The purpose of a search engine is to send its users to websites with the most relevant content based on the intent of the user’s search queries. The goal of search engine optimization is to optimize a site to rank higher in organic search results to attract its target audience. Good SEO is achieved by doing things like creating high-quality content for your audience, building a responsive and mobile-friendly website, and providing your visitors with a good user experience.
Unfortunately, many webmasters and internet marketers make SEO mistakes that can get their site ignored or even penalized by search engines. (Severe SEO penalties – like plagiarism – will get your website banned by Google). The likely result is a massive drop in search engine traffic to your site, as well as fewer customers. Therefore, you want to avoid these costly mistakes and penalties at all costs by educating yourself on what to avoid.
Here are 10 SEO mistakes to avoid.
1. Not Knowing Your Target Audience
You can’t have good SEO without understanding your audience and what they are searching for online. Therefore, you need to conduct market research to know your audience and understand their consumer behavior within your internet marketing niche.
One of the most common mistakes that webmasters and internet marketers make when selecting keywords for their content is to overlook the growing SEO importance of using long-tail keywords. That’s because most search engine queries are conducted using search phrases (long-tail keywords), instead of single keywords. Failing to understand your audience and what they are searching for online means that you will miss out on using the most relevant long-tail keywords.
Consumer Research Tips:
- Examine your internet marketing niche and the way that consumers make purchasing decisions.
- Analyze both historical and real-time data to understand changes in consumer behavior.
- Use the information that you learn about your target audience in your keyword research.
- Take advantage of the Google Keyword Planner tool, as well as other free keyword research tools.
2. Failing to Create an SEO Strategy
In addition to knowing your audience, good SEO also depends on having a good SEO strategy. Without creating and implementing a clear plan, all of the time and money invested will be for nothing. On average, only about one-third of small businesses have an SEO strategy. That puts many small businesses at a huge disadvantage – especially since larger businesses have so many competitive advantages (like more money and resources) in most internet marketing niches.
Here are some important tips on how to create your SEO roadmap for success:
- Get to know your competition – search engine rankings, content and keywords, and their performance.
- Establish measurable goals – and the tasks needed to achieve them.
- Assign specific tasks to each of your team members.
- Search for innovative technologies that will assist with implementing your SEO strategy.
3. Not Creating High-Quality Content
When it comes to good SEO, good content is king – as long as it’s relevant and useful to your audience. In fact, it’s probably one of the most important components that help determine your site’s search engine rankings. Unfortunately, many webmasters and internet marketers are still guilty of publishing low quality content that’s not valuable to their audience. In addition to hurting your site’s user experience, publishing poor quality content will also hurt its SEO and conversion rate as well.
You should avoid these common mistakes that lead to low quality content:
- Focusing on the quantity of your content instead of the quality of your content.
- Overusing keywords – also known as keyword stuffing.
- Creating content for search engines instead of your target audience.
- Publishing content that contains incorrect and/or outdated information.
Here are some tips on how to create high-quality, SEO-friendly content for your audience:
- Make sure that your content creation and SEO strategies are aligned to work toward the same goals – per your SEO roadmap.
- Create content that answers your audience’s questions related to your internet marketing niche.
- Create multiple types of content to boost audience engagement – text, images, infographics, and videos.
- Review Google’s SEO best practices.
4. Publishing Plagiarized Content
Publishing non-original content on your blog or website can not only earn your site severe SEO penalties, but it can get your site banned by Google as well. Plus, the original content owner can take legal action against you for copyright theft. Many webmasters and internet marketers don’t realize that rewriting an article and publishing the spun content is still plagiarism if you don’t have permission to rebrand and reuse the material.
Therefore, you should only publish unique content on your blog or website to serve your audience well and be SEO-friendly. You can hire an SEO copywriter to “write your site” for you – or buy premium articles from a high-end content writing services. However, both of those options require a bigger investment of money. That’s why a lot of webmasters, internet marketers, and small business owners buy rebrandable content – usually the usage writes to high-quality articles that they can rewrite (to make the material unique and SEO-friendly) and publish on their site. Rewriting articles into unique content isn’t hard if the articles are professionally-written.
5. Ignoring the Importance of Title Tags
Optimizing your content for good SEO is about more than just finding the right keywords to use in your articles, blog posts, and website copy. Your site’s title tags are also an important component of SEO because they tell search engines what your content is about. Unfortunately, many bloggers and website owners overlook the importance of optimizing their title tags for higher organic search rankings. However, skipping them is a big SEO mistake!
Here are some tips on how to optimize your site’s title tags for better search engine results:
- Write short but descriptive unique title tags for each web page – aim for 60 characters.
- Use keywords that are relevant to both your content and target audience.
- Avoid using too many keywords in each title tag – otherwise, they will lose their value.
- When in doubt, reference Google’s best practices.
You also don’t want to forget about optimizing your site’s alt tags either. Alt tags tell search engines what your images are about – since they can’t see images.
6. Missing Out on Quality Links
If you want to get the most SEO ‘bang for your buck’ – then you need to include quality external links to authoritative websites when doing so enhances the value of your site’s content. Just make sure that they content you are linking to is relevant and useful to your audience. (You don’t want to send your visitors to spammy sites).
You should also link back to reputable websites that have linked to your site as a way to bring back traffic to your site in the future. However, don’t buy into any link building programs as doing so can earn your site SEO penalties from Google. Instead, link building should be organic.
When you do add quality links to your content, make sure that you use good anchor text to maximize their SEO value. (Avoid using phrases like “click here” in your anchor text). You will want to periodically check for broken links.
7. Going Crazy With Your Internal Links
In addition to placing quality external links throughout your content, you should also include internal links between your articles, blog posts, and web pages. However, you should only include them in your content when they are relevant to the topic. Many webmasters make the SEO mistake of internal links just for the sake of having them – regardless of their relevance. Just like keyword stuffing, you want to make sure that you don’t over do it when it comes to using internal links – because search engines can penalize your site.
Here are some tips on building SEO-friendly internal links:
- Group topically-related content (articles, blog posts, and web pages) together to make it easier for your visitors to find relevant information.
- Avoid linking to irrelevant content.
- Regularly audit your internal links for issues like broken links and slow loading pages.
When done correctly, adding internal links to your content can improve your site’s user experience and SEO.
8. Not Investing in a Responsive and Mobile-Friendly Site
Good SEO is about more than just the quality of your content and keywords. It’s also about the quality of your website – particularly the user experience that it offers visitors. For example, websites that are slow to load (most visitors will leave a site that takes longer than five seconds to load and will never return) and/or not very mobile-friendly (most users now browse the Internet from mobile devices) create a poor user experience for visitors. Google and other search engines rate the speed of a website, as well as how it functions on mobile devices, when determining its search rankings. As you can probably guess, sites that a re slow to load and not very mobile-friendly don’t rank well. Plus, your visitors won’t be able to view all of your content.
Here are some tips to make sure that your site offers a fast and mobile-friendly experience for visitors:
- Test your website’s speed to ensure that it loads quickly on all device types. Google offers a free site speed test.
- Make sure that your site has a responsive design to make it easy for visitors to browse using mobile devices.
- Compress large files on your site to make them load faster.
9. Not Integrating SEO With Other Digital Marketing Channels
Failing to integrate your SEO strategy with your brand’s other digital marketing channels (email marketing, social media, search engine marketing, and public relations) means that your business will miss out on measuring its full impact. Without the support of those key marketing channels, you won’t (likely) be able to analyze the true success (or failure) of your investments. Therefore, don’t make the mistake of failing to understand how SEO works across all of your digital marketing channels.
10. Not Using Analytics to Study Your Traffic
Finally, don’t make the mistake of not reviewing your website’s analytics on a regular basis. The only way that you can truly measure your SEO and content marketing efforts is to use analytical tools (like Google Analytics) to study your traffic. For example, you can find out your traffic sources, the keywords (search phrases) that your visitors use in search engines to find your site, bounce rate, and the average number of pages that your visitors browse. You can get key insights into your most popular web pages as well. Failing to analyze your traffic means that you will (likely) fail to fully achieve your SEO goals. Furthermore, you will also (likely) fail to increase your online sales and grow your business.