No, despite what you may have heard, SEO is not dead. That’s just people being dramatic. At the same time, it is changing and changing rapidly. For that reason, if you want to stay ahead of the curve it is important to know what’s going on and how you can take advantage of it. Only in that way can you make sure that what you’re doing in SEO actually has any value.
Today we’re going to explore some of the big mistakes that many SEO professionals are making. These fall into two broad categories. The first one is using strategies from 2016 and back in 2017. The second one is not being on the ball and letting small mistakes influence the effectiveness of what they’re doing.
Sound good? Let’s get started.
Not having a checklist
The very first thing that we’re going to discuss is the humble checklist. Yes, I know, a checklist? But bear with me here. Checklists have proven invaluable in numerous professions. For example, hospitals and surgeries now use them regularly to significantly reduce the risk of death from surgery.
How do they do this?
By identifying small maneuvers and actions that can make a difference but are easily overlooked. Yes, individually these actions might not be that big. They might only make a 1 or 2 percent difference overall. But when you’re talking about big numbers – and hopefully you are – a couple of small little actions that add 1 to 2 percent to your campaign’s effectiveness will make a huge difference to your bottom line.
So, the first thing that you should sit down and do with your SEO team is create a checklist of activities and actions that are important to SEO. As an added bonus, you’ll use that time to share news and ideas that will make it clear what techniques work and which ones do not, thereby shedding wasteful actions and focusing on what will actually boost your strategy.
What’s more, an up to date checklist will be phenomenally useful when training new members of staff. So go on, do that first.
Thinking it’s still all about keywords
Just a couple of years ago you could make a lot of money by finding underused keywords, building a website that was covered with it and then redirecting traffic from that site to your own. That doesn’t work anymore. After all, Google reads the articles out there as well.
(Do you ever wonder if Google’s algorithm reading about Google’s algorithm amounts to self-reflection? Okay, that’s just me then.)
Sure, Google still works with keywords, but they’re not half as important anymore. Instead, they’re now targeting underlying concepts. Yes, that’s right. Google now understands language well enough that simply writing about keywords is no longer enough.
Instead, texts need to actually be about what you say they’re about, with the algorithm determining based on word groupings what you’re actually discussing. This is a massive boon for those websites that have decided that a lot of high-quality content is valuable. It isn’t quite as great for those SEO practitioners that are still creating huge amounts of mediocre content in the hope of building lots of links.
Often content gets duplicated by accident. For example, your website might have two different ways of pointing to the same text. The thing is, just because you do so by accident doesn’t suddenly make it alright. In fact, it makes it far worse as you’re far less likely to actually notice that it’s going on and that it’s affecting your page ranking.
For that reason, it is vital that you regularly check for duplication both on and off your site. Fortunately, that is quite easy to do. Simply turn to such programs as Copyscape to give you an idea of where texts are being duplicated.
Also, be aware that print friendly versions of pages, as well as different paths to the same pages can lead Google to seeing duplicated content. Similarly, if you have something as http and https then this can be interpreted as duplicated content.
The easiest way to avoid this kind of problem (after deleting the page, of course) is to use 301 redirect. That will make it possible to have multiple pages with the same content without it impacting your scoring in any way.
Quantity over quality
Google cares about quality. Sure, this isn’t sometimes fully embraced in their algorithm, but that’s more because their algorithm is a work in progress. The thing is, you can be sure that they’re going to continue updating their algorithm in that direction for the forseeable future, so that they can improve their reviews of companies and websites.
So even if right focusing on quantity is still a feasible strategy that is earning you a lot of traffic, that will continue to change and to shift against you – until one day they make that one little shift or change that will kill all your efforts and leave you without any traffic whatsoever.
Make sure that you get ahead of that by starting to focus on high quality content today.
Now, to be clear, not everything that you’re doing has to be absolute outstanding. That isn’t even possible. Instead, the right strategy to pursue is to have some pieces that are truly outstanding while other pieces are simply pretty good.
Then, when you have a piece that is really drawing in a lot of people, don’t just leave it be, but take extra steps to make it extra good. That means updating it, adding new information to it and in other ways making sure that it stays relevant and continues to serve as a portal to draw in extra traffic to your website.
Focusing on the wrong audience
Sometimes we get so obsessed with in audiences to our site that we forget what they’re actually there for. For example, somebody selling pots in Arkansas, starts blogging about it, ends up drawing in a lot of traffic and thinks they’re a huge success. Except that they’re only selling pots in Arkansas and the people that are actually coming in aren’t actually looking to buy pots. And so, though their traffic is up, their sales numbers are not.
Similarly, there are plenty of content marketing attempts that target the wrong people as well. For example, a lawyer site who writes articles that are only interesting for other lawyers, or a software development firm that writes articles which only programmers can understand.
Now, obviously that won’t work. This is not the audience for your product. For that reason, when you think of a new article or a new keyword, make sure that it actually fits the audience you’re trying to draw in. Because, sure it’s always nice to have more authority and to rank better overall in Google, but at one point you have to draw the line and aim at pulling in the audience that will actually buy the products that you’re offering.
Not using the right anchor text for internal links
Internal links are a fantastic opportunity to let the Google algorithm know what a page is actually about. So don’t waste that by anchoring your text to something like ‘click here’ or ‘this post’. Instead, make sure that your link actually contains the keywords that your article is about. In this way it’s far more likely that you will actually have your article rank for those words.
Remember, your link doesn’t have to be only one or two words long. You can easily highlight five or six words. In this way if you want to have the words ‘click here’ included, you still can. Just make sure that they’re followed by words that actually relate to what the article is about.
Putting the algorithm in front of your visitors
Yes, of course you want to rank well in Google. If you can do so effectively, then you’ve got a real opportunity to draw in lots of traffic. Just remember though that only drawing in the traffic is not enough. They also need to stick around on your site once they’ve arrived.
For that reason, make sure that your page actually serves the purpose that it’s meant to, by giving people the information that they’re looking for. This will ultimately serve you better than just targeting SEO as it will reduce bounce rate as well as make it far more likely that users will return to your page in the future – which in turn will benefit your SEO strategy.
So yes, focus on building a good SEO strategy. Just realize that that is not the only thing that matters. Ultimately, serving the people who come into your site well will help you far more than gaming Google.
SEO is not dead. Instead, it’s evolving. The great news is that it’s evolving towards giving users what they want – which is high-quality information that is truthful. That means that ultimately white hat strategies will pay off far more than black hat strategies as well as making the two tracks – optimizing for SEO and optimizing for visitors – fall more and more in line.
So the best strategy is to continue to optimize for SEO, even as you slowly put more and more emphasis on serving the people that come to your site. If you can do that, then you’ll be following close in the footsteps of what Google is trying to do and your content will continue to rank well for years to come.