As organic search usage and share continues to outpace other channels in 2020, the focus is on crafting an SEO strategy that can generate leads and drive traffic consistently.
However, strategies cover a wide range of technical factors and tactics. This can lead to mistakes or oversights that can have a detrimental impact on your results.
Being forgetful with noindex commands
Giving Google the green light to crawl and index your content is fundamental to effective SEO. However, did you know that leaving a ‘noindex’ or ‘nofollow’ command in your site’s header code can prevent Googlebot from analysing entire pages?
When a noindex meta tag is present, the page in question will be omitted from SERPs, which can be disastrous for generating leads and driving traffic to your site. These tags only have a place when you are first developing a site or are creating ‘thin’ content, such as thank you pages for customers.
Noindex and nofollow tags are slightly different. The former prevents a search engine from adding a page to its search index, while the latter does allow a search engine to index a page but prevents it from following links on the page.
Regardless, it’s always a good idea to check whether either of these tags are visible in your code before the page is live to prevent SEO headaches at a later date.
Not tracking metrics in Google Analytics
SEO experts have espoused the benefits of Google Analytics and Google Search Console for a long time now for good reason. The web services offer a very useful set of tools for checking index status, optimising the visibility of your pages, and tracking metrics that can help you to determine the success of SEO and content campaigns.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are actually two different entities. The former is more user-oriented, offering data about who is consuming your content and interacting with your webpages, while the latter is SEO-based with insights and advice about how to improve your website. It will tell you about technical errors and other issues.
You should be using both in tandem to improve your overall SEO. A common mistake is to use one and not the other, or forgo them entirely in favour of third-party options. Google’s toolset is the industry standard and can be used to mine advanced insights and metrics with relative ease, so it should form an integral part of your SEO strategies.
Forgetting to use internal links
External links are a great way to weave authoritative sources into your content. They will signal to Google that your articles and blogs are trustworthy and add an extra sheen of quality to readers who want to explore specific keywords and phrases in greater detail. However, there is a tendency to focus on external links over internal links.
Internal links give your website structure and, more importantly, communicate this structure to Google in order to establish a site hierarchy. This helps to delineate between key pages on your site and supplementary content and creates signals for topic clusters, which in turn allows Googlebot to crawl your site with greater ease.
A simpler benefit is that internal linking leads to visitors clicking through to other parts of your site, which can drive traffic and lead to longer sessions and the potential for greater sales. Mixing in high-quality external links and targeted internal links is best for your SEO strategies.
Having a ‘one and done’ approach to content output
Content offers immense value when it is published for the first time, but brands can forget how powerful it can be when it is updated or recycled over time. Google actually uses a ‘freshness’ algorithm in search. The algorithm was rolled out a decade ago with the aim of delivering “fresher, more recent search results”.
Searchmetrics notes: “Google prefers sites like news sites, broadcast sites, video portals and a lot Brand sites. This is also a type of sites which have regularly fresh content and a big brand with higher CTRs.”
Revisiting existing content on at least a yearly basis will get you out of the ‘set and forget’ mindset and enable you to weed out any stale articles or blogs that may be superfluous in terms of driving any meaningful traffic. Stale content can be outdated, incorrect, irrelevant or devalued. This happens when new trends or information come to light or an industry or market changes wholesale.
You can update content by adding new keywords, fixing links, including new sections and editors’ notes, and generally bringing copy to a higher standard for the current time. Removing any older content that is not salvageable is also recommended. Google will return your hard work in kind by rewarding you with higher rankings.
Creating content without considering search intent
Search intent has taken on greater precedence in SEO during the last two years as Google continues to make changes to its algorithm to meet the needs of users by gaining a better understanding of search queries. Google says that there are three primary categories related to search intent.
These are ‘do’ searches, which are transactional with the intent of making a purchase; ‘know’ and ‘know simple’ searches, where a user wants information about a topic or product; and ‘go’ searches, which are navigational such as ‘near me’ and customer support queries.
The good news is that your content output can be tailored for each of these steps. The key is matching articles, blogs and webpages to the search intent so that customers get exactly what they need when they need it most.
With a plethora of on-page and off-page optimisations, it is easy to make mistakes with SEO. Even the most experienced professionals can be caught out from time to time, so it is important to run down a checklist of common oversights to make sure that you are not undermining your search strategies and wider content marketing efforts. Don’t rest on your laurels either, even if everything is going smoothly. SEO requires constant attention and improvements to support strong rankings.