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Top 8 SEO Mistakes To Avoid in 2016

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For a team of dedicated marketers who eat, sleep and breathe all matters of Search Engine Optimization, it feels like we’ve been preaching the same list of “SEO Don’ts” for the last few years. Yet, for a business with so many different moving parts in the marketing machine to track, it’s easy to see how some of this stuff can fall off the radar. Usually the issues do not fully come to light until organic search traffic starts to fall off and clients call us to fix it. That’s what we’re here for, after all — to keep your company fresh and up-to-date in the search engines and remaining competitive, despite whatever craziness the webmasters at Google and other search engines want to throw our way. Here are eight common SEO mistakes we find and what you can do to avoid them in 2016…

Top 8 SEO Mistakes To Avoid in 2016

1. Keyword Stuffing

In the past, keywords were strong predictors of content success in search engines. Over time, search algorithm engineers found that simply identifying a direct match to a person’s search query didn’t necessarily equate with value for readers — especially when marketers were gaming the system with poorly-written copy like this example here:

Keyword stuffing example

Image Source: Inklyo.com 

Aside from reusing the same keyword phrase over and over on a site, marketers have also tried bullet lists of keywords or phone numbers that lack context and blocks of text listing cities they’re trying to rank for in local search — black hat tactics which are all expressly forbidden by Google webmasters. Hiring a decent writer is a good first step to avoiding this sort of nonsense in the future. Not sure where to find reliable, experienced writers these days? Ask us!

2. No Keyword Research

Some marketers have gone the opposite way on the spectrum and decided that ALL keywords are a bad idea. Instead of conducting smarter keyword research and writing, they instruct their teams to “just write naturally” without any keyword direction whatsoever. SEO experts understand there is still a place for well-researched long-tail keywords.

As long as they read coherently, these more descriptive phrases (rather than generic terms) zero-in on audiences who are not only likely to visit — but more likely to convert as well. For instance, as Wordtracker points out, someone just looking for general information might type in “California mountain,” whereas a person who is more ready to make a specific purchase might type in something like “California mountain climbing tours” or “Mt Shasta family climbing tours.”

3. Weak Or Duplicate Content

At one time, 300 words was sufficient for a blog post. These days, we’ve seen top-performing brands adopt long-form content strategies to boost SEO ranking and value for their audiences. By contrast, search engines largely view websites without much content as “low-quality,” which leads to poor ranking. Your page should contain at least some content that tops 1,500 words, along with proper text formatting, optimized images and video embeds.

Removing duplicate content is one of the quickest paths to resurrecting a website from virtual obscurity. Not only is copying someone else’s content damaging for your SEO, but it’s also unethical and illegal! Even if you have taken the steps to secure republishing rights, duplicate content is still a risky tactic that offers little pay-off.

If you publish guest posts on other sites, it’s okay to largely use the same content, but make sure you tweak some of the phrasing to create “an evil twin,”as Kissmetrics puts it. Also, review Google’s rules and recommendations regarding duplicate content to be sure you’re on the same page.

It’s legit to use a block of text from another site, as long as you attribute and link to it (as we so often do here!) That sort of external research increases the value of your commentary, without hurting your reputation or SEO in any way.

Lastly, check out WordTracker’s post on various duplicate content issues (from session IDs, paginated pages and different domains, to title tags, canonicalization and faulty redirects), as well as this extensive post at Audience Bloom, which covers any question about duplicate content you could possibly have.

4. Spammy Backlinks

We’ve worked with a number of companies slammed by the Google Penguin update. If you’ve received a penalty or unnatural links notification or your site’s performance declined significantly all of a sudden, then it’s probably time for a massive backlink cleanup. Search Engine Land compared backlink cleanup as akin to “cleaning your house after a flood.” It’s no easy task. You’ll need an SEO firm’s help for sure. On the other hand, gradual backlink maintenance is more like “sweeping your floors,” they say, and is totally doable. Link Removal Guide offers a quick checklist to help you get started cleaning up your link profile, which will show you tangible SEO results in no time.

5. No Link Building

Link farms gave the practice of linking a bad name. Yet, as with any abuse of the system, there is still a “right” way to approach this SEO-related activity. As Site Pro News clarifies, “Receiving quality inbound links from relevant sites is still important to Google; it helps to validate your credibility. Outbound links are just as critical, especially to authority domains.” Spend some time doing your homework and only link to relevant websites within your industry.

6. No Content Strategy

SEO and content are not separate strategies. They’re inextricably intertwined. Active blogs help your website rank for optimal keywords, get indexed, maintain visibility in search, stay relevant in social media, generate inbound links, boost click-throughs and improve conversions. All of these signals point to your brand as a valuable contributor to the web. In addition to maintaining consistent blog presence, you also want to make sure your internal web pages and meta data remain fresh and original.

It’s not enough to have a general game plan in your head. Even though nearly half of all B2B content marketers lack a written strategy, The Content Marketing Institute found that “The most-effective marketers are more likely than less-effective marketers to document their content marketing strategy, have a documented editorial mission statement, and hold regular meetings. In fact, 61% of the most-effective B2B marketers meet daily or weekly with their content marketing team either virtually or in person.”

7. Incomplete On-Page SEO

One of the last steps in SEO is fine-tuning the on-page elements. On-page SEO covers topics like: using the right keywords (but sparingly), creating fresh, quality content, and maintaining consistency among brand messages. It also covers more technical aspects like filling out all title, description and image tags in their entirety.

Also, we love this helpful infographic from QuickSEOResults:

on page seo

Image Source: PageTrafficBuzz.com

8. Not Utilizing Analytics & Google Webmaster Tools

Google’s Matt Cutts told Search Engine Land one of the biggest SEO mistakes people can make is “Not using webmaster resources and learning about how Google works and what SEO is about.” If you’re not measuring your website’s data, then the best you can hope for is a stroke of good fortune from a blind stab in the dark. Instead, you want to see which efforts are most fruitful and which website elements need improved optimization. You’ll need conversion goals, weekly reports and keyword monitoring established in regular practice.

Quality SEO Services That Deliver Results

Don’t let prospects pass your website by. Take the time to bring your SEO strategy into the modern era. Mandy McEwen and her team of fellow consultants at Mod Girl Marketing can help you tackle any aspect of Search Engine Optimization, whether you want one-on-one coaching to complete these tasks in-house or you’d like to outsource to a reliable professional for a customized SEO campaign. We implement strategic techniques on every campaign including SEO copywriting, link building, video marketing and more. Contact us today for a free quote on our SEO services, which are directly tailored to your individual needs.

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