Spotting and Fixing SEO Mistakes
1. Choosing a Primary Keyword that’s Too General
Your online content needs the right primary keyword. However, even though you might spend hours on keyword research and find a popular term, that’s just not good enough. You must make that term more specific and targeted. In other words, you need to use a long-tail keyword. For example, suppose you run a company that takes people whale-watching. It might seem obvious to use the term ‘whale-watching’ as a primary keyword. However, this is a prime example of one of many easy-to-miss SEO mistakes: choosing a keyword that’s very general and is likely to be too competitive. Instead, it’s better to make your long-tail keyword geo-targeted. Also, you should clarify what you’re offering: whale-watching tours, not ‘whale-watching photography tips’, ‘whale-watching boats’, etc. Thus, your primary keyword should be ‘Location (e.g. Victoria) + whale-watching tours’.
2. Not Writing Enough Copy
It can be difficult to find time to write long blog posts, eBooks, and other resources when you’re running a business. Also, you may be wondering: “Who has the time or the attention-span to read a 2000-word document?” Nonetheless, it seems that it may be worth the effort, as Google clearly ranks long-form over short-form content. The search engine rewards websites that provide more content and in-depth analysis on the subjects they are covering.
Readers also may look at longer content and make the assumption that it is more valuable and important. This perception of ‘more words is better’ pre-dates the Internet. David Ogilvy, the ‘father of advertising’, stated the following:
“All my experience says that for a great many products, long copy sells more than short … advertisements with long copy convey the impression that you have something important to say, whether people read the copy or not.” —Ogilvy on Advertising
3. Not Optimizing Images
It can be tempting just to upload your feature image on a blog post without a second thought. However, forgetting to optimize that image is a critical error. One reason is that you want your picture to be listed in Google’s image searches. Forbes‘ Jason DeMers explains, “Basically, your goal here would be to increase visibility of your brand and traffic to your site by having your site’s images listed more frequently in Google image searches.”
To ensure that your images are optimized, write clear and descriptive text for each image’s title and alt-tag. The latter is most important, not only for SEO purposes, but so that people who are visually impaired can use a screen reader to tell them what is depicted in the images on your site. Also, if for some reason your image didn’t load on a user’s screen, the alt-tag would tell them what they should be seeing in the space where the image has failed to appear.
For example, look at the feature image for this post. The alt-tag I have included for the image is: “Looking for SEO mistakes, a man holding a magnifying glass enlarges the term, ‘keywords’.” This description paints a picture in the mind of the reader, while also including the primary keyword for this post. I’ve also avoided keyword stuffing, which isn’t helpful to the user and may cause Google to downrank the image and/or post.
4. Including Poor Quality Links
If you spend a lot of time crafting valuable and informative content, you don’t want to include poor quality links in that content. You should only direct your reader to sites that a reliable sources of information. They should also create their own original content, rather than repurpose it from other sites. It is good practice to avoid sites that engage in practices you would avoid on your own site (e.g. keyword stuffing) too. Only associate yourself with sources that rank high in SERPs, and are perceived well by your audience.