SEO is important for any successful online marketing campaign, it does not matter whether you have a personal blog or run a multi-national corporation, getting what you publish on the internet noticed is what it’s all about. There are a lot of strategies and techniques that can be used in order to achieve success however, great care must be taken or you may fall foul of the search engines and end up having your website or blog delisted. Here are a few mistakes that you should avoid at all costs.
Automated tags. Many novices will publish posts that have long titles. You should aim to keep your title short and snappy whilst using one of your target keywords.
Purchasing links. You might think this is a good idea and a great shortcut but in actual fact, this is like playing Russian roulette with your site. The search engines are constantly on the lookout for dubious linking patterns and if you are caught, you risk sending your site into a black hole from which it is almost impossible to return from.
Duplicate content. Never ever use duplicate content anywhere on your site and this includes ecommerce sites. Find ways of describing the same thing in different ways so that it is slightly different from another page or description.
Overusing Keywords. This is in fact a very common error, yes you need to make use of keywords but it should be done carefully and naturally. Try using different pages to target the different keywords you want to aim for. Weave your keywords and key phrases into your content in a way that is natural so that it all reads well. Remember, you are writing for humans not search engines!
Thin content. There are lots of sites that post articles or blogs that are too short and don’t contain anything of any value. You need to be writing for human visitors so that they will return and share your posts. Reader loyalty is important and this is why you need to create high quality interesting content.
Although there are many more SEO mistakes that you need to avoid, these are the most common ones made. By not making these basic mistakes, you have the opportunity to increase your rankings on the organic searches and prove yourself to be a popular contributor. It takes time to write good content so if you are pushed for time or feel that you don’t want to do it, have it written for you, there are lots of services available that will provide you with the content you want so that you do not get penalised by the search engines.
Disclaimer: I’m an SEO practitioner. I have an interest in arguing the point that SEO is still valuable.
Hear me out though and I’ll explain why jumping on any variation of the ‘SEO is dead’ bandwagon is likely to cause major problems for your website’s visibility in organic search results.
Ever since Google started penalising manipulative link building practices with their Penguin algorithm in 2012, ‘SEO is dead’ type articles started to gain traction in the digital press.
I think in part the ‘SEO is dead’ rhetoric stems from people’s misunderstanding of what SEO is in the first place.
To the layperson, SEO is multifaceted and complex. It’s human nature to try to generalise and oversimplify complex topics to make sense of them.
It has been helpful for people’s understanding over the years to make generalisations about what SEO is. Common responses to the “what is SEO?” question tend to fall into three categories.
- SEO is just about keywords in metadata
- SEO is just about getting links
- SEO is now just about good user experience
Let’s explore these generalisations…
“SEO is about keywords in metadata. Keywords aren’t as important any more so SEO is dead, isn’t it?”
There’s been a noticeable shift in the interplay between on-page keyword usage and rankings, with semantic variations (synonyms and related terms) now important as Google becomes much better at understanding natural language.
On-page optimisation has grown up. It is more sophisticated (i.e. difficult and requires more effort). The keyword-stuffers no longer get results and therefore the ‘SEO is dead’ arguments are made.
Well written copy using natural language is the domain of copywriters so you might conclude that SEO is not required as long as your copywriter is top notch. This is a dangerous conclusion to make.
An SEO will ensure that the topics being written about on your pages will trigger visibility in the search listings for the most effective search queries.
These search queries have relevance to your product or services, good search volume and show evidence that they convert.
I’m yet to come across a content strategist or copywriter that sees this as their domain and so for the time being at least it’s best to have an SEO work alongside them on your build projects.
“SEO is about getting links. Link building no longer works (and can get you penalised) so SEO is dead, isn’t it?”
Google’s war on manipulative link building practices is well documented (unnatural links penalties, Penguin updates) and this has fuelled a major shift.
Old link building practices (adding links to websites where you’re in control of the link) has been replaced with new link building practices: offering quality product/service/content and telling people about it in order to earn links.
Many of those offering the old type of link building see link earning as too much like hard work and have shut up shop.
Additionally many argue that the content side of link earning is the domain of content marketing and PR, not SEO.
For anyone observing this shift who had previously generalised SEO as just being about obtaining links the ‘SEO is dead’ conclusion is a natural one.
Commonly people are foregoing SEO investment altogether and replacing it with content marketing. I can’t press this point strongly enough: content marketing complements SEO, it does not replace it.
Even if your Content Marketing efforts are delivering links alongside the other good stuff that content marketing brings (brand awareness, social referral traffic) it’s important to understand that SEO isn’t just about links, there are many elements required for a successful SEO strategy and ignoring critical areas can mean your links are allowed little or no positive effect.