If you’re in the content marketing world or your business is looking to increase their web presence, you’ve undoubtedly heard of search engine optimization, or SEO. Admittedly, it can be a complicated, ever-changing concept and one that many people don’t fully understand. In this blog post we discuss what SEO is, why it’s important to your business and common SEO mistakes you may be making.
What Is SEO?
According to Moz, SEO is “a set of practices designed to improve the appearance and positioning of web pages in organic search results.”
Moz further breaks their definition down into three parts:
- Organic search results: The unpaid listings on a search engine results page (SERP) that the search engine has determined are most relevant to the user’s query.
- Quality of organic traffic: High-quality traffic includes only visitors who are genuinely interested in the products, information, or other resources your site offers. High-quality SEO capitalizes on the search engine’s effort to match a user’s search intent to the web pages listed in the SERP.
- Quantity of organic traffic: The number of users who reach your site via organic search results. Users are far more likelyto click on search results that appear near the top of the SERP, which is why it’s important to use your SEO strategy to rank relevant pages as highly as you can.
Why Is SEO Important For Your Business?
It may be fairly easy to understand on the basic level what the purpose of SEO is. You’re trying to improve your results on search engine results pages. Great! But why is this so important for businesses? SEO is crucial because search engines use bots (essentially simple pieces of code) that read through your entire website and analyze every piece of it. This involves following internal links to pages on your site, external links to pages on other sites and analyzing the quality of content you have published. When someone types a question into a search box, the search engine uses a complex algorithm to identify what it believes to be the most accurate and useful list of results.
As such, the goal of your business in terms of SEO is to end up on the top of the search engine results pages. That’s easier said than done, however, as it can be difficult to keep up with SEO best practices and wade through the misinformation. The following is a list of 17 common mistakes businesses make in terms of SEO.
17 Common SEO Mistakes You May Be Making
1. Poorly written content
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with regard to your SEO is to publish poorly written content. Too often companies will focus on quantity over quality. While it is essential to regularly produce content, it’s far more important that what you create is well-written, factual, relevant to the reader, provides value and is engaging and interesting. This helps to keep readers on your page for longer periods of time (thus improving your SEO) and ensures your audience sees your business as a well-informed, trustworthy leader in your field.
2. Not working on page speed
The speed of your website can have an enormous impact on your SEO. Search engines and users alike prefer websites that load quickly. In this day and age, people expect a page to load within two seconds. Think about the last time you encountered a website that struggled to load. What did you do? My guess is that you’re like many other people and swiftly abandoned the site in favor of another one that could get you information more quickly. Make it a priority to regularly monitor the performance of your website and improve it as necessary.
3. Neglecting keyword research
Yoast explains that a keyword is “a word that describes the content on your page or post best. It’s the search term that you want to rank for with a certain page. So when people search for the keyword or phrase in Google or other search engines, they should find that page on your website.”
Obviously, keywords play a huge role in getting your website seen on search engine results pages. You cannot, however, just simply choose words or phrases at random. You must perform keyword research. Keyword research is “the process of finding and analyzing keywords your ideal website visitors enter into search engines. That enables you to target the most effective keywords in your content strategy.”
There are a large number of sites designed to help your business conduct keyword research. Moz and Semrush are two of the most well-known and helpful tools for this.
4. Only focusing on high-competition keywords
Another SEO mistake related to keywords is only focusing on high-competition keywords. High-competition keywords are “those that have a lot of competition for ranking in the SERPs and can be difficult to rank for. On the other hand, low-competition keywords are those that have less competition and can be easier to rank for.”
To improve your SEO, it’s important you focus on both high- and low-competition keywords to bring in the most traffic, especially when you are just beginning to build your web presence.
5. Keyword stuffing
One last SEO mistake to mention in regard to keywords is keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing refers to “the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.”
Simply put, keyword stuffing negatively affects your SEO and creates an unpleasant experience for the reader.
6. Not having an SEO strategy
While this one may seem fairly obvious, many businesses operate their business and try to improve their SEO without a real strategy or firm understanding of what it actually is. SEO is essential for your business to succeed online, and knowing the best practices and what you should focus on is imperative. Semrush provides some of the best practices for SEO in 2023 here. One you develop a strategy, make sure to revisit it often. As with anything related to technology, things change, and you’ll want to update your strategy as needed.
7. Ignoring social media
Social media can be highly effective for improving your website SEO, but you have to use it in the correct way. Make sure to share any content you create on your website to your social media platforms, engage with users on social media and respond to any comments or questions. This helps to increase trust of your brand and your website in turn. Additionally, make sure to include links to your social media platforms on your website. Doing so will increase the number of backlinks to your site, which is also beneficial to SEO.
8. Not knowing your target audience
Knowing your target audience is key to pretty much everything in your business. If you don’t know who you’re trying to target, how will you ever reach them? Having a firm understanding of who your target audience is and what they want from you will help you create content that engages them and provides value. Without this first step it’s unlikely your SEO strategy will do you any good.
9. Neglecting to optimize for local search
Optimizing your website for local searches can help you get more traffic from people in your local area. Some easy ways to do this are to make sure your content is relevant to the local area and includes keywords related to the location as well as listing your business in local directories like Google My Business. This step is an easy one to overlook, but it’s especially important if you are a business providing services to only a certain area.
10. Not optimizing for mobile devices
It’s safe to say that the majority of people on the internet are using some sort of mobile device. As such, your website needs to look and function as well on mobile as it does on a desktop. One way you can take care of this is by making sure your website theme is responsive and automatically resizes images and texts on mobile devices. If it doesn’t, it’s time to choose a new theme. Another way to make sure your content is optimized for mobile devices is to manually check. Before posting your blog article to the web, that it looks good on mobile as well as a desktop! This important step is often missed, but it’s a sure way to provide a good user experience to your consumer, no matter what they are reading on.
11. Putting off server issues
It’s inevitable that at some point in time your website will experience some problems. It’s important for SEO, however, that when it happens you take care of the issues promptly. Not maintaining your website can result in it slipping in search rankings, as Google and other search engines don’t want to send users to a site that is poorly maintained. Regularly check your site to make sure everything works, and if doesn’t, take the steps needed to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.
12. Not using H tags properly
H tags should be used for all your headings. More specifically, use H1 for your blog post title, H2 for your main subheadings and H3 for any other headings. Using H tags serves several purposes. First, they help Google know what questions your blog post answers, which helps your SEO since Google can then show your blog post when searchers type in something related to your topic.
The other reason that using headings helps with your SEO is they help the reader skim the content. A wall of unbroken text is difficult to read and likely to discourage readers from staying on your page for long. Breaking up the text with headings helps readers digest the content and allows them to find what they’re looking for quickly.
13. Forgetting to add meta tags
Meta tags are a huge part of SEO because they tell search engines what your page is about. Just as with most things related to SEO, they are quick and easy to add and provide a whole lot of value to your page. It’s as simple as adding title tags (no more than 65 characters and includes keywords) and a meta description (short summary of the page no more than 155 characters, also including keywords). Meta keywords (a type of meta tag that appears in the HTML code of a web page and tells search engines what the page is about) are used less often now, but they can still be beneficial if they’re related to the content on the page.
14. Not analyzing data
Analyzing data is essential for understanding how your website is working and what changes might need to be made to improve your SEO. Google Analytics is a tool that can give you information about your website visitors and where they’re coming from, keywords used for search engine rankings and much more. This data should be analyzed regularly to ensure search engines continue to drive organic traffic to your site.
15. Focusing on the quantity of backlinks instead of the quality
Any backlinks to your website should come from high-quality sources. Authoritative sources help improve your website’s visibility and SEO, while low-quality links can hurt your website’s ranking.
16. Publishing plagiarized content
Plagiarism is never okay, no matter how it’s done. This includes poorly summarizing content from outside sources as well as accidentally forgetting to cite your sources. Not only is it unethical, but search engines will penalize your website for it. An easy way to make sure your content is original is to use a plagiarism checker. There are many available online and are quite simple to use.
17. Not updating or deleting out-of-date content
Out-of-date content or broken links on your website can negatively impact your SEO. Make sure you regularly update old blog posts, starting with the oldest content and posts that get little or no traffic. In a perfect world, you should update the content, links, statistics, keywords, etc., but if that content can’t be salvaged for some reason, deleting it is better than keeping it on your site. Not only does republishing your content help your SEO, but it provides new content for your site and for your social media channels, creating less work for you in the long run.
Search engine optimization is what drives organic traffic to your site and makes a huge impact on the success of your business. By avoiding the common mistakes discussed in this blog article, you give your business the best shot at ranking at the top of the search engine results pages. It may seem complicated at first, but when you fully understand what SEO is and what it can do for your business, it’s easy to implement.
Do You Need Help With Your SEO?
If you need help with your search engine optimization, contact us at Three Girls Media. We offer a 30-minute complimentary consultation to discuss the specific needs and goals of your business.