Dallas based SEO & conversion rate optimization / SEO Audit Expert Says Look out!
Optimizing your website and blog for maximum search engine visibility continues to be important, even with the rise of other inbound marketing methods. In fact, content marketing, by far the most popular inbound marketing strategy, relies so much on solid SEO to be truly effective. It helps to think of content marketing as handling the content creation process, while SEO takes care of distribution and acceleration.
But because SEO practices rely on Google’s search engine updates, it also means that marketers must constantly adapt to the changing landscape of search, not to mention the changes in users’ search habits. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that SEO is still on top of many marketers’ priority list of strategies.
Obviously, it’s not easy trying to keep up with the most effective SEO techniques, so much so that many marketers end up making costly SEO mistakes. One way of ‘keeping up’ the smart way is knowing what not to do instead. In this guide, we go over a few of the most common SEO mistakes you should avoid to prevent your website’s search rankings from being hurt.
1. You’re Using Irrelevant Keywords
The point of using keywords is to make your website, your ads, and all your other content assets relevant.
So the question is: How relevant are your keywords?
One of the most common mistakes that can cripple an SEO campaign is focusing on short generic keywords (with high competition, mind you), and neglecting the value of long-tail keywords.
While your business’ products and services might fall under one set of keywords that you think might be relevant, it’s also important to consider how your actual potential customers search for your brand and offerings on Google. And more often than not, people do so by using long-tail search terms, which usually fall outside of the typical marketer’s radar.
The key is to be more careful and thorough with your keyword research. Use as many tools as you can, whether it’s Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Moz, or Google Trends. Better yet, just ask your customers how they found you on Google and what search terms they used.
2. You’re Still Spamming Keywords
Sure, in the old days, you could get away with stuffing your landing pages and blog posts with keywords to game search engines into boosting your rankings. But that was before Penguin and Panda, Google’s search algorithms that effectively ended blackhat SEO techniques and prioritized the creation of original high-quality content to create authority and better rankings.
And even back in the day, such practices were already deemed unethical because they provided little or no value at all to a brand’s customers. Unfortunately, the practice of stuffing content with target keywords continues today, even if Google has made it clear that spammy content will only result in a penalty to rankings.
But don’t get tricked into thinking keywords are the be all and end all of SEO. In fact, keyword placement might soon become irrelevant, with Google employing Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), an indexing method that allows the search engine bots to understand the content topic without the need for signaling them with target keywords.
In other words, a time may come that search engines will be so smart they’ll immediately understand what you’re trying to say in your website content or blog without having to rely on keywords.
3. Your Content is Misleading
While keywords should not be your only focus in your SEO efforts, it’s still important to make sure that whatever content you produce is actually related to your target keywords.
Say you want to rank for a certain keyword: restaurants in New York City. That’s fine, but any content you create should also focus on a topic related to that keyword—you can’t write about cookware or shopping tips.
This might seem like common sense, but many marketers actually make the mistake of trying to fit as many topics into a single content asset, which ends up not being relevant to the keywords it’s trying to aim for. A slightly different version of this mistake is to use too many keywords in one piece of content, giving it no direction.
Google wants you to use content that’s actually relevant to the search terms people are using. So if you’re going to use specific keywords, make sure your content answers the needs of people that use those terms when looking for you.
4. Your Content Isn’t Original
If Google’s Panda update made anything clear, it’s that quality will always trump quantity, at least as far as content is concerned.
In the old days, it was common to duplicate or spin text-based content for as many private blog networks (PBNs) and other link farms. It worked for a while before Penguin and Panda too.
Fortunately, that practice has since been banned, resulting in a search engine penalty.
But if you’re smart, you don’t have to worry about best content practices. You’ll have made sure your content is:
- Well written
Copying and plagiarizing content from other sites is not only unethical, it might also result in your site being banned from the search engine results pages (SERPs). Remember that there are no shortcuts to content marketing.
5. You Have Low-Quality Links
One of Google’s key ranking signals is a healthy link profile that clearly shows your site’s authority. To achieve this, you need high-quality links coming from relevant, high-quality content across a diverse array of sites.
Some key notes on effective link building include the following:
- More than anything, Google cares about how important the sites linking to you are.
- The higher the authority and the older the indexed age of the site, the more weight and influence it has over your rankings.
- Google also cares about the quality of the content your links are coming from—think news articles from media outlets.
- In addition, Google is also looking for diversity in IP links, as an added guarantee that they’re not manufactured from one source.
- Avoid ineffective anchor text. The anchor text should signal both the reader and the search engine about the context and value of the link. So, stay away from the practice of adding a link to the text ‘Click here.’
6. You’re Ignoring Your Meta Titles and Descriptions
The process of optimizing your site and its content for a search engine like Google doesn’t end once you’ve inserted your target keywords into your landing pages and blog posts. Don’t ignore the value of optimizing your meta titles and descriptions, both of which are critical SEO elements that too many marketers ignore.
It’s not exactly a deal breaker for your rankings, but ignoring them means that you’re also ignoring the potential gains your content can get in search visibility. Just know that search engine bots will always crawl a site’s meta data. If it’s done properly, these factors can improve the performance of your landing pages and onsite content.
Likewise, don’t ignore the power of optimizing images. All images on your site and content should have relevant alt tags, which search bots will use to identify the content you have on your page, adding it the information affecting how your pages are indexed.
SEO continues to be a crucial component of any inbound marketing strategy, especially on the content marketing side of things. While this guide should help you avoid some common SEO mistakes, be sure that you understand what challenges other marketers have faced in their efforts to improve their rankings. This will help you understand why these mistakes are so common in the first place.