[ Updated Dec 16, 2020 ]
Many marketers and business owners fail to get results from their search engine optimization efforts. Often, it’s because they’re falling prey to common SEO mistakes.
In this article, I’ll share seven of the most critical SEO pitfalls you must avoid to get SEO results in 2021 and beyond.
Mistake 1: Not setting clear SEO goals
It should come as no surprise that you need clear goals to succeed with SEO.
But many business owners and marketers run SEO campaigns without having any goals. They believe that doing SEO will increase their traffic, which in turn will increase their sales.
The problem is, things are not always quite that simple.
For your SEO efforts to pay off, you need to understand what you want to achieve. Is it better quality traffic, more organic leads, or more sales you’re trying to get?
For example, let’s say you’re getting 10,000 monthly organic users to your website but only 1% of them end up buying from you. If that’s the case, there are two possible reasons: either a) you’re driving the wrong kind of traffic to your website or b) your website does a poor job of converting visitors into customers.
Without clear goals, you’ll end up with a bunch of vanity metrics and not much else.
Editor’s note: For more tips on setting clear SEO goals, check out this article.
Mistake 2: Ignoring search intent
Search intent is a hidden ranking factor that impacts SERP results. Google favors sites whose content satisfies the search intent for a given query.
Search intent refers to the ultimate motivation behind a user’s search. You have to figure out what a user wants to get when searching that query on Google. Is the searcher looking to buy something? Or are they trying to learn something?
For example, if someone types “digital marketing” into the Google search bar, that probably means the user wants to know what digital marketing is. So the user has informational intent.
But if the user was searching “digital marketing services”, that would probably mean that the user wants to hire a consultant or company that offers digital marketing services. This is a commercial keyword. To answer the search intent behind this query, you need to provide details about your marketing agency and the services you provide.
If you fail to satisfy the searchers’ intent, you won’t be able to rank for very long.
Mistake 3: Overlooking mobile traffic
If your website is not mobile-friendly or mobile search is not part of your SEO strategy, you might be leaving money on the table.
Today, more than 50% off all traffic comes from mobile devices. And that’s why Google tends to favor mobile-friendly websites.
To prepare your website for organic traffic from mobile devices, you’ll want to ensure that your website is responsive and that it loads in under 3 seconds. Mobile-friendliness and pagespeed are important ranking factors.
Don’t ignore mobile optimization if you actually want to increase your organic website traffic.
Mistake 4: Holding onto old school SEO best practices
Google is constantly developing their search algorithm. As a result, SEO is also changing.
The strategies that were working well 10 years ago are no longer effective. So if you want to stay on the top of Google SERP, you need to keep yourself updated and use modern SEO techniques.
That’s why you should keep yourself updated on modern SEO best practices and keep an eye out for new updates, changes by Google, and shifts in the industry.
Mistake 5: Buying backlinks
Backlinks are among the most important ranking factors. But If you’re buying links to boost your website rankings, you might end up with a penalty from Google. This means you’re not only wasting your money but also potentially ruining your website’s chance to rank on search engines.
According to Google, most sites that sell links don’t actually boost your rankings. That’s because in reality, most link-builders and link-sellers all have the same list of sites from which they sell links. The good news is that Google also has the same site lists, which means they’re able to devalue these sites.
If you’re still not convinced, hear me out. Even if you haven’t gotten a Google penalty for shady links or techniques yet, it doesn’t mean that you’re safe. Your website may still get a penalty today for links that you built years ago.
If you still want to pay money to get links, I would recommend that you hire an SEO services company that can acquire top-tier links in your niche without breaking any of Google’s rules.
Mistake 6: Forgetting about content formats other than text
Doing SEO for text-based content can feel difficult because every site and blog is doing the same thing.
In 2021 and beyond, it’s good to remember that content doesn’t necessarily equal the written word. There are other content formats (think videos, infographics, podcasts, webinars, and images) that you can use to rank on Google and drive organic traffic to your website.
Many people prefer watching videos over reading. That’s why you’re probably seeing more videos on social media feeds as well as on Google SERP. These days, videos are the content format with the highest demand, and I would guess that the demand will only increase in the near future.
And if you still need convincing, consider this: based on my experience, video content takes less time to rank on Google and YouTube than text-based content does.
Mistake 7: Ignoring branded SEO & EAT
SEO is not just about ranking higher on Google. It’s also about building a trustworthy brand.
Today, Google favors sites that are genuine, trusted, and popular. This is Google’s E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trust) concept. Google determines the EAT of a website by using a combination of various data points and algorithms.
Here are a few ideas on how to demonstrate your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness:
- Make sure your SEO strategy also includes ways to increase brand-related searches
- Try to get featured on top media publications
- Provide information about your company, like location (address), author bios, recognitions, and awards won
To get results from your SEO efforts and to rank higher on Google, you’ll want to avoid the seven mistakes I’ve detailed above.
Additionally, you may want to run an SEO audit for your website once a year or once every six months to help you spot — and fix — any possible problems.
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