Avoid These Common SEO Mistakes!
The terms “white hat” and “black hat” conjure a fantasy universe where SEO writers battle it out in a winner-take-all fight for the soul of the Internet. Keywords fly back and forth in dazzling displays of lexical prowess, webpages are spawned like portals to other worlds and content is optimized at the speed of light. It sounds like witchcraft...and in a way, it is.
While actual search engine optimization is not quite that dramatic, it does have its own set of rules and codes that must be followed to ensure the success of a piece of content or a webpage. If you’re laying out an organic content strategy, it’s important to know the practices that can get you to the top of Google at best, or penalized at worst. So strap in: today, we’re talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly of search engine optimization.
SEO Mistakes Can Be Hiding in Plain Sight...
The two main ways of following or breaking search engines’ rules are usually called “white-hat” and “black-hat” SEO, respectively.
If these terms sound familiar, you may have heard them referenced in their original context: computer hacking. White-hat hackers use their skills to alert companies to weaknesses in their tools and systems, whereas black-hat hackers are known to exploit these weaknesses for personal gain. There’s an important reversal that occurs when these terms migrate to SEO: while black-hat and white-hat hackers use the same methods to get different results, white-hat and black-hat SEO employs different methods to reach the same goal: good search engine results page rankings, or SERP.
An inexperienced writer could poorly optimize a website and do more harm than good, even without meaning to fall under the nefarious umbrella of black-hat SEO. Techniques that go against search engine guidelines can damage your site, your reputation and ultimately, your business’ entire web presence. Here are some of the traps to watch out for:
Keyword Stuffing and Content Cloaking
The list of more egregious SEO mistakes include keyword stuffing and content cloaking. Fairly self-explanatory, these two terms designate the practice of filling a piece of content with repetitive keywords, and the practice of using fake content that doesn’t actually appear on the website to trick the crawl into directing users to an irrelevant webpage. While these can seem like quick ways to get more hits, they are highly detrimental to your webpage. While subterfuges like this were once good enough to trick the crawl, search engines’ algorithms are now sophisticated enough to detect them--and to punish the offending webpages.
But what about blunders? While content cloaking and keyword stuffing are usually intentional, though not necessarily ill-intentioned, techniques, unintentional mistakes can also send your website spiralling into the oblivion of pages 2+ of Google.
Duplicate content is a peril for experienced and inexperienced website owners alike. In some cases, it can be a matter of content duplicated across pages of a website; in more serious cases, it can involve content theft by a third party, resulting in duplicate content elsewhere on the web.
It can be the result of technical issues or seemingly insignificant details, such as a business running an HTTP version of their site alongside a WWW version. Whatever the reason, search engines are confused by duplicate content, which can mean only one version gets indexed; if it happens to be the wrong version, this can cause a lot of rework for website owners. You can find more details on the causes of and fixes for duplicate content in this article by the well-reputed SEO company Moz.
The evocative name speaks for itself; this is content with no meat, no substance or value for the reader. These can be pages on websites that serve no purpose other than directing users elsewhere (called doorway pages), or flimsy, poorly researched articles purchased or even obtained for free. Content for content’s sake usually results in poor value for readers.
Thin content can also mean that a purchased or copied piece of content exists elsewhere on the web, which can result in duplicate content. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines are a good way to deep-dive into how your content affects your SERP ranking.
So How Do I Avoid These SEO Mistakes?
A good way to avoid SEO mistakes is to be aware of them; ignorance of best practices is no excuse, as far as search engines are concerned. However, beyond just walking the line and avoiding problems, the best way to avoid SEO mistakes is to focus on producing top-notch content for your website or blog. Don’t just duck out of sight of the search engines; give them something they want to show readers.
3 Easy Ways to Produce Stellar Content for SEO
Mean what you say. Good, thorough and valuable content will already put you miles ahead of much of your competition. Know your audience and structure your SEO strategy around delivering value to them, as opposed to the other way around. This will always work in your favour both where search engines are concerned, and also in the wider context of your business.
Don’t guess your keywords. If you’re going to use SEO to optimize your website, don’t just take stabs in the dark! Do put together an initial list of guesses based on your business, products or services, and customers; however, this list is only a starting point. The Internet abounds in tools that can help you pinpoint whether or not your keywords will be effective, and which can even give you ideas for other keywords to use. Use these tools to your advantage, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Find a wide variety of keywords, and use them throughout your writing. Using a single keyword word too many times will put readers off and alert the crawl bot that something’s fishy. Diversify your lexicon with a rich variety of relevant keywords, and use your research to find different ways of conveying your message. Not only will this help your SEO strategy, it will also result in better, more readable writing.
If you’re considering an SEO campaign to help your website get traction online, you can use a number of different strategies; however, there are also pitfalls, and an ever-changing series of rules, trends and best practices which can help or hinder you in the process. Bloomtools is here to help you effectively optimize your content and website to maximize your business’ online presence.
Contact us to learn more about how Bloomtools can help your business with its marketing SEO needs today.
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