Since I began working in the digital marketing world, I’ve been amazed at how quickly trends change. Technology is a fickle thing — one minute you’re chugging along on cruise control in the HOV lane, bypassing the poor souls stuck in rush-hour traffic, and the next minute you’re failing to merge back into the main lanes after a sudden road closure. Even as a digital marketing professional, I sometimes find myself having trouble keeping up. But as algorithms and analytics and strategies change, there are tried-and-true fundamentals that we can always count on — and come back to when we need to catch our breath. Those fundamentals include creating quality content, incorporating good responsive design, and using relevant keywords.
And as thankful as we are for those fundamentals, it’s crucial to make sure you’re on the right side of them, and not unintentionally holding on to bygone strategies that can actually hurt your bottom line. While most of our blog posts focus on what you should do, this one will focus on what not to do. When speaking with small businesses and evaluating their current digital marketing strategies, we come across many of the same SEO mistakes again and again. These mistakes aren’t necessarily the fault of those businesses, but of their holding on to archaic strategies that no longer apply in the current SEO landscape.
Here are five common SEO mistakes to avoid (and why!):
1. Using the Wrong Keywords
Keywords can make or break your search engine ranking. They are the basic entity of which the house of SEO is built. Think about it: When someone logs on to Google to find whatever it is they’re looking for, they’re going to type certain essential words into that little search engine box to tell Google what they’re looking for. These words are known as keywords, and the goal of you — the digital marketer, business owner, website designer, etc. — is to foresee what words potential customers are searching for, and then incorporate those words as keywords so that people can more easily find your website.
The mistake that many people make is using the wrong keywords. And the problem we all sometimes face is that we can be too married to our content — we fall too deep into our own rabbit hole of jargon, lingo, and how we, on the business side of things, feel the information should be relayed and categorized. We fail to approach it from the customer’s perspective. What words would someone ~outside of the business side of things~ use to search for your business? Do they know the lingo? Are they familiar with the jargon? Probably not. Keep that in mind when adding keywords to your content.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to incorporate long-tail keywords for best results.
2. Keyword Stuffing
As we’ve established, keywords are essential building blocks of SEO. But, whoa, let’s not get carried away. Just because they’re an important element of SEO doesn’t mean that you should go overboard with them. Let’s say you’re writing a blog post about, oh I don’t know … SEO. Just because you throw a “SEO” and “search engine optimization” in every sentence with no rhyme or reason doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly shoot up the results page because Google finally recognizes YOU’RE AN SEO GENIUS.
Google has evolved over the years and has caught on to the shortcuts businesses and marketers have used in the past to trick the system. It’s now able to actually crawl your content to determine if it’s relevant to the keywords you’re using or if it’s just a bunch of nonsense. Keyword stuffing is considered bad SEO and it can actually hurt your ranking. It’s best to leave this practice in the past with your neon fanny pack and teased bangs.
3. Publishing Non-Original Content
This should be obvious, but many people are still repurposing content as their own. In some cases this practice can be okay — if you have permission to use the content and you give credit where credit is due (with a link back to the original text!), then publishing someone else’s content on your site is fine. However, back in the day it was common for websites to duplicate content and post it as their own in order to build up content on their site. This is a hard-and-fast NO. Plus, it’s lazy.
Instead, invest time and money into creating original content. It will establish your business as a leader in your field, and A) more people will find you because good, original content will help boost your SEO and B) more people will trust you because you know what you’re talking about.
4. Skipping Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Keywords aren’t the only building blocks of SEO. Title tags and meta descriptions are essential to optimizing your website and shouldn’t be skipped (as they very commonly are). First, let’s tackle what title tags and meta descriptions are:
- Title Tags: Title tags specify the title of a web page and are displayed on search engine results pages as the clickable headline for a given result. They are meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page's content.
- Meta Descriptions: These are short summaries (1-2 sentences) of the webpage and appear below the clickable links in search engine results pages.
When search engines crawl your site, title tags and meta descriptions are key elements that help it better identify what your content is about and if it’s relevant to what people are searching for. By including these, you’re helping search engines understand what your site is about and telling them that it’s a useful resource to people. Bingo!
5. Not Changing With the Times
This goes back to the main point of this post: SEO is in flux. It’s constantly changing to keep up with new technology and a more savvy public. In order to make sure you don’t fall behind, it’s important to continually educate yourself about digital marketing and SEO best practices. If you have time, add it to your routine to read marketing blogs or subscribe to marketers who you know and trust. Or, hire or consult with SEO or marketing professionals who can do the grunt work for you to make sure you’re making the most of your website and content.
And if the information overload ever becomes too much to handle, know that there are certain SEO fundamentals that you can always turn back to when you need to recharge.
To find out if you need to update your site’s SEO strategy, schedule a free 30 minute, no-strings-attached marketing consultation with our team.