But like with anything else, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing the must-dos.
So what should you avoid in your content? Here are the 7 most common SEO mistakes we see businesses making in their digital content production.
It’s a bummer, but good things take time – and too many people want overnight SEO success. It just doesn’t happen like that.
It’s hard to trust the process, but try not to panic if your rankings don’t immediately skyrocket. Improvements often happen gradually.
Don’t forget as well that working hard to improve your SEO the right way is still valuable beyond any impact that work has on Google. Think about the people who actually read your site while you’re waiting for it to crawl up the search engine ranks.
Even when your content isn’t yet achieving your SEO goals, chances are high that it’s benefiting your reader. That’s why we always recommend writing for humans first and Google second. It’s our number one priority when it comes to SEO copywriting techniques
Too many people produce online content without any kind of clear SEO strategy in mind. And this is a huge SEO mistake.
But, why is content creation important? Well, why bother creating anything online if you don’t know why you’re doing it? If you don’t take the time to figure out what your target market’s searching for (or even who they are!), you’re just creating content for content’s sake and you won’t be easily found on Google.
Let’s presume that you do want users to find you on Google. In that case, you need to do some big SEO thinking before you publish any new product, blog post, service or web page.
Too many brands don’t realise they need to approach digital content production holistically. You have to look at the whole picture – otherwise you could be publishing conflicting messages across different channels and not giving potential customers a clear path to follow to purchase.
But holistic thinking can be hard. It’s natural to want to focus your efforts on what you do well, both in business and in life.
However, as we talk about in more depth in our SEO and content marketing explainer, you need to consider all three of the essential SEO elements:
– Technical Site Health
How well your site is working – its speed, navigation ease, etc.
– Domain Authority
how many other relevant sites link through to you
– Quality Content
The extent to which your content meets your audience and business needs, provides unique value and is well resourced.
In short, before you overhaul your SEO, you’ll need to figure out the right SEO element to target for your site’s needs. There’s no point in just focussing on the technical stuff if content is the element that needs the most work.
And this, in turn, means taking a holistic approach to SEO.
Sure, go ahead and figure out how technically healthy your site is. But don’t forget to also look at your domain authority and content… and then focus on the element that will get you the best SEO results.
The best way to identify which SEO element to focus on is to map out a detailed organic strategy.
Creating an SEO Content Strategy is a pretty complex process, and most brands don’t have the skills to do it in-house.
If that’s true for your business, we’re firm believers in the value of good old outsourcing. Because strategy is the kind of thing that needs an expert eye, and you really don’t want to end up getting it wrong.
Keyword research can be tricky. A short, simple keyword that seems like an obvious pick may be completely wrong for your business.
For example, let’s say you have a cleaning brand. You might think that all you need to do is rank for the term ‘cleaning’. But that’s hardly ever the case. For a start, you’ll be competing with almost every other cleaning services brand in the world for it.
But beyond the high competition rates, potential customers don’t generally use single-word search terms when they’re looking for cleaning services. They know that if they do, they’ll get a bunch of irrelevant search results. They’re just as likely to see listings for office cleaners in Sydney, when what they want is regular home cleaning in Rozelle.
So most people will google a longer, more specific keyword phrase – called a ‘long-tail keyword’. For your Sydney-based cleaning brand, this might be something like ‘professional home cleaning in Sydney’. If you can identify and target the phrase your ideal customers search for most often, far more of them will find you.
Speaking of keywords, we know it can be tempting to try to rank for a bunch of different phrases. After all, if one keyword is good for SEO, more must be better, right?
Actually, no – and targeting too many keywords can dilute the SEO effects that any one of them gets you. That’s because Google thinks that whatever you talk most about on the page is what your page is about, which seems logical. So if you use the phrase ‘professional home cleaning in Sydney’ a few times on your page, Google assumes it’s something that people searching for that phrase want to see.
But what if you also talk a lot about, say:
- the interior design of the apartments you clean
- the architecture of the buildings those apartments are in
- the recipes your cleaning customers like
Well, in that case, Google won’t have a clue what your page is actually about. And – not coincidentally – neither will most of your customers. Trust us: it won’t read well to either humans OR the search engine bots.
A contextual link is the technical name for linked text that appears naturally in the sentences you write in your content. (Kind of like the one in the previous sentence: see what we did there?)
Remember how we said in the section above that you need to have your long-tail keyword phrase ‘in the right places’? Well, one of those places is your contextual link text. Here’s what we mean: let’s – just as an example – say that we wanted to link through to our article about content marketing and SEO in this article. We could write:
- ‘Read all about how content marketing helps SEO here’, OR
- ‘Read all about how content marketing helps SEO’.
If the only text you’re putting the link on (often called the ‘anchor text’) is ‘here’ or ‘read this’, you’re missing a major SEO opportunity.
As far as humans go, the outcome is almost the same – although it’s always good to cut unnecessary words. But in the world of Google, the second option is far better.
Good linking practices aren’t just about contextual links. You also need a site map that makes sense, and page title names that align with your SEO strategy.
We often see brands that publish blog articles include a bunch of links to other blog posts on their site. And that’s a great start. The problem, however, is that they choose the wrong text to hyperlink.
Linking to your own site from your own site, and using the correct anchor text when you do it, is imperative.
‘Domain authority’ refers to a ranking score that search engines give to every site on the internet.
The more relevant sites on the web that link to your website, the higher your domain authority.
Increasing your domain authority is important – it’s one of the most effective things you can do for your site’s SEO health. But there are some less-than-ideal ways to do this, and heading down that path can do your website more harm than good.
A good SEO strategy avoids dodgy techniques like:
- link spamming
- comment building
- directory linking
- anything else that seems underhanded and un-organic.
As we talked about in point #1, SEO success isn’t a get rich quick scheme.
If your agency is advising you to spend hours commenting on other people’s blog posts with nothing but your own links, you’re getting the wrong advice.
Likewise, paying to be on backlink directories won’t do you any long-term good.
Instead, patience and integrity will get you to where you want to be.
SEO success doesn’t happen overnight. And it definitely doesn’t happen without the help of a great SEO strategy. But if you do it right, your site will experience SEO success over time.
That means focussing on:
– technical site health
– domain authority
– quality content
– good linking practices
– avoiding all of the dodgy stuff.
And if you’re not sure how to do any of these things well, we’re happy to help.