Content SEO Mistakes That Are Destroying Your Ranking
Writing is no longer enough. When books and newspapers were the main mediums for the written word, keywords were not the buzz.
Now, keywords carry a large chunk of the conversation between content marketers and SEO professionals – often discussing content SEO mistakes. However, while this may be the case, it is a conversation that has been happening way before Google and the internet.
But First, What’s a Keyword?
Much like writing any content piece, students in schools (and universities alike) are taught ‘keyword mapping’. SEO pros hear this term a lot – almost, daily. Keywords in their essence are the centre of any content piece. As every article discusses a main question or topic, it is only normal that it repeats this topic throughout the article.
So, that’s a keyword: a term we use throughout a content piece because it is the topic that the content piece is based on. The same keyword mapping techniques that we used back in our high school essays are put to practice when we write for the internet as well – and particularly, to grab Google’s attention. The main difference, however, is that keyword mapping for the internet includes numbers. We don’t hold as much freedom in choosing what we write about, much like an academic research paper. We see what people search for, and write accordingly.
Keywords are supported by numbers and are crucial to any website’s content SEO efforts. Now that we’ve cleared out why that SEO pro fought with the content writer the other day for adding no keywords, read on to know some of the main content SEO mistakes that may be destroying your search engine ranking.
1. Duplicate Content
This is a no-brainer. While publishers know not to post the same content twice anywhere around their website, less obvious ways for duplicate content include secure HTTPs pages, URL parameters and CMS templates.
In the case of duplicate content matters on your website, you need to inform search engines not to index specific pages by implementing an appropriate canonical tag or using the ‘noindex’ meta robots tag for the page that you want to avoid getting indexed.
2. Inefficient Use of Backlinks
Backlinks are important, certainly. Yet, there are good links and bad links. Too much of the latter can destroy your ranking.
Bad backlinks are links from unrelated or spammy websites, link directories or ad-heavy sites. Generally, links that appear unnatural to the human eye are all bad backlinks. Tools such as SEMrush can help you to gather your backlinks. Although this can be tedious and time-consuming, you will need to remove bad backlinks by contacting these publishers or using Google’s link disavow tool.
Often overlooked, this is crucial in sustaining your rankings.
3. Unnatural Content
The main focus of a content writer should never be to optimize. Instead, a content writer should focus on producing quality content that provides the required information. That is the very purpose of reading any content piece. Users read because they are curious, they want to learn, or have a question in mind that they want an answer to. If you are not meeting your readers’ needs, you are failing to write purposefully.
Much like any piece of content, an answer to a problem is often the go-to approach. While writing, keep search engines at the back of your mind. Or simply, add keywords while proofreading your content, and then read again to ensure that it reads naturally, and fits.
Keyword stuffing feels unnatural for the reader and for Google as well. Therefore, higher bounce rates are expected on a page stuffed with keywords – a frequent SEO mistake.
This goes for the meta description, title tag and headings as well. You need to worry if your title tag reads as this: ‘keyword | keyword company + company name | company name + keyword services’
By using the keyword too many times, this may seem spammy for both search engines and users, and that’s not what you want!
4. Keyword Misfocus
While optimizing specific pages for specific keywords, ensure not to use unrelated keywords on one page. For example, if you are optimizing a page for ‘red shirts,’ use variations of this primary keyword, such as ‘red shirts in UAE’, ‘red shirts online’, ‘buy red shirts’ etc. While the title tag and <h1> tags will certainly include the primary keyword/s, its variations should be suitably used within the content.
Throughout your content, it is important to use variations to avoid keyword stuffing, and to keep the content both focused and natural for the reader.
If you are optimizing the page for ‘red shirts,’ ensure that the content does not include ‘maroon shirts,’ simply because it’ll be irrelevant and unrelated to the said page.
To avoid this simple SEO mistake, don’t forget to use variations of the primary keyword.
5. Keyword Cannibalization
Depending on your SEO strategy, you will have a couple of target keywords which can be used throughout your website. One common SEO mistake (often by bloggers attempting to do SEO alone) is to use the same target keywords on multiple pages on the site. Ideally, every page on your website should be optimized for a specific keyword or a set of keywords, which will be variations of the primary keyword.
When you optimize multiple pages of your site for the same keyword/set of keywords, search engines start to get confused. How will they know which page to rank for, when all of these pages are competing for the same keywords?
Simply, they won’t.
While it is important to bear these simple SEO mistakes in mind, it is of utmost importance to keep the content natural. Keyword stuffing, cannibalization, misfocus, and the other SEO mistakes mentioned above can be easily avoided. Our tip is to let the keywords flow naturally throughout your content!
Written by Sana Ashraf, Copywriter, Bruce Clay MENA.
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