Not Knowing Your Target Audience
It sounds like this would be a hard mistake to make, but when you consider your audience at its most granular level, you might be surprised at how little you actually understand about who would want to engage with your website and why.
It’s not enough to know that your audience is primarily women aged 25-35 – you need to know their online habits, their general interests, and how they would refer to your content, products, or services when looking for businesses like yours on Google.
One thing many people neglect is the importance of long-tail keywords (keywords that are more like an entire question or phrase, rather than a couple of words and a location).
- Short-Tail Keyword: Best Security System.
- Long-Tail Keyword: What Is The Best Security System For Renters?
Sure, you define your content, products, and/or services in a certain way, but you have to keep in mind how your audience thinks and thus, how they search.
Taking Wild Shots In The Dark
If you do X, Y will happen. Or will it? You don’t know unless you try, and it could totally fail. So the better solution is to establish a comprehensive SEO plan that’s backed by experience and data. You need to know where you want to end up, what’s worked in the past, and how to get there.
- Consider where you rank for your highest volume keywords.
- Consider your website’s domain authority.
- Understand your competition – their rankings, content, website speed and performance.
- Create a task plan and a workflow in order to achieve specific goals.
- Use various online tools and platforms to help you with your strategy.
Neglecting The Groundwork
Before establishing your SEO strategy for the next 3-6 months, do a thorough audit on your website. Consider the following:
- Your website’s speed and performance – are there issues slowing it down?
- What does your overall online presence look like in terms of local listings – is all of your information correct and consistent?
- Do you have different pages in your website competing with one another for the same keyword (for instance, a category page competing with a main landing page).
- Are all of your title tags and meta descriptions filled out? Do they include high volume keywords? Are there any duplicate title tags and meta descriptions?
All of these issues can act as anchors holding you down as you try to make your way up the search engine ladder.
Churning Out Low-Quality Content
This usually comes in the form of rehashed copywriting for the sake of cramming more keywords into a website. This is a big mistake these days – Google has gotten wise to this trick.
Other issues come when you try to tie in multiple topics into a single post or try to optimize a single post with disparate keywords.
It’s been said that 90% of writing is rewriting, and that’s true to an extent – there are hundreds and thousands of blog posts on the same topic and very rarely do any of them say anything that hasn’t been said somewhere else.
The point is to create content in your own voice, covering topics that you and your users care about, that will ultimately provide them value.
Write for users, not Google – the rest will fall into place.
Disregarding Link Building
In the eyes of Google, a link to your website is an endorsement. If you have multiple links pointing to a page or post from various high value (high authority) websites, Google thinks, “Hey, this must be some quality material.”
Internal Link Structure
Just as links from other websites are regarded as endorsements, internal links – when one page in your site links to another – is also seen as an endorsement of that page. This means the pages in your site that have the most internal links pointing to them are going to rank higher than those with fewer links pointing to them.
Obviously, this means you want more internal links pointing to your most important pages.
Again, you want to do this primarily with the user in mind. Yes, this is important in terms of Google’s algorithms as they relate to the internal structure of your website, but be sure that your internal link structure is done in a way that’s convenient for the user first and foremost.
Keep your internal link structure organic and user-friendly.
Disregarding Your Website’s Performance, Particularly On Mobile
The overall quality of your website is just as important as all of the little technicalities involved with SEO – like content, keywords, and backlinks – and how your website performs on mobile is a massive part of the equation. In fact, mobile is the top choice for users today. By neglecting this factor, you’re not going to see nearly as much traffic or conversions and you’ll be putting your search engine rating in serious jeopardy.
In the case of both desktop and mobile, the speed and overall functionality of your website is a ranking factor; slow websites are penalized with ranking drops. You’re also going to see your bounce rate go through the roof.
Things that can bog down your website’s load speed are:
- Large, non-progressive, and generally unoptimized images
- A non-responsive web design
- Bloated and unclean script
- Excessive HTTP requests
- Excessive flash content
- Running too many ads
Regarding SEO As An Isolated Endeavor
This is to say, failing to understand how SEO relates to and is integrated with other marketing channels – social media, for example.
Failing To Use The Right Analytics & Tracking Tools, Or Doing So Incorrectly
You have no way of knowing if your SEO strategy is working unless you’re tracking your results.
Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console are invaluable assets that you need to be familiar with. Not only can they show you if your strategy is working or not, but they can also alert you to website issues that need to be fixed.
Ahrefs is another great resource for keeping track of your links, both internal and external.
Again, don’t take wild stabs in the dark. Without properly using the right tools, your SEO strategy is going to be aimless.