2020 has been a whirlwind of a year, to say the least – and many business owners are left wondering how they can end the year on a high note. There have been many wins and losses, especially for SMEs and e-commerce brands. SEO is one of the best ways for smaller companies to attract new customers and build brand recognition.
However, figuring out how to manage SEO correctly is not easy. Search engines are designed to promote the most relevant results and they are typically quite “hush-hush” about how they determine rankings. In fact, Google alone implements between 500 to 600 changes to their algorithm each year.
How on earth are you supposed to know what to do to improve your site’s SEO if the rules are changing so often?
Well, in addition to following some of the proven SEO strategies, you must also know which tactics to avoid. There are plenty of little mistakes that marketers and web designers make – which decrease their ranking signals and lower chances of attracting organic traffic.
5 SEO’s Don’t To Avoid
So, here are five of the SEO mishaps to avoid in 2020 and beyond.
#1. DON’T Forget to Use Titles in Your Tags
Many of the little behind-the-scenes website features have a big impact on SEO. One of these small details are tags, which are HTML elements that describe and categorize the “name” and objective of the page. Essentially, this is a short description of the content of the page that Google uses to understand the purpose and subject of its contents.
Title tags are typically limited to 50 to 60 characters (spaces included), whereas meta tags are generally between 150 to 160. Since you can only use such a limited number of letters, you need to be extremely strategic with keyword choice.
Title tags and meta descriptions are meant to be concise, so you must use keywords (that have been properly researched) in your title and meta tags. According to Moz, keyword presence in titles and other on-page signals make up 26% of the signals that Google uses to determine a link’s ranking.
Here are some tips for writing proper tags that will benefit your SEO:
- Try to place the keyword close to the beginning of the tag.
- Avoid keyword “stuffing” (including multiple keywords unnaturally). Just stick to one or two.
- Try to be as detailed as possible to give search engines and readers a “glimpse” into what your page is about.
- Make sure all of your pages have unique titles and meta tags so search engines can determine the differences.
- Match up your tags with the search intent. Think about what both search engines and users will be looking for within your content.
- Be sure that you are formatting your tags correctly. Meta tags are visible on the SERPs, so they need to be grammatically correct and spaced appropriately.
#2. DON’T Create Surface-Level Content
Long-form content pages are a great way to boost your site’s SEO and drive in more organic traffic. However, many business owners overlook the importance of quality when it comes to content marketing – especially when they can source writers for bottom dollar on freelancer sites.
Now is the time to move from short blog posts to full-fledged, in-depth posts. According to the latest research, the average length of content pages that appear on the first page of the SERPs is over 1,400 words. This means that having short, basic posts that primarily serve to include keywords are not going to help you rank any higher.
Keep your visitor’s search intent as the primary focus of all of your content strategies. For content pages to be optimized for SEO, you must understand both what your target readers – as well as Google bots – are looking for. Remember, most people are not searching for solely promotional content most of the time – they want factual information. This includes incorporating statistics and facts (from trustworthy sources), how-to guides, explanations, and long-form comprehensive articles.
Additionally, seeking out high quality backlinks to your content is an integral part of getting rankings. In fact, long-form articles have an average of 77.2% more referring domain links than ones under 1,000 words. The longer your content is, the more opportunities you have to connect links to other pages within your own website as well as attract inbound links.
Although you should aim for longer pieces, know that hitting a certain word count number is not some SEO magic trick. Google will not automatically boost your ranking simply because your content is longer than your competitor’s.
#3. DON’T Be a Copycat
One of the biggest mistakes that many companies make with their websites is looking at their competitors for keyword and content inspiration. Although you may be targeting overlapping keywords and audiences as competing sites, copying other site’s content strategy is a huge mistake.
First of all, Google will penalize your site if your content is an obvious copy from another site. The search engine generally tries to locate the earliest source of content and typically gives it credence over any duplicates. Additionally, if the original author finds out that you have copied their content, they may file a request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
This means that Google will delete the content and may even terminate any Google accounts services, such as your analytics or Google AdWords accounts.
Originality is key when it comes to content marketing, branding, and SEO. Although you may feel a bit limited based on your targeted keywords, you must create unique content. Plus, original content that is different from the rest will help you to stand out on the SERPs – even if you don’t rank first.
#4. DON’T Leave Old Content to Rot
Many content writers feel the pressure to constantly churn out new pieces so their site always has fresh pages. However, this can be quite tedious, and many marketers struggle with coming up with fresh ideas or inspiration. But here is some great news: your old content can be used for today’s SEO purposes, too.
Older pieces (generally three or more years old) can be updated or repurposed to boost your SEO – and there are plenty of ways to do it. But first, you need to find the right pieces to transform. Start by looking at the performance metrics for these pieces.
Pay attention to numbers like pageviews, bounce rates, and the time spent on each page. Pieces that maybe once performed well but have started to taper off could use a little facelift.
One way to freshen up content is to simply go through and update any old statistics or external links with newer information. You can also go through and refresh any keywords by removing outdated ones or including new phrases you want to target.
You can also repurpose the piece entirely by turning it into something new. Perhaps you could compile bits and pieces into a long-form guide or even an e-book. If you have any self-published internal data or customer testimonials, they can be combined to create case studies. You can even take snippets from older pieces and create social media posts with them.
You can even transform older pieces into completely different forms of content. For instance, you could gather some industry experts to discuss a piece on a podcast episode to share their opinions, insights, and experiences. Or, you could use the content to create an infographic, video, webinar, or a Slide Share presentation.
#5. DON’T Get Lazy with Your Content Calendar
It’s easy to let your posts become irregular during holidays or busy peaks of the season – but don’t fall into this trap. The majority of content writers publish weekly or several times a month. But evidence shows that sticking to a consistent and frequent publishing schedule offers some SEO benefits.
According to HubSpot’s latest report, it is best to post between three to five times every week for optimal organic traffic growth! Their research also showed that the more monthly blog publications a site had, the higher amount of inbound traffic it attracted. Google loves to see fresh, recent content. If you are consistently publishing new posts, it signals to Google that your site is extremely active and responsive – which could help you rank higher.
However, don’t get too caught up in quantity over quality here. Each piece needs to serve a purpose and support your overall SEO strategy. Plus, these pieces can include either brand new pages or content updates, too.
Your brand’s online presence is more important than ever before. These days, most initial interactions with new customers start with a basic search engine query. So, your SEO strategy needs to be on point if you are going to make 2020 a successful year.
Take a look at all of the content work you have done over this past year and ask yourself: have I made any of these SEO mistakes? How can I improve?
Now is not the time to slack off or give up on your SEO efforts. It is a better time than ever to fix your mistakes and test out some new tactics to grow your online traffic and improve your site’s ranking.
About the Author!
Jack Shepler is a Marketing and Search Engine Optimization expert. He founded Ayokay, award-winning marketing, and web design firm in Indianapolis, Indiana that has built brands and increased sales for businesses since 2011. He uses his decades of experience to educate through the Ayokay blog and through public speaking. You can follow him on LinkedIn.