This post, 5 Common SEO Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, was written by nDash community member Jenn Landers.
Long gone are the days SEO content creators can cram a bunch of keywords into a blog post and have it instantly ranked high. Have you ever had a piece of content fall from your usual high-ranking glory and not know what you did wrong? Here are five common SEO mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Weak Introduction Paragraph
The introduction paragraph has one goal, to encourage people to read the rest of the article. People are busy. There’s a lot of competition vying for a short period of attention. The introduction paragraph needs to inspire people to take time out of their day for this specific piece of content.
When readers don’t choose to read the article, they don’t stay on your page. That is called a bounce. Search engines rank sites with a high bounce rate poorly. More importantly, when a person bounces from your site, they don’t engage with your business or make a purchase. A good introduction paragraph can reduce the bounce rate by 45%, increasing your conversions by 50%.
The introduction doesn’t have to be lengthy to do its job. You can pique a reader’s interest in a couple of short sentences. Remember to target your content to the right stage in the buyer journey, have an interesting hook, and get to the point quickly.
Link stuffing is putting in unnecessary links, both internal and external. Never use them for the sake of having them. As with keywords, only use links when they’re helpful to the user experience.
Use external links based on the quality of the link, not the quantity of how many links you can stuff into an article. Try not to put a link in your introduction paragraph. It’s tempting because you want to establish credibility and authority right away. Interesting links upfront can cause a problem. They cause people to either click on the link to leave your site or people keep trying to remember to go back to the link when they finish reading. Both scenarios are opposite to your end goal, engaging readers with your content.
When using internal links, avoid linking irrelevant pages. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to provide links to other pages on your site. We want people to stay and engage with multiple pages. If the page isn’t relevant to the article, readers will get confused about why you brought them there and will bounce off the page.
Staying away from Long-tailed keywords
Keywords are one of the most well-known SEO tactics. A long-tail keyword is a specific keyword phrase. Some marketers shy away from long-tailed keywords because of search frequency compared to short keywords. Being specific targets customers who are further along the buyer journey. They are searched less frequently, but the prospects that use them are going to be well-qualified buyers. A defined set of long-tailed keywords attract your ideal customers and have a positive impact on conversions. As with short keywords, avoid crafting poor content for the sake of keywords. Focus on creating content that is authoritative and trustworthy.
Using the Wrong SEO Tools and Tech
SEO is about more than keywords. High-quality sites rank higher because they integrate more SEO tactics. These tactics require the use of the right types of tools and technology for your business. There are platforms to help with keyword research, SEO management, link management, reporting, automation, and much more.
Site performance on mobile devices is an important factor for Google and other search engines. Google uses a mobile-first best practice. That means Googlebot crawls and indexes pages set up to be mobile-friendly before all other pages. You can be using the best SEO tactics in your content, but if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you aren’t likely to rank high on Google.
Another important aspect of your site’s SEO is load speed. People are impatient when it comes to accessing information. 53% of people abandon sites that take over 3 seconds to load. A ten-second delay can result in a 65% reduction in customer satisfaction. That means half the people will leave your slow site, and the ones who stay become less satisfied every second they’re kept waiting.
You’ll only know if your SEO is working if you track the success. Regularly viewing your analytics is essential to optimizing your results. Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console can give you an overview of your performance.
Skipping the Title Tags
A title tag is a clickable headline displayed on a search engine result page (SERPs) for a given result. It’s recommended to keep title tags under 60 characters to have about 90% of your title displayed properly. Not only are title tags the first impression for prospects, but search engines crawl title tags when searching your website.
Other types of tags important to high-ranking content are image tags. Image tags can be technical, but they are important to demonstrating the target of the whole article. Write brief but descriptive tags for each page. Match keywords to the intent in the tags without making title tags too long. Tags might seem overwhelming when you first start using them, but they will quickly become essential to your SEO strategy with practice.
How to Avoid Common SEO Mistakes
Understanding all the complexities of SEO can be a challenge. Like the other aspects of your content creation, it’s vital to develop an SEO plan. Only 36% of small businesses have an SEO plan. There’s no point in knowing all about your audience and then not taking action to maximize your reach. Creating and continually developing an SEO plan is the first and most crucial step to avoiding common SEO mistakes.
After you’ve put your plan in place, look at your competitors. Evaluate and understand their ranking, keywords, content, and performance. Break down your plan into actions and tasks and agree on goals. Make sure your plan includes technology, tools, and platforms to help manage your workflow.
Creating killer SEO content requires a unique skill set. When hiring a content writer, make sure they understand the scope of the SEO required for the article. There’s a difference between market/keyword research and full SEO compliance. Outlining specific SEO skills to look for in your SEO plan will make it easier to find the right writer to balance your team.