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What are the common SEO mistakes?

Date published: February 23, 2023
Last updated: February 23, 2023

You know what they say: Nobody’s perfect. Marketers are no exception. But when it comes to your SEO strategy, the first five organic search results get nearly 70% of the clicks. When ranking is more important than ever, mistakes can cost you.

Here are some of the most common SEO mistakes and how to avoid them.

What is the main mistake of SEO that companies make?

The journey to the top of the SERP is a winding road, and there are many opportunities to wander off the path. What is the most common SEO mistake companies make?

If you take a wrong turn in the first five minutes of a road trip, everything you do after that will be off. Your SEO strategy is the same way. The early steps are where mistakes can have the biggest impact.

We’ve found the main SEO mistake companies make is targeting the wrong keywords. It’s not that these folks are totally off base. They’re not cosmetics companies targeting pet food keywords.

They’re just… not totally on base either. They’ve missed the mark on identifying the most valuable keywords with the most opportunity.

Companies making this mistake have often based their keyword strategy on shooting for the stars. They target the keywords with the most volume. After all, that’s the biggest pie - surely there’s a little sliver available for them?

Unfortunately, those keywords are also the most difficult to rank for. The brands at the top of the SERP are usually monoliths with decades of built-up authority and marketing budgets in the millions.

How to choose the right target keywords

How can you narrow down your target keywords and choose one you actually have a chance of ranking for? Look for longer-tail keywords that are specific to your audience and content niche.

Don’t be afraid of low volume keywords. These show up in your keyword research tool as having low search volume, but the truth is that these can be amazing opportunities. The “low” just means volume data is unavailable because a low number of people are searching for that term. In reality, you could convert a large portion of those users with the right content.

Which are the most costly mistakes in SEO?

SEO is “organic,” but that doesn’t mean it’s free. It takes time and expertise to pull off a comprehensive SEO strategy. And all the moving pieces are connected - so mistakes in one area can throw off progress in another. From this point of view, any major SEO problems can cost your organization.

However, the most costly SEO mistakes occur when you start putting a ton of resources toward a promotion tactic without also first focusing on content quality. This might mean buying low-quality backlinks or churning out low-effort content just for the sake of backlinks.

How to earn backlinks with high-quality content

Creating linkable, high-quality content is an essential first step to building backlinks. The best backlinks are earned, not bought. But that doesn’t mean it won’t take effort to earn them.

The bulk of your backlink strategy should be organic through creating great content and pitching it to publishers. Relationship building can make this process much smoother.

What are some on-page SEO mistakes?

Many common mistakes happen “on page” - right there in your content. These are usually issues with on-page or technical SEO. One of the top essentials that some beginners miss is including the target keyword in meta data fields.

Another common on-page SEO issue is not matching content to keyword intent. We’ve seen excellent content that’s optimized to the target keyword… but it doesn’t match the keyword’s search intent.

For example, a user who searches for “best running shoes for long distance” probably intends to make a purchase with the information they find.

If you write content that talks generally about what makes a good long-distance running shoe, it could rank for that keyword. But it’s lacking key information that the searcher will miss: top brands, specific shoes, reviews and ratings.

In this example, the searcher would likely look at your content, see that it doesn’t have what they need, and click back to the SERP for another resource. This is a big red flag to Google’s algorithm and it will start to notice that your content isn’t meeting expectations.

How to optimize content to keyword and search intent

To optimize your content to both keyword and intent, refresh your knowledge of the different types of keywords. Is your target keyword informational, navigational, commercial, or transactional?

Once you’ve aligned your content with the searcher’s intent, use a standardized checklist to include your keyword in all the appropriate fields:

  • Title
  • Headers
  • Meta description
  • URL
  • Image alt text

Checking these fields will help you fix one of the top technical SEO issues we see.

Practice makes perfect

Your digital content will never be perfectly optimized. And as soon as you get close, Google will announce a big algorithm update. Despite it all, marketers will keep striving for SEO perfection from technical optimization to keyword research.

By avoiding the common pitfalls we’ve discussed, you can continue fighting the good fight to bring more organic traffic to your website.

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