11 Basic SEO Mistakes That Have Devastating Consequences For Your Website | Hacker Noon

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@vincecomfortVince Comfort

Passionate Digital Marketing Strategist, SEO student, Web Designer

Here you will learn about 11 basic, but critical SEO mistakes that leave your site in shambles and unable to rank.

Learn about them now, so you don’t make them and then complain I didn’t warn you.

#1- Not Doing Keyword Research

Writing for the web and not doing keyword research?

Why?

What’s the point? You write stuff and no one searches for it. So you won’t get any traffic flowing to your site.

And yes, Google CAN rank a single page for dozens or even hundreds of queries, but it only happens after you’ve properly optimized your post for one target keyword.

So don’t make this basic SEO mistake as keyword research is the foundation upon which all of SEO is built. 

You can’t optimize for a keyword you haven’t targeted.

#2- Not Writing SEO Titles

This is an error I see lots of newbies make. They use WordPress and they know that by default setting the article’s headline becomes its SEO title.

So why bother writing it?

Here are 2 reasons why.

First, meta titles are the second most important on-page SEO element (right after content). 

You can use your SEO title to target your main keyword and keywords you’re not already targeting with your headline. 

Because they don’t have to be the same. And they shouldn’t be the same.

Second, SEO titles need to be between 55-60 characters long (even shorter on mobile). Any more characters than that and they’ll get cut off in the SERPS producing unattractive results.

Finally, “true” headlines are usually much more verbose and almost always way longer than 60 characters.

#3- Not Using Keyword Modifiers With Your SEO Titles

Keyword modifiers are words that you can append to your SEO title to capture more long tail traffic.

Some good examples are:

  • Cool;
  • Best
  • Cheap
  • Fastest;
  • Light;
  • Popular;
  • Longest
  • For “insert keyword”
  • The current year…

There are a limitless amount of modifiers to append, and the beauty of these “special words” is that they produce keywords that are both easier to rank for, and bring in more longtail (more relevant and higher converting) traffic.

For example, “How to learn SEO” is a competitive term. But “what is the best way to learn SEO in 2020” is not.

#4- Not Optimizing Images For SEO and Traffic

Google Image search engine is huge. 

They capture 20.45% of total web traffic and they have masses of web users to send to sites that are actively trying to rank.

But there aren’t many of those that do. Most sites focus on ranking in regular Google search, and do image SEO as an afterthought. Throw in a quick alt attribute and image filename and call it a day.

Whereas that is just the beginning and there’s a ton more they can and should do to rank in Google Images.

Consult this guide to learn more about optimizing images for SEO.

#5- Not Promoting Content On Relevant External Websites

You can’t succeed by locking yourself in a cave and just publishing more and more content.

Instead, you need to regularly promote your content in places where your target audience hangs out.

The best places to look at are niche forums and Quora.

Here’s how it works with Quora.

First, do a quick search and find relevant questions people ask

Then find questions with lots of engagement (number of views+upvotes and sometimes comments) and not a whole lot of answers.

Then write your answer and publish it with a link to your article that you’re promoting.

Do it regularly and you will soon start to see trickles of Quora referral traffic in your Google Analytics.

For example, here’s’ how my friend Nikola Roza does it with his article.

You can see that he gave a thorough answer and pointed people who want more to his home base.

Smart!

#6- Not Socially Sharing Content

In my opinion, sharing content is a bit overrated. Rarely do I see a big surge of traffic after an extensive social sharing campaign. 

But I still recommend it because it’s so easy to do and because you will get a click or two to your property, which is what you’re after.

I recommend manually sharing the post the day it first went live and then scheduling it with one of many social media scheduling tools.

Missinglettr is also a good alternative and that tool can automate 99.99% of your social promotion activity.

Note: the point above addressed how you should share text-based articles to get some benefits from it.

Video is an exception. High quality video content is some of the most shared on the web and people gladly share them with their followers.

#7- Not Internally Linking

Internal links are one of the stronger on-site SEO levers you can pull The best part? It’s totally in your control and it’s so easy to do (albeit a bit tedious).

Here’s how to find internal linking opportunities quickly.

Let’s say for example I was building internal links to this article. 

To find relevant articles to get links from I’d do a site search like this “site:hackernoon.com seo mistake” and see what comes out. 

I did just that and all these articles are relevant and great internal linking opportunities.

#8- Not Building Links, Ever

Links remain one of the strongest ranking factors of Google’s secretive algorithm. In fact, they might even grow in importance in the future with the advent of A.I. and limitless content that it can produce at scale.

Then links might become THE factor to distinguish human quality writing vs machine-spewing limitless superficially good content.

I say that because A.I.-generated content can rank and Google’s algo is not capable of discerning it from human-produced content.

But humans can and they’ll want to link to other human-produced content.

How to build links to your content?

The easiest way to build links directly to a page is to do a round of guest posting. Guest post links still work and they aren’t that hard to get. You can also outsource the whole process quite easily.

#9- Not Creating Supporting Content

Supporting content is content that “supports” your money pages so they can rank higher and better.

The theory is that Google doesn’t want to rank sites that aren’t authoritative on a topic X. And the way to show Google your expertise is to publish more content around said topic.

Matt Diggity has an interesting case study about building relevance and the image below is from that article.

#10- Not Updating Content On a Regular Basis

There are two reasons why you’d want to update your content regularly.

First, you can update and improve the page so it ranks better. This means doing better on page optimization; adding in new subtopics to rank for more keywords; adding high-res photos, or maybe optimizing current images so the page loads faster…

Second, for some queries Google prefers to rank fresh content. So stale content can’t rank at all as it has already become irrelevant. 

For example, a keyword “best laptops under $350 in 2020” is a query where freshness is essential to rank.

If you have a 2019 article then you will not crack the first page no matter how many links you’ve got.

#11- Not Matching Search Intent

Search intent is not a ranking factor, but it is a rank enabler.

What does that mean?

It means that if you get search intent right you could rank based on all other SEO factors.

But if you get it wrong then you will not rank even if you have perfect on-page SEO, highly authoritative domain AND a bunch of links going to that page.

How to find out what Google wants?

Use a combo of common sense and Google Search.

First, enter your target keyword in Google (our example is “best SEO tools”).

Second, see what kind of pages Google’s returning.

You can see that Google serves text-based articles, and also mega lists. So your video about the best SEO tools probably won’t rank. And your article about one tool you think is best and why it’s so great also won’t show up on the first page.

Users want lists for this query!

Conclusion

Have you been making any of these SEO mistakes? I bet you have. 

After all, the errors you’ve made in the past have hurt you, and that’s why you searched in Google (I presume) “SEO mistakes to avoid” and found this article.

But the article is over. Now’s the time to take action on what you learned.

Please share this article if you’ve found it helpful.

Cheers!

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