I recently attended a webinar by Stephan Spencer, author of Google Power Search and co-author of The Art of SEO, on the most common SEO mistakes marketers make and found it extremely informative. I often work with professional SEO companies; however, certain clients, with minimal marketing budgets, sometimes rely on me as their SEO expert. As a result, I need to stay up to speed on the subject. I take courses and peruse the internet frequently to gain insight on the latest SEO trends, but often wonder how much of the information I’m reading online is up-to-date. Thus, when I experience a valuable learning, I feel compelled to share. Although Spencer’s webinar covered the 10 most common SEO mistakes, here are the 5 that I found most valuable:
1. Using industry speak
When developing your website and optimizing for SEO, you should always write for your customers - they may not necessarily be using “industry speak” (i.e. home loan vs. mortgage, airplane part vs. aircraft part). There are many tools available such as www.google.com/trends to help you compare keywords to gain a better understanding of the search terms currently being used.
2. Ignoring your competitors
When developing your SEO strategy, you want to take a look at what your competitors are doing because they can teach you a lot. By visiting their site, viewing their source code and searching Google, you can learn a lot about their keywords, backlinks, etc. There are also many tools out there (some free and some not) that can help you compare what your competitors are doing such as www.linkresearchtools.com and www.opensiteexplorer.org.
3. Duplicate content
Duplicate content on your website will hurt your SEO efforts; particularly, if you have multiple URLs leading to the same content. Duplicate content triggers a Google filter and all but one will get filtered out. You also need to be careful of indicators of (likely) duplicate content with title tags, meta descriptors and duplicate page copy because they too can harm your SEO efforts.
4. Wasting time on no-value activities
There has been much talk, debate and even confusion on how much focus should be put on meta titles, descriptions and keywords. One thing is for sure - don’t waste your time on meta keywords because Google has never supported this tag and displaying a list of keywords in your source code actually makes it easier for competitors to beat your SEO efforts. When performing SEO activities, focus should be kept on the outcome, not the activity.
5. Unintentionally spamming
Too many keyword stuffed text links or an inflated keyword density is called keyword stuffing and may get you banned from search engines. SEO copy that is clearly not meant for human consumption will affect your ranking, as will hidden text, hidden links or targeting irrelevant keywords.
There are many SEO resources and tools available to help make sound SEO decisions, but it’s important to know which ones offer the latest and most relevant information. When developing your SEO strategy, remember to conduct some research, visit your competitors’ sites, write your website copy for your audience, and focus on high value activities. These tips will help you avoid the above 5 mistakes and make the most of your SEO activities.
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