Remember that scene in Rambo IV where the Burmese soldiers throw landmines into a murky pond before forcing the villagers to walk blindly into those same muddy waters?
No? What do you mean you’ve never seen Rambo IV?! It’s a classic!!!
Well, for many content providers, that scene pretty much sums up the world of SEO in a nutshell. The landmines are SEO mistakes, the villagers are the content providers and Google is the Burmese Army, eagerly waiting for you to put a foot wrong.
Luckily, your pals here at Designer Websites are playing the part of John Rambo, equipped with our trusty bow and arrow of SEO tips to help you make it through those waters unscathed.
The fact is, SEO can be a real minefield: one wrong step, misguided keyword or neglected precaution could see your content go up in smoke.
Don’t wait for Google to draw first blood; take the SEO war straight to their door with this standard-issue survival guide to SEO.
Common SEO Mistakes
When it comes to SEO, the forever-changing, ever-evolving Google algorithm makes staying above water in the SERP a never-ending task.
Even those with an ironclad strategy and bulletproof knowledge can find themselves caught out from time to time, especially when it comes time for an algorithm change straight out of left field.
To help you stay ahead of the curve, here’s a handful of the most common SEO mistakes and how to avoid them.
Jon Bon Jovi once sang, “I don’t know where I’m going, only God knows where I’ve been”. If JBJ applied that same mindset to SEO, he’d make for a pretty poor digital marketer.
In the world of SEO, strategizing is a key part of the process; failure to plan and neglecting to track your performance along the way can lead to a myriad of issues down the line.
How to avoid
Create an organised SEO strategy and track its KPIs. As the old saying goes, “proper planning and preparation prevents p**s poor performance”. Meanwhile, the beauty of tracing KPIs is that it allows you to refocus if certain aspects of your strategy aren’t up to scratch. If one area of your approach shows signs of weakness, don’t be afraid to amend accordingly, take action or change course.
Creating Duplicate Content
Duplicating content can be extremely detrimental to SEO. Worse still, duplicating content can also be extremely detrimental to SEO.
Jokes aside, mirror-image text can lead to search engine confusion, preventing or delaying indexing. This kind of digital déjà vu is a common offence for e-commerce sites, often due to the sheer volume of their product catalogues; however, that’s not to say other content providers are immune.
How to avoid
Keep content unique across the board. While it can be tempting to copy and paste content from A to B when a common theme allows, the most effective way to avoid duplication is to simply be original. Whether it’s product copy or a meta description, fresh wording can make all the difference. Conversely, it’s important to stay consistent when it comes to things like URLs – e.g. avoid interchangeable use of caps – as this can also confuse the search engine.
Targeting the Wrong Keywords
Another common mistake is that many content providers try to run before they can walk when it comes to keywords. If your site sells football boots, chances are your listing is not going to compete with SportsDirect anytime soon.
Targeting keywords with a huge search volume is not something to hang your hat on, particularly for newer, younger websites. It’s the equivalent of walking into a gym for the first time and trying the lift the heaviest dumbbell – start light and work your way up.
How to avoid
Don’t try to cover every keyword in your chosen topic; instead, try focusing on less competitive keywords. This will allow you to gain traction from a less crowded marketplace, building your site reputation which will then allow you to effectively target high-volume keywords down the line.
Ignoring Old Content
In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race and settle into the “new content” production line. However, overlooking existing content on your site can be an easily avoidable error.
Historical content that is past its sell-by date is like hoarding an old collection of insignificant newspapers: no-one’s going to read them, they’re cluttering up space and, for all intents and purposes, they’re virtually useless in their current state. But they don’t have to be…
How to avoid
Much like a newspaper, you can recycle your content to breathe new life into an old post. If your historical content still holds relevance, simply upgrade with new stats, figures and information, updating its design and potentially adding new imagery/video. Better still, a simple factual facelift necessitates less work which presents a higher ROI.
Neglecting Internal Links
If you’re publishing copy on your website or blog and not linking internally to other relevant pages on your site, you’re seriously missing a trick. Any time you publish new content, it’s wise to keep in mind ways you can link this to other content within your overall site (or group of sites).
If your target audience is viewing your content, you’ve already done the hard work. The reader is clearly interested in your content by their very presence, so redirecting them to other relevant pages can be effortless. Think of it as a street promoter enticing you into a club with the promise of free entry. Once you’re in the venue, it’s far easier for the bar staff to shill the BOGOF cocktails.
How to avoid
Write your content with your existing content in mind. If your subject matter is close to that of another, find ways to weave your secondary page into the copy and link appropriately. It’s also a good idea to link to your most authoritative pages; this is a great way to build link equity in your new page while further bolstering the existing page you’re linking to.
Only serving Google
It’s easy to lose sight that Google isn’t the only search engine online. There’s no denying that it’s certainly the biggest, but it’s definitely not the only game in town.
Bing and Yahoo are common alternatives; however, if you think outside the box, it could play into your favour massively.
How to avoid
Did you know that YouTube is the internet’s second biggest search engine? Video content is on the rise and only likely to grow in the coming years, according to industry forecast reports from Cisco.
Building your brand on YouTube can be a great way to kill two birds with one stone: getting ahead of the competition in a growing medium, while also capitalising on a commonly overlooked search engine.
For more SEO pointers, why not head over to our SEO Tips blog for some insider insight? Alternatively, for additional information, drop us a line using the button below.
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