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It can be easy to lose sight of where you should be focusing your optimization efforts within your content strategy.
Sometimes it’s best to get back to basics when developing a stronger SEO strategy to underpin your approach to content marketing. Here are seven common SEO blogging mistakes you may be making right now.
Mistake #1: Ineffective Copy
You may have heard that it’s important to write for users; not search engines. Sometimes, search and content teams forget this important best practice. Keeping content light and avoiding excessive jargon will help your audiences to easily engage with it. It’s important to remember that, in most cases, blog content is about building awareness around a need. Blogging helps build your brand and establishes you as a thought leader in your industry. Don’t sacrifice the benefits of this type of content with ineffective copy.
Take a step back, and look at your blog post as a whole. What does the reader experience? If the user is only scanning the page, what are they seeing? Does the headline give a good indication of what the blog is about? Is your blog optimized with keywords, links and proper tagging so that it’s easy to find and consume?
Use clear transitions, and insert images, videos, and GIFs to encourage engagement and increase time on page. By inserting visuals every 400 words or so, you break content into “chunks” that help prevent information overload. To create concise copy, use tools such as the HemingwayApp and ProWritingAid.
Mistake #2: Unoptimized Keyword Structure
Keyword research may have taken a backseat to semantic search in many situations, but it’s still an important SEO tactic. All of your site’s content should be linked by topic and keyword to help the user easily navigate through the site and find the content for which they’re searching. And although organization around topics is important, without keyword research, you won’t know what questions your audience is asking and the topics in which they’re interested. If you aren’t writing for your audience and their needs, who are you writing for?
Keywords act as the bridge between informational content and user intent. For blogs, focus on long-tail keyword phrases. These phrases typically begin with how, what, when, where and why. You should also do some research around actionable phrases that may be popular in the search engines, such as “tips” articles or “how-to.” Remember to optimize beyond your header structure (meta description, titles, etc.) your blog should also leverage semantic SEO. Doing so allows you to create more comprehensive and readable content that can rank for many different keyword phrases, qualify for featured snippets and answer more user questions.
A word of warning: it is possible to over-optimize your content. Keyword stuffing, or using keywords over and over in a post to the point that it becomes unnatural, will get your content labeled as spam. Keyword stuffing also kills your content’s readability. Though it’s important to optimize your blog and web pages for keywords, don’t overdo it.
Mistake #3: Unoptimized Videos & Images
In addition to poorly optimized page copy, you may also be missing out on optimizing your videos and images for search. Many bloggers still miss this part of SEO optimization, and it has a negative effect on load time. You should always optimize image alt text, including the page’s keyword(s). On-site images should be formatted as .jpg, and all vector images should be formatted as .png.
In terms of videos, host all your videos in one place, and build a video sitemap so that they can be seen by the search engines. As with other types of content, you should optimize the meta description for pages with videos with targeted keywords and include annotations and a call to action.
Mistake #4: Investing in Paid Links
Paid links are just another form of advertising right? Some bloggers might think so, but accepting paid links on your site (or advertising them on others’ sites) is a bad idea. Google and other search engines see paid links as a way to artificially boost your SEO ranking, and they’ll penalize you for participating in such schemes if they catch you. It’s best to take the high road and avoid shortcuts. In the end, using white hat tactics to boost your rankings will be a more effective strategy.
Mistake #5: Inconsistent Internal Links
Internal linking is one of the most overlooked parts of SEO optimizations, with many bloggers adding them inconsistently or not following best practices. There are many ways effective internal linking can help your blog achieve SEO nirvana.
- Distributes authority throughout your website
- Defines site architecture and shows search engines your most important pages
- Establishes user-friendly pathways across your website
- Indexes linked-to web pages via the keywords you use in hyperlink anchor text
- Increases crawl rate by opening up deep-linked web pages
If you’re focusing most of your SEO efforts on backlinks, you’ll be happy to know that they can be amplified through internal linking.
Best practice dictates that there should be at least three to five internal links per blog post, as well as a navigation menu on your homepage to provide links to otherwise hard-to-reach pages. Conduct a gap audit to determine what internal links you currently have and which links have the most authority. Then place internal links on these pages to other important internal pages to distribute that authority throughout your blog and greater website.
On a related note, don’t forget the importance of having a sitemap. Creating a sitemap will ensure that all of your pages are properly indexed and crawled (if they’re clean and optimized from an SEO perspective). Optimize all anchor text to categorize your content, and use varying phrases for each link so that your blog and webpages rank for multiple search queries.
Mistake #6: Scraping Other Sites’ Content
Plagiarism is wrong, and although content on the internet may seem like “fair game,” using someone else’s words as your own in large quantities (and not attributing it back to them) will negatively impact your spot in the search engines. Google calls this “duplicate content.”
Stick to publishing original content of your own, and remember that Google only gives credit to the original piece - even if you provide a link to the original post.
Mistake #7: Poor Content Promotion
One of the worst errors a blogger or brand can make is not promoting their content properly. Marketers often think that a great piece of content should automatically attract tons of links and rank highly based on its copywriting and images alone. But that’s rarely the case. To succeed, great content needs promotion, and it must be properly optimized from a search standpoint. Content that’s published on a young domain will struggle to gather backlinks or social shares without promotion.
Here are some of the ways you can earn the backlinks that will accelerate your SEO strategy.
- Reach out to influencers and current customers on social media to share your content.
- Ask employees to share the content you’re producing.
- Repurpose blog content into an infographic or video to earn more shareability.
- Contact similar websites (non-competitors) and ask if they’d consider sharing your content.
- Submit your content to replace relevant broken links on authoritative sites.
- Request a quote from an industry leader to place in your content. Tag this individual anytime you share the blog on social media.
- Run a paid social media campaign to get the content in front of the right audience.
Content that isn’t used is a lost investment. If produced and promoted well, blog content can serve as an effective inbound lead generator. Social and user signals factor greatly in organic ranking, so share content that your users are likely to find highly engaging.
Your SEO strategy should work hand in hand with your content strategy and plays a pivotal role in it’s success. Hopefully, the steps above give you an opportunity to refine and improve your overall content strategy. Avoid these issues, and you’ll be well on your way to higher rankings.