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12 Annoying SEO Mistakes Every Startup Should Avoid

annoying seo mistakes startup

What one thing can startups do to improve their website’s overall SEO score?

I’ve been asked this question a lot recently.

It is not an easy question to answer, simply because there are so many factors that go into making your startup visible online.

These range from content writing, to backlinks and keyword research.

Most startups simply don’t pay enough attention to their website architecture to make it search engine friendly, and this can cause a lot of problems down the line.

In order to help you avoid these mistakes, I’m going to focus on 12 key areas that need your attention from the start.

Whether you’re taking the “Do It Yourself” approach or hiring an SEO agency, here are 12 annoying SEO mistakes startups need to stop making if they want to see traffic grow for their website.

1. Choosing the wrong keywords

Choosing the right keywords is one of the most important tasks when it comes to SEO. Choosing the wrong keywords can have an unintended, sometimes (hilariously) tragic impact.

You need to make sure you’re choosing keywords that are relevant and easy to rank for.


The above example might be too extreme, but you get the idea. 

Choosing the wrong keywords (even unknowingly) can drastically affect your website’s overall SEO score and brand reputation.

Choosing keywords without any research will not only cause confusion, but it will also make your website look untrustworthy to your users, and ultimately to the search engines.

Your content needs to be focused on a particular keyword so you rank for it more quickly, rather than wasting time trying to rank for multiple keywords at once.

The easiest way of going about this is by using keyword tools like SemRush or Google Keywords Planner and doing some research into which terms people are searching for that are relevant to your business.

Once you have a list of keywords, you need to incorporate them into your website content.

The easiest way of doing this is by using keywords in your URL, page titles, and meta descriptions.

Don’t forget to include them in your content too!

If you need help with keyword research, check out a useful guide here.

2. Not using keywords in titles or descriptions

Most people forget to include their main keywords in their titles or descriptions.  This is a mistake that can have a huge impact on your search engine visibility, so don’t let your website fall victim to it.

As mentioned above, you need to incorporate your chosen keyword phrases into the title and meta description of every page on your site. This will help search engines understand what your page is about and improve its chances of ranking for those terms.


Let’s say you want to rank for the term “SEO Services” in your target location London.

A wrong example would look like this:

Page title: Services – SEO Services –

Page URL:

A good example would look like this:

Page title: SEO Services in London for Small Businesses

Page URL:

This way, you’re using the keyword “SEO Services” in your website’s prominent places. Once in your title and once in your URL, which is important for helping you rank.

Using your keywords (in this case “SEO Services”) in prominent places like title, description, URL, page content, image alt-texts, etc, will have a huge impact on your search engine optimization.

3. Not publishing enough content

This is another common mistake I see with startups.

Most often, they start blogging once their website is up and running.  

However, without publishing enough content on a regular basis, you won’t be able to get any readers or improve your search engine rankings.

So the key here is to publish fresh content on a consistent basis.

The easiest way of doing this is by setting up an editorial calendar to map out your blog topics in advance.

This will ensure you don’t run out of ideas and can schedule a time to work on new posts well ahead of time so you know when they’ll be published and can market them accordingly.

4. Publishing low-quality content

Publishing low-quality or duplicate content will do you more harm than good.

Before publishing your content, take the time to read it through and make sure there are no grammatical mistakes or spelling errors that may lower your site’s quality score in Google’s eyes.  

Also, avoid publishing “keyword stuffing” articles – these won’t help you rank for anything in particular because they don’t offer much in terms of value to readers.

Keyword Stuffing is when you repeat the main keyword over and over again within the text.

Another crucial thing you need to do is cite all sources that you reference in your blog post.

For example, if you mention an article from another blog or website, make sure to link back to it.

Not only will this keep your readers interested by providing them with fresh content and sources, but it will also give you a better chance of ranking for those keywords since you’re not spamming the web with duplicate content.

5. Having a slow website

If people are waiting more than 3 seconds for your page to load, chances are they’re not going to stick around once they get there. And if they don’t stick around, it’s unlikely anyone’s ever going to find your content organically through search engines either.

One of the most important things you can do when creating a website is optimizing its speed. Fortunately, this is a fairly easy process that can have a great impact on your SEO efforts.

More often than not, the problem is that you’re using a shared hosting provider. In this case, you can try switching to a VPS or dedicated server to drastically improve the load time of your website.

Shared hosting is suitable for websites that don’t get much traffic or are fairly new. Once your website starts growing, you’ll want to switch to a more advanced hosting option.

Once you find the right hosting provider, make sure to install a caching plugin on your website. There are dozens of plugins available for free, so this step shouldn’t be too difficult.

To no surprise, Google has made it clear that speed matters to them and if you’re not offering a fast enough experience to your users, chances are they won’t stick around for very long. 

On the contrary, if your website loads fast and your users stick around for a while, Google will reward you by helping you rank higher in search results.

Since Google announced that they use page speed as a ranking factor, I’ve seen tremendous improvements regarding the average load time of websites and how quickly people bounce off them (people sticking around) once landing on their pages.

To make sure your website is fast enough, Google suggests that you go over what they have on their site speed insights tool.

It seems like every SEO blog these days mentions content marketing. And for good reason, because it works.

But don’t just focus on one over the other – both tactics work well together and should be used simultaneously.

In fact, I strongly believe that your focus should be on publishing high-quality content first and then using that to attract backlinks from authority sites or blogs.

Trying to rank higher by focusing solely on link building is a recipe for disaster that will only hurt you in the long run.

On one hand, you need quality links pointing to your site, but it’s difficult to get those if nobody knows about your website in the first place.

So how do you break this cycle?

By creating amazing content people want to share.

If people like your content, they’ll naturally want to share it on social media and this will increase the reach of your website.

After that, it’s all about getting links from places that are influential in your industry.

7. Not using local or geographic modifiers

When people think of SEO, they often think about keywords and making sure they’re targeting the right ones. And while that’s certainly important, it’s not quite as important as using geo-specific modifiers on your website.

What’s a geo modifier you ask?

It’s what you add to your website that’ll help it rank higher in search results for certain locations.

This is usually an address, city name, or state (depending on what type of business you have).

For example, let’s say you’re targeting the keyword “Men’s Salon in NYC” and someone types this into Google:

“men’s salon 65th St new york”

Your website will show up even though you didn’t target this keyword. However, Google has the ability to understand that they’re very similar keywords and your website will rank higher for them since it’s more relevant than your competitors.

One last tip when using geographic modifiers is to not overdo it.

The idea is to make sure your content is focused on a specific location (i.e., NYC).

Use geo-specific modifiers sparingly, typically 2-4 times on your page. If you use too many, Google may think that you’re trying to spam their algorithm and thus rank you lower for these types of keywords in the future.

So be smart and use this technique primarily to help your website visitor and not to outsmart Google.

8. Ignoring mobile searchers

If you’re running a business, there’s no reason why your website shouldn’t be optimized for mobile.

Not only will this help you rank higher in Google’s results, but it’ll also provide a better experience to the user that has a limited amount of time and patience.

As the image below shows, more people are using mobile devices to browse the internet than ever before.

No matter what industry you’re in, if people have questions, they want answers quickly – and your website needs to be mobile-friendly so they can get those answers from wherever they might be at the moment.

The volume of mobile searches is only going to increase, so your website needs to be mobile-friendly now.

9. Failing to use video, images, local listings and social media.

The internet is highly visual these days and if you want your website to stand out, you need to make sure it looks appealing.

As the chart below shows, online consumers are more likely to buy a product or service if it has an image attached to it.

You may have noticed that some of the big brands around today have videos on their landing pages. And while they’re not always ranking higher than other competitors, there’s no doubt that consumers are drawn to them.

For local businesses especially, images can help fill in the gaps where potential customers lack information about your services or offerings – making them more likely to visit your business instead of someone else’s.

That being said, when it comes to images they should be unique and provide the viewer with additional information that supports your content.

For example, you can have a picture of your restaurant in front of an iconic landmark in the area – making the person viewing it feel like they’re already there at your establishment!

10. Neglecting to monitor rankings regularly.

This is one of the easiest mistakes to make because it’s incredibly easy to do – especially for business owners who are focused on other areas of their company.

Unfortunately, this can cause problems down the line because you won’t have any data about your rankings, traffic or how people are finding your website.

SEO isn’t a one-and-done sort of tactic that you use just once to rank higher. It needs constant monitoring and adjusting in order to stay current with changing algorithms and user preferences.

For example, if someone at Google decides they want people to find certain types of content more relevant than others, then your rankings may drop without warning.

To keep up with these important changes, all you need is a keyword tracking tool like RankMath (for WordPress sites), Ahrefs rank tracker and Rank Tracker from Link Assistant.

By regularly monitoring your rankings, you will know when something isn’t right and can fix the problem before it causes major damage.

Google works hard to understand the value of a link so that it can give website owners with valuable, relevant content an edge over their competition.

But this isn’t something that you can take advantage of overnight.

Link-building is done over time by creating high-quality content that people want to read and share. And by publishing this content on reputable sites, you’re not only getting more people to view your content but also increases the chance that they link back to it.

For example, say you’re a plumber and you write an article about clogged drains that people find useful.

You then publish the article on other relevant blogs and websites that people visit regularly – making it more likely that they’ll come across your content, share it with others and link back to your website.

Of course, this can be a long-term strategy that’s not particularly exciting in the short term, but linking is one of the most important parts of online authority building to gain traffic over time so it must be done – regardless of what anyone tells you.

12. Failing to build relationships with industry influencers.

While the internet is full of search results, there are also a number of people who have large followings online whom many trusts for expert opinions on certain topics.

Whether they’re creating videos about building backlinks or sharing their thoughts through blog posts, having them share your content on their site or social profiles is a great way to reach more people online.

This being said, it’s important to do your research and find influencers who are passionate about the topics you write about.

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make with this tactic is going after people too big for their brand.

For example, if you’re a plumber in Lancaster, Pennsylvania you probably shouldn’t be reaching out to Neil Patel or Rand Fishkin who are leaders in the digital marketing space.

Start by finding influencers on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – people with at least 5,000 followers who regularly interact with their audience. 

From there, it’s just a case of sending them a short email sharing your article and asking if they would be willing to share it on their site. Or if they would like to work with you on your idea.

What this tactic does require is patience and a willingness to put in the time required to build a solid reputation online.

Wrapping It Up

For startup owners who are new to search engine optimisation, this list of 12 annoying mistakes provides a helpful guide of what not to do.

Of course, there are many more mistakes that you can make with your website that fall outside the scope of this article.

If you need more information about anything covered here or have any questions, please post a comment below and I’ll be happy to help where I can.

8 Responses

  1. I was diving into this article with a lot of confidence but it seems that I made at least 50% of these mistakes haha 🙂 Great article! Also this tip about using local or geographic modifiers is so good. I literally never heard of this but it makes a perfect sense. On my site, I have there my own address – the issue is that I am based in eastern Europe but I target USA / UK and countries with the English language.. Will see how it performs though – will leave it like that for now. Anyways, great article 🙂

    1. Hi, Tom! Thanks for reading. As far as the geo piece, I struggle with how to position my local SEO for Gaenzle Marketing. I have Lancaster, PA listed. I do work with a lot of businesses in the area, but I also work with businesses in Florida, Minnesota, South Carolina, California, and a number of other states. It’s a difficult one, as you don’t want to miss out on business by being too specific with your location, but you also want to show up in local searches that are relevant. A tough line to walk for sure.

  2. Excellent pointers, Vikas. Anyone can plug SEO configurations like putting keywords into Title, Description, and Heading Tags as soon as he realizes its importance, but it’s 1) The Content’s Quality; 2) Consistency, and 3) the volume of links it brings in – that moves the needle in the right direction.

    Two mistakes I see often:

    a. Either Neglecting the importance of links
    b. OR overdoing them.

    Your post is exactly referring to the real issues as far as it is concerned with startup SEO.

    Good job!

    1. Great points, Shyam. SEO and content marketing should go hand in hand. You can’t do one without the other. You can add all the H tags, internal links, and other elements in the world, but if the content is poor quality, it’s not going to show up, and readers will bounce quickly.

      Lots of people do indeed neglect the importance of link building. It’s such a powerful tool, but it’s often ignored. And overdoing them by placing links in the wrong places is not a good idea either. It’s a fine line.

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