As SEO professionals, we've all come across the point where we don't rank for our focus keywords. You may have a great content strategy in place, and after optimizing all the elements that Google asks for, you're expecting to see your website slowly crawl up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Your rankings have improved after your continuous efforts, but you're still far off from Google's first page.
SEO is the practice of targeting relevant keywords and phrases to attract traffic online. However, there are many parameters to consider in SEO, and it's common to make elementary mistakes as a beginner in the industry.
From small businesses to large corporations, there are a few common SEO mistakes made by every site owner. But fret not; in just a few tweaks, you will start getting the results that you need to get your rankings up and increase web traffic.
So as an SEO expert, you need to have time and patience on your side before you can even think of getting to Google's first page. There could be many things that may have escaped your attention, and correcting as you move along is the only way to learn and implement the best SEO practices.
Here are some of the most common mistakes made in SEO:
Targeting the right set of keywords is the first and basic rule of SEO. These keywords are an indicator on which you base your content to attract genuinely interested traffic in the information provided therein.
The thumb rule for targeting keywords is to use phrases with high search volume and low competition, but there's more to it. Your niche plays a big role in keyword selection.
E.g., you may be a local business with customers confined to a geographical area, but you're targeting global keywords, which is a fruitless endeavor. Similarly, targeting generic or broad keywords will also not bear any substantial result for your business, as they may have high competition or will attract users who aren't interested in your content or products/services.
Therefore, it's best to target long-tail and specific keywords related to your niche. Targeting generic keywords may also improve your rankings, but specific keywords will fetch results for you more quickly.
Ideally, there are four factors to keep in mind for targeting keywords, which are:
i) Search Volume
The average search volume in a month for a specific keyword.
The cost of every click for a keyword for paid ads.
iii) Search Difficulty
The difficulty of ranking on organic search results for a particular term.
iv) Paid Difficulty
Difficulty to rank a keyword in PPC advertising.
It's advisable to target keywords with a high search volume and a search difficulty of less than 40.
One of the most common beginner SEO mistakes is having the same title tags and meta descriptions on every web page. But this practice is harmful and will surely be detrimental to your search engine rankings.
Each and every page on your website should have a unique title and meta description. The reader should be able to infer the topic of the contents of a web page from the title and meta description. After all, this title and description appear on SERPs and social media shares, making it pivotal to have a unique and descriptive title tag.
But this doesn't mean that you have to let go of your company name on titles. One of the most effective ways to write a good title is to include your business name after the title of the content on your page.
For example, if you've to include a category of mobile phones on your eCommerce website, the page can have a title like 'Mobile Phones & Accessories- (your business name).
Thus, you can include your business name on every page of your website while including keywords related to the specific page.
While the title helps users and search engines decipher your web page's topic, the meta description is also important as it sheds additional light on what they should expect from your page. Meta descriptions have a 160-character limit, which means you have to summarize the contents of your page within those bounds.
The meta descriptions shouldn't just be unique; they should also be persuasive in compelling the user to click on your website and go through your content.
In a nutshell, each title tag and meta description on your website should be unique and customized to the related web page. There are online tools available to help you identify pages with duplicate title tags and meta descriptions.
Content drives search engines to return users with genuine and relevant information. It's the foremost factor contributing to your SEO effort, largely impacting your ranking.
Simply incorporating keywords and phrases in your content won't do any good. You must consider the impact of your content on readers; will it be of interest to them? Is it engaging enough for them to read it through? Does it satisfy their search intent?
These are the basic elements of high-quality content. Writing plagiarized or invaluable content will lead your target audience to gradually lose trust in you and ultimately translate into lower rankings on SERPs. >
So it's imperative to publish original, relevant, and informative content on your website to provide value to the reader and increase your chance of conversions. High-quality content also results in more links to your website by external parties.
Linking your content to external sources is an integral part of your SEO campaigns. Amongst its three main variables, Google considers linking an important parameter in ranking websites, other than content and user experience.
When it comes to link building, the idea is to emphasize the quality of links over quantity. To build quality links for your site, incorporate links relevant to your industry without too many outbound links to them. A single link from an authoritative site will do you more good than ten irrelevant links from sites with inferior content.
Quality links are an indicator that tells search engines about the trust factor of your business in what you're delivering to the audience. You can also use various online tools to ascertain the health of a domain and the inbound links to that page.
It's common to get excited when you achieve ranking on Google's first page with increased traffic to your site, but that's not all there is about SEO. SEO campaigns are all about heating up your conversion rate with more web traffic at the end of the day.
So what to do when all the hard work you've put into your SEO campaign doesn't yield the desired result? This is where analytics come in as a handy tool to measure, track and optimize your SEO strategy.
Online tracking tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, ahrefs, Moz, etc., offer analytical services which you can use to optimize your keyword targeting strategy and other measures for improved SEO performance, which lead to higher conversions.
If you have a local business or are targeting customers in a certain geographical area, it's essential to practice local SEO. In one of its many updates, Google elaborated on the importance it places on local search results, something that can immensely benefit a local business.
With local SEO, you need to adjust your keyword strategy a bit from your international SEO campaigns. Include region-specific keywords, not just in your content but also in the title tags and meta descriptions of your web pages.
Google also creates a snapshot of your business information on its search result page, so it's wise to include a local address and contact number on your website. Also, try and include your business in local directories and services for increased regional outreach.
To err is divine!
Like any other discipline, being an expert in SEO will take time. These are some of the most common mistakes beginners and small businesses make in SEO. And what's more, is that it's common.
There are over 200 factors that Google considers in ranking sites, and so it's only natural to find yourself lagging in one aspect or the other. But these points above are a good inclusion to your checklist of common mistakes to avoid in SEO as a beginner.
For starters, it's a great learning curve when you implement strategies and analyze them to identify mistakes in your SEO efforts. However, with due process and in due time, you can become an expert in the domain with experience to back on.