1. Thinking your awesome content will rank without any optimization
Content marketing is great, and works beautifully alongside SEO. However, some business owners think that creating excellent content is a substitution for SEO. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
There will always be examples of amazing content that ranks without any intentional optimization. However, that’s the exception and not the rule.
On-page SEO is still imperative for getting your content to rank; and it also tends to improve user experience, which makes it an all-around smart thing to do.
2. Thinking your awesome content will get links without any formal link building
Again, it’s always possible for your content to get links without any additional effort on your part. However, more often this strategy (or lack of a strategy) will result in 90% of your content sitting stagnant on your site.
3. Guest posting without first investigating the site(s)
Guest posting is an extremely popular way to build links, gain exposure and increase leads. However, posting on the wrong site can seriously damage your reputation and rankings.
Before reaching out to a host blog (or responding to a guest blogging request), be sure to do your due diligence on the site. Ask yourself: Does this site’s audience match up with my own target market? Do they typically publish unique, high-quality content? Do they seem trustworthy given their Domain Authority, link profile and online ratings and reviews?
4. Not intentionally promoting your content
Promotion and distribution is key to giving your content that initial burst of attention and engagement. Without it, your content is likely to sit unread, gathering few shares or links.
According to research from Moz and BuzzSumo, 50% of all online content sampled had 2 or less Facebook interactions, and 75% had no external links. I’m willing to bet this was largely due to a lack of intentional distribution.
5. Spammy linking
Yes, businesses still engage in this practice in 2017. Typically, it’s not straight-out buying links from link farms; most business owners know enough to avoid this spammy, 2008 SEO tactic.
However, offering payment for links – whether that’s cash, services or a “complimentary” product – can be just as bad. Some common examples that you may not expect include:
- Requesting a product review with a link back to your site. While it’s perfectly ok to pay for this, the link must be nofollowed so it doesn’t pass any SEO benefit back to your site.
- Paying for a banner ad or text link on another site without no-following that link
- Requiring a followed link on templates or web tools you sell or distribute
6. Creating short, pointless content
It’s not unheard of for short (<400-500 word) content to get high rankings. However, that’s not the norm. Generally speaking, longer content ranks more highly and provides a better user experience.
According to serpIQ, 10th position pages tend to have an average of 400 words less than those in the top position.
Most research suggests that longer is better, with blog posts of at least 1,200 words ranking highest. Of course, this may be considerably longer or shorter depending on the purpose of your content.
7. Ignoring internal links
Internal links are important both from a ranking and user-experience perspective. Linking to your other pages and posts helps to evenly distribute link equality throughout your site, and also increases metrics like time-on-site and page views.
Some best practices for using internal links effectively include: only linking to highly-relevant content; using natural anchor text rather than using keywords just to rank; linking to “deep” pages (i.e., not just your homepage) so you spread link equity throughout your site; including at least 2-3 internal links in each piece of content you create.
8. Focusing on social media more than links
There’s no doubt that social media marketing is highly effective. However, it’s not a substitute for intentional link building.
While there are certainly indirect SEO benefits to social media, links have a proven, dramatic impact on rankings. In fact, according to Moz’s 2015 Search Engine Ranking Factors report, domain and page-level links were shown to have the strongest influence on rankings.
Notice also that page-level social metrics were at the bottom of the list. This doesn’t mean social promotion and engagement aren’t important, however clearly links are a much more direct route to improved rankings.
9. You do keyword research…but ineffectively
Keyword research is no longer just about finding popular, low-competition words or phrases. It’s also not just about using those keywords in multiple areas of your content and then magically ranking for them.
Keyword research in 2017 means identifying highly-relevant keywords and phrases to help you figure out which topics and sub-topics to cover on your site. Those words and phrases should certainly be used in strategic areas of your content, however you should also be using variations and related terms as well.
Finally, today’s keyword research should be used as a listening tool as well as a ranking tool. This will allow you to develop relevant content and to meet consumer demand, in addition to increasing your ranking potential.
For more guidance on keyword research, check out my posts The 5 Components of a Modern Keyword-Based Strategy and The Startup’s Guide To Doing Keyword Research Like The Pros.
10. Having broken links
Broken links not only hurt your SEO, they can seriously annoy your visitors. Some of the most common causes of broken links are deleted or moved content, a change in URL structure and incorrect re-directs.
Use a tool like Screamingfrog’s Broken Link Checker (pictured above) to identify links that may be harming your rankings. Advanced tip: You can also use this tool to identify broken links to your competitors’ sites. Contact the linking site and suggest they link to your content instead!
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