Digital marketing is like playing the drums; everyone thinks they can do it.
Inevitably, the layman writes content stuffed to the brim with a target keyword and cannibalizes his/her own webpages by using the same five keywords across all of their webpages.
As infallible as we sometimes think we are, even the best of our industry can make some pretty hairbrained mistakes.
Sometimes the best way to move forward is to take a step back and go back to SEO basics.
As Google and Bing’s algorithms continue to evolve and incorporate new technologies for search, so do our strategies.
Between optimizing our content for voice search, desktop visitors, mobile swipers, and our social media followers, the task can feel impossible and overwhelming.
Breathe a little, you’re not alone.
As much as the medium may change, the same principles still remain in place and so too do the same basic errors.
Here are eight common SEO mistakes that even the experts still make.
1. Presenting a Poor Internal Link Structure
As your website balloons in size with all of your awesome content, you’re bound to encounter some pretty basic internal linking errors. This includes everything from producing mass duplicate content to 404 page errors cropping up.
Internal links provide five valuable functions for your website:
- Providing clear pathways to conversion pages.
- Spreading authority to webpages hidden deep on your site.
- Providing additional reading or interactive material for users to consume on your site.
- Organizing webpages categorically by keyword-optimized anchor text.
- Communicating your most important webpages to search engine crawlers.
Resubmitting an XML sitemap to search engines is a great way to open up crawl paths for search engines to unlinked webpages.
Along the same lines, it’s important to use your robots.txt file and noindex tag wisely so that you don’t accidentally block important webpages on your site or a client’s.
As a general rule of thumb, no webpage should be more than two clicks away from the homepage or a call-to-action landing page.
Reassess your website architecture using fresh keyword research to begin organizing webpages by topicality.
HubSpot provides a great guide for creating topic clusters on your website that arrange webpages by topic, using semantic keywords, and hierarchy to their shared thesis.
2. Creating Content for Content’s Sake
Best practices dictate that you should produce content consistently to increase your brand’s exposure and authority, as well as increase your website’s indexation rate.
But as your website grows to hundreds of pages or more, it becomes difficult to find unique keywords for each page and stick to a cohesive strategy.
Sometimes we fall for the fallacy that we must produce content just to have more of it. That’s simply untrue and leads to thin and useless content, which amounts to wasted resources.
Don’t write content without completing strategic keyword research beforehand.
Make sure the content is relevant to the target keyword and utilizes closely associated keywords in H2 tags and body paragraphs.
This will convey full context of your content to search engines and meet user intent on multiple levels.
Take the time to invest in long-form content that is actionable and evergreen. Remember, we are content marketers and SEO specialists, not journalists.
Optimized content can take months to reach page one results; make sure it remains relevant and unique to its industry when it does.
3. Not Investing in Link-Worthy Content
As we understand it, the quantity and quality of unique referring domains to a webpage is one of Google’s three most important ranking factors.
The best way to acquire links is naturally, leveraging stellar content that people just want to link to.
Instead of investing time in manual research and creating hundreds of guest posts a year, why not invest in a piece of content that can acquire all of those links in one day of writing?
Again, I bring up HubSpot, which provides a great example of this. Every year, they provide a list of industry statistics they scour from the internet, such as “The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics”, which serves as an invaluable resource for anyone in the digital marketing industry.
As previously stated, invest the time in crafting long-form content that adds value to the industry.
Here, you can experiment with different forms of content, whether it’s a resource page, infographic, interactive quiz, or evergreen guide.
Dedicate some of your manual outreach strategy to promote a piece of content published on your own website and not someone else’s.
4. Failing to Reach Customers with Your Content
Continuing this discussion, you need to have a strategy in place to actually get people to view your content.
I believe that much of the industry and many businesses don’t invest as many resources into content promotion as they do production.
Sure, you share your content over social media, but how much reach does it actually acquire without paid advertising?
Simply posting your latest article on your blog, social media channel, and e-newsletter limits its reach to a small percentage of your existing audience.
If you’re looking to acquire new leads for your business, then you’ll need to invest more resources into promotional tactics. Some strategies include.
While it’s rather chicken and egg, you need to promote content to get links to it. Only then can you begin to acquire more links organically.
5. Optimizing for the Wrong Keywords
So you invested the time in crafting a piece of long-form content, but it’s not driving large-scale traffic to your website.
Just as bad, your visitors have low time on page and are not converting.
More than likely, you’re optimizing for the wrong keywords.
While most of us understand the importance of long-tail keywords for informational queries, sometimes we run into some common mistakes:
- Failing to segment search volumes and competition by geography.
- Relying too much on high volume phrases that don’t convert.
- Focusing too many resources on broad keywords (external links, internal link anchor text, etc.).
- Ignoring click-through rates.
- Trying to insert awkward exact match phrases into content.
- Ignoring AdWords value.
- Allocating target keywords to irrelevant content.
- Choosing keywords irrelevant to your audience.
It’s important to actually research the search phrases that appear in top results for both national and local searches.
Talk to your customers to see what search phrases they use to describe different elements of your industry. From here, you can segment your keyword list to make it more relevant to your customers.
Use keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush’s keyword generator for relevant keyword ideas.
Don’t forget to optimize for informational and commercial search queries.
6. Not Consulting Paid Media
As the industry currently stands, SEO focuses on acquiring and nurturing leads, while paid media focuses on acquiring and converting leads.
But what if we broke down those silos to create a cohesive message that targeted the buyer at every step of the journey?
As an SEO provider, do you even know what your client’s advertising message is or the keywords they use? Are you promoting the same products/service pages with the same keywords as the paid media department?
There is a lot of insight that SEO consultants can learn from PPC keyword research and landing page performances that can aid them in their own campaign.
Beyond this, Facebook and Twitter’s advertising platform offer robust audience analysis tools that SEO consultants can use to better understand their client’s customers.
By focusing on a unified message and sharing in each other’s research, SEO consultants can discover keywords that convert the highest and drive the most clicks in the search results.
7. Forgetting About Local
Google’s Pigeon update completely opened up an entirely new field of local SEO.
Between local directory reviews, customizing a Google My Business page, and the local three-pack, local SEO is highly targeted and high converting.
Consider some of the statistics:
- 50 percent of searches over a mobile device result in an in-store visit that day.
- Half of local, mobile searches are for local business information.
- Anywhere between 80-90 percent of people read an online review before making a purchase.
- 85 percent of people trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
It’s important to segment your keyword research for both local and national intent.
If you provide local services, be sure to create content that reflects local intent, such as including city names next to target keywords and in the body of content.
While most of us focus on growing business at the national scale, the importance of local SEO should not be ignored.
8. Not Regularly Auditing Your Own Website
One of the biggest mistakes we all make is not continuing to optimize our own site and fix mistakes that crop up over time.
A site audit is especially important after a site migration or implementation of any new tools or plugins.
Common technical mistakes that occur over time include:
- Duplicate content.
- Broken links.
- Unoptimized meta tags.
Duplicate content can occur for a number of reasons, whether through pagination or session IDs.
Resolve any URL parameter errors or duplicate content from your cookies by inserting canonicals on source webpages. This allows all signals from duplicate pages to point back to the source page.
Broken links are inevitable as you move content around your site, so it’s important to insert 301 redirects to a relevant webpage on any content you remove. Be sure to resolve 302 redirects, as these only serve as a temporary redirect.
Auditing your website is paramount for mobile search. Simply having a responsive web design or AMP is not enough.
Be sure to minify your CSS and JS on your mobile design, as well as shrink images, to provide a fast and responsive design.
Finally, one part of the audit that is often overlooked is reevaluating your onsite content strategy. Most industries are dynamic, meaning that new innovations crop up and certain services become obsolete overtime.
Remodel your website to reflect any new product offerings you have. Create content around that topic to showcase its importance to your hierarchy to both search engines and users.
Continually refresh your keyword research and audience research to find new opportunities to scale and stay relevant.
Everyone is susceptible to mistakes in their craft and one of the best ways to rectify them is to consult the best practices.
My best bit of advice: Keep your mind nimble and always take a step back here and there to evaluate whether you are doing the best to scale your or a client’s business.
The digital marketing landscape has evolved significantly over the last two decades. And between Google’s ever-changing algorithm and the deluge of misinformation floating through the digital marketing sphere, it’s easy to lose sight of basic practices we should be employing in our own SEO and content marketing strategies.
With every new algorithm update and technological shift in search, we become obsessed with how the field of SEO will enter a wholly new paradigm, and we shift our focus to reflect this. Yet as much as the medium may change, the core principles remain the same — and it’s time to get back to the basics.
We all understand the secrets and best practices of SEO, so why do we often fail to leverage these tactics? Let’s explore five common blogging mistakes you may be making right now.
Unoptimized keyword structure
Despite the rise of semantic search and machine learning technology, keyword research should still take precedence when modeling an internal content marketing campaign. All on-site content should be thematically linked by topics and keywords to your overall business objectives.
If our content is simply covering topics and not keywords, how do we know what users really demand? Without keyword research, how can you truly know who your audience is and who you are writing for?
Keywords serve as the bridge between user intent and informational/transactional content. Keyword-optimized content helps to position individual web pages to rank higher organically and drive impressions for targeted searches. This effectively makes blog content a lead generator.
For on-site blogs, the focus should remain on informational long-tail keyword phrases. Common examples include question phrases beginning with how, what, when, where and why.
Other keyword ideas could include actionable phrases that are often searched for, such as the top “tips” and “hacks” to improve upon some process.
Bloggers often fail to optimize their headers, meta tags and content with targeted keyword phrases. Consider the fact that specific keyword phrases will often be bolded within the meta description of a SERP listing, potentially increasing your click-through rate.
Inadequate keyword research runs deeper than failing to optimize your header structure (e.g., title, meta description). Many bloggers fail to leverage semantic SEO, or similar keyword phrases with the same meaning. Semantic SEO allows bloggers to create more thorough and readable content that can drive impressions for multiple keyword phrases, answer more user questions and qualify your content to be a featured snippet — think of the rise of voice search.
On the other hand, over-optimized content could cross a dangerous line as well. Keyword stuffing, or possessing a high keyword density, will qualify your content as spam. Keyword stuffing also obstructs your content’s readability, which results in poor user signals.
Following SEO best practices, it’s still important to optimize all relevant site elements, such as URLs and meta tags, with targeted keywords to categorize and rank individual web pages. And aside from signaling to search engines the main focus of your on-site content, keywords also serve an important function for your site architecture.
Inconsistent internal links
Internal linking is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO optimization, and issues with internal links frequently occur on SEO agency websites themselves!
There are many functions of proper internal linking for SEO:
- Establishes paths for users to navigate your website.
- Opens up crawling to deep linked web pages and increases crawl rate.
- Defines site architecture and your most important web pages to search engines.
- Distributes “link juice,” or authority, throughout your website.
- Indexes linked-to web pages by the keywords used in the hyperlink anchor text.
While backlinks remain the gold standard of search engine ranking factors, their magic can be amplified through strategic internal linking.
Ideally, you’ll want at least three to five internal links per blog post, and a drop-down or navigation menu on your home page to provide deep links to inaccessible web pages. Just because a piece of content is posted to your blog, it doesn’t mean Google or Bing can automatically access it.
Conduct a thorough internal link audit and record which web pages have the most authority. Simply insert internal links on these pages to other high-value internal pages to distribute authority evenly throughout your domain.
Many websites display featured posts in a drop-down menu or on the home page to distribute authority to their blog posts. A blogger’s home page will be his/her most authoritative. Limit the number of links between each blog post and your home page to evenly distribute link juice throughout your domain.
Don’t overlook the importance of a sitemap, either. This will ensure all web pages are properly crawled and indexed — assuming URL structures are clean and keyword-optimized.
Finally, optimize all anchor text to categorize and drive impressions for linked web pages. Be sure to use varying anchor text phrases for each link so that you can rank your web pages for multiple search queries.
Poor page copy
As we often say in digital marketing, it’s important to write for readers and not search engines. Keep content light, don’t try to show off knowledge with excessive jargon, and write for readers on an eighth-grade reading level.
In most cases, on-site content is not about publishing, but building awareness around a need. I always suggest placing actionable tips in informational content to provide value.
Content marketing is as much a branding exercise as it is a marketing tactic. Consistent content production establishes your brand’s ethos and also creates your voice as an author. In turn, this establishes you as an authority in your niche.
Don’t sacrifice this authority with poor body copy.
Look over your blog post as a whole. What does a reader experience when they first encounter your web page? Consider the fact that the average attention span is estimated to be eight seconds. Optimize your header structure and meta tags to encourage easy scanability and communicate a clear purpose.
Leverage a powerful headline to pique reader interest, and nurture this interest with a strong introductory paragraph. Always insert clear transition phrases, and consider using animated GIFs and videos to give users a mental break between long chunks of paragraphs. These will also increase your average user dwell time.
Make your content visually appealing by utilizing white space properly and inserting images after every 400 words or so. This essentially chunks content and prevents information overload.
Finally, edit fiercely. Many writers live by the rule that about two-thirds of writing should be editing and reworking. Use tools such as Grammarly and the Hemingway App to create concise and clean body copy.
Unoptimized images and videos
Speaking of poor page copy, most bloggers still ignore image and video optimization. Unoptimized image file formats and sizes are the most common load time mistakes that deteriorate SEO performance.
All on-site images should be formatted as .jpg, and all vector images as .png.
Always optimize image alt text to position it to rank in a targeted keyword image search. The alternative text is what’s displayed when a browser fails to actually display the image and tells search engines the content of your image. (It’s also used to describe images to those with screen readers.)
When optimizing video files, host all of your video files in a single folder and create a video site map for search engines to index your videos. You should optimize the meta description of all video pages with targeted keywords for indexation. Leverage a call to action in your meta description and video annotations.
Video marketing can be distributed from multiple channels, as well as your blog. According to a recent survey by HubSpot, 43 percent of consumers want to see more video from content marketers.
Poor content promotion
This leads us to probably the greatest error that plagues bloggers and stumps small businesses. We’re told that a good piece of content should serve as a natural link magnet and even rank highly based on the merits of the writing itself. To be candid, from experience we’ve discovered this isn’t always true.
Consider the idea that a 10-hour project totaling 3,245 words, featuring exquisite content and imagery, is just as useless as a poorly written 400-word listicle if it doesn’t drive conversions or traffic. This is what I refer to as potential energy. Without a proper technical structure or any content promotion strategy at work, your awe-inspiring content is a dud.
What if, after writing his Theory of Relativity, Einstein had simply posted his theory on his front door and waited for someone to discover it? Content distributed over a blog on a young domain won’t gather backlinks or social shares without promotion.
Leverage your connections, and follow these strategies to promote content and allow it to compound over social media:
- Have influential members of your organization share and promote a piece of content.
- Contact influencers over social media to share content.
- Request a quote from an industry thought leader to place in your content; advertise this in your rich snippet on social media channels.
- Repurpose content into a video or infographic for greater shareability.
- Contact websites that have linked to similar content in the past.
- Submit your content to replace relevant broken links on authoritative sites.
- Run a paid advertisement campaign over social media to place content directly in front of targeted audience members.
Content promotion involves thorough audience analysis. Segment audience members into one of three boundaries based on habits, demographics and psychographics. Investigate what social media channels each audience segment uses the most and the points of time when they are most active.
Understand which pieces of content perform best over specific social media channels. The most viral content examples include:
- “How-to” tutorials
- “Why” articles
Content serves as an effective pull marketing tactic and inbound lead generator. Yet, if content is simply sitting on the shelf and gathering dust, it’s a lost investment.
Social and user signals factor greatly into organic ranking. Essentially, social promotion will draw users to your content, which will determine — based on their engagement — the efficacy of your content.
SEO agencies and content marketers often tell clients about technical and onsite errors they may be making. But sometimes it takes a little realism to take a step back and analyze our own campaigns for greater success in the long run.
Hopefully, you’ll take the news that your SEO content strategy is imperfect in the right way. It’s an opportunity to refine and improve.
Stop spending hours manually researching keywords. Check out this simple and effective automated solution to help you create a winning keyword structure.
Every successful online business begins with a strong SEO campaign. Every strong SEO campaign begins with a winning keyword structure.
SEO experts know that building a working keyword structure is always a challenge.
First, you search for keyword ideas. With automated tools and apps, proven methods, guides, and recommendations, keyword research is now a less tedious task than it was in the past.
After mastering keyword research, you need to smartly spread your collected keywords across your webpages. This part can be tricky. Even powerful keywords don’t work for you if you put them in the wrong place. SEOs spend tons of time testing and researching keyword behavior.
Finally, comes the testing phase. By trial and error, you’ll get a working keyword structure.
This takes too long.
What if you could get a tested, proven, and crystallized keyword structure before adding it to your website?
Luckily, this is possible.
Your competitors have already managed to build a keyword structure and reach the top of the search results. Nothing is stopping you from doing the same! Your SEO fate rests entirely in your hands.
Why would you spend hours manually researching their keyword structure when you could simply use an effective automated solution that turns this job into a piece of cake?
Meet the free Topvisor grouping tool.
How Does Topvisor Keyword Grouper Work?
Keyword grouping by page relevance spreads keywords across website pages exactly as they rank and display in the applied search engine and location. The algorithm is based on the relevant pages.
A relevant page is a page of a target website that appears in the search results for a specific keyword. The keyword grouper groups out a keyword pool by matching keywords with the relevant pages. As the result, you get a comprehensive keyword structure based on page relevance.
1. Getting Started with the Topvisor Platform
Topvisor is a multi-feature platform that includes much more than just a keyword grouper. To get started, create your first project. Enter a competitor’s URL as a project URL.
2. Keyword Research
If you don’t have a pool of keywords already, it’s high time you get it. You can use your favorite tools or try paid and free Topvisor tools. On the Keywords page, you may try Keyword research tool, Keyword suggestions tool, or a free Magnet tool to pool keyword ideas.
It’s highly recommended to do a bit of a manual research. Look through competitor’s web pages, analyzing text and titles. It can take some time, but it’s worth it.
3. Filter by Search Volume
One of the most efficient ways to check if a keyword will work for your website is to get its search volume. You can run a Search Volume tool on the Keywords page. In a couple of minutes, the tool will pull data for you.
Leave only powerful keywords. Move weak keywords to Trash.
4. Track Keyword Rankings
To provide you with a comprehensive keyword structure, Topvisor keyword grouper needs a list of relevant pages. To get them, move to the Keywords dynamics page and run an instant keyword check.
Topvisor Rank Tracker will match keywords with the competitor’s website relevant pages that show up in the search results and pull a rank for each page. It takes 5 minutes or less.
If a website doesn’t show in the search results or shows beyond the set tracking depth, the tool won’t be able to match a relevant page to a keyword. The maximum Google rank tracking depth in Topvisor is 1,000.
5. Grouping Keywords by Relevance
This is where the magic happens.
Get back to the Keywords page and run the Keyword Grouper. The tool will move the keywords that have common relevant URLs into separate groups. The process is instant. It takes a couple of seconds before you get your keyword structure.
Keywords that don’t have a matching relevant URL will be moved into a separate group named ‘No relevant URL’. Keywords excluded from the ranking report on the previous step are moved to the ‘Not tracked’ group.
6. Adopting Keyword Structure
With the help of keyword tools, you can get a complete keyword structure and save a lot of time. Analyze the results you received and decide which keywords are the best for your business.
Remember that keywords work well only in high-quality content. Make sure that your website is user friendly and provides practical information for your clients.
By trusting proven automated algorithms you can save both money and time.
What’s more, tools exclude a chance of human mistake. This means that you won’t have to spend hours testing your results.
The best way to get a perfect working keyword structure is to combine algorithms with your own expertise and creativity.
The Web is getting more complex, which means good SEO is getting harder and harder. While Google’s crawlers are getting more advanced, they’re still not perfect and sometimes have trouble deciphering information they discover on the Web.
This is where schema comes in.
Schema.org is a collaboration by the major search engines to create a consistent language that helps them understand entities and their relationship to one another. Structured data is one of the best ways for you to communicate important information about your website to Google.
At it’s essence, schema is code typically written in HTML or JSON (I prefer JSON) that helps Google better understand the data on your website. Google has attempted to incentivise the use of schema by displaying rich snippets for domains that use them. These rich snippets are essentially additional text or images that will result in a user being more likely to click on your result. No matter what industry you’re in, you can utilize website schema to help Google better understand your website’s information and improve your SEO.
Official Documentation: https://schema.org/Organization
Even if you are brand new to the concepts of SEO and structured data as a whole, Organization schema is fairly straightforward and easy to wrap your head around. No matter what industry you belong to, as long as you are a business that sells products or services, Organization schema can be used on your website.
So what is Organization schema? Essentially, what this markup will do is signal to Google crucial information about your website. Within this structured data you can include business information such as your name, address, phone number and associated social profiles (Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, etc).
Organization schema can help your website in a number of ways. It can send clearer information about your business to Google. This is especially crucial for Local SEO where it’s important that your name, address and phone number are consistent across the Web. As well, Organization schema improves your chances of receiving a Knowledge Panel. Here it will be especially important to use same properties to associate your Wikipedia page and social profiles.
Industry-Specific LocalBusiness Schema
Official Documentation: http://schema.org/LocalBusiness
For some industries, you can make your structured data a little more specific than the Organization schema above. Instead of simply telling Google: “I am a general organization with the following information”, you can give the search engines more detailed data on what your business does. So what kind of industries have LocalBusiness schema available to them?
Insurance Agents? Check
Your local mechanic? Check
Whatever broad category defines your industry, try Googling “[Your Profession] Schema” and see if any results come back. If you find one that fits your business, you should use that in place of the Organization schema to be more specific.
Once again this will help Google get a better understanding of your business. As well, in the future, Google could very well offer some sort of rich snippet for your particular industry. If this occurs, you will be well set up for any algorithm changes that may occur.
Official Documentation: https://schema.org/BreadcrumbList
If you’re not using a breadcrumb on your website, I would recommend you consider doing so. Breadcrumbs can be a great way to improve the user experience of a website as they will allow users to navigate through the different page levels with little effort. As well, they can also improve the internal linking structure which is crucial for better distributing link equity throughout your site.
If you’re using a breadcrumb, great! Now it’s time to mark up it up with BreadcrumbList structured data. The BreadcrumbList schema will define each URL in the breadcrumb to Google. This can be beneficial because you can generate a clean looking breadcrumb rich snippet in the search results.
More importantly, you will be giving Google detailed information about the structure of your website. This may not have tremendous advantages if you manage a small ten page website. However, if you have a large eCommerce store, this is extremely useful information to pass along. Google’s crawlers often have a difficult time crawling these large websites and they can potentially spend a lot of time looking at pages they shouldn’t.
However, by implementing the BreadcrumbList schema, you will be giving Google clear information about the hierarchy of your website. This will give it better guidance on how to crawl and discover the pages on your domain. In my experience, if you can make Google’s job easier, this is likely to have a positive impact on rankings.
Official Documentation: http://schema.org/AggregateRating
Of all of the structured data on this list, AggregateRating schema probably has the most tangible results. If implemented correctly, this type of structured data rewards websites with bright yellow stars that appear in the search results. The final outcome is that search results that display these stars typically end up with higher click through rates. Higher click through rates obviously leads to more organic traffic.
Not surprisingly, this type of schema is extremely popular amongst eCommerce stores as specific product queries typically trigger results with review star rich snippets. For product-centric websites, implementing this type of schema is an absolute must as Google is either already displaying review stars for your target queries or could possibly show them in the future.
However, even if your website isn’t eCommerce, it could still be worth exploring the possibility of implementing AggregateRating schema. There are many examples where websites with non-physical products or services could benefit from this structured data. For instance, after performing a search for “laptop insurance” I can see that Google is displaying review star snippets for the query:
To find an example of review stars, I had to navigate all the way to the fourth page of the search results. None of the websites on the first page have these review stars displaying. This presents a good opportunity for the company to first implement AggregateRating schema on their landing page.
At the end of the day, schema is going to help take your SEO to the next level. As companies invest more and more into in-house and SEO agencies, it’s getting increasingly more difficult to compete in the limited real estate of the organic search results. Implementing good schema will help give your website an additional competitive advantage and can result in Google being more likely to rank your key landing pages.