If you’ve been in business long, you’ve heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Maybe you’ve been told you need to write one blog a day in order to get traction. Or, someone else may have stressed you need to have a ton of backlinks to attract any real website traffic. You might have even been quoted thousands of dollars per month by companies who insist they have what it takes to get you “on the front page of Google.”
One thing is for sure, it sounds complicated, expensive, and everyone seems to be telling you something different.
Yes, SEO is complicated …But the good news is, you don’t have to know everything about SEO in order to be good at getting your articles to start ranking on Google.
If you follow a simple content strategy and avoid a few common SEO mistakes, you can improve your visibility and start increasing your monthly website traffic.
But, before we dive in, I want to address a regular question I get asked.
Isn’t SEO Dead?
While SEO is certainly not the hot-new-thing when it comes to digital marketing, it is by no means dead. But, like all marketing channels, it has become oversaturated due to the massive number of blog posts that are published each day.
According to WordPress, the world’s most popular online publishing platform, WordPress users post roughly 500 million new articles each year. With numbers like that, there is no question as to why it is becoming harder and harder to get your posts to rank.
That said, the Google search engine still accounts for over 57% of all organic referring traffic on the internet. To put that in perspective, that is almost ten times more than the referring traffic of both Facebook and YouTube combined.
If you are only relying on social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to build your sales funnel, you are ignoring the biggest slice of the online traffic pie.
So, is SEO dead? Not at all. However, it still may seem challenging to implement a successful SEO strategy.
To help you out, here are some simple strategies you can employ (and mistakes you need to avoid) in order to boost the effectiveness of your blog and increase your SEO rankings.
7 Common SEO Strategy Mistakes
1. Post and Pray
The first mistake is what I call “Post & Pray.” This is the strategy that I see most people following. Simply put, this method involves writing something fresh in your mind, posting it, and then praying you start getting views.
While 10 (maybe even 5) years ago, this strategy worked very well, the unfortunate truth is, today, you follow this strategy for years and never see any real increase in your monthly traffic.
This goes back to the oversaturation I discussed in the previous section. With such an enormous amount of competition (remember the 500 posts per year stat), today’s SEO requires some upfront planning.
Solution – Do Your Research
It may feel more natural for you to write articles off-the-cuff, as you feel inspired. But, if you want to publish posts that increase your traffic, you need to do your keyword research upfront.
Here are a few tips you can follow to help you find the best keywords:
- Use a Keyword Research Tool: A keyword research tool is a must, and there are a lot of them out there. They range in price from free to over $100/mo. Read the reviews, try them out, but pick a tool to help you identify the ideal keywords for your content.
- Find the Sweet Spot: Use your research tool to identify keywords that have a low “keyword difficulty” (KD) value so that it will be easier for you to rank. Unfortunately, these keywords typically also have a lower search volume. So you are looking for keywords with both a low keyword difficulty with enough monthly search volume to make it worth your while.
- Scope Out Your Competition: Once you identify the keywords you are going to use, search each of them on Google and check out the top results. This is your competition. In order for you to rank higher than one of these, your post needs to be at least as good and then some. So, if their post has 1200 words, your post needs to be 1300. If they have a lot of charts and graphs, you need to include even more statistics. If they don’t have a video, you should include a video in your post. You see where I am going here…
2. Writing Only For SEO Results
We’ve all read those articles that seem like they were written by a robot, unnaturally repeating keywords through the post making it awkward and even confusing to read. While including your keywords is obviously a critical component of SEO, the goal of SEO is not just to drive traffic to your site, but to get that traffic to engage with your content. What good is traffic that immediately leaves your site once they see that your content is not of any real value to them?
Solution – Deliver Relevant Content that Avoids Keyword Stuffing
Try to put yourself in the mind of the person searching for the keywords you are using. Is your content truly relevant to the search terms? Does it adequately address the questions posed by the search, or is it an unclear article that is stuffed with keywords?
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3. The “Wall of Text”
If you typically create an outline before you start writing, this one is going to be easier for you. For everyone else, you need to listen up because this mistake might be a bit more challenging to fix.
Google is driven by a predetermined algorithm that rewards highly structured content because the structure makes it much easier for the algorithm to make sense of the post. But if you think about it, if it makes it easier for an algorithm to understand it, the same most likely holds true for your human readers. So either way, it’s a good idea to structure your content.
Solution – Structure Your Content
Avoid just making your post a big information dump, and instead, use the following tips to deliver well-structured content:
- Don’t ignore headers and subheaders
- Maintain the header hierarchy (for example, don’t jump from H2 to H5)
- Use lists consistently within your content
4. Putting Frequency Over Quality
You may have been told that it doesn’t matter so much what you post as long as you are getting content out very frequently. But if you are publishing content to increase your SEO (which, if you’re not, you should be), then the quality of your post is of much more significance than the frequency of your posts.
Solution – Publish 1 High-Quality Article Every Month or So
Writing quality, long-form (1500+ words), rich content takes time. Keyword research takes time.
I get it. So don’t kill yourself trying to over-deliver.
Instead, focus on publishing one high-quality post every month or so. If you do your keyword research correctly, you should start seeing traction from just this one post. As you add more over time, your traffic will begin to grow exponentially.
5. Too Much Storytelling
Don’t misunderstand me here. I am not saying you should not use story in your blog posts. Story is an essential element to engaging content. But that said, too much of a good thing can become… well, a bad thing.
Solution – Balance Story and Perspective with Knowledge and Facts
Just like a purely knowledge-based article can be dry and boring, a post that is all story can become self-indulgent. Balance your posts with the right mix of knowledge, facts, statistics, quotes, and your relevant personal perspective and stories. Remember that you are providing solutions to your target audience’s problems, so your stories need to offer a valuable lesson to your reader.
6. Stop Competing with Yourself
So you did your research, and you found the perfect keywords for your next post. But why stop there?
If one article focused on these keywords will get me more traffic, why not write 2 or 3 using the same keywords?
While this might sound like good logic, the truth is when you use the same keywords in multiple pages on your site, you are making it harder to boost your rankings.
Solution – Don’t Use the Same Keywords on More than One Post
When determining how a page ranks, Google does not look at your website as a whole, but at each page individually. Therefore, if you use the same keywords on several pages of your site, each of those pages is now competing against each other for a top ranking.
7. Not Including a Call to Action
The goal of SEO is not only to drive traffic to your site but to get a percentage of your visitors to convert into subscribers or even better, actual customers. However, you can’t do that if you don’t call your reader to action.
Your posts should include a compelling call to action that:
- Is relevant to the content in your post
- Offers value by providing actionable solutions to a common problem facing your ideal customer
- Focuses on getting email addresses in exchange for valuable bonus content
While there is no getting around the fact that SEO is a very technical and complex topic, you don’t need to spend enormous amounts of time and money in order to start implementing a successful SEO-focused content strategy. By understanding some of the common SEO pitfalls and how to avoid them, many organizations can start seeing a consistent uptick in online traffic within just a few months of publishing new content.
I hope this article was helpful and gave you some insight on how to put together a content plan that will start moving the needle.