Search engine optimization is like baseball; it’s a continuous game of little improvements. Search engine optimization methods are constantly evolving due to users’ changing perspectives and search engine algorithm updates. If you don’t improve, you strike out.
Not all SEO strategies are created equal. Search engines are getting smarter about which sites to push to the top. You could be making some common SEO mistakes and not even know it. The old school strategies of paying for links on sketchy websites is over. You can’t just plug every keyword under the sun and expect results. Today, you need to create content, optimize for long-tail keywords, consider mobile users, know your KPIs, and continuously be testing. Let’s take a dive into 5 common SEO mistakes we see in 2019 that companies often make.
Neglecting Content Marketing
You’ve probably heard it before, “content is king.” So why is blogging important? For one, people want to work with businesses that have a voice and know their industry well. A blog is an asset that shows the customer that your company can be trusted.
It isn’t always easy to think about what content your blog should push out. When it comes to brainstorming, think of your customer’s pain points first. Think of about three or four pain points your customers are struggling with; these will be the umbrella topics your blog can hone in on. Next, think of all the angles you can take to attack those topics. Switch up your approach with different types of blog posts. For instance, one week you can make a list post, and the next you can take a deep dive into one very specific topic. Variety is key. No one wants to read the same type of post or topic week after week. Once you have a few ideas, create a schedule and stick to it.
The biggest mistake that businesses make in content marketing is they get lazy. They may post infrequently or not even blog at all. If they do publish content, they may publish content that’s unpolished or worse, stolen from somewhere else. Content is about quality over quantity. High quality content leads to discussion, which then leads to shares, and maybe even new business over time. Whatever you do, don’t rip off another site’s content and call it your own. People will see through that, and Google may catch on and simply not rank your page with duplicate content. If you need help, you can contract out a copywriter or an agency.
The most important takeaway for content marketing is to just start. Your blog may not be pretty at first, but you will find your groove over time. Use analytics (we’ll get to this later) to find what works and refine your voice and content from there. When you make a post, keep the conversation going and promote your post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Encourage your audience to engage over social media or in a comments section. For more ideas on how to start producing content, check out this copywriting guide from Backlinko.
Ditching Long-Tail Keywords
One common mistake made by business owners is neglecting to optimize for long-tail keywords. It is important to understand what search terms your potential customers use when finding your products or services. You might choose keywords that seem correct to you, but in reality, your keywords are far too generic. This is especially common with businesses just starting out; those generic keywords have a lot of competition, and your listing will be considerably lower than the established competition. There’s an SEO joke that the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google. Longer tail and localized keywords will be easier to rank in, so it’s best to start there and build your reputation over time.
Here’s one more reason that long-tail keywords demand your attention: they are the future of search engine optimization. Let me explain, since the introduction of voice search, people have been making longer search queries. Freed from the confines of a keyboard, people are much more conversational in how they are surfing the web. Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Cortana, and Apple’s Siri have all made major strides since their introduction. While we are still very much in the early days of voice search, it will only get more popular as devices like the Echo Dot get cheaper and more accessible. Optimizing for long-tail keywords is going to help your website stay ahead of the curve.
Using tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Google Trends, SEMrush and Moz Keyword Explorer can help you extract and optimize for long-tail keywords. You can find the long-tail keywords that have value. Then, think of your brand, what words are unique to your business? As voice search becomes more popular when someone asks their smart device a question related to your brand you want your site to be the result read out. Make a list of long-tail and branded keywords, and hit those long-tail keywords hard.
Forgetting the Mobile Users
When developing your website, it is important to remember that nearly 52.2% of internet traffic is done over mobile devices. Not developing for mobile users is a major SEO mistake. When you make an update to your site or post a new blog post, you should always check your phone if everything looks good and works on your phone’s browser as well.
What does mobile configuration mean? For one, your site needs to load quickly. Functional coding and a streamlined site will help with this. No one on mobile has time to wait for your site to buffer and buffer for your site to load ten thousand pictures. How fast does your website have to be? Google recommends your loading time should be under one second. This is an incredibly ambitious goal; the average loading time for a mobile website was around 15.3 seconds in 2018. Google has a great blog post on how to slash your site’s loading time.
Your site also must be scaled correctly for mobile users. Many times, this is a result of websites that have a mobile version and a desktop version of their site. Search engines sometimes get mixed up and send poor users to the desktop version which is far too small to navigate from a phone. If your site is too small, users will get frustrated and leave your page fast. The key to solving this problem is a responsive design. Responsive designed pages take what is on your website and scales it down proportionally to whatever device a visitor is using. Incorporating this strategy will keep your site looking beautiful from any device.
When you’re developing or making changes to your website, always have your phone handy to check how your page will look on mobile. Make sure your links work and all images are scaled correctly. Make it a goal to get your page’s loading time down. Mobile site optimization isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; make it a high priority for your site’s optimization.
Not Knowing Your Key Performance Indicators
Key performance indicators or KPIs are present in every industry. If you don’t know your SEO KPIs, you’re missing out. How will you optimize your website if you don’t know the analytics behind the scenes. If you haven’t already, hook your website up with Google Analytics.
Which KPIs are important? The most important metric for SEO is organic search traffic. Organic search traffic will tell you how much of your traffic comes from people directly coming from search engines without the direction of a paid ad. Organic search traffic is like a pulse for your website’s SEO health.
Next, you want to pay attention to your keywords. Google Analytics will show your progress on ranking for specific keywords when linked to your Google Search Console account. You want to make sure your keywords are focused in your industry. Google will tell you how many clicks you’re receiving from each ranking keyword.
Which brings us to our next KPI: organic clickthrough rate. Organic clickthrough rate is found from taking the total number of clicks from a Google Search over the total number of impressions your page has. The higher you can get your organic clickthrough rate, the higher the amount of search traffic you will capture.
Finally, you need to be aware of your domain authority. A few sites calculate a domain authority, which take multiple KPIs into account, such as backlinks, keywords, and visits. Ahrefs is one of our favorite sites for measuring domain authority, however, tools such as SEMrush and Majestic do a great job as well.
Set goals and know you’re KPIs when executing SEO. You should check your KPIs at least once a week. For more detailed KPI analysis, reach out to an SEO agency. If you want a better understanding on all the analytics stats, Google offers a free analytics course that takes you from beginner to an analytics master.
Not Testing Enough
The internet is always in a state of flux. What’s trendy today could be cliché in a few months. When companies stop testing and updating their websites, it puts an expiration date on it. This is why testing is important for keeping up with your user’s preferences. Testing will also help you achieve your business’s goals. Do you want more emails for your mailing list? Testing will help you make an informed decision to get your visitors to bite.
How do you implement a test on your website? For most cases, you want to create a simple A/B test. In an A/B test, you only want to change one variable on your website. If you are testing a “sign up” button, you want to keep the page the same but change the button color. You don’t need to only test two options; if you wanted to, you could add another option.
To run an A/B test its recommended to have at least 1000 conversions a month to be statistically significant. While this is a challenge for small websites with low traffic, you can implement an A/B sequential test to get around this roadblock. In an A/B sequential test, you only test one variable over a period of time. For instance, if your site gets around 500 visitors a month, you can test one variable one month and another the next month.
When testing, it’s crucial to know your KPIs. Not every A/B test needs to be centered around conversions. If you want to increase traffic across your website there’s no shame in A/B testing around clicks. If you want more information in finding statistical significance in A/B testing, you can read this blog post from analytics-toolkit.
The digital landscape is always changing. Search engines have made it harder for sites to game the system. To be successful, you must prove that your site is worthy of being pushed to the top. It’s important to understand that you may not see results right away. Knowing what to do and avoiding these mistakes will help your site continue to trend in the right direction.
Keep grinding forward and know when to ask for help. If SEO was easy, we’d all be millionaires by now!