Top 10 SEO mistakes to avoid

There is a lot of SEO commentary, but the essentials are sometimes overlooked. Here are my top 10 mistakes to avoid when it comes developing your SEO strategy.

1 – No Marketing Plan

If you don’t know who your market is, and what they want, high search engine rankings will not help you. They’ll just drive low quality traffic and raise your opportunity cost and you won’t generate a positive return on your website investment.

2 – Selecting Keywords Based Only On Traffic Volume

You need to be number #1 for “cars”, because the term “cars” receives a lot of search queries and you sell “cars”? That won’t do you a lot of good if you only sell second-hand cars to customers mainly based in East Sussex.

3 – Selecting Keyword Terms That Have Little To Do With Your Product or Service

Be specific and define your niche market. If you only sell second-hand 4×4 vehicles in East Sussex, you want to focus on phrases like “second-hand 4×4 dealers East Sussex”, and semantic variations thereof. Think themes not words.

4 – Failure To Use Keywords Your Market Is Actually Using

The language and jargon you use in your office isn’t how your customers might speak. It certainly isn’t the way they phrase search queries. As more people use voice search the search phrases are getting longer and more specific. Listen to how customers ask for your goods and services. Those are your keyword terms. Find variations of these terms using keyword research tools.

5 – Thinking ‘Search’ is just Google

OK yes, Google is still the most popular search tool but our search behavior is changing. YouTube is now the 2nd biggest search engine and there are a host of alternative search engines that are attracting searchers. Also if you’re looking to target an international audience then don’t assume Google is the number one search engine in that country. In China it’s Baidu.

6 – Relying on Keyword Density

In my view a redundant technique. Instead, stay on-topic and incorporate your keyword terms, remember think theme not keywords. Since the Google Hummingbird update, Google’s semantic search technology is all about being able to catch users’ actual search intent and find the content that matches this intent the best. If you read your copy aloud, and it sounds odd, then most likely you’ve overdone it.

7 – Poor Page Titles & Meta Descriptions

When a visitor looks at a set of search results, they have lots of choices of where to click. Think of titles like newspaper headlines. Try to use the actual search phrase or contextually relevant keywords and make the title and meta description enticing. Think Google AdWords. In fact, look at how the AdWords advertisers have written their ads for your chosen keyword terms. Chances are, those AdWords on the top have high click-thru rates. They’ve got their titles right.

8 – Not Building Authority (to help generate links)

Authority is important. Really important and is an essential strategy that helps to build high quality links to your site. Of course, you can submit your site to directories to generate low value links but in the long term focusing on acquiring high quality links will pay dividends. And depending on your niche, you may not need many, but you do need some.

9 – Thinking you can out-smart Google

Advanced SEO trickery isn’t necessary nor recommended. Stick to the search engine guidelines, keep your visitor in mind, write like they speak, ensure your site can be crawled, network in your space, and invest in creating high quality content and digital assets. Repeat.

10 – Not Thinking Beyond SEO

Don’t rely solely on SEO as a lead generation tactic. There may be better alternatives that deliver a better return in the short term. Also think conversion rate. After a visitor arrives, what then? If you’re not serving their needs after they arrive, then your SEO efforts and expense have been wasted. See point #1.

Good SEO has a lot in common with good marketing!

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