Done correctly, implementing sound SEO strategies can spread brand awareness, improve search engine results, and drastically increase the quantity and quality of your inbound traffic — all of which lead to more conversions, more leads, and more revenue.
Unfortunately, most companies either aren’t familiar with SEO, don’t understand its importance, or blatantly ignore proven best practices — and it shows. In one sense, this is a real shame because a little SEO love can go a long way. On the other, it’s super awesome because it presents a golden opportunity for your organization to optimize your digital properties and get ahead of the competition.
Regardless of where you’re at in your digital marketing journey, it’s important to understand common SEO mistakes and how to correct them. So, today, we’re going to run through five of the most common SEO issues and offer simple advice on how to fix each problem.
Mistake: Sure, meta descriptions don’t directly influence search engine results page (SERP) rankings. However, search engine algorithms rely heavily on their interpretation of how visitors are experiencing a given page, which means you need to be writing for a human audience — not for an unknown mathematical equation.
If a user reads your meta description on a SERP, clicks through to the page, and is greeted with totally unexpected and irrelevant content, they’re likely going to bounce — which is a negative SEO metric that will damage your efforts over time.
Solution: You need to write concise and direct meta descriptions that accurately describe the content of each page. Try to keep the length of your copy at less than 160 characters to ensure your description fits on the SERP. At the same time, include enough information to describe the content sufficiently and compel your users to click through to the page.
For best results, be sure to include your focus keyword in the meta description in a way that feels relevant and organic. Google will bold these keywords on the SERP when they match your users’ queries to reinforce the fact that they are relevant searches, giving you an additional advantage over your competitors.
Lastly, never use the same meta description copy for multiple pages. Duplicate content and meta information confuse users and search engines alike, which could lead to poor user experiences and a steep decline in clicks, time on page, and conversions.
2) Keyword Stuffing
Mistake: Keyword stuffing is an outdated and shortsighted SEO technique designed to trick the search engines into ranking organic content higher on SERPs. The premise is simple: overload your page with keywords to emphasize the message of the page. The problem is in the execution, as keyword stuffing always leads to odd and irregular phrasing with very little value and a terrible experience for the user.
Google and Bing now actually penalize websites for keyword stuffing by placing them lower in their rankings, so repeating the same irrelevant phrase over and over again isn’t going to do you any favors with your visitors or with search engines. And if you’re thinking you can hide keyword stuffing with white text on a white background or with CSS, think again. These keywords might be hidden to the user, but the search engines can still crawl them, and your content will be penalized.
Solution: Solving this problem is pretty straightforward. It’s all about setting the proper context. Write naturally, and implement focus and secondary keywords whenever appropriate. Remember that you’re writing for your audience, not for algorithms.
Good SEO and page ranking is based heavily on providing useful information, crafting a quality user experience, and improving the number of page views, time on page, and backlinks from trusted sources. If you’re struggling to incorporate good keywords without seeming too obvious, consider using close synonyms and long-tail keywords instead. Search engines will crawl these phrases, and your rankings will improve as more and more readers spend time absorbing all the great content on the page.
3) Not Writing for Your Customer Base
Mistake: If you’re not sure who you should be writing for, you’ll never understand how you should be writing for them, which means you can’t create relevant, compelling content that guides your prospects through a gradual and comfortable customer journey.
Oddly enough, the majority of marketing teams have outdated buyer personas or, worse yet, have never developed their personas in the first place. As a result, their content doesn’t fit their ideal target audiences — and neither do their keywords.
If the keywords don’t fit, your ranking will suffer, and your users won’t be able to find your content, much less click on it. And if the content doesn’t fit, your users won’t think you can solve their problem, and they’ll move on to your competitors. Either way, not understanding your customer base is a lose-lose situation.
Solution: If you haven’t developed accurate and effective buyer personas yet, stop reading and go back to the drawing board. These audience depictions will help you better understand and write for your preferred buyer segments — including those in specific industries and with certain job titles, interests, and pain points. Even better, these profiles will grant you insight into the verbiage used by your target audience, allowing you to build a more robust and accurate list of keywords.
Once you know who you’re writing for, you should begin drafting a list of questions that your products and services are designed to answer and solve. Modern content marketing is about building trust, and the best way to do that is to position yourself and your organization as thought leaders in your space. By building credibility with your audience, you can lay the groundwork for further interaction as you gradually guide them along the customer journey.
4) Ignoring Off-Page SEO
Mistake: It’s easy to forget about off-page SEO. In fact, many marketers don’t even consider it as part of their holistic strategy. However, developing engaging content for other websites can help you generate serious brand awareness and credibility while also building quality backlinks, which is a major SEO coup.
You can also improve off-page SEO through social media marketing and getting more brand mentions. Obviously, these are long-term tactics, so a lot of companies don’t invest the proper resources to improve their off-page SEO efforts. Off-page SEO can be a tough nut to crack and requires consistency from your team, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort.
Solution: Off-page SEO helps search engines interpret how the rest of the world perceives your website and other digital properties. That’s why it’s so important to build good relationships with other thought leaders in your space, especially when those thought leaders work for companies like Forbes, Search Engine Land, MarketingProfs, and the Content Marketing Institute.
Securing backlinks from prominent, powerful brands is a great look for your organization and is an excellent SEO tactic. We’ve found that the most effective way to do this is by reaching out to relevant organizations and offering to write bylines and guest content in exchange for linking opportunities and @ mentions on social media.
The key is not to be too pushy and reach out to partners who will find your content relevant. Send out a friendly email or direct message on social media asking if they’d like to review some of your recent content (which you should link to in your message) and perhaps host a guest blogging opportunity. If you hear back, great! If not, reach out again a week or so later with fresh content and ideas. If, at that time, you still don’t hear back, move on to greener pastures.
5) Failing to Audit Digital Properties Regularly
Mistake: SEO is not a set-it-and-forget-it exercise. Search algorithms are constantly changing, and you need to keep pace with Google if you want to stay ahead of the competition. Webmasters who don’t audit their digital properties consistently and thoroughly could be missing out on relevant traffic, failing to find and fix broken files and links, and serving up a less-than-stellar user experience with aging content and slow loading times.
Therefore, if you’re not regularly auditing your website, landing pages, social media platforms, and off-page strategies, you’re already behind. Even if you are regularly performing SEO audits, it’s possible that your methods are slightly dated or that you’re not reviewing the right elements.
Solution: Opinions vary on how often an organization should perform an SEO audit, and it really does depend on the size of your company, your objectives, and the amount of content on your site. That said, a good general rule of thumb is to perform a comprehensive audit twice per year.
Bear in mind that you should be reviewing technical, on-page, content, and off-page SEO (read more here). The first step is crawling your website using a tool like SEMrush or Screaming Frog. This will help you identify, locate, and fix critical errors — such as broken links, orphaned pages, and meta-tagging issues.
From there, you should time your site speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights and review their suggestions for better performance. Recommendations will likely include things like optimizing your existing code, compressing your files, and reducing multiple redirects between pages.
Next, you’ll want to review any structural issues that you might need to address. As companies evolve and grow, so too do their objectives, which means your website might also be changing based on your business needs and solutions. For instance, you might want to update your existing navigation bar or point users to new content CTAs — whatever is necessary to provide the best possible user experience.
Lastly, you should perform a backlink audit to better understand your link profile and identify prime opportunities for more and better links to your site. Again, achieving a lot of high-quality backlinks is a long-term strategy, but you’ve got to start somewhere, and an SEO audit should give you a good baseline to work from.
The tips above will definitely get you started in the right direction, but if you really want to take your efforts to the next level, you should look into Act-On’s SEO Audit Tool. This feature allows even novice SEO marketers to verify that their webpages meet Google’s strict standards and also make the updates necessary to achieve that coveted top positioning on all the popular search engines. Click here to speak with an SEO expert!
If you’re not quite ready to dig that deep, you should download our marketing automation strategy guide, “Smart Content Mapping for Maximum Engagement.” This eBook has everything you need to develop an effective content strategy that aligns with your digital marketing strategy, speaks to your target audience, guides your prospects along an amazing customer journey, and syncs perfectly with any marketing automation platform!