Even marketers with a solid grasp of search engine optimization make mistakes from time to time. Whether it’s trying to rank for the wrong keywords or over-focusing on a single SEO tactic, plenty of well-intentioned strategies wind up backfiring and hurting your rankings.
To improve your search optimization strategy, keep the following tips in mind:
Keywords play a crucial role in your SEO ranking, so you need to make sure you’re using them correctly.
- Cannibalizing keywords.
Never try to have multiple pages rank for the same keyword. When you do this, search engines can’t tell which of your pages is the most authoritative on the topic, and you wind up competing with yourself.
- Competing with the big shots.
Don’t aim to rank for super competitive keywords; it’s a losing battle. Large, highly successful companies will already have a high ranking for general terms, and their authority will outrank yours. Instead, aim for more specific keywords that will provide a better chance of ranking.
- Going after unpopular keywords.
While it’s wise to try ranking for long tail keywords, don’t go after search terms that aren’t being searched. Sure, you might rank #1, but what’s the point if nobody is looking for it?
- Using the wrong rhetoric.
Write with your customers’ vocabulary in mind rather than using industry-specific jargon. Rank for terms your customers would search for rather than using a bunch of industry terminology.
- Stuffing keywords.
Placing your keywords throughout your content as many times as possible is actually counterproductive. Not only will your phrasing come off as awkward and unnatural, but search engines recognize this tactic as spammy and dock your ranking for it.
Titles, Tags, & Descriptions (Oh My!)
You may think once you’ve written the perfect content for a post that you can turn your writer’s brain off, but the importance of good copy extends to other areas as well.
- Using generic titles.
You want your titles to reflect your content accurately. Use titles with long tail keywords to better help web crawlers gather what your content is about.
- Ignoring meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions aren’t only good for providing context for your content; they also help sell your post to whoever may be searching for it. How likely are you to click on a link from a search engine with no description?
- Skipping alt tags.
Search engines can’t read images, but they can read the tags. By using alt tags, you can help search engines better understand your content. Alt tags are also useful for any visually impaired readers to get the full experience of your post.
It’s not just the quality of your content that matters, but also the quality of your internal and external links, as well as how you use them.
- Using bad anchors.
When anchoring internal links, be sure to anchor relevant words to help search engines understand what your link is about. Google is not going to understand where “click here” content leads.
- Linking out to random resources.
You only want to link to quality sites, as it builds authority and shows you’ve done your research. You’ll also want to ensure your backlinks only come from sites with good authority; being associated with untrustworthy sites hurts your ranking.
- Placing irrelevant internal links.
Using internal links every chance you get leads to an unorganized site index, confusing search engines.
SEO Writing Tips
Having lots of pages with thin content isn’t the key to high SEO rankings. These pages will have low engagement metrics; something search engines track to determine how helpful a page is to visitors.
- Write long-form posts backed up by strong, quality research. Consolidate weaker blogs into one valuable article. It’s better to have one great post on a topic than five subpar ones.
- Ask your clients what sort of content they want to see. What would be most helpful for them? This is a win-win interaction; you’re gaining intel on what your audience would most engage with, and your customers are getting answers to their questions.
- Don’t worry about going under or over a certain word count. Instead, focus on making sure you’re covering the topic the best you can.
There’s no single tactic to improve SEO, and if you zero in on just one area, your efforts are bound to fail. Instead, create strategies involving all of the above areas to ensure you achieve success with search engine optimization.