Search engine optimization (SEO) is like eating food.
Everyone knows they need it for survival, but they don’t always recognize the right choices to make when it comes to picking the best option for the long run.
Think of seeing a bakery box on the table at work when you’ve just started a new diet. You know there’s a better option out there, but what’s right in front of you is tempting.
So, maybe it isn’t easy to compare ranking high on Google SERPs to choosing a nutritious apple over a breakroom donut.
But our main point is this: you’re likely ruining your efforts in the little things you do along the way.
To help keep your online marketing efforts running more smoothly, we’ve compiled this list of the seven most common SEO mistakes that could sabotage your strategies.
SEO Mistake #1: Not Knowing Your Audience
The biggest mistake that so many digital marketers make along the way is simply not knowing their audience well enough.
Sure, you have a good idea of what your customers are looking for.
But have you taken the time to really understand what makes them click?
One way to alleviate this issue is to create several buyer personas that embody a fictitious character.
Give them a name, age, hobbies, routines, and whatever makes sense to their overall journey as a customer.
Really get detailed. Go as far as providing a scenario where your product or service could have saved them time, money, or frustration.
Then tailor your content to meet what that person would want to hear.
There’s a good chance there are more out there than just one who needs the message translated to them with a similar angle, and doing this should give you a boost in conversions and click-through rates.
SEO Mistake #2: Skipping the Planning Phase
Another major mistake a lot of digital marketers make when it comes to SEO? Skipping the planning phase altogether.
They don’t do any keyword research.
They haven’t researched what the competition is doing. And they haven’t even looked into which best practices are appropriate for their particular niche.
Yikes! If you’re one of these people, then you’ll want to set aside time right away to start doing your homework on the best SEO strategies for your industry and audience.
Take care to create a solid plan of the message you want to send, how you’ll develop optimized content around that idea, and what you want to achieve in the long run.
After you’ve gotten data back regarding how well the content is performing, make adjustments to your initial plan and launch a new one for future marketing endeavors.
Then rinse and repeat — the SEO train never fully stops, right?
SEO Mistake #3: Using Duplicate Content
Another major issue when it comes to SEO problems is using duplicate content.
Google has made it clear for years that when one website uses something from another website, there will be a penalty.
And penalties mean being buried in the bottom of the SERPs where your customers can’t find you.
Thus, stick with only adding new and engaging copy to your website.
Use a tool like Copyscape to reduce the chances of accidental plagiarism.
And never, ever steal someone else’s blog posts or other important data — that’s considered copyright infringement and could lead to a lawsuit later on, depending on the facts of the incident.
For eCommerce stores, make it a point to never use the manufacturer or wholesaler’s descriptions when creating product pages.
Create your own keyword-rich text that includes your brand’s unique voice.
What about copying information from one page on your website to another?
Watch out for this, too. Google doesn’t exactly see it as all being on the same website, so it is usually a safer bet to just create new copy for the additional sections and link back to the original content.
SEO Mistake #4: Creating the Wrong Content
One other way marketers often sabotage their SEO strategies is by creating the wrong content.
By this, we mean the stuff nobody is really searching for anyway.
This can happen in any niche, but it seems more commonplace in highly specialized industries, such as those that are primarily B2B.
While it is good to have that content on the web for when someone eventually searches for it months or years down the line, focusing on topics that are in demand now is better for your overall ranking in the SERPs.
Which is the whole point of SEO, right?
Instead, do keyword research and find topics that moderately reflect what your ideal customer is looking for. Then, write about that.
SEO Mistake #5: Taking on Major Competitors
Some companies feel like they need to jump right in and try to rank for the big keywords in their industry immediately.
Those huge corporations have a much bigger marketing budget and strategy than you do and likely won’t budge in the SERPs anytime soon.
Instead, look to see what smaller keyword phrases and alternate semantic keywords you can rank for.
Then create content around those topics.
In many cases, your audience is still searching for those terms and you’ll receive a bump in organic traffic.
SEO Mistake #6: Forgetting Technical Details
Finally, you want to ensure that you’re not forgetting technical details along the way.
Little things like missing custom meta descriptions, image alt tags, and titles with keywords can cause you to lose easy ranking factors.
They can also make it harder for someone to understand what your website is about when it shows up in the search pages.
Remember, titles and meta descriptions are what show up in the listings and the first thing people see before clicking on your link.
Then there’s schema markup.
This little bit of text gives search engines insight into what your page is all about. Without it, the crawlers can’t tell if your page is relevant to a specific topic or not.
That means there’s a 50-50 chance they’ll skip you in favor of a competitor who is using it. Not a good thing, right?
Remembering technical details is incredibly important in the SEO process, so make sure you’re double-checking these aspects on a fairly regular basis.
SEO Mistake #7: Not Tracking Your Results
Analytics is a huge area where a lot of novice digital marketers make super big mistakes.
They think that simply putting up content with a few keywords is enough to create a long-term organic traffic flow and immediate first-page rankings.
You have to be able to see the data and analyze the results in order to successfully achieve your goals.
After all, how do you know where you’re going if you can’t see what you’ve already experienced?
Blindly attempting SEO is a surefire way to cause issues in the long run.
Not only does it make it harder to spot and fix problems, but you can’t create new goals or scale up campaigns if you aren’t sure of what’s actually working and what isn’t.
Instead, use a tool like Google Analytics or Moz to see which keywords you’re ranking for, the total amount of traffic, click rates, and impressions.
This data will help paint a clearer picture of your overall campaign effectiveness.
Wrap Up: Learn More About the Best SEO Tactics
Little details add up to big issues if you aren’t careful.
With the seven SEO mistakes we’ve mentioned here, you could really be sabotaging your optimization efforts in the long run.
Instead, take time now to fix them before it is too late.
Paying attention to these items now is a good way to boost your rankings and see bigger campaign wins long into the future.
Plus, they’re just good practices to remember as you grow and start to increase organic traffic over time.
Need to take a look at where your website is at in terms of optimization so you can make a few adjustments?
Our SEO maturity adjustment is the right place to start. See for yourself!