Optimizing your website and blog is an essential element of your content marketing strategy. While SEO is changing, it stays on top of marketers’ agendas as it is a powerful way to bring visitors to your company’s outlets and to direct them towards your sales funnel.
SEO methods are constantly evolving due to search engines’ developments and users’ changing perspectives. It is not that easy to stay on top of the most successful optimization techniques, with many businesses falling into the trap of incorrectly doing SEO. Instead of seeing massive traffic and increasing conversion rates, the results can be quite the opposite.
There are some common SEO mistakes that are tough to avoid. Testing optimization approaches is also difficult because you can’t verify your methods in real-time since search engines’ rules are becoming hard to predict.
While the optimization field is ever-evolving, some practices are proving effective, while others are harmful in the long run. Let’s review the top ten common SEO mistakes you should avoid so your business’ website will bring the desired results to match your efforts.
1. Choosing the Wrong Keywords
Optimizing is all about the keywords that you want your website to rank for. But are you are choosing the right ones?
One of the most common mistakes in selecting keywords is neglecting the preference of search engines and users for long-tail keywords. While you might define your products and services in a certain way, it’s more important to understand what words your potential customers would use to refer to them. Sometimes the terms you consider correct might mean something completely different for other people, or could be too generic. In either case, you will be optimizing for all the wrong keywords.
It’s best to do your background research carefully before you start the optimization. Using tools like the Google AdWords KeywordPlanner, Google Trends, SEMrush and Moz Keyword Explorer can help immensely in putting your finger on the pulse of trending and adequate keywords.
2. Using Keyword Stuffing
You might think using your target keywords in every sentence of your content would boost your ratings. That strategy couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, going overboard with using keywords is registered as spammy by search engines, which means it actually hurts your SEO performance.
That’s why keyword ‘stuffing,’ or overusing your intended keywords, is not crucial to your SEO success. Such an approach would make your content unnatural and useless for its intended audience. In fact, Google is employing a special semantic search called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). This program can recognize your content’s topic without the need for stuffing your content with repetitions of your target keywords.
3. Creating Content That’s Not About Your Keywords
Another common pitfall in SEO optimization is producing content that is not actually about your keywords. The problem is that you want to rank for a certain keyword, but you fail to focus the text on your target topic. Search engines like Google want to serve their users with the most relevant content for people’s search terms. Thus, if your content does not answer user needs, it won’t rank well.
This mistake is often a result of trying to fit a few different topics within a single piece of content, creating low-quality work just for the sake of including keywords, or optimizing for multiple keywords in one article. Your primary goal should be to produce content that truly corresponds to the questions and needs of your target audience, including using the right search terms. Then search engines will be able to trace your content as matching the keyword you are optimizing for.
4. Publishing Non-Original Content
This next typical mistake is related to the quality of your content. While duplicating texts was a common practice back in the day, today search engines penalize this approach. Copying and plagiarizing content is seen as a spammy practice and is highly discouraged.
Duplicate and thin content simply doesn’t work. Instead of ripping off copy from other places or using software that ‘spins’ the content into a new shape, it’s worth investing in creating original and meaningful texts. This is the only way to make sure your website doesn’t get downgraded and pushed in the back of search results.
5. Skipping Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
Optimizing your content does not finish once you include a target keyword in your articles. Title tags and meta descriptions are essential elements of SEO that should not be forgotten. Skipping them means a huge missed potential for your content. These optimizing factors are considered by search engines when crawling your website, so if properly done, they can improve the performance of your content.
Another technical detail that content marketers sometimes forget is including image tags. The alt tags of the visuals you include in your content are important, as they are another sign of how you are targeting articles. Search bots cannot see the pictures – but they can read the alt tags and add this information in the way they index your pages.
6. Missing Quality Links
To get the best from SEO, content marketers today should grasp that the quality of external links included in content is more important than their quantity. That’s why it’s better to make sure you link to relevant, well-ranking websites with solid reputations – not just any site. It’s also useful to link back to sites that have linked to you, as this brings back traffic in the future.
Another counterproductive practice when it comes to links is using ineffective anchor text. This wastes precious SEO opportunities, as the anchor texts signify to the reader and to search bots what the link is about and how it can be beneficial to users. Thus, avoid using ‘click here’ as an anchor text and make sure you opt for a variety of anchor texts, as employing the same text over and over again can be seen as spammy.
7. Going Astray with Your Internal Links
There are also common mistakes when including internal links that you should watch out for. Naturally, it’s important to think about your top-performing pages and consider placing links to them in your content. This is a way to give them visibility and create additional traction. But make sure you don’t include internal links just for the sake of having them in an article if they don’t match the topic and focus of the piece.
As with keyword stuffing, it’s crucial to watch out and not overdo internal linking. If the content and links seem unnatural, the work will not be appreciated by your target customers. It would not be favorably treated by search engines either, as it can be seen as a fraudulent practice.
8. Not Investing in a Fast and Mobile-Friendly Experience
SEO optimization is not only about content and keywords. It’s also about the quality of your website, particularly its performance on mobile devices, which are users’ top choice today. Google and other search engines can recognize when your website is not mobile-friendly (think about the Mobilegeddon update).
If you haven’t considered a smooth mobile experience for your audience, your rating on search engines can be jeopardized. The same goes for load speed, as search engines put an emphasis on that as well. You shouldn’t be surprised if a slow website leads to lower SERP. You can use online tools like Pingdom and GT Metrix to analyze where the speed problems come from and how to fix them.
9. Not Using the Power of Influencers for Social Media Interactions
Optimization has a social dimension as well. When you are sharing your content on social media, one of your main goals is to get the attention of users who have a significant online influence. This means their content gets noticed by both your target audience and by search engines. That’s why it’s important to create relationships with such ‘power users’ and to use their credibility to promote your content.
Another aspect of this is submitting your blog posts or website promo to social sites such as Digg, Reddit, or Quora without having a ‘power user.’ It’s much easier to make noise about your content when the user sharing it has credibility on that network. Building relationships and doing structured outreach via influencers is an indispensable part of your optimization strategy.
10. Forgetting About Analytics
Last but not least, the only way to know if your SEO optimization and content efforts work is to track their progress. Many marketers would disregard the numbers, but this is a serious mistake. Setting up and regularly reviewing your analytics is essential for your optimization results.
Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are just two of the main tools you can use to measure and get an overview of your website’s performance. With their help, you can see how your optimization is working for the different kinds of content and using various strategies you are trying out.
Search engine optimization is an indispensable part of any content marketing strategy today. While you can find plenty of advice online, making a number of typical SEO mistakes is quite common. Instead, it’s better to get well acquainted with the challenges that others have experienced and avoid them in your marketing efforts. These ten errors have proven quite widespread, so they are now easier to recognize before you make them.
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