5 Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2019

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In this digital landscape, SEO is considered to be an important practice for content marketing that aims to increase your organic website traffic and overall presence through search engines. Whether you’re an SEO expert or someone who’s just learning how to implement this strategy, it’s pretty easy to neglect some of the underlying aspects that comprise SEO. Oftentimes, some may fail to realize that there’s much more to learn about the discipline than just keyword rankings alone. Before proceeding any further, it’s also worth mentioning that Google algorithms constantly evolve its ranking factors, so staying up-to-date is essential if you want to be ahead of your competition. Here are 5 of the most common SEO mistakes businesses make and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Utilizing “Black Hat” SEO techniques instead of the “White Hat” approach. What are the differences?

White hat and black hat SEO both share the goal of increasing a website’s ranking in SERPs. However, black hat SEO uses techniques that violate a search engine’s rules and regulations in order to quickly increase a page’s rankings. Previously, black hat SEO was about buying backlinks to increase trust and authority to gain ranking, but recently black hat techniques focused on creating spam and irrelevant content optimized for search engines rather than users. Google and other search engines have significantly cracked down on black hat techniques and have penalized or banned websites.

Black hat techniques include:

  • Using unrelated keywords that are irrelevant to your content piece. In the past, websites would use many irrelevant high ranking words to boost their position on SERPs. To maintain consistency throughout your website, optimize your content around keywords that you believe your target audience will search for. To assist you with keyword research, you can check out Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Moz’s Keyword Explorer.
  • Automated content that has no value for your target audience. This strategy mainly generates low-quality backlinks which have no relevance to your content piece, therefore making your company look untrustworthy and uncredible.
  • Flooding your content with spam. Creating content with spam is unwanted and intrusive. It serves no purpose as it does not help users who are looking to find information they need.
  • Gateway pages that lead users to a separate, unrelated page. These pages are designed only to rank highly for particular search queries and offer no useful information to the user.
  • Presenting your content to users that is different from what is shown to search engines, also known as cloaking. It’s crucial to create your website with users, and not search engines, in mind.
  • Scraping content from one site for the benefit of your own website. To grow your website visibility, create unique and useful content. When creating content, research what your competitors have written and find ways to leverage new information they may have excluded.
Since black hat SEO is the bane of content marketing, the majority of companies create their websites using white hat SEO since it focuses more on developing quality content and organic linking. White hat techniques include:
  • Using effective and relevant keywords for better traffic and potential conversion. The use of keywords is important in attracting your target audience. Keywords are what people are searching for. Providing relevant and helpful information that matches search queries can help to attract more visitors to your site.
  • Meta descriptions, which show one or two sentences in the search engine results below your page title. This provides a snippet which summarizes a page’s content. This gives search engines and users an idea of what you’re page is about.
  • Internal and relevant backlinks that will draw users to delve into your website. By connecting one page to another, you are inviting users to stay on your site longer which may lead to more conversions. Having visitors explore your website also helps to lower your bounce rate.
  • Creating your own long-form and high quality content. This is one of the essential factors of increasing your search engine ranking. Having quality and relevant content that is useful will likely attract more visitors.
Creating content that is high quality and useful to your audience will go a long way in creating trust and authority for your website. It will also help search engines like Google determine which websites and pages are most credible and relevant a user’s search query.

Mistake #2: Developing low quality and thinning content

​As briefly mentioned under white hat seo, long-from and original content is one of the steps of gaining a higher search engine ranking. Whether people are searching for solutions or reading to learn, it’s never a pleasant experience to come across a website that offers little to no value for users. This is referred to as thin content which is one of the violations under Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines. Not only will this harm your SEO, but it also steers potential customers away from your brand, resulting in a higher bounce rate (percentage of users who visited your website and leave without viewing your other pages). Showcasing low quality content makes your website look unreliable, uncredible and untrustworthy, ultimately lowering your ranking in SERPs. When creating quality and relevant content, it is important to look at what your competitors have created. There you can learn what information they may have missed and use that to your advantage to offer a new viewpoint for readers. In terms of word count, there is no specific requirement, but it is believed that an average of 2,250 words or more earns the most traffic. Therefore, creating long-form content that is meaningful and useful to users is beneficial in building your expertise and trust which can result in an increase in online visibility, time spent on the site, and overall higher ranking in search engines.

Mistake #3: Neglecting User-friendly Experience

​User experience goes hand-in-hand with SEO and it’s crucial to provide a user-friendly interface that is quick, convenient, responsive and easy to navigate. Every second counts and nothing is more troublesome than having to encounter loading delays. According to Google, 54% of people say that their frustration increases as the load time for a company’s website increases. Not only will loading speed cause users to abandon your page, it also impacts your search engine ranking and revenue. In order to transform your site towards a better user experience, you also need to ask yourself: Is it mobile-friendly? Times have changed and today many users access your website with their mobile device. It is critical that mobile websites are designed for fast web experiences no matter what industry you’re in. Users want to be able to quickly browse shoe brands, review restaurant menus and compare services from businesses. To determine if your site meets the requirements in terms of mobile-friendliness and speed, check out Google’s free resource tool. You can also use Test My Site and Pingdom Tools which evaluates your overall site performance. Is it safe and secure? Since online security became one of the most important ranking factors, Google began to implement a way to distinguish unsecured sites. If you have an ecommerce website, this is quite important for users because of the possibility of sensitive information being shared. If your site is unsecured or unsafe, your chances of reaching a high search ranking will be slim to none compared to secured sites. Since secured sites can convert into higher conversion rates, it’s highly recommended that you get an SSL certificate since it protects sensitive information and prevents hackers from decoding.

Mistake #4: Ineffective keyword strategies

Before delving into your written component, it is important to know how you’re going to execute your content strategy. Indeed, keywords are important but in today’s complex algorithm you need to be careful with how you go about it. How do you know which keywords are worth optimizing? How are you going to deliver your information? In order to develop high-quality content, here are some of the most dangerous mistakes you should avoid:

Keyword stuffing

  • This refers to the practice of using as many keywords as possible in an attempt to artificially increase your page’s rankings. Not only will this harm your SEO performance, this makes your content look unnatural, spammy, and unreadable. For example, if your keyword was “vanilla ice cream”, your content may look like this: Come try out our vanilla ice cream! Vanilla ice cream is one our top sellers and the vanilla ice cream is made from scratch! This vanilla ice cream is also affordable, so buy our vanilla ice cream today!

Optimizing for the wrong keywords throughout your content. There are a lot of keywords that you can choose to optimize for depending on your business. Making sure you are optimizing for the right keywords is important in your SERP ranking. Before going further into keywords, there are two types to look out for: short-tail and long-tail.

  • Short-tail keywords are generic and contains phrases that have less than three words. An example of short-tail would be “pajama sets”, “organic food”, and “running shoes”. Although some believe that this strategy equates to better results, it could also be problematic and risky. Mainly, broader keywords have a lot of competition because large companies are constantly optimizing to rank on these keywords. Therefore, small or medium sized companies will have a difficult time breaking through the rankings with large businesses. When you optimize for short-tail keywords, you have to determine the purpose of using short-tail keywords and if it’s more beneficial to use long-tail keywords instead.
  • Long-tail keywords are more specific and contains phrases that have more than three words. An example of this would be “Black Nike running shoes”, “How to troubleshoot a Macbook Air”, and “Pajama sets made of cotton”. Although you won’t garner as much volume, you’ll be attracting targeted visitors who are actively looking for relevant websites. Optimizing for long-tail phrases plays an important role in increasing conversion rates from leads to customers. Not only will this help you to gain more profit, you’ll also have low competition for long-tail phrases making it easier to rank for giving you a better focus on who your target audience is.

So which one should you optimize for? Ultimately, it all depends on your business needs and wants. But, you need to be mindful of the pros and cons of both keyword strategies.

Mistake #5: Not Utilizing The Power Of Website Analytics

When you implement your SEO and content strategies, the ability to track your strategies is crucial in determining how successful you are. Website analytics have always been the best reflection of understanding how your website is performing and affecting your business. Data and analysis is an important factor and it’s crucial to get into the habit of reviewing your analytics daily in order to improve and thrive. Always remember that SEO is not just about ranking for keywords. You also need to consider the following metrics:
  • Organic traffic. If you need to see whether your SEO strategy is successful, traffic is one of the main indicators to look out for. This metric is referred to users who land on your page through unpaid search results. Visitors who are considered organic find your website when they enter a query in a search engine using a keyword you chose to optimize for.
  • Bounce rate. This is the percentage of people who visit your page and leave after viewing only one page. Bounce rates are represented by how users interact with your site. It is a good indication of the quality of your site, so it’s important to have a compelling landing page so users can be more engaged.
  • Click-through rate (CTR). Mainly, CTR measures how many users click on your ads or links after seeing it. Since it indicates how well your pages are ranked in search engine results pages (SERPs) and how relevant and engaging your content is, it’s one of the many metrics that you should pay attention to.
  • Conversion Rate. A conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to your website that convert, or complete a desired action. Depending on your business goals, a conversion could be a visitor making a purchase, calling your business, or signing up for a newsletter.
  • New and returning visitors. Generally, visitors indicate whether your content is engaging enough for them to return or attract new users who are interested in what you have to offer. If new visitors spend more time on your site than returning visitors, you may want to offer incentives for first-time visitors. If returning visitors have higher conversion rates than new visitors, you may need to strategize to push new visitors towards a conversion.
  • Pageviews. Pageviews are about the users reaching your site and it represents how well a particular page is doing. If one of your pages is generating more traffic, you can use that as a template to create more compelling content.
Once you determine what to improve on, you can implement these changes to creating specific strategies in hopes of producing better results. One of the most popular tools that is widely available today is Google Analytics, which provides insights on website performance and monitors the progress of the campaign.

Final thoughts and Conclusions

The significance of SEO in digital marketing will continue to grow since it provides credibility, improved traffic, insight into your audience, and generates a higher ROI (return on investment). Now that the main SEO mistakes are highlighted, there is always a solution to every problem. You can always start improving your ranking by:

  • Building your strategy through intensive keyword research and a content calendar to outline how to execute your plan.
  • Updating your content frequently, whether it’s through blogging, social media, video, and other mediums.
  • Utilizing white-hat SEO techniques into practice, which contain ethical and holistic techniques as opposed to the deceptive and risky black-hat methods.
  • Being adaptable to upcoming changes and consistently tracking your progress through analytics tools.

It’s important to remember that implementing an SEO strategy takes time and patience before you start seeing results. It could take a few weeks or even months to see results or progress. It’s hard to determine an expected time frame, but oftentimes, many people don’t realize that implementing an SEO strategy will not provide instant results. Realistically, it’s almost impossible to achieve the benefits of SEO overnight since it is a long-term and on-going investment that requires dedication, effort, and hard work. Taking a holistic approach that follows search engine guidelines when creating an SEO strategy is the most important aspect when improving your website ranking.

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