The Internet is busy, crowded, and full of more distractions than a mall food court. To ensure users discover your content when performing relevant searches, you need a strong SEO plan.
You likely already understand this. However, you may have struggled to implement an SEO plan that genuinely delivers results.
Don’t worry if this is the case! SEO can be very complex (except when SEO is explained simply). There are also many easy ways to “get it wrong” when developing and implementing an SEO strategy. Luckily, when you recognize the mistakes you’re making, you can fix them.
The following are some of the more common reasons people fail at SEO, along with solutions. Determine if any of them apply to you:
Table of Contents
You Have Unrealistic Expectations
When you first implement an SEO strategy, understandably, you probably want to see results fast. If you don’t, you might assume that your strategy isn’t working.
That’s not necessarily so. SEO isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.
It can take some time before an SEO strategy yields the results you want.
The fix to this mistake is easy: understand that SEO takes time. Yes, eventually you may discover that your SEO strategy is simply weak and needs to be improved upon, but for the first few weeks, you shouldn’t expect major changes. Give the process some time to play out. There are not many new SEO hacks that allow you to bolster rankings quickly anymore. Most online marketing Just. Takes. Time.
You’re Not Closely Monitoring Performance
Odds are good you monitor your SEO strategy’s performance to some degree. You naturally want to know whether it’s working as intended.
However, there are different levels of “monitoring.” Simply looking at your results isn’t enough. You need to carefully review your data and analytics to specifically identify which elements of your strategy are and are not effective.
This is another mistake with an easy solution. Yes, carefully analyzing data is somewhat time-consuming, but the results will justify the time spent on this process.
You’re Not Focusing on Technical Issues
A strong SEO plan is one that encompasses all elements of SEO. If you overlook one, your plan may fail to deliver on its potential.
For example, perhaps you’re using the right keywords, including images and other multimedia wisely, and publishing strong content.
These are all components of an effective SEO strategy. However, they’re not the only essential components. Your site also needs to perform and function properly for an SEO plan to genuinely pay off.
Did you know that 53% of Google users will abandon a mobile site if a page takes more than three seconds to load? If many users are leaving your site after just a few seconds because it’s not loading, you’ll end up with a high bounce rate that can harm your SEO.
Google’s algorithm is designed to ensure users find the quality content they’re looking for on the first page of search results. If users regularly abandon a page, the algorithm will read this as an indication that said page doesn’t provide content users are seeking. As a result, the page is less likely to rank high in search results.
Fortunately, identifying issues that may be making your pages load like it’s still the age of dial-up connections is easier than ever thanks to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. It will help you determine what’s causing technical problems. Once you know what’s slowing your site down, you can address the issue.
Just make sure you learn from your mistakes going forward! For example, you might discover that your pages are loading slowly because you’re including large image files. When you generate content in the future, make sure files are compressed in a manner that reduces their size without unreasonably sacrificing quality.
You’re Using General Keywords
There once was a time when you could simply choose general keywords and phrases like “NYC dentist” or “auto mechanic in Boca Raton” and fill your content with them to attract guests.
That’s no longer the case. Gone are the days when keyword stuffing was an effective element of an SEO strategy.
That’s not to say that keywords no longer play a part in SEO. On the contrary, they’re still very helpful. However, along with general keywords, you need to use long-tail keywords that are more aligned with specific user intent. For example, instead of just using “New York City dentist” as a keyword, you might use “pediatric root canal dentist in Manhattan, New York.”
Just make sure you’re using keywords that actually reflect the content. If you were using the example above, you would do so on a page that discusses pediatric root canal services in Manhattan.
You’re Publishing Short Content
The impulse to publish short content is understandable. One, short content naturally doesn’t take as much time to generate as longform content. Two, it seems easier to convince website visitors to read a short blog post than a relatively long article.
However, one fairly recent study indicates the top 10 results on an average search engine results page tend to feature content that’s greater than 2,000 words in length. Other studies have yielded similar findings.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but it actually makes sense when you think about the topic. Longer content naturally takes more time to consume. This means long-form content can increase the time a user spends on a site, which is good for SEO.
Perhaps more importantly, long-form content gives you the opportunity to provide users with genuine value and comprehensive information. A 500-word blog post about the “Top 10 Sleep Hacks You NEED in Your Life Like, Now” may not offer as much valuable info as a 2,000-word article on “How You Can Sleep Better: Exploring Five Common Strategies and Their Effectiveness.”
That said, “opportunity” is a key word (no pun intended) in that paragraph. Long-form content isn’t effective simply because it’s long. It’s effective when it delivers real value.
Remember that in the future. You can solve the problem of short content failing to yield results not merely by publishing longer content, but by publishing high-quality longer content.
You’re Not Generating Backlinks Properly
Backlinks (links others include in their content that lead back to your site, otherwise known as link building) play an essential role in SEO. Again, the goal of those developing Google’s search algorithms is to ensure users find strong content fast when they conduct searches. When others consistently link back to your pages, it signals to the algorithm that your content is trustworthy, authoritative, and valuable.
That said, posting strong content doesn’t guarantee backlinks. You need to take a few different steps to generate backlinks consistently.
To some extent, you may want to partner with others, agreeing to link back to their content if they link to yours. Just be careful when doing so. You only want them to link to your pages when they have valid, logical reasons to. You also don’t want to link to their content unless doing so makes sense. If you’re just randomly and constantly linking to each other’s pages to manipulate rankings, Google may actually penalize your site, as this is a form of a link scheme.
Thankfully, there are other ways you can generate more backlinks. For example, you can search the web for mentions of your brand, products, or content. When you find mentions without links, reach out to the site owner or the writer of the content to ask if they’d be willing to go back and insert a link.
You can also generate more backlinks by thinking like a blogger or journalist. Typically, digital journalists link back to pages when they contain valuable information they’ve cited in their own work. When deciding what types of content to publish, try to think from the perspective of a journalist or blogger, determining what types of information you can offer that would be useful to someone in that position.
For instance, maybe your business is a personal injury law firm in Dallas. You could regularly post content covering such newsworthy topics as local car accident statistics and trends, product recalls, and similar topics that may overlap with those a journalist would cover.
Finally, don’t make the mistake of only posting content on your own site. Odds are good there are seemingly countless publications in your industry or niche that accept guest submissions. Often, their editors allow the writers of guest submissions to link back to their own sites.
Make a list of such online publications and consistently reach out to their editors asking if you can submit guest posts. If you don’t have the time to write guest posts yourself, you can always hire a freelancer to ghostwrite them under your name. We also suggest the following posts:
- Step-by-Step Guide to SEO Link Building
- How to Get Free Backlinks
- World’s Most Exhaustive List of Link Building Strategies
You’re Not Including Outbound Links
It makes sense that many feel they shouldn’t include numerous outbound links in their own content. After all, your goal is to keep users on your site. Wouldn’t you be sabotaging yourself if you included links directing people away from your site?
There’s no overwhelming consensus as to why this is the case just yet. Google’s algorithm developers don’t exactly announce every feature of the algorithm that may account for certain factors influencing (or not influencing) rankings.
That said, there are some strong theories explaining the power of outbound links. First, outbound links may essentially help Google “understand” your pages by giving them more context and associating them with high-performing pages covering the same topic.
Outbound links might also have an impact on user attitudes towards your content. If you publish an article filled with claims for which you haven’t cited your sources, users may feel your content isn’t trustworthy, and might thus abandon the page. On the other hand, if you do cite your sources by linking to relevant content when necessary, you may foster trust. Linking to other pages also provides value to your website guests, giving them more reason to return in the future.
Again, it makes sense to assume that outbound links will hurt your SEO by giving users reasons to leave your site. However, it appears that outbound links will actually strengthen your SEO in the long run. Make a point of using them more often if you’re not yet doing so.
You’re Treating Meta Descriptions as an Afterthought
Many fail to appreciate the value of meta descriptions. Some publish content without meta descriptions at all. Others rely on automatically generated descriptions that typically consist of the first few words of a piece of content. Even those who do write their own meta descriptions may not do so with much care.
This is a mistake! Think of meta descriptions as serving the same purpose as ad copy. When your pages show up in search results, they’re surrounded by other pages vying for the attention of users. To get users to click on yours, you need to entice them. Along with a strong title, an effective meta description can help you do so.
Think about what you imagine someone clicking on your page is looking for when they perform a search. Write your meta description with that in mind, efficiently explaining what a user will find if they visit your page.
You Have Too Much Duplicate Content
This is one of the most common SEO issues site owners and publishers face. When you have duplicate content, Google’s algorithm doesn’t know which pages to prioritize in search results pages. This can result in your own content competing with itself.
Perform an audit of your site to identify any duplicate content. Remove it so that the content on every page of your site is original and unique.
All that said, you must once again remember that SEO strategies don’t yield results overnight. By identifying your mistakes and correcting them, you’ll absolutely strengthen your SEO. You simply need to keep in mind that correcting your mistakes doesn’t mean you’ll see immediate results. However, if you’re patient, you will find that making minor adjustments to your strategy can pay off in major ways.
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