Businesses today rely more on online content and web traffic to increase their consumer bases than ever before, and this dependence is only going to increase in the future.
One of the most important components of online marketing for businesses is search engine optimization, also known as SEO.
This is a set of practices and guidelines with the intent of making a company's content more competitive in the online marketing sphere. The goal is to improve a website’s ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and overall authority score by obtaining valuable organic backlinks from other credible websites.
But the world of SEO is complicated, and you can't learn to effectively navigate it overnight. That's why businesses often leave their SEO needs in the hands of professionals. Here are 18 common mistakes that novice online marketers make in the early stages of their SEO journey.
1. Choosing Guest Post Domains Carelessly
Guest posting, or contributing content to a third-party blog with the intent of linking back to your business's website, is a common and effective SEO tactic. But the biggest mistake novices make when guest posting is choosing an unreputable domain to host their content.
A backlink to your site on a blog that is seen as sub-par or unreliable will reflect poorly on your business. Always do your research in advance and pick a guest posting domain from a reputable provider that search engines will view favorably.
2. Keyword Stuffing
One of the most important SEO guidelines when creating content for the web is to avoid keyword stuffing. Keywords are necessary to help your website show up higher in the SERPs for relevant search terms.
However, there is a limit to how many times a particular keyword can be included before Google identifies it as overstuffed – this was a major problem back in the 00s.
While there are no hard-and-fast rules for optimal keyword density, it’s best to sprinkle in keywords naturally rather than aim for a set number. This ensures your text reads naturally, and you won’t be penalized by Google.
3. Posting for the Wrong Audience
Guest posts need to be relevant in order to be effective. If you're posting content to blogs that have nothing to do with your company's niche, Google will smell a rat. Why would these pages be linking to you?
Instead, focus on domains that fit within or complement your niche in order to better reach your target audience.
4. Unnatural Prose
Keyword inclusion is very important for effective SEO content, but it shouldn't take priority over a coherent body of text. If there are so many ill-fitting keywords clumsily crammed into a text that it becomes difficult to parse, this will be a red flag to readers that the content is inauthentic.
Always work to include keywords naturally and never force them in to the detriment of the text's readability.
5. Ignoring the Reader’s Perspective
From the perspective of a company, the purpose of a blog is to drive traffic. But for a casual reader, it's to gain useful information from the content they're reading. If the post reads as a naked advertisement and there’s no valuable information, what was the point of the post? They could find your contact number at the top of the webpage – what you’re aiming to do is to give them a reason to trust you.
Make sure your posts always provide inherent value to the reader. Promotional links and CTAs should feel like a natural inclusion in an otherwise whole and functional text, not like the focal point of a hastily compiled article.
6. Flooding the Net with Mediocre Content
When developing SEO content to promote their brand, companies often assume that the more content available on the web, the better. This is actually not the case. A surplus of sub-par, low-quality content can do more harm than good in the eyes of consumers.
It's better to focus on improving the content that you do put out rather than ramp up production at the expense of quality.
7. Not Prioritizing Your Website’s Internal SEO
Expertly curated, well-written guest posts with strong backlinks are great, but if readers click the link to your site only to discover an inscrutable mess, that spells trouble for your brand.
On-point navigation is at the center of any good SEO strategy. Whenever viewers arrive at your website – wherever they arrive from – they want to find a well-designed, easy-to-use website that takes them on a smooth journey to what they’re looking for.
Make sure your website is fully functional, polished, and consistently updated before you start drawing in crowds to see it.
8. Including Too Many Links
On the other end of the spectrum, it's absolutely possible to go overboard with links. When readers see an article that is just chock full of highlighted hyperlinks, it can be off-putting. Search engines may also not take your page seriously if it looks like you’re spamming links for no reason.
Use links only when they’re relevant and appropriate.
9. Not Registering with the Search Engines
Don't underestimate the value of officially registering your enterprise with the search engine's native marketing tools, such as Google My Business.
This can really streamline the process of helping your company's web pages move up on search engine results pages, as well as help integrate your information into the search engine's formatting tools.
10. Not Soliciting Reviews
Now more than ever, consumers rely on reviews from real people to determine if a business is worth patronizing. If a business doesn't have very many reviews, this can be discouraging for potential customers.
But patrons don't always take the initiative to write reviews of their own accord. Be sure to encourage customers to leave a review, as this can help your business seem more legitimate.
11. Ignoring Mobile Browsers
Make sure your brand's website is optimized for mobile browsing. Nowadays, more often than not, people will be surfing the web on their mobile phones, and it can be painfully irritating trying to navigate a desktop-only webpage on a mobile browser.
Taking the initiative to ensure ease of access for cell phone users will help you retain viewers.
12. Squandering Your Social Media Presence
Social media is one of the most useful tools in any business's arsenal for broadening its consumer base and strengthening its brand. But being active on social media can also improve your SEO stats.
Search engines take social media presence into account when determining how active or relevant a particular brand is and are more likely to prioritize those with more consistent social media activity.
13. Not Considering Search Intent
When selecting keywords to optimize for SEO content, make sure to be cognizant of what browsers are looking for when they search specific terms. Primarily, keep an eye out for distinctions between information-seeking keywords and commercial keywords.
Browsers including words like "service" or "near me" at the end of a search term are more likely looking for a service provider, while those searching for terms on their own are probably trying to learn something about the topic at hand. Make sure content including these keywords is tailored towards these needs.
14. Being Behind the Times
SEO is a very dynamic field that is constantly changing and improving every single day. Because of this, businesses engaged in online marketing need to keep on top of new trends and developments in the field in order to stay relevant.
If you're living in the past and relying on outdated SEO tactics to get results, you're likely to be disappointed.
15. Limiting Yourself to Text Content
Blog posts aren't the only way to drive traffic to your site. Try your hand at things like short-form video content and social media posts as well.
16. Not Customizing Content for Location
Location-specific service pages are perfect for retaining customers looking for services in their specific area. It makes your business seem more legitimate and assures customers that your services are accessible to them.
17. Not Addressing Broken Links
Old links to defunct web pages strewn about the web are not good to have associated with your brand. Be sure to look into link repair services or have obsolete content removed.
18. Not Indexing Web Pages
Indexing your site's individual web pages with the search engine will increase traffic to your site, as it will have each individual page listed in the SERP. That way, your website shows up more often in results and helps browsers find their specific needs more quickly.
Improve Your Company’s SERP Ranking Today!
These common mistakes can be the kiss of death for a new business trying to get its online content off the ground. But by taking the time to properly learn the SEO ropes, or better yet, by outsourcing your SEO needs to seasoned industry professionals, you can avoid these pitfalls and increase your company's consumer base in no time.
The best choice is always to work with a trusted SEO expert to improve your SERP ranking and website traffic – there’s no substitute for professional expertise.