By Mike Kohorev
SEO is, on the one hand, one of the most effective marketing channels we have today. If implemented properly, SEO can be a very reliable source of sustainable organic traffic.
For bloggers and authors, organic traffic to your website can be extremely important source to build awareness. For businesses, website traffic is still the most relevant way to generate leads. In short: organic traffic is extremely valuable, even in 2020.
On the other hand, SEO is probably the most misunderstood marketing channel, and there are still various myths and mistakes surrounding SEO strategies and efforts, even among SEO practitioners.
In this article, we will discuss six of the most common SEO mistakes committed today, and how we can avoid them.
1. Focusing Too Much on Keyword Density
It’s no longer a secret that modern SEO is no longer about keyword density. In fact, focusing too much on optimizing for keywords—a practice we call keyword stuffing— can get our site penalized permanently.
Ever since the launch of the Google Panda algorithm back in 2011, keyword density is no longer a thing in SEO, but so many SEO ‘experts’ and digital marketers are still discussing keyword density for SEO in 2020.
Instead, in this era of SEO when Google is getting better at recognizing a content’s intent and matching it with the audience’s search intent, focus on delivering content that is valuable and relevant for the human audience.
Yes, include your target keywords in your content, but make sure they are included naturally, and if you have to choose, always emphasize on the readability and comprehensiveness of your content.
2. Neglecting The Importance of Content Quality
The secret to successful SEO results began with content quality.
Good SEO optimizations and efforts can only help relevant, valuable content with a proper target keyword and target audience. On the other hand, no amount of optimizations can help low-quality content to rank.
Why? We have to remember that Google search’s mission is to deliver the most relevant and reliable information on the internet, and as mentioned above, with the recent introduction of Google BERT, Google is getting better at recognizing what a specific article is about, in relation to complex search queries.
Again, focus on delivering high-quality, relevant content for your audience, and here are some of the key factors:
- Understand your target audience, their needs, pain points, and how your content can provide a solution
- Provide accurate data, and be honest in citing your information by using outbound links
- Aim to engage users, and establish your position as the thought leader of your niche
- Use images and videos to maintain engagement and add value
- Update your content regularly with a more up to date and more relevant information
3. Targeting The Wrong Keywords
Another common mistake in SEO is not targeting the right keyword(s) for one reason or another.
In general, there are three simple—but commonly misunderstood— principles in finding the target keywords for your website:
- The keyword must be relevant for your target audience, mainly signified by a high monthly search volume.
- The keyword must fit the brand/business’s SEO objectives and must be beneficial for the business. For example, if your target audience’s demographic is between 20-25 years old in age, “Netflix” might be a highly popular keyword, but is it relevant for your business?
- The most common mistake, however, is not weighing the competition for the keyword properly. The competition for the target keyword must be manageable according to your available budget and timeline. In some keyword research tools, this is commonly measured with keyword difficulty.
Also, don’t forget that your opportunities are not only limited to short-tail keywords but also long-tail, highly specific keywords. The competition for these long-tail keywords is generally more manageable, and with Google BERT allowing proper recognition for these keywords, they can be very valuable opportunities in 2020.
4. Forgetting User Experience Metrics
It is a fairly unknown fact that ever since the introduction of Google Rankbrain in 2015, Google can effectively recognize user-experience factors as ranking signals.
In general, there are two important user experience metrics to focus on:
- Bounce rate: the percentage of visitors that exit the website after viewing just one single page. It doesn’t matter if the visitor exits after spending just one second or one hour, what matters is that they ‘bounce’ after a single page view.
- Dwell time: the total amount of time your users spend on your website.
In short, these two metrics measure how engaged the visitor is with your page—and your content—, and in practice, here are some important things that will affect bounce rate and dwell time:
- Page load speed: people will exit the page when it loads slowly, period.
- Mobile-friendliness: More than half online traffic is from mobile devices
- Content: fairly obvious, if your content is good (and long enough but you can maintain quality), you can maximize dwell time.
5. Link Building: Quality Over Quantity
Yes, backlinks—or inbound links— are still the most important ranking signal in SEO.
However, it’s very important to understand that nowadays, the quality of your inbound links is more important than quantity. In fact, getting too many low-quality links at any given time can get you penalized.
In general, getting just 3 to 5 high-quality and relevant backlinks is enough, but it can be easier said than done.
Here are some quick tips on how you can generate high-quality backlinks:
- The quality of your content—again—, is key. If your content is good, sooner or later you’ll get those backlinks. On the other hand, no amount of effort can help bad content.
- Build relationships with high-quality sites, influencers, and press. This is the most reliable source for high-quality backlinks
- Give them reasons to link your content, for example by including original, unique data (original research report), valuable infographics, etc.
6. Not Implementing Structured Data
With more and more search queries now feature rich snippets as their top results, not optimizing our site to target these featured snippet opportunities simply means you are missing out on a huge potential opportunity.
One of the prerequisites to ‘rank’ for these featured snippets is to properly implement structured data markup according to the rich snippet types.
Structured data—mainly schema.org—markup, is simply put, assigning attributes and properties to information in our content so Google can recognize different types of information, and thus can feature the site’s information as a rich snippet.
If you haven’t already, implement structured data in your content, and you can use this guide to help with this aspect.
SEO has significantly evolved during the past few years, and as a result, there are many SEO misconceptions and myths even among SEO experts and experienced marketers.
The 6 we have shared above are among the most relevant ones we have today, and avoiding them is very important if you want to achieve SEO success and take your SEO game to the next level.
Mike Khorev is an SEO expert and digital marketing consultant who helps small and mid-size businesses generate more leads, sales and grow revenue online. He offers expert advice on marketing your company the right way through performance-based SEO digital marketing, web design, social media, search engine marketing and many other online practices. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.