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Top 10 SEO Mistakes That Could be Avoided

read in Growth

As SEO continues to evolve, there will always be new top strategies - and top SEO mistakes. Click to learn more so you can avoid making these mistakes.

Search engine optimization has been around as long as the web itself, but creators still make crucial SEO mistakes. And the results of those mistakes can create significant missed opportunities. 

Just consider for a moment that two-thirds of people who lay eyes on the first five search results for a specific query end up clicking through to the site! Good SEO makes that happen. In the following article, we show you how to keep yours on point by avoiding the 10 most common pitfalls.

1. Ignoring Headings

Heading tags are among the SEO pitfalls you will encounter that may not seem like such a big deal at first. As long as you have a heading, even if it’s in the same font, you should be good to go, right?

Heading tags (H2, H3, particularly) are important because they help web crawlers organize the information within your content. This makes it clear what your content is about, how deeply you dive into the topic, and, most important of all, how to rank your content for the specific queries that people are searching for online. 

Headings are also important to readers. They make the content more easily scannable, cutting down on the time it takes readers to find the information that is of the most value. 

2. Steering Clear of Numbers and Bullets

Another of the SEO strategies that often go off the rails is the use of numbering and bullets. Again, these make the content more easily scannable, creating white space and clearing up any confusion as to what the content might cover. 

Just as important is your ability to use numbers and bullets effectively. When it comes to either of these tools, make sure you’ve got at least three pieces of related information. You wouldn’t bullet a single sentence, and there’s something aesthetically off about bulleting two items.

Three or more items create a series of objects, actions, or ideas that are easy to follow, and it just looks better on the page. Going beyond that, keep bulleting and numbering styles simple to prevent any unusual cosmetics. You can do this by using the styles that are native to your content management system instead of pasting them from a word processing program. 

3. Mishandling Keywords

More SEO problems can arise when you don’t put enough effort into your keywords and keyword phrases. These are not terms you should just pluck out of thin air as long as they’re related to your topic. There is a right way and a wrong way to prepare.

First, it’s important to understand the purpose of keywords. They are there to match your content with the most relevant web search. Ask yourself what people are searching for surrounding a given topic (i.e., questions, comparisons, contradictions, basic “wiki” type things). 

From there, do a little research using specialized tools. The most famous one, also free, is the Google Keyword Planner, which you can access and learn more about here.

This tool will tell you how many searches were done using a keyword and all phrases that might be related to it. Along with the volume, you’ll also get to see what competition levels are like for that term.

Ideally, you want a term or phrase that has a few thousand searches over a month but very little competition. From there, build a piece of content around that term or phrase that answers all the questions a consumer could want to know. 

Additionally, you must place the keywords throughout the copy without overdoing it. Find a place for it as close to your first sentence as possible (ideally within it), and use it once per 100 words of copy. Also, use it at least once in a header and once at the end of your call-to-action. 

4. Overwriting 

Long-form copy tends to do better online in terms of drawing in and keeping traffic. However, many content creators can take the wrong lesson from this, creating lengthy content to check a box instead of offering value. 

Fluff, or content that adds no value to the piece, is to be avoided at all costs. Fluff can come in many forms, from stating the obvious to repeating yourself in different ways as a method of padding out the word count to what you think it should be. 

Be ruthless in your edits and cut out as many words as possible that fail to add value. Also, don’t overcomplicate things. Having a doctorate doesn’t mean you should write with that audience in mind.

It’s quite the opposite. Most people read comfortably enough on a Grade Level of 5-8. Anything beyond that, and you risk losing your audience. 

That doesn’t mean dumbing down the information, though. You’ll find that out if you ever try to explain quantum mechanics on a second-grade level. It simply means using the most straightforward methods of explaining ideas, no matter how complicated they seem.

5. Losing Sight of the Reader

Web marketing has taken a hard turn towards social media and app development, which also relies on SEO for search results. More businesses are looking at social networks as a way to grow their brands and stand out in an often crowded echo chamber. 

This “notice me” mentality can cause you to lose sight of your readers. You start looking at content as something to build your brand instead of something that legitimately adds value, and before you know it, you’ve lost sight of your original purpose. How do you break the cycle?

Start by remembering what drove the reader’s search in the first place. What question or problem did they have specifically regarding your product, service, or industry? Where did other solutions fall short in their eyes, and what can you do to differentiate?

It boils down to the question of what makes them click on specific results, both yours and those of your competition. Creating content as a solution in mind for those specific problems will give you a better chance of connecting with them and standing out from your competitors. 

6. Promoting Self Over Value

This point tracks well with no. 5, but it zeroes in on self-promotion. Self-promotion is the tactic that influencers often use to make up for deficiencies in their content. 

Consumers have become pretty adept at knowing when they’re being “sold to” instead of informed or aided in some way. They go into every piece of non-news content ready for the pitch. 

When you find yourself gravitating towards these types of behaviors, that’s when it’s important to shut it down and go back to the content itself. Ask yourself if your words are encouraging the reader to buy something or attempting to solve their problems in some way. 

Ideally, your content will do the sales work for you. It will do so by offering the reader some type of understanding and value and doing it without expecting anything in return. 

7. Taking Content Shortcuts 

Content shortcuts are dangerous traps for creators and influencers. That’s because of the sheer volume of content that it takes to remind search engines you’re out there and to stay relevant in the eyes of the public.

The question of how often you should post has been widely discussed and debated since the advent of social media. Your blog is influenced by how often you post as well, but the key thing to remember is that it’s not as much about posting frequency as it is about post quality.

Are you adding value or simply saying the same thing over and over again in slightly different ways? While repurposing content is an effective strategy that you should be using, you want to avoid simply copying and pasting from one platform to the next.

That’s because each platform varies in the types of content that do well. People might stick with a blog or Facebook post longer than they will a tweet that’s just a screenshot of the same post. User expectations and preferences change, so dicing up your content into chunks that best represent the brevity and audience attitude found on a specific platform is a good idea.  

Plagiarism is another content shortcut that can get you into trouble, not only with your reputation but also with search engines (as in blacklisted). It happens through verbatim stealing of content or through plagiarizing ideas without offering attribution.

Last but not least, make sure you don’t sound like everyone else writing about the same stuff. Create sections that no one else has thought of that add to the overall conversation. Find your specific voice, and use it to distinguish yourself.

8. Ignoring Images and Videos

The next SEO practices that tend to trip up content creators involve visuals. The web has always been visual, but advancements in technology and mobile optimization have made video consumption one of the fastest-growing areas of content marketing around. 

Isn’t a picture worth a thousand words? Why would keywords ever be relevant to visual content? As it turns out, the two are inseparable, and here’s why. 

See, when web crawlers index for search results, they’re not just looking to deliver textual content. They want the best multimedia results, because, quite frankly, that’s what consumers want. Therefore, the AI needs to know what type of visual content your site includes. 

Using proper keywords in the meta descriptions gives web crawlers a clear idea of what your videos and images depict. As a result, those mechanisms can be assured they’re delivering relevant content to the consumers they serve.  

9. Headlines

Another marketing mistake that is SEO-related is writing a poor headline. Headlines are so important to your audience. 

They need to have as close to the exact phrase that a reader is searching for. Think long-tail keywords here, and be as specific as you possibly can. 

Netflix is a great example of a content platform that knows how to use long-tail keywords to structure its offerings. Instead of simply offering you “Dramas,” for example, Netflix gets way more specific with examples like “Critically-Acclaimed Gory Dramas.” 

This same type of specificity should be brought to your headlines (and, yes, categories if applicable). Your headlines are how you initially show your audience that you understand what they’re looking for and can be trusted with their time. 

The good news about great headlines is that they are easy to replicate once you break them down into their parts. Start with the main focus (the specific search terms, or as close to them as you can get). Let’s continue with the Netflix example to see what we can produce. 

From there, we want to give the audience action (“Watch These 5 Critically-Acclaimed Gory Dramas…”). Lastly, produce an outcome, reason, or something to expect (…If You’re in the Mood for Something Heavy Tonight”).

Now just combine the two. You’re left with a headline that is longer than ideal, but it piques curiosity and tells audiences and search engines exactly who this content is for. 

10. Linking, Analytics, and Feedback

Content creators can get too wrapped up sometimes in the cycle of creation that they forget to reflect. They also fail to handle the under-the-hood stuff that’s so necessary for growth and scalability. 

Three specific areas you’ll want to focus on to keep from falling into the trap are linking analytics and feedback. Let’s look at how ignoring each is a mistake.

  • Internal and External Linking: Without relevant sources and backup information, your content struggles to appear authoritative.
  • Ignoring Analytics: Failing to drill into your analytics keeps you from understanding what’s working and what isn’t with your content.
  • Avoiding Feedback: Criticism can be hard to take, but failing to do so can open you up to embarrassment and the loss of reputation.

Make all three of these areas an essential part of your SEO game. It will keep you from being blinded to your weaknesses, and it will help you build relationships with other influential sites or personalities. 

These SEO Mistakes Could Be Holding You Back

If you want to position yourself effectively with search engine optimization, then you must know the main SEO mistakes we’ve listed above and how to avoid them. Make value your focus, don’t neglect the under-the-hood stuff, and do careful research when choosing and using the right keywords.

Ready to take your SEO game up a notch? This is just one of the many areas Nizek can help you with when it comes to your project. Contact us today to tell us more about your project. 


Frontend Team

With technology, we make things easy, fast, and appealing for the end user, increasing the engagement rate of a product

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