Like it or not, but blogging and SEO are closely intertwined with each other. The truth is…
But it happens quite often that bloggers give 100% of their efforts to writing content totally forgetting about SEO. And even if bloggers do make some SEO efforts, they often fail to do everything correctly because SEO is not easy stuff to do. So, here are 7 commonly made SEO mistakes that may prevent you from running a successful blog.
Mistake #1: Not doing keyword research
In the age of semantic search and machine learning, Google is considered clever enough to understand the meaning of your content without even looking at separate keywords. Therefore, many bloggers tend to ignore keyword research and proceed with covering some broad topics. If you’re one of them, you need to stop doing this right now. The truth is, without optimizing your content for relevant keywords, your pages have almost no chance to rank high in the SERPs. Therefore, keyword research should be one of the most important activities for you as a blogger.
The very first thing to do is to identify keywords that you already rank for. They can be comfortably extracted from Google Search Console. These keywords are of the greatest importance because they already bring you traffic and are quite easy to optimize for.
The best way to enrich your keyword list with some gems is to reveal your top competitors’ keyword profile. One of the best tools for doing that is SEO PowerSuite’s Rank Tracker, a powerful keyword research tool. By typing your competitor’s URL in this tool, you can see the exact keywords he or she is ranking for as well as positions in SERPs.
Although we’ve identified keywords that already bring you traffic and stole some from your competitors, there are still lots of keywords to be collected. They can be dragged from various search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. What’s more, you can do it with the help of different search methods like related searches, autocompletes, related questions, and so on. Of course, this is a pretty time-consuming activity, and it’s times easier to use a tool like Rank Tracker for such purposes.
Mistake #2: Not optimizing content for your keywords
Of course, as a blogger, your major responsibility is to write for people and people only. But although it’s a very nice approach to pursue, bloggers quite often forget to optimize their content for keywords to make search engines better understand their content. As a result, they end up with low-ranking pages or pages that rank for the wrong keywords. That is why each and every time you publish a piece of content, you need to make sure that it’s keyword-optimized.
After you’ve decided on the page that is in need of optimization and found relevant keywords, it’s time to fill your content with them. Make sure that your keywords are present in titles, descriptions, H1 tags, as well as alt texts. But don’t overdo it because repeating the same words or phrases is considered keyword stuffing and, as a rule, leads to the Panda penalty. The best thing you can do is leverage so-called semantic SEO and enrich your content with both target keywords and more synonymous keyword phrases with the same meaning.
With the rising popularity of voice search, it’s also a good idea to include long-tail keywords and question phrases in your content. Doing this also raises your chances to compete for a featured snippet.
Mistake #3: Not ensuring your website is accessible and easily crawl-able
Logically enough, if search engines can’t crawl your content, there’s no chance it will appear in search results. The most common reasons for your site being crawler-unfriendly are robots.txt restrictions, broken links, bad internal linking, too complicated website structure, etc.
The very first thing that Google looks at when trying to crawl your site is robots.txt file. And if according to its instructions some of your pages are restricted from indexing, they will be invisible to Google. Therefore, robots.txt instructions need to be checked in the first place.
The next thing to be checked is sitemap, which is exactly what it sounds like – a model of your website’s content. There’s also a so-called sitemap.xml file, which helps search engine crawlers index all pages on the site. But in case your sitemap file is blocked by robots. txt, Google bots won’t be able to reach its content. What’s more, you need to make sure that all the pages in your sitemap are relevant and updated and there are no wrong pages.
I guess it’s only fair to say that both users and crawlers are not big fans of broken links. They provide bad user experience and signal to Google that the site is of poor quality. On top of that, if you have too many broken links, Google bots may waste their entire crawl budget on trying to index them instead of your quality pages.
Another thing you need to watch out for is orphan pages. These are the ones that are not internally linked to by any other pages and, therefore, cannot be found by both users and search engines.
The deeper in your site structure your page is, the harder it becomes for bots to crawl it. So, try not to hide your most important pages deep in your site structure. The best practice is for every single page of your website to be no farther than 3 clicks away from your homepage.
I know, many of the above-listed things may seem too complicated and time-consuming to you. That’s why it’s better to invest in a good site audit tool like WebSite Auditor. It will automate all the work for you showing all website issues in one comfortable dashboard.
Mistake #4: Not promoting content/not building links
In harsh SEO reality, having a cool blog with top-notch content doesn`t necessarily guarantee that everyone will see it. Don’t get me wrong, content is still king and still a must. But there’s this dramatic mistake a lot of bloggers and content creators tend to make – spending more time on writing a piece of content rather than on promoting it and building links. And links are still one of the strongest ranking signals, and I would definitely advise you to invest more time and effort in quality link building with a top-notch backlink checker tool. Remember that it’s not a one-time activity, it needs to be done every time your post goes live.
How to link build and promote content
- Link bait
This strategy requires sharing high quality content that would drive links due its value. Try to look at your content from aside and decide whether it’s link-worthy or not. If not, think of treating your readers with some unique insights, free stuff, helpful articles and surveys, videos, infographics, hot topics, etc.
- Guest blogging
With no exaggeration, guest posting is still one of the most effective link building strategies. It allows you to earn backlinks, gain new audience for your own blog, and, of course, website traffic. The only “but” is your guest blogging prospects need to be of quality. So, search for blogs similar to your niche and offer a post or an exchange of posts.
- Blog commenting
Commenting on blogs is yet another powerful link building tactic that can help you with raising authority, improving your blog’s visibility, and driving new links. The only thing you need to do is find relevant blogs with comments enabled and start commenting. The best practice is to provide some helpful information (add a link to a relevant post on your blog) or answer a question. Remember that “Great post!” sort of comments will hardly bring you any profit.
- Ego bait
Basically, the essence of this strategy is to make your industry authorities share your blog or post. Although it may first seem like mission impossible, if you succeed to appeal to the influencer’s ego, he or she will most probably link you back. Think of quoting influencers, linking them, writing a positive review, or creating a round-up list with an influencer included, for instance.
Another good idea is to arrange an interview with an influencer. Practice shows that even the most unreachable industry authorities tend to accept interviews and almost always share them on their social channels. What you need to do is reach out, send questions, do an interview, and then publish it on your blog.
- Email list
If you offer a product or service, you most probably have an email list by means of which you inform your customers on some promotions or special offers. If you still don’t have an email list, wait no more and start forming one. The best way to grab yourself an impressive collection of emails is attaching something valuable to your email signup form. Think of offering your articles in PDF format, private blog content, eBooks, discounts, etc. Just pick any relevant option and get your precious emails in return. After you’ve come up with an email list, you can start sending your content to it. Tools like GetResponse and MailChimp are perfect for this sort of activity.
- Content communities
Another way to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible and drive more relevant traffic is by submitting it to content communities. In a nutshell, these communities gather together professionals that are highly interested in sharing and discussing content related to certain topics. As a rule, the more active you are within your community, the more attention your posts are likely to receive. So, consider submitting your posts to content communities like Triberr, GrowthHackers, or some other ones that are relevant to your niche.
These are just a few examples of how you can build links and promote your content. The success key is not sticking to just one strategy, but using multiple techniques as a combo. The best thing you can do is work out promotional and link building routine and go through it every time you publish a post.
Mistake #5: Not grabbing all the clicks from the SERPs you rank in
Another mistake bloggers (and not only) tend to make quite often is judging pages` success by their positions in SERPs. Although having high-ranking pages is undoubtedly cool, you should also pay equal attention to your snippets. As a rule, having pages that rank well but lag behind in terms of CTR means that your title tags and meta descriptions are not relevant or appealing enough. You should also have a look at your top competitors` snippets. If they have rich snippets implemented (reviews, star ratings, etc.) and you don’t, people will more likely click on their websites.
First of all, make sure that your titles and descriptions are keyword-optimized. Try to make them as appealing as you can by adding a strong call to action and pushing your target keywords closer to the beginning. It’s also a good idea to check out your competitors` titles and descriptions for inspiration. If you don’t want your title and description to be cut off by Google, make sure you don’t exceed the limit of 55 characters for a title and 155 characters for a description. And of course, the last thing Google wants is pages with duplicate titles or descriptions, so watch out for that as well.
To make your webpage even more click-worthy, consider implementing structured data markup for enabling rich snippets. You’ll be able to choose various rich snippet elements depending on your niche.
Mistake #6: Not watching out for duplicate content issues
I guess it’s well understood that duplicate content both internal and external is not ok with Google. However, a lot of bloggers and content creators underestimate the negative impact of duplication. When it comes to external duplication, copying other people’s content will hardly ever result in high rankings, as Google always prioritizes the original source. On top of that, scraping content may get you under the Panda penalty.
When it comes to internally duplicated content, it may result into wasting crawl budget, which means some of your pages will be crawled less frequently.
If you’re syndicating content, it’s important to agree on some guidelines with your publishers. The best practice is to ask the publisher to use the canonical tag on the syndicated article. By doing so, Google will understand that your article was the original one. Another way to go is to use a so-called noindex tag, which excludes the page with the republished content from Google’s search results.
You may not steal content from other websites, but still have duplication issues. Here I’m speaking about internal duplication that can occur quite often when your website is not set up correctly either technically or structurally. For instance, you may have some similar sections on your site and an article that would suit both of them. Therefore, this post will be repeated two times. In order to overcome such issues, consider running a duplicate content audit within your site. This can be comfortably done with the help of WebSite Auditor.
You only need to open your project, move the Site Audit submodule, scroll down to the On-page section, and look for pages with duplicate titles and descriptions. Now you need to go manually through these pages to spot the repeating ones. In case different pages have the same titles or descriptions, make sure to rewrite them. By the way, this can be done directly in the tool.
External duplication is yet another thing that can cost you a huge SEO trouble as well as get you under Google’s Panda penalty. So, if you suspect your pages in having external duplication, make sure to check them with Copyscape.
Mistake #7: Not tracking page speed
With Google now being obsessed with speed more than ever before, not tracking it is almost an SEO sin. First of all, page speed is now a ranking factor for both desktop and mobile devices. So, you shouldn`t expect high rankings if your site doesn`t load in a second flash. On top of that, page speed is a core user experience metric. And of course, you`re familiar with the research conducted by Google according to which 50% of your visitors expect your page to load within less than 2 seconds. So, in order to overcome a ranking drop and stop frustrating visitors with slow loading pages, it`s crucial to identify where you stand with your site speed-wise.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the best tool to track your page speed is the PageSpeed Insights tool. You only need to paste your website’s URL, and it’s going to be evaluated based on the two criteria, which are Optimization and Speed. By the way, according to the experiment we’ve conducted recently, Optimization score is what now has the biggest impact on rankings. So, make sure your Optimization score is on point (higher than 80 points) or fix the below listed technical factors if it’s not. If you don’t know how it can be done, ask your webmaster to do it for you or consult this guide on page speed optimization.
Things get a bit trickier when it’s the Speed parameter that lags behind. If that’s the case, you will definitely need to call for your webmaster’s help. The thing is the only way to improve the Speed score is to restructure your website so that it becomes less “heavy” and complicated. Minimizing the amount of images and scripts and implementing AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) for mobile pages can also help you with that.
So, here was my list of the top SEO mistakes bloggers tend to make from time to time. Although SEO landscape is constantly changing, basics still remain the same. So, if you want to run a successful blog, it’s your sacred duty to do keyword research and optimize your content for these keywords. To make the most of your posts, make sure you build links and promote your content well enough. But don’t forget about the exterior, and make your snippets look awesome. And of course, watch out for duplication issues and try to satisfy the need for speed as much as you can.
Bio: Aleh Barysevich is Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at companies behind SEO PowerSuite, professional software for full-cycle SEO campaigns, and Awario, a social media monitoring app. He is a seasoned SEO and social media expert and speaker at major industry conferences, including 2018’s SMX London, BrightonSEO and SMX East.