6 Common Mistakes Made by SEO Beginners
SEO is always evolving due to the continuous developments made by search engines such as Google, which can make it difficult to stay on top of the most successful search optimisation techniques. What was once common practice in the SEO world might now result in a penalty, so it is easy to fall behind on the latest recommended best practices.
There are countless SEO mistakes that are difficult to avoid, and we’re going to highlight the ones we see occurring most frequently.
Choosing the wrong keywords
The first step of any SEO campaign is to understand what an audience is searching for. A common mistake made by businesses is choosing keywords that fail to target long-tail phrases, which provide much more opportunity for traffic than the more competitive, shorter alternatives.
You might define what you sell in a particular way, but it’s essential to understand the words that a potential customer would use when seeking your products or services. Sometimes, words you consider to be accurate for your brand might have a completely different meaning to someone else, or might be overly generic.
Be sure to do thorough keyword research using tools such as Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush to identify what keywords your audience is searching for.
It was once believed that increasing the quantity of your target keywords throughout your content would directly improve rankings. While this tactic did once work, it resulted in the production of lower-quality, keyword-stuffed content across the web, and Google quickly evolved to combat this.
Keyword stuffing, or overuse of your selected keywords, will not result in a positive effect in rankings anymore. Google and human visitors perceive this as a spammy tactic, and Google’s capabilities of understanding the subject matter of a piece of content goes far beyond simply counting how many times your target keywords are used.
Creating unoptimized content
Many people create blog content without really thinking about how it aligns with their strategic SEO goals. In nearly all cases, content should be produced around keywords that have already been identified as popular among your audience. Search engines seek to serve their users with the most relevant results first, and ensuring a varied range of appropriate target keywords are comprehensively integrated throughout the page content helps your site to rank.
Publishing duplicate content
Posting duplicate content may have been ‘acceptable’ back in the day, but it will do zero to help your rankings today. Content that is identified as duplicate is now prevented from being indexed by Google, meaning that it will not contribute to improving your rankings at all.
All content posted online should be original and unique if you want it to be found. Don’t be lazy with this.
Skipping meta title and description
Title tags and meta descriptions are some of the most important SEO elements to consider. They send powerful ranking signals to Google about the content of the page and also inform searchers about what to expect when clicking through from Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Meta titles are particularly important; this is the main tag for defining a page’s content and is where your focal keyword should always be included. Keep titles user-friendly and engaging, while ensuring essential keywords are seamlessly integrated.
Meta descriptions do not factor directly into Google’s ranking algorithm, but they do play a key part in encouraging clicks through to your site. When people search on Google and are presented with a list of possible results, meta descriptions play a key part in which one they choose. Try to include engaging and enticing language, as well as keywords that the visitor may have searched for, as these will appear bold in SERPs, drawing more attention to your listing.
Forgetting to optimise images
Another important ranking signal that often goes neglected is the optimisation of images. Image optimization, including the use of target keywords in the image filename and alt tag, is very quick to implement yet can result in significant improvement to rankings. Optimising your images with keywords that you identified during the keyword research stage, and integrated throughout your page content, further helps to indicate to Google that your page provides a relevant result to your chosen search query.
Another aspect of image optimisation to consider relates to page speed. Make sure the file size of your images is reduced as much as possible without compromising too much on quality, to ensure your site has a low total page size and a fast load speed.
Search engine optimization is an essential element of any content marketing strategy. Despite advice like this being readily available online, it is still easy to make these common SEO mistakes, and we see them made time and time again. Hopefully, you’ll now be a little more prepared for future and will be able to identify these common mistakes before making them yourself.
This article is a guest contribution written by Christian Abbas from Prime Digital, who regularly writes about web design, SEO and content strategy.
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