured to not only get high traffic but also a good amount of social shares. But, always remember the key attribute of writing the content for the readers and not for search engines.


Focus on writing problem-solving write-ups instead of regular content that is driven to impress the search engines

This is a key takeaway from the exercise that we conducted. Although, keywords are important for writing a content piece they need to be used organically. Gone are the days when keyword stuffing used to work in getting your website on top SERP rankings.

Today, it is more about resolving the problems of the readers. If you are able to do that you can emerge as a winner and get multiple social shares on your content. This will increase your domain authority and place you as an expert in the eyes of your readers and add value. Look at the blog written by Brian Dean titled “The 9-Step SEO Strategy for 2019 [NEW]” and you will exactly understand what we are trying to say.


Organic keyword placement in the content is the need of the hour

As Google has become smarter with the recent updates it is important to upgrade yourself to the next version in order to produce high-quality valuable content pieces. It is time to smarten up and look at the different ways to look at keywords for a topic. Let us follow a step-by-step guide to help you achieve this objective.

  1. Use Google Search Console and download all the keywords for which you are currently ranking.
  2. Sort the keywords with their ranking to determine the keywords that are ranking higher with little to no backlinks.
  3. Take the top ranking keywords and run them through keywords explorer in Ahrefs.
  4. Next, determine the average keyword difficulty of each of these keywords.

Now, whenever you are planning to write a content piece use the keywords with the same keyword difficulty. This will make your write-up rank higher on Google search engine without even taking the help of many backlinks.

While zeroing in on a topic do take care of selecting a topic that is already ranking on the top three results on Google SERPs. This way you will have a road map in front of your eyes to achieve better results than the already tried and tested ones.


Experiment with your existing titles and meta description to get the most out of the click-through rates

When you tweak your existing titles and meta descriptions it is possible to get amazing results in terms of driving traffic on your website. If you need to get a fair picture about your prevailing CTRs follow the steps given below:

  1. Open Google Search Console > Search Traffic > Search Analytics.
  2. Next, filter by URL.

This will show up the CTR for every page on your website.

If you closely look at the history of our blog “Crack the SEO Basics in the Next 24 Hours (A Must-Have Guide for Decoding the Google Rankings)” you will find that it was earlier titled “What is SEO?” Which one of the two looks better? The first one, right?

So, the next time you write on a topic experiment with your headlines and meta descriptions by using Google Adwords or running ads on Facebook. This will help you to zero-in on the best ways to get the most out of the click-through rates.


Concluding Thoughts

We hope that you would have gained a lot from these SEO mistakes that we experienced while embarking on the journey to take our website on top of SERP rankings. Take this point into consideration: Old methods of SEO are no longer in trend. The only way to win the race is by modernizing your tactics in order to sustain in this competitive business world. Remember, change is the only constant. Always be flexible to the changing trends in SEO and you will reap the benefits of getting on top of SERP rankings slowly but surely!


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