Google SEO: The 10 worst mistakes – and easy fixes

If you make bad SEO mistakes, you won't be thrown into Google prison. Instead, you'll simply end up in the back rows of search results, where nobody can find you.
Google SEO professional

Google SEO check: Do you have it under control?

Avoid the 10 worst mistakes – and learn how to do it right instead

Table of Contents

The 10 worst Google SEO mistakes

There are a variety of mistakes that companies can make when conducting search engine optimization (SEO). Some of the worst mistakes are:

  1. Keyword spamming: Overusing keywords in texts, meta-tags, or URLs can lead to search engines penalizing a website. It’s important to create natural and readable texts and use keywords appropriately.
  2. Duplicate content: It’s important to ensure that the content of a website is unique and relevant, as duplicate content (same content on two pages) can lead to search engines penalizing a website.
  3. Link buying: Purchasing links from other websites with the aim of artificially improving search result rankings can lead to penalties from search engines.
  4. Lack of mobile optimization: With more users using smartphones or tablets to browse the internet, it’s essential that your website is well displayed on all devices and has fast loading times (see PageSpeed).
  5. PageSpeed: Excessive loading times can negatively impact the user experience and lead to users bouncing off the website. As a rule of thumb, a webpage should load its first elements in less than 7 seconds to achieve a satisfactory user experience. Studies show that with each additional second of loading time, the bounce rate dramatically increases. Your PageSpeed depends on various factors such as image size, programming, and your server. To learn more, continue reading about the seven elements of successful websites.You can test the loading time of your website on the PageSpeed testing page of Google.
  6. Lack of user-friendliness: Focusing too much on search engine optimization and neglecting the user experience can result in a poor user experience and lower search rankings. What do users really want to see? What features do they need? What style of writing do they prefer? Learn how to write user-centered texts here.
  7. Cloaking: Displaying different content to search engines than what users see can lead to search engines penalizing a website.
  8. Missing structured data: Not using correct structured data for search engines, such as Schema markup, can lead to lower rankings in search results. Learn more about Schema at This also includes having an XML sitemap that makes it easier for Google to crawl your website.
  9. Ignoring Google Webmaster Guidelines: Not adhering to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines can lead to search engine penalties.
  10. Missing meta tags: Meta tags, especially the meta title (page title) and meta description (description) of your website, are relevant for Google to display them in its search results pages. Nowadays, including a post or page photo is also standard. If you don’t add these, Google will choose for you – and you don’t want that.

It’s important to avoid these and other mistakes to successfully conduct Google SEO and promote organic traffic growth.

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Google SEO mistakes made by well-known companies

Some examples of companies caught trying to outsmart Google’s search engine optimization include:

BMW Deutschland: In 2006, BMW Deutschland was penalized by Google for using doorway pages, which are pages created solely to perform well in search engine results. 

J.C. Penney: In 2011, the retail giant was caught buying links to improve its search ranking. Google penalized the company, significantly dropping its position in search results.

Rap Genius: In 2013, the song lyrics website was caught buying links to improve its search ranking. Google penalized the company, causing it to significantly drop in search results. In 2013, the online retailer was caught using a technique called “link cloaking,” where search engines were shown one version of a page while users were shown another version.

Interflora: In 2013, Interflora was penalized by Google for buying links to improve its ranking.

Forbes: In 2014, Forbes was caught using a technique called “artificial co-citation,” where links to articles on their own website were embedded in articles written by other authors to improve their own rankings.

These are just a few examples of companies attempting to trick search engines to improve their rankings. They all regretted it.

What an optimal Google SEO strategy and implementation look like

A successful SEO strategy and implementation should include the following points:

Keyword research: A thorough analysis of relevant keywords and phrases is the first step in optimizing a website for search engines. This allows companies to align their content with the needs of their target audience and ensure that it is found by the right people.
On-page optimization: To achieve good visibility in search results, it is essential to optimize the website for the selected keywords. This includes using keywords in meta tags, headings, and website text, as well as optimizing loading times and creating high-quality content.
Off-page optimization: This includes creating backlinks from other websites and improving the visibility and reputation of your website on social media and other online communities.
Technical optimization: It is important to optimize the technical aspects of the website, including loading times, code structure, structured data, hosting, and more.

Google SEO: our conclusion

No matter how many tricks and shortcuts you try, SEO is like a huge puzzle – it’s best to put all the pieces together neatly instead of trying to bypass the rules. Or as my grandma always says: cheating brings nothing but trouble and penalties!

Are you interested in Google SEO? We look forward to your non-binding inquiry.