Search engine optimization (SEO) has evolved from being a siloed function to a lucrative revenue channel. It has become a crucial part of other digital marketing strategies, such as content marketing, and is the most important thing when it comes to ranking on search engines. This is particularly true after Google became the major source of referral traffic, accounting for 35% of site visits, and there was a decrease in social media’s importance in driving traffic.
Ranking on the second or third search engine result page isn’t difficult, but making it to the first page is quite challenging. However, the good news is that to achieve your goal, all you need to do is avoid a few simple mistakes you might be making unknowingly.
In this guide, we’ll take you through some top SEO mistakes and provide expert advice on how to avoid them.
Having Vague SEO Goals
Before setting out on your SEO journey, you need to have clear cut goals in mind. Without knowing what you want to achieve from SEO, you’ll never be able to improve your online presence and grow.
Hence, document a proper SEO strategy that outlines the goals and how you want to achieve them. Your goals will depend on your current situation. For example, if your SEO tool is repeatedly showing a high bounce rate, your goal can be to decrease the bounce rate or boost visitor time on pages. If you’ve been getting a lot of traffic that won’t convert, your goal would be to attract more qualified traffic. The most common SEO goal is to increase organic traffic.
The ‘how’ part of your plan should cover everything, from SEO web design to keyword selection and on-page and off-page SEO methods you’ll be focusing on.
Optimizing for the Wrong Keywords
One of the top SEO mistakes marketers make is ranking for the wrong keywords. If you choose the wrong keywords, all your efforts to drive web traffic will go to waste. In some instances, you may notice a massive amount of web traffic, but it won’t help achieve any results.
So how can you avoid this? For starters, choose keywords that are not generic. Generic keywords tend to attract an enormous number of visitors who aren’t interested in what you sell. When choosing keywords, you need to be as specific as possible. This may lead to less traffic in the beginning but since it will attract more qualified traffic, your SEO performance will improve in the long term.
When people who are genuinely interested in your business visit your site, they’re much more likely to navigate to multiple pages and stay on your site for longer. Search engines that drove such users to your site track that behavior. They’ll assume that your site offers value to the visitors, which is why users are spending more time on it, and raise your search engine ranking. On the contrary, irrelevant traffic obtained using generic keywords will eventually lower your search engine ranking because a large number of uninterested people will immediately leave your site, drastically increasing your bounce rate.
Many marketers choose keywords that only bring in users looking for free information, such as definitions or concepts. A simple example of such a keyword would be ‘what is SEO?’ No doubt this term will have an enormous level of search volume and will also attract relevant audiences, but it won’t bring in potential buyers. When marketers see the highest search volumes for such keywords on an SEO tool, they’re tempted to pick them.
The correct approach is to also select keywords that will attract potential customers who really want to buy something. For instance, a strong keyword for an SEO agency could be ‘best SEO tools to boost web traffic’. Long-tail keywords like these are genuinely meant to solve problems and tend to attract visitors who are more likely to become your paying customers.
Similarly, certain broad keywords have a lot of competition. Every online marketer wants to use them. Many large companies may even have SEO experts working full-time to rank for those keywords and defend their spot on the first page of search engines. As a startup or growing company, you should avoid optimizing for keywords with stiff competition. If you choose a highly competitive keyword, it will take years of hard work to reach that top spot on Google because many other established websites are already striving to rank high for it. Choose keywords that are relevant but have low competition. As your business grows and gains authority, you can always go for competitive keywords afterward.
Finally, certain businesses are interested in targeting local audiences but they select global keywords. For example, many small clothing sellers who sell locally optimize their website for the keyword ‘best t-shirts for men’. Since people from all over the world are likely using that query, the website will get attract visitors from around the globe. In such a case using a more specific keyword, such as ‘best t-shirts in Houston,’ can and attract local traffic. Likewise, an auto repair shop will be better able to attract a local audience by ranking for ‘auto repairer in San Francisco’ than for ‘auto repair shop’.
Publishing Mediocre Content
Image Credit: MangoMatter Media
Another huge mistake website owners make is including inadequate or low-quality content on their websites. No matter how many pages your website contains and how many backlinks your site has, if visitors don’t find value in your content, they won’t trust you when the time comes to make a purchase decision. It’s important to understand what type of content is ‘king’.
The goal of your content strategy should be to establish yourself as a leader in your industry. The key is to understand your target audience, identify their pain points, and offer solutions to their problems through your content. This can include ‘how-to’ guides, comprehensive product reviews, or step-by-step processes relevant to your industry. The more detailed these resources are, the more helpful they’re likely to be for the readers. According to research, the average length of content for a webpage that appears in the top 10 Google search results for any keyword is at least 2000 words. However, this doesn’t mean quantity is everything. Quality is equally important.
When producing content, most people make two common mistakes:
- They use article spinners, software programs that attempt to paraphrase another article found on the internet to develop new, unique content.
- They hire low-paid freelance writers to develop content.
However, it’s important to understand a few things. First of all, it’s important to understand that high-quality content is something robots can’t manage. No matter how sophisticated an application is, it can’t produce valuable content simply because it’s not human. Since these solutions rely on ‘rewording’ and some grammar rules, many sentences won’t make sense at all. Readers can tell whether the content is unique and valuable.
Likewise, outsourcing content creation to low-paid writers can significantly hurt your brand image. Low paid freelancers are typically foreign writers for whom English is not the first language. No matter how informational the content is, a simple grammatical error can prove off-putting for native English readers. Even if the content is error-free, if it deviates from the wordings and tone used in the country you’re targeting, readers will move on.
So, how can you create a large quantity of valuable content and make your site authentic in the eyes of search engines? In other words, you need in-depth, high-quality content to deliver value to visitors. How do you achieve that? Think of content marketing as an investment. Hire native English writers and possibly those who specialize in your field and will produce original, conversion-oriented content. They’ll certainly charge you more, but you’ll get something you’ll be proud to publish on your site!
If you are interested in pursuing outsourced content from a quality agency, please contact us for more information. We do provide this service.
Not Optimizing for Mobile Devices
The importance of a mobile-friendly website can be judged by the fact that more than 50% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. In fact, according to 2020 Google Search Stats, 63% of the US organic traffic on Google came from mobile devices. While this trend has been consistent since the beginning of 2017, a large number of online marketers still ignore it.
Considering the massive number of mobile searches, Google has become increasingly conscious about the performance of sites on mobile devices. Search engines view sites that are not optimized for mobile as unfriendly, thus making mobile-friendliness an important ranking factor.
To achieve SEO success and business growth, start optimizing your website for mobile devices from today. The most important areas to address include slow site loading speeds on mobile devices, slow loading of videos and images, non-responsive web design, blocking of files, and interstitial ads.
To reduce the chances of bounces, improve the load time of your site, set up a responsive design to allow for easy navigation around the site, and create mobile-optimized content to offer a seamless mobile user experience.
Ignoring SEO During Website Development
SEO starts from the web development stage. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t realize that. They start focusing on SEO after the website has been created and gone live.
When it comes to optimizing your site for mobile devices, you might see improvements in website loading on mobile devices by simply compressing the image sizes, but nothing matches the results produced by setting up a fully mobile responsive site. To develop a fully mobile responsive site, you need to work on your site’s mobile-friendliness from the web development stage. There are various methods in the web design process that help improve mobile-friendliness or how it appears on mobile devices. For example, one of the best approaches is to add Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to your site during the web development stage. AMP is an open-source HTML framework created by Google itself. It’s optimized for mobile browsing so that your webpages load faster on mobile devices.
In addition, your site’s SEO performance also depends on the user experience. Offering a great user experience will ensure that people stay on your site for longer and also return afterward. To provide a seamless user experience to site visitors, every element of your site needs to be user-friendly and consistent. For example, a short, well-thought-out menu will allow for easy navigation and facilitate visitors to quickly find what they’re looking for. Similarly, the search bar and CTAs should be placed properly so they can be easily noticed and found. The colors and graphics should truly represent your brand or company. The brand colors and other elements should be consistent on each webpage so that visitors don’t feel they’re suddenly on another site. All these aspects associated with user experience are configured at the backend during the web development process. If you don’t keep SEO in mind during the web development stage, you won’t be able to plan for an optimum user experience. Paying attention to SEO during web development, on the other hand, will optimize your site for high lead generation and conversions.
These were some of the top SEO mistakes marketers make in the digital marketing world. Now that you’re familiar with them, be sure to avoid them as you work on SEO. Since the first step to achieve a high Google ranking is to get the right web design, make sure you choose your web development agency wisely.
Nora Kramer Designs has been developing SEO-optimized websites for over 25 years. To learn about our website design process, take a look at this resource, or book a call today. We also offer content creation and copywriting services to help you increase the SEO of your website.