Taking on a great SEO campaign can do wonders for your business. There’s a lot to manage, though, it’s easy to slip up on a thing or two in the process.
Those small mistakes can have a big impact on how your rankings pan out, and it’s important that you know what to avoid, especially when you’re investing a lot of time and effort into a campaign.
Some mistakes can even leave you unindexed from the search engine. We’re going to cover some top SEO mistakes that you should avoid in order to keep your campaign running at full steam.
Let’s take a look.
1. Sailing Without a Map
It’s true that a lot of factors in SEO are simple in theory. You can manage some of the important elements on your own as you write your blog, write your web copy, and manage your website.
Because the basic pieces are simple, though, a lot of people think that you don’t have to put too much thought into them. Picking and choosing SEO factors and fitting them into your site whenever you choose won’t get you very far.
It’s important to have a game plan when you optimize your website, producing content, choosing keywords, and doing anything else that you do to increase rankings.
If you’re going to do the work, make sure you’re doing it right. There are a lot of resources available that can help you make informed choices about how to move forward with a campaign.
Some things to focus on are keyword research strategies, content posting schedules, content length, and expectations.
Your expectations are a huge piece of the puzzle. Let’s take a closer look at how you can set and manage expectations in a campaign.
Plotting and Monitoring Your Goals
Naturally, your goal is to rise to the top of the search rankings for the particular term you’re optimizing for.
Those results come from a set of very specific metrics, though. These metrics have to do with the way that users engage with and respond to your content. First, you have the volume of users that enter your site.
That’s a number that you can examine through tools like Google Analytics and other web-monitoring tools you might use to manage your campaign. Next, you have things like click-through rates.
Your click-through rate is a figure that tells you how often users are engaging with your content, and how frequently they’re leaving without making a conversion. Click-through rates and the average length of user visits indicate a lot about your user experience.
Make sure that you keep a close eye on these metrics every time you make a change to your campaign. They’re the measuring stick for how effective a tactic is.
It’s also important to set goals for what you want those figures to look like at a certain point in the future. If you’re not seeing the results you want, you can tweak things and experiment with the formula a little bit.
2. Neglecting Off-Page Ranking Factors
Your page’s ranking comes from a combination of things that happen both on and off of the page.
Elements like blog copy, keyword focus, and other on-page factors are very important, but there’s an entirely different side that factors in.
Off-page factors are all of the things that happen, well, off of the page. You could have guessed that from the name, but what are those factors?
The first thing that contributes to the off-page ranking is your link structure. Links indicate the nature and value of your site to Google. In particular, the links to your site from other sites are the ones that are most valuable.
These are called “backlinks,” and Google sees them as a nod of approval from other sites. If a site in your niche respects you enough to link to you, it must mean that there’s something worthwhile on your page.
You can use tactics like guest-posting to start gathering those links as you get started.
Social media is another off-page factor. While social media stats aren’t listed by Google as ranking factors, success on social media definitely equates to a higher ranking.
This, in large part, is because your following is likely to take links back to your website. When you share a blog post on social media, for example, people who view it will go back to your website.
When they’re there, they start generating things like traffic, engagements, longer page visits, and other factors that Google uses in its algorithm. PPC advertising on social media is another great way to get users to come to your site.
3. Using Black Hat SEO
Using Black Hat SEO is the cardinal sin of digital marketing.
It’s hard to get rankings, and it might take a long time to achieve organic rankings that last a while. The time and effort you put into honest SEO, though, will pay off in the long run when you have a coveted spot at the top of your niche.
Many companies and individuals, though, will have you believe that there’s a way to speed up the process. Because the algorithm is mechanical in a sense, people think that you can just hack it and create content that rises to the top.
Stuffing a piece of content with target keywords, for example, is one way that people try to outsmart the algorithm. Any tactic that tries to hack the algorithm and speed up the process, though, is considered “Black Hat.”
If you’re in contact with a digital marketing agency that says they’re going to guarantee instant results, they’re probably using some black hat measures.
The confusing thing is that those sneaky measures might actually work for a while!
You’ll see your posts jump to the top of the rankings, and you might even see a few sales for a week or two. After a short period of time, though, there’s a good chance that your posts will back to the fourth or fifth page of the results.
They might even be removed from the index!
This happens because Google has a vested interest in cutting out anything that jeopardizes its results. In some cases, serious offenses will take you right out of the rankings altogether.
How and Why Google Penalizes
It’s important to keep in mind that Google isn’t synonymous with “The Internet.”
It seems like it should be because every website that we use every day is listed in Google and most people across the world use Google to find what they need. That said, Google is just a website that lists billions of other websites so that people can find them.
This makes them a company that has an interest in helping its users. When Google’s results start to slip and get bogged down with over-optimized content, users will take note and shift to a different search engine.
So, when you try to hack the algorithm, you’re doing something that could hurt Google’s image. Add that to the fact that they’re one of the biggest companies in the world with a huge budget and some of the best minds on the planet.
The result is an algorithm stuffed with artificial intelligence smart enough to know the difference between genuine human language and content that’s forced. We know a little bit about how that process works, but Google keeps its algorithm pretty close to the chest.
Your best bet to avoid any punishment is to create content that’s optimized for particular keywords, but still written naturally.
4. Neglecting Quality
The reason that Black Hat SEO is so offensive to Google is that it lacks quality.
Users go to Google to find resources that actually meet their needs. The average person doesn’t care whether a post is well-optimized. They probably don’t even know what optimization is!
As we work through extensive SEO campaigns, it’s easy to get lost in the work and mistake optimization for quality. In reality, though, a page that’s optimized to no end won’t meet the user’s needs.
Content that is useful to people will find its way up the search rankings. It helps a great deal to have content that’s optimized as well, but the quality will always outshine optimization.
One way to line up quality with optimization is to do a good job with your keyword selection.
The Right Approach to Keywords
Your keywords should come from research into the users in your niche. Keyword tools like Google Analytics can help you deep-dive into the popular terms in your niche and find the ones without much competition.
When you find those terms, your goal is to write content in response to them. This is the challenge, and it’s where a lot of people get caught up with optimization and forget quality.
Let’s say that your keyword is “coffee makers.”
Let’s also say that your company makes scones. You’re exploring terms slightly outside of your niche to expand your reach and draw some new users to your site.
An over-optimized post might just be entitled “Coffee Makers.” The body of the content would be rambling information about what a coffee maker is, how to use one, and what coffee is.
Those are all things that everyone knows. The simplicity of that content, though, allows you to stuff dozens of keywords into the content and wind up with a post that, on paper, is well-optimized.
A quality post, on the other hand, would look a lot different. The title might be “Best Coffee Makers for a Busy Life,” or “Interest Ways to Make Coffee.”
You can insert the keyword into those topics, but the information will be useful and engaging to people.
When you slack on quality, Google will find out one way or the other. Either your post will trigger the AI to realize your over-optimization, or users will see the post and skip it immediately. In either case, different metrics will let Google know that you’re not worth ranking.
5. Failing to Manage Your Site
A website is a finicky thing.
Things go wrong, and they need to be maintained just like an old vehicle. You might have a number of links that don’t work anymore, your site structure could be off, and you might have some graphic design blunders that send people running.
Some of the site factors can be examined just by visiting. For example, run through your website and see if there are any links that don’t work anymore. Either the link is totally broken or the site it leads to no longer exists.
Further, do some digging into the idea of site architecture. This is essentially the arrangement of the links and pages on your site. If it’s logical, Google will give you points.
If it takes four clicks to get to an essential page on your site, you’ve got some work to do. The primary pages on your website should all be a click or two away from the home page. The less-important information shouldn’t be more than two or clicks from your home page.
Other elements might require some more exploration. For example, if you find that people are coming to your site just to leave right away, there’s probably an issue with your user experience.
Those blunders might be helped by a professional graphic designer or web professional. You can monitor those factors on the back end of your site by looking at things like click-through rates and visit time.
As you can see, keeping up with a great campaign requires a little bit of effort. Over time, that amount of effort might be too much for you to handle as a small business owner.
If you want to get the best results from your digital marketing campaign and save time to take care of your business, working with a professional might be the best route to take.
Want to Avoid Crucial SEO Mistakes?
Anybody is liable to make a few SEO mistakes, but the odds of big mistakes get a lot slimmer when you work with professionals. These are people who can fine-tune your SEO campaign and keep you free from any penalties that Google throws your way.
We’re here to help. Contact us or explore our site to learn more about options, pricing, the best SEO tactics, and more.