Don’t you wish you could just ask Google whether you’re making any SEO mistakes and get a straight answer? Well, you can, sort of – if you’re willing to register as a Google webmaster, use a console of complex tools, and learn all the lingo.
Instead, let’s look at this issue in plain language. Here are some little-known but highly effective ways to avoid SEO mistakes that harm your business.
Opt for Oddball Keywords
You’ve probably heard before that certain keywords are too competitive to be effective. This is 100% true. Good luck unseating Apple, Sprint, T-Mobile, Sony, Motorola, Best Buy and Wal-Mart in the search rankings for “cell phone.”
But there’s a finer point to consider when selecting keywords.
Don’t just avoid competitive keywords – avoid all common words that relate to your business. It sounds counterintuitive, but this strategy will help you sidestep the popularity contest and factor much higher among a niche audience that’s searching for those terms.
For a hair salon, for example, this means not using words like hair, salon, or style, and trying to rank on oddball terms that relate to current hair trends, like rainbow, bangs, bobbed, fringe, and plaits.
Embrace all the Engagement
Engagement is a hot topic in SEO right now. Keeping people engaged is critical for maintaining site visit length, converting interest into leads, and developing long-term loyalty among customers.
But don’t panic if you’re not exactly sure what engagement means. It can be a bit hard to pin down. A huge time-on-site number, for example, isn’t a direct measure of engagement. It can either mean that people are extremely engaged with your site, OR they’re struggling to make their way through it.
Optimizing for engagement means being helpful – providing high-quality, well-written content and connecting it to social channels in a way that people see and appreciate. It also means going beyond the basic by incorporating images, videos, resources, quotes, and infographics.
A+ Content, Not C+ Content
Sometimes average is good enough, but not when it comes to content. An average-ranked page sits very far down in the search results for most users. SEO means striving for excellent content that can support a strong ranking.
What does excellent mean? Well, it’s a blend of what Google wants and what your human audience wants. In general, content excellence starts with:
- Every site page having at least 300 words of non-duplicated text
- Maintaining a constant flow of fresh 1,000 to 2,500-word content
- Using readable text that doesn’t resort to keyword stuffing
- Building authority and trust, based on the number of links pointing to your content and those content links’ own popularity
- Providing information that’s meaningful to your audience, so they will linger, read, and share
Ok, let’s say you’ve gotten the message about excellent content. Your content is now meaningful to your audience … but is it still too thin?
Thin content lacks effective semantic keywords – “search engine food” – and/or adds no additional valuable information beyond what’s already provided by your competitors. Even the highest-quality content can still be too thin.
When a large amount of thin content is indexed repeatedly, it’s called index bloat and can kill your SEO power. That’s right, thinness leads to bloating, which saps your strength, so you’d better fatten up. The internet can be a weird place.
Here’s how to address this issue: Ensure you’re answering queries, not just posting for the sake of posting and sharing for the sake of sharing. Answer your audience’s questions in a way your competitors aren’t, and you’ll stay in great SEO shape.
Are You Sure You’re Not Duplicating?
Duplication of text is a serious SEO no-no, but if we ask you whether you’re doing it, you’re going to say, “No way!”
Are you sure? Many companies have duplicate text without fully realizing it.
- Do your latest blog posts contain phrases from old posts? This is common in businesses like insurance, law, and education, where certain phrases tend to be approved by the higher-ups and used endlessly.
- Do your ebooks rehash info from elsewhere on your site? If the wording is too similar, Google is penalizing you.
- Does your company just love certain language? Compelling phrases on your main/landing pages can easily find their way into the rest of your site, like the checkout and cart process. Beware of duplication and let great phraseology stand alone.
Fewer, Better CTA Buttons
When your SEO starts working effectively, don’t blow it with a bad CTA (call to action) plan. Some sites seem to operate on the philosophy that maximum CTAs yield maximum results. Not true.
When your site is cluttered with buttons, links, and images telling people what to do next, their main response will be confusion. Within moments, they may opt to abandon your site rather than invest time in deciding what to click. That hurts your SEO and drains your bucket of potential leads.
Make sure each of your pages has a goal, and drive all attention toward that goal. All you need is one big, bright button that says “shop now” or one eye-catching image that leads to your free e-book – whatever is the #1 most important next step to take.
Massaging the Metadata
Metadata is what sits within your search engine result pages (SERPs) as a result of user queries – the title of the page and its meta description. Although the meta description itself is not, strictly speaking, a ranking factor, good metadata practices lead to good SEO.
If you’re a small business or lacking someone who speaks the language of metadata, consider hiring a growth agency for help. They’ll know how to address meta descriptions, follow page design best practices, leverage relevant keywords for each page, and avoid SEO mistakes that limit your success.