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Smart Optimization: The 7 Most Common SEO Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

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Did you know 380 websites are created every minute? That’s a staggering statistic that points to the hyper-competitive nature of the internet.

In other words, if you want your customers to find you on search engines like Google, your digital marketing efforts have to be near-perfect. Many marketers create quality sites with great content but are in disbelief when their sites are nowhere to be found on search engine results pages (SERPs)

The reason these sites fail is usually because of search engine optimization (SEO) mistakes that are dogging their sites ability to appear at the top of Google.

What mistakes are these sites making? And what should you be doing with your site to ensure your marketing efforts don’t go to waste?

Keep reading to discover the seven most common SEO mistakes you need to avoid now.

1. Not Doing Keyword Analysis

Keyword mistakes are probably the most common SEO mistake so I’ll spend the most time on this point.

In their most basic form, search engines are still keyword based. A user enters keywords in the search bar and the search engine finds relevant search engine results based on that keyword.

Most website owners recognize the importance of keywords but don’t know how to properly identify and utilize the best keywords for their business. That’s understandable because they have businesses to run and not a lot of time to study SEO.

Here’s what you need to know:

Choose keywords targeted to your business using popular keyword tools like Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and Moz Keyword Explorer.

These platforms allow you to easily see what keywords your competitors are ranking for to give you a good idea of the keywords your customers are using. You can also perform keyword searches to discover how many searches a keyword receives and how difficult it would be to rank for that keyword.

Don’t commit the SEO mistake of creating content around high difficulty keyword phrases. For example, let’s say you want to publish an article for the keyword phrase “life insurance.” If you notice the top 10 results on Google are all owned by huge companies like State Farm and USAToday, it will be next to impossible to outrank those websites.

That’s why it’s important to check the “difficulty ranking” you whatever keyword tool you are using.

Another mistake is not using long-tail keywords, which are the low hanging fruit of SEO rankings. Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases. These keyword phrases are usually easier to rank for, and because they are so specific, they usually convert better.

So instead of trying to rank for “life insurance” choose a long-tail keyword like “best life insurance no medical exam no waiting period.” According to Ahrefs, the latter keyword receives over 1,200 searches each month with an “Easy” keyword difficulty score.

Perhaps the biggest SEO mistake relating to keywords is to overuse your target keyword in the content. Typically, this means you are writing for a search engine and not a real person. The copy ends up sounding unnatural and forced.

Don’t aim to use the keyword a set number of times or a percentage. To avoid Google penalties, only use your target keyword organically.

2. Not Claiming Your Google My Business Listing

Perhaps the most common SEO mistake is not listing your business with Google My Business.

With the growing popularity of “near me” searches, perhaps the biggest search opportunity for small businesses is to claim your business location, list your business hours and answer all the pertinent questions.

Google has appropriately placed emphasis on near me searches, recognizing the trend of consumers searching for nearby businesses. Getting your business to show up for local Google searches and on Google Maps is a quick win so claim your Google My Business listing now.

3. Not Optimizing Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Search engine users decide if they are going to click on a search result based on the page title and meta description. In the SERPs, the title is the name of the page and the meta description is the snippet underneath the title that gives you a preview of the content on that page.

You want an attention-getting headline for your title and a meta description that accurately describes what the content is about. You want to optimize these components not only to attract more clicks but to attract the right clicks.

If your content doesn’t match the page title and meta description, the user will hit the back button. This will hurt your bounce rate and your session duration, two metrics which let Google know if users find your content valuable. Bounce rate measures how often users hit the back button and return to the SERPs, and session duration measures how long a user stays on your site.

4. Ignoring Link Structure

As mentioned in the last item, session duration is an important SEO ranking factor. One of the best ways to increase your session duration time is to make sure your site is easy to navigate for users.

Organize your site categorically using keyword-optimized category names. And make sure your link structure creates pathways for users to find exactly what they want within two or three clicks. This is especially true for your conversion pages.

Also, include links to older articles to spread authority to these pages which may be hidden deep on your site.

5. Not Having Quality Content that Gets Links and Shares

Always remember that Google is in the business of delivering relevant and valuable search results. To that end, the search giant is always on the lookout for signals that indicate relevancy and value.

Two of the biggest indicators Google depends on are social signals and authority signals. The more times people share your content, the stronger social value your site has with Google. The more links your posts receive from other websites, the more Google views your site as an authority domain.

Therefore, your goal is simply to create the most link-worthy, share-worthy content on the internet. How do you do that? By making sure any content you publish is better than all the top search results.

Look at what your competition is creating. What did they leave out? How can you expand upon their content? What personal insight can you add to the conversation? Read the user comments on their posts looking for questions you can answer in your content.

6. Not Mobile Optimizing

In 2018, Google announced they are now “mobile first.” That means they are delivering search results based on the mobile friendliness of a website. The more your site is optimized for the mobile experience, the better it will perform in Google’s SERPs.

Luckily, Google has a mobile friendliness test you can run on your website. The test will give you some suggestions on how to improve the mobile responsiveness of your site. Pay particular attention to improving the page loading speed on mobile devices as that is the common mobile SEO problem.

7. Not Performing Regular Audits

One of the problems with SEO is, as the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” As a result, if our site is underperforming on Google, most of the time we aren’t sure why.

That’s where SEO audits come in handy. They give us the opportunity to discover and address SEO mistakes that may be hurting our search rankings. Make sure to regularly audit your website’s performance from a client’s view and the view of a search engine.

Make sure your site doesn’t have any broken links and that information is easy to find. Ensure your site loads quickly on desktops and on mobile devices. Review your checkout process and the quality of your content.

Final Thoughts About SEO Mistakes

Finding SEO mistakes on your site should not be discouraging. Think of any problems you find as opportunities to improve your search rankings.

SEO work is never complete. Be consistent in your optimization efforts and evaluate your progress over time. Schedule regular audits, test titles and meta descriptions, and continue to create link-worthy content. Before long, your site will be an unstoppable force on Google and other major search engines.

If you found this article helpful, check out how to get the fastest SEO results in 2019 now.

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