“What are the most common SEO mistakes?” is a pretty common question. We’re all writing content primarily for humans, but search engines come as a *very* close second. So, it is no secret that content writing and SEO go hand in hand. With this in mind, we’ll be taking a look at 8 common SEO mistakes. These tips will help you to stay clear of common traps and correctly optimize content to get even better results on search engines.
Let’s say you just sat down and are ready to write a killer blog post for your website. You’re feeling confident in your topic and have high hopes for shares, conversions, all of it. The content is sitting in your brain, just waiting to get released into cyberspace.
You want your content to achieve its full potential, and it can, but it won’t be easy. You see, by having great quality content half the battle is already won. But in the great war of getting consistently ranked in the SERP (search engine results pages) you need a firm grasp of good SEO. Without it, it is likely that your content will never attract any significant organic traffic.
Unfortunately not all content writers make good use of SEO, which ultimately hurts their ranking. We’re here to guide you to write content in a way that performs well with both humans and robots. After reading this post, you’ll have a clear understanding of expressions such as “keyword stuffing” and “over optimizing”. This will prevent you from committing common SEO mistakes and help you in the long run! So let’s get started.
Common SEO Mistake #1: Writing without an Audience in Mind
This SEO content writing tip is number one for a reason. While this might sound obvious, sometimes businesses make content for all the wrong reasons.
To avoid this and other SEO mistakes, get to know your target audience first. Then, produce well-optimized targeted content. The blogs you write should appeal to them, their interests and their questions.
Consider where your reader might be in their customer journey and use this knowledge in your content marketing strategy. Not all posts need to be directly about your product or service. In order to satisfy the demand of informational searches for instance, it might be worthwhile to produce more informational content. This will help nurture leads and in the future, result in conversions.
Be sure to write headlines that pack a punch. Don’t underestimate the power of an effective headline. Make it clear, interesting and make use of rich keywords.
Common SEO Mistake #2: Underestimating the Power of an Effective Structure
Regardless of the quality level of the writing, posts that are unorganized and presented in an overall inefficient format will hurt your ranking and cost you traffic. Great content deserves a great structure.
Breaking up your content into smaller paragraphs with the appropriate headlines make it easier to follow and will keep your readers engaged for longer. Where applicable, include images and videos related to your topic. This works as a way to illustrate your point while also providing breaks in between text.
Making use of proper hierarchy when tagging headlines (H1 for titles, H2 for subtitles, etc.) is very important for good SEO and structuring any text on your website.
Common SEO Mistake #3: Not Choosing Your Keywords According to Your Audience
SEO is all about the keywords. Ok maybe not ALL. But keywords definitely play a big role in well-optimized content writing. Are you choosing the right ones?
One of the most common SEO mistakes in selecting keywords is to neglect the way searchers might be referring to your product or service. While you might define it in a certain way, in this case it is more important to be able to understand what words your potential customers might be using when searching for what you have to offer.
By anticipating your target audience’s wording choices, you might realize that the terms you considered correct at first mean something different for other people. It may also become clear they are too broad or possibly too technical. In any case – you wouldn’t be optimizing for the right keywords.
It is best to do some background research before you start optimizing. Online SEO tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner and search engines themselves are a good place to start.
Common SEO Mistake #4: Keyword Stuffing
It would be a logical assumption that by using your target keywords on every sentence of your content would boost your ranking. While this was true once upon a time, nowadays this strategy could not be more wrong.
Long story short, search engines’ algorithms are too smart for that. In fact, going overboard with keyword usage is registered as spam by search engines. It actually hurts your website’s ranking.
Along with that, “keyword stuffing” or overusing keywords will likely make your content unnatural and useless for its audience. Uninteresting or not useful text will cause readers to quickly leave your site. Consequently, your website’s bounce rate will increase. These examples of SEO mistakes will hurt your site’s performance.
Common SEO Mistake #5: Not Aligning Your Content to the Chosen Keywords
Here’s another trap in SEO optimization. Let’s say that during your keyword research phase, you’ve come across a keyword you’d like to rank for. So you include it in your text, but then fail to align the content to this keyword. Spoiler: this will hurt your SEO performance.
The reason behind this is that search engines such as Google aim at providing their users with the most relevant content for their searches. Or in other words, if your content does not directly attend to user needs it will also not rank well in the SERP.
This common mistake is usually a result of trying to fit many different topics within a single piece of content, placing quantity of keywords over quality of content, or simply producing low-quality content only for the sake of including keywords. In any case, the best strategy is to stay focused on your target audience’s questions and real needs.
Common SEO Mistake #6: Not Making Use of Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
A title tag is what shows up in search engines and at the top of the browser tab for a page. A meta description is a brief summary of what your page is all about to be displayed on the SERP. As such, they are the first point of interaction between your site and the user.
Make sure you don’t forget about these potential optimizing factors for the performance of your content. Always make sure to not leave your site with a default name – or no name at all. Think about it this way: you wouldn’t put up your business front without a name right? The same applies to your content page. We’d recommend that as you’re creating a good title tag, you should always make sure of the following:
- Each page should have unique content and unique title;
- Each title should have an adequate length with enough information about that specific page. This should range between 50-60 characters;
- No keyword stuffing! While it is important to use keywords on title tags, be careful not to overdo it. Keep it easily readable and reflective of what that page is about.
And on that note, while title tags are the page’s “name”, meta descriptions are a 160 character sales pitch for your page on the SERP. They do not affect ranking directly (which leads websites to often neglect them) but in doing so they miss the opportunity to “sell” a page to a prospective customer and increase click-through rate (CTR).
Ways in which you can make the best possible use of meta descriptions include creating unique descriptions for each page of your website, including relevant keywords and engaging text with the goal of enticing the viewer to click. Including a call to action in this section is often a good way to finish your meta descriptions.
Common SEO Mistake #7: Poor Linking Strategy
Always keep in mind the quality level of the links you include in your text. From an SEO perspective, it is very important to make sure that you are linking to relevant websites with solid reputations. If you fail to do so, this could lead to search engines pushing you down the search results.
On that note, linking away from the core topic of your page might also hurt your ranking. This could signal to the Google bot crawling your website that the page is about something that it is actually not.
Another counterproductive practice when it comes to links is to use meaningless anchor text.
The anchor text signals to the reader and to the search engines what the link is about and how it can be beneficial to users. By using words such as “click here to learn more” or “here” repeatedly not only you waste a precious SEO opportunity but it could also be seen by the search engine as spammy.
Common SEO Mistake #8: Posting Non-Original Content
Last but not least, beware of duplicate content. This is highly discouraged nowadays. Your SEO performance will be penalized by search engines. Google can usually determine the source of the content, and if that was not you not only will your page not rank but the overall website could be negatively impacted. So yeah, definitely not the best idea.
Also, non-original or thin content (content that has less than 300 words) simply does not work. It is always worth it to invest in creating original and meaningful texts – from both a human and search engines perspective. Quality should always come first.
The world wide web is a highly competitive market place. But by consistently writing quality content and staying up to date with the latest SEO trends, you can avoid the common SEO mistakes and get ahead of your competition by boosting your organic traffic.
Stay persistent in your SEO efforts and know that search engine optimization does not happen overnight. By doing so your business is bound to have a successful and effective online marketing strategy, and enjoy the many benefits that come with it.