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Groundhog Day is a bizarre celebration which predicts the arrival of spring based on whether a large rodent sees its shadow. And, of course, it’s the name of the 1993 comedy classic where Bill Murray’s character relives the same day again and again and again.

In the digital world, it’s a fact that people make the same search engine optimization blunders over and over. But luckily for you, avoiding these 5 common SEO mistakes — and improving your ranking on search engine results pages — is much easier than determining when warm weather will strike. Just follow our lead or, erm, shadow.

5 SEO Mistakes to Avoid This Groundhog Day

1. Duplicating Keywords

Sometimes new business owners are their own worst enemy. In order to rank high in the SERPs, you need to post a steady stream of fresh and valuable content that gives your readers new ways to use your products and services in order to improve their lives.

However, when every web page has the same few keywords, Google has to decide which pages to rank highest. Essentially, the content on each page competes for views, which means that even a great post can slip further down the page if you’re not making good use of keywords.

This flawed strategy is known as “keyword cannibalization” because your hard work gets “gobbled up” by other pages on your business website. You can avoid this deadly mistake by using keyword optimization tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Word Tracker to ensure that every page on your site owns a unique keyword.

2. Generic or Non-Existent Title Tags and Descriptions

One of the biggest – and most costly – mistakes that new site managers make is failing to give every web page a unique title and highly-descriptive metadata. Descriptive title (or page) tags and meta descriptions are critical as they offer the best opportunity to direct searchers to your business website. Nailing the title tag for each page is one of the most important and easiest things you can do when it comes to SEO management.

Google reads the 160-character description of your page to guide searchers to your site – so make every character count. Think of this as a mini sales presentation to inform web searchers about your brand. Yoast recommends that your meta description include a call-to-action, the page’s focus keyword, and actionable advice that will compel searchers to click on the link.

3. Bad Experience for Mobile Users

Today, 60 percent of web users access the Internet via mobile devices, which means that responsive design is no longer optional – unless you don’t mind losing customers. Adobe found that almost 80 percent of consumers will leave a page if it doesn’t display properly on their device. This Groundhog Day, make sure that every visitor has the best UX possible whether they come to your e-store or business blog on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop.

4. Slow Page Loads

Slow and steady may have won the race for the tortoise, but today a website or page that loads slowly will send bounce rates through the roof. There are many reasons why your site might be slow to load: redirects, large images, or using a CDN.

If you want to climb up the rank ladder, you have to give your users the best possible experience available, and that means near-instant load times. First, test your page load time with a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom.

If your site is slow, here are four things you can do to improve load times:

  1. Optimize your database routinely
  2. Repair all broken links
  3. Find a faster web-hosting service, like Bluehost
  4. Look for issues in your theme or website templates

5. Ignoring the Locals

Optimizing for mobility, user experience, and performance are all important when you want to rank high on the search results pages. But one area that many business owners overlook is optimizing for local markets.

What does local optimizing mean? Basically, you’ll want to get registered on MerchantCircle, Google Places (like Google My Business or Google Maps), Yelp, and other local-focused business sites. Make sure your business website has all pertinent contact info — for example, phone number, address, and directions — and use your page titles and meta descriptions to add regional keywords.

Bluehost specialists can help you avoid costly mistakes this Groundhog Day. Start with this video that explains the ins and outs of SEO strategies, then give us a call toll-free at 844-303-1727 to discuss ways you can improve your ranking with one of our SEO experts.

Megan Hendrickson

Megan Hendrickson is the content manager at Bluehost. She draws on more than a decade of editorial experience — and a stint at one of the nation’s top business schools — to write about tech, small business, and marketing for the Bluehost blog.

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