Top SEO Mistakes and How To Avoid Them
Search engine optimization used to be this very mysterious activity that only "experts" knew how to do. That's not true anymore. In fact, Google doesn't want you to do SEO, really. Matt Cutts has said many, many, times that the best SEO is just good quality content and an awesome user experience. Despite this fact, many webmasters still make ridiculous SEO mistakes, accuse Cutts of being a liar, and then scratch their heads when their site tanks in the SERPs. You want to know the best way to "do" SEO? Stop making these top SEO mistakes:
1) You Rely Too Much on Plugins For SEO
There are maybe a handful of SEO plugins for Wordpress that are worth using. One of them is made by Yoast (if that gives you any idea of the quality). Outside of a couple of basic tools to help optimize blog posts and links on your site (i.e. make them easy for users to find/navigate through), you don't really need to spend a lot of time on this. Why?
Think about what many "experts" are implying in the SEO game. They are telling you, essentially, that there is a way to "game" the system. In other words, they have some secret knowledge of what Google wants, and they'll give it to you for a price. The result is that you'll get higher rankings and more traffic. B.S. If an SEO company had proprietary knowledge of how Google's algorithm worked, they would be working for Google, not you.
It's true that many SEO companies know what search engines like, in terms of backlinks and content, but this is more of a content-focused strategy mixed in with good old-fashioned PR. It's the same kind of stuff that works well in the offline world. Bottom line: there is no "silver bullet" plugin for your website that will shoot your site to the top of the SERPs. It just doesn't work that way.
2) You Still Aren't Concerned With Value-Added Content
Even after the Panda and Penguin updates, many webmasters are still chasing cheap article writers and trying to play the content creation game. Quantity does not beat quality. This is the drum that Google has been beating for years now. They are finally forcing the issue. As social media continues to become an increasingly important factor in search results pages, you had better kick your content quality up a few notches. It's always best to write what you know and to write the articles yourself. However, if you aren't a very good writer, consider paying someone $50-$100 to write stellar content for you. Yes, that's probably what you'll have to pay to motivate a writer to do good research and take the time to write something that other people will want to read.
3) You Buy Links for SEO Purposes
Stop buying links. If you have never read anything by Eric Ward on this matter, you should. Buying links for SEO purposes is not only dumb, but it's a short-term strategy that forces you to work harder in the future. If you don't plan on being around for very long, fine. Close up shop and find something else to do. If you want to make your life easier, chase high-quality link prospects. Don't sell your soul to companies like BuildMyRank.com.
4) Your Site Is Stale
When was your last site update? If you don't remember, it's time to compose some more content. You absolutely must create content (or at least refresh old content) on a regular basis. If you don't, your site will grow stale. There is a value in evergreen content, but even evergreen content should be tweaked now and then or expanded upon. Try this: take existing content, and expand on one or two points that you couldn't in that article. This will give you an entirely new article and something interesting for your visitors to read.
5) You Don't Speak Your Visitors' Language
How are you marketing to your visitors? Believe it or not, many marketers ignore their target market's language. Artists have a certain way they like to engage with people. Engineers deal with other people in a different way. If you don't understand the technical jargon, nuances, and cliches common in your niche, you're sunk. This can have consequences in your ranking as well. With personalized search growing (at least, according to Google), people will only share articles and other content relevant to them. That content has to "speak" to them. If it doesn't, then it won't be shared.
6) You're Not Using Google's Keyword Analysis Tool Correctly
Last, but definitely not least, use Google's keyword tool. It's surprising that so many people fail to actually log into their Google account to use the full feature set of Google's keyword tool. The version you get when you're not logged in even tells you to log in to get access to all of the features. Do it. You'll get much better data for keyword research.