5 Common SEO Mistakes To Avoid

So you want to boost your site’s rankings on Google and put your content to work for you. To do that you’re going to need a sound SEO strategy. If “Search Engine Optimization” sounds like a scary, specialized technique you’ll never master, you can stop worrying. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to become a champ in the digital marketing arena. You’ll find it’s really just a matter of knowing your business, anticipating your customers’ needs and having a passion for producing the best product imaginable. Keep in mind the five common SEO mistakes to avoid, and you will do splendidly.

In this article, we’ll show you:

  • How to do good keyword research step-by-step
  • The most popular keyword and analytics tools
  • The importance of creative 404 error pages
  • The most popular site and SEO analytics software
  • The power of evergreen content

1. Poor Keyword Research

Fox Mulder frustrated giphy

That moment when you realize your keyword research was, in fact, subpar.

Failing to research what your customers/consumers/readers are most interested in learning is a surefire way to waste your time and waste your content’s potential to gain a larger audience. Don’t assume you know what your prospective visitors are searching for; do your research first.

Incorporating keywords that are relevant to your customers’ needs in your content is necessary if you want search engines to be able to find and rank your site. In order to incorporate the right keywords, however, you need to know what your target audience is searching for. This will require some research on your end using reliable keyword tools that will provide you with top search queries along with other helpful analytics that will help you choose the right keyword phrases to incorporate into your content.

Most Popular Keyword Tools and Analytics

Some of these keyword tools and analytics services include: HubSpot, BuzzSumoGoogle Keyword Planner and Google Trends. Keep reading, because I’ll go over how Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends can be very powerful tools in determining what your customers are looking for and what you should be talking about.

Create Topic Buckets. Make a list of relevant and important topics based on what you know about your business — “Topic Buckets.” If you’re a tech company like Right Brain Media, your topic buckets might look something like: streaming video, app reviews, product comparison versus articles, etc.

2. Keyword Stuffing Your Content

Louis CK frustrated giphy

When your reader realizes you just strung together a bunch of useless keywords in a pathetic attempt to boost your Google ranking.

If your content is a blatant attempt at leveraging popular keywords in order to boost your site rankings on search engines, your readers are quickly going to lose trust in your content and may well abandon your site altogether.

Although keywords are a big part of SEO, it’s important that you incorporate keyword phrases into your content as naturally and seamlessly as possible. The last thing you want is “stuff” keywords into your site and blog content in an effort to boost your search engine rankings. In fact, keyword stuffing is a tactic that most search engine algorithms can easily detect these days, and it can actually harm your site’s SEO.

The bottom line is do your research and write authentic, substantive content your readers will appreciate, enjoy and expect more of.

Brainstorm Keywords for Your Topic Buckets. You’ll want your keywords to be what a potential customer might Google when they have, say, “Streaming Video” in mind. Related keywords include: “OTT or over-the-top television; Apple TV and Roku; Netflix; encoding and transcoding; CDN or content delivery network.” Be sure to hit on and discuss these topics.

3. Ignoring Broken Links

Frustrated ape tosses laptop giphy What your readers be like when they find that broken link.

Google is really interested in sending its users to top-quality websites and content. If you’ve got a number of broken links pointing to websites that no longer exist, your search engine ranking is going to take a serious blow.

Every so often, it’s a good idea to peruse your site and make sure all your links are working properly. A bad link (such as one that leads to a 404 error) can severely harm your SEO. Today’s search engine algorithms are written to view sites with lots of broken links as being less-than-reputable and certainly not an authority in the industry.

Get Creative With Your 404 Error Page

And while you’re repairing those links, it wouldn’t hurt to put in place a standard 404 error page that’s got some flair, humor or personality to it. If your readers accidentally stumble upon a page on your website that no longer exists or is down, increase your chances of maintaining their patronage and readership with a creative 404 error message.

Most Popular Site and SEO Analytics Software

Three very powerful and handy tools include Google Webmaster Tools, Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Xenu. These services will help you determine where links are broken on your site and will even let you know where broken images exist.

Find Related Searches via Google. Google the keywords you brainstormed in Step 2 to see what Google suggests as similar. These suggestions will be some of the most popular searches related to the keywords you’ve come up with. Try A/B testing your keywords with Google’s suggestions or get creative and put both your keywords and Google’s in your content.

4. Linking to Non-Reputable Sites

Frustrated Buffy the vampire slayer giphy When you click that link to that bogus site.

Don’t try to look reputable; be reputable. Your site’s reputation and the authority of your content will take a negative hit if you’re linking to bogus, spammy, non-reputable junk websites. Your readers won’t appreciate it and you’ll just be wasting time and energy.

Be careful about the kinds of sites you choose to link to in your content. Links to authoritative and reputable sites can help boost your own authority and SEO rankings, but linking to less reliable sites can have the opposite effect. Remember when you write new content that it’s about the quality of the outbound links that count, not the quantity.

Use a Healthy Mix of Head Terms and Long-Tail Keywords. Head terms are one to two word keywords. Long-tail keywords are typically a statement related to the head term and can be thought of as possible blog post titles. Continuing with the “streaming video” topic bucket from above, examples of head terms would be “encoding/transcoding” and “OTT (over-the-top television).” Long-tail keywords related to those head terms could include “What is encoding/transcoding?” and “Why OTT is critical to the success of your online business.”

5. Creating Low Quality Content

man smashing laptop giphy When you realize that entire article you just read was a load of horse crap.

If you’re not stoked about the content you’re writing, how can you expect your audience to be excited? Create thought-provoking, hard-hitting content that will stand the test of time, and your audience will reward you.

Keep in mind the concept behind linking to reputable sites is the same concept that applies to any content you publish on your own site. The best way to increase your SEO is to regularly publish high quality content that’s unique and truly interesting to your readers. This means you need to think outside the box and come up with creative blog topics, rather than simply re-phrasing the content from a competitor’s blog.

The Power of Creating Evergreen Content

One of the go-to resources for my coworkers and me is the Moz blog. They’re always on the cutting edge of all things content marketing, and they know their business inside and out. Moz created a really great case study on the importance and power of Evergreen Content.

Evergreen content maintains relevance and effectiveness even as trends shift and technology advances. Creating great evergreen content is a sure way to drive loads of traffic to your site and significantly boost your rankings on Google.

Examples of evergreen content include: how-to guides, guides for beginners, genuinely helpful content that answers hard questions, case studies and sharing your secrets with your readers.

Research Keywords Used by Competitors. Find out which keywords your competitors are using to rank well. And just because a competitor may be ignoring certain keywords doesn’t mean you should too. Where your competitor is lacking may provide a market opportunity for you. 

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

hula hoop master dancer giphy

That moment you become an SEO master.

For those of you who are still reading this lengthy post, keep in mind that flawless SEO is not something you’ll learn to do overnight. But by pursuing a sound overall SEO strategy, you’ll maintain an edge in today’s highly competitive online market. Even if you’re far from being an SEO guru, as long as you keep in mind the five common SEO mistakes to avoid, your site can reach new heights in its Google rankings.

Google Trends and Keyword Planner. Narrow down your keywords. Keyword Planner shows you which keywords have way too little or way too much search volume. This is where Google Trends comes in handy; you can use Google Trends to determine where you can create buzz for the lesser known terms and where you can compete with the more popular ones.
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