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ServiceScape Incorporated

10 SEO Writing Mistakes That Are Wrecking Your Content Strategy


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When you think about your SEO and writing strategy, the first thing to consider is this: Technology is a constantly evolving trend. Along with that, our behavior related to technology constantly changes, and since the main goal of a search engine is to give people what they want—search engines must evolve, as well. Since Google is the #1 search engine, its search algorithm changes to fulfill user need.

Here's where the big question arises with content strategy and digital marketing. With every new Google search algorithm change, SEO trends are affected. It's no wonder that content writers and marketers get confused with what works and what is a waste of time when it comes to SEO strategy. In fact, if you're using the same SEO and content marketing strategies you were using two years ago, you could very well be doing more harm than good.

There have been five significant updates to Google's search algorithm in recent years, and many minor ones that take place on an almost daily basis. While this causes confusion in SEO practices, the core thing to keep in mind is that Google is making these changes for one goal: To better the user experience.

Considering that point, here are 10 SEO practices that might have been useful at one time but are now wrecking your writing strategy.

Mistake #1 – Short articles

There was a time when websites pushed out a lot of content in short 300-word bursts and it was enough to satisfy Google's algorithm and land the website in top search results. That time is no more. Neil Patel, a leading online marketing entrepreneur, states that articles under 2,000 words should be a thing of the past if you're wanting to publish high-quality, SEO-friendly content. We have the Panda Google algorithm update to thank for this. As long as it is informative and not overly stuffed with keywords, aiming at 2,500 words is even better.

Mistake #2 – Not providing your location through Google My Business to optimize for local searches

Outdated SEO practice encouraged website addresses that included a location, such as "bestjewelrydealshouston.com" or "cardealsphoenix.com" instead of branded domains. Not only is this no longer necessary, it's a missed opportunity to use a simple, brand-focused domain name to lead visitors to your website while building brand identity.

With Google's new algorithms, the search engine recognizes that many searches are conducted via mobile devices while users are on the go. All that is required now is for someone to type "jewelry store near me" and Google will direct them to jewelry stores within a certain radius of their location (as long as the user has their location turned on and the business is registered with Google). The only thing this requires on the business' end is to provide their physical address to Google My Business™, which is free to do.

Mistake #3 – Inviting guest bloggers for backlinks simply for the sake of backlinks

Obtaining backlinks through guest bloggers who write informative, pertinent content based on your site's audience is one thing. Doing the same thing with spammy guest bloggers who don't provide useful content is now considered to be a "black hat technique" in SEO practice and should be avoided. Why? Because Google's new algorithms punish sites that contain a lot of content that isn't related to the site's main keywords and metatags.

The important thing to keep in mind is that while guest blogging is still a useful technique in SEO, quality trumps quantity.

Mistake #4 – Using too much exact match anchor text

Google's Panda update in 2012 put an end to the black hat use of exact match anchor text as good SEO practice. Anchor text is the text that shows in your content and is linked to another site. There are different types of anchor text. For example, there is generic anchor text such as "this article", "this page", or "read more here". These links and anchor text will generally guide the user to another place on the internet to learn more information, and are not penalized by Google. There is also branded anchor text, which also avoids being flagged by Google as spam. Some examples of branded anchor text are "Margaret Atwood's writing Masterclass" or "Joe Fassler on Lithub.com." Branded anchor text is your friend if you are attempting to increase your site's SEO.

However, exact match anchor text involves focusing on keywords that you are targeting in your content. For example, if you are writing an article that focuses on the keyword "diamond broker" and it contains that exact phrase as anchor text multiple times, Google's algorithm will likely penalize your site. You might get by with it once, but multiple instances are a bad idea. Just say no.

Mistake #5 – Gaining backlinks from too many sites with a low Domain Rating (DR) or Domain Authority (DA)

SEO analysts and marketing professionals use software that helps them determine a site's keyword metrics, backlinks, competition, and ranking. When using a popular program called Ahrefs, these professionals focus on a Domain Rating (DR), which is a metric showing the strength of a website's backlinks. When using Moz, another well-known software suite, they focus on Domain Authority (DA), which is a metric predicting how well a website will rank on the top search engines. You can use Moz for free to obtain the Domain Authority (DA) of any website or search engine results page (commonly referred to as SERP among the digital marketing community).

While this might seem like advanced SEO practice, it's really simple to determine if a page is worth the time and effort needed to build your backlinks. For example, if you invite a guest blogger to publish on your website for the sake of building backlinks (which is great for SEO if done correctly), you can obtain the DA or DR from that blogger's page first to determine if the backlink will be worthwhile. While there is no magic number to look for, any site with a DA above 80 is considered exceptional for building your site's SEO. If your backlinks are all from sites with a much lower DA, especially if in the teens, consider focusing on raising that number for any additional backlinks you obtain.

Mistake #6 – Gaining backlinks too quickly

There is no doubt that gaining quality backlinks is an excellent SEO strategy for building your website's ranking in search engine results. However, just as gaining backlinks from too many sites with low DR or DA can backfire, Google's algorithm also punishes sites that gain backlinks too quickly. The reason for this is quick backlinks generally mean that you've paid for them as a black hat strategy, rather than building them over time with quality content that users will find useful and informative. The message here is that slow and steady—or at least, slow and strategic—wins the SEO race.

Mistake #7 – Only focusing on text in your content strategy

These video marketing statistics from Oberlo (notice that branded anchor text?) show how video is not only showing up in top search engine results—audiences are preferring it to written content and engage with it more often. Since Google's algorithms are created to give users a better search engine experience, you can bet that video will continue to become an excellent digital content strategy for building a website's audience.

Mistake #8 – Not writing a compelling Title Tag and Meta Description

Title tags are the clickable headlines that a search engine user first sees when your website comes up in search engine results. Here's what Google has to say about them:

Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it's relevant to their query. It's often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it's important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.

Google Search Console Help

You can expect Google to display around 60 characters for the title tag, so be sure to keep your title tag compelling and concise, as well as under 60 characters. Avoid stuffing it with keywords but be sure to include your target keyword for that page.

Second in importance to your title tag is the page's meta description. Again, according to Google:

A meta description tag should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they're looking for.

Google Search Console Help

You can expect Google to limit these meta descriptions to under 160 characters, so focus on writing action-oriented copy that includes the page's keyword(s) and provides an accurate, informative summary of what the user can expect to find on that page with 160 characters or less.

Mistake #9 – Not optimizing Images

A website or blog post without images isn't visually appealing, so adding images to your copy is smart content strategy. It improves the user experience and enhances the copy significantly. However, these images should be SEO optimized to ensure that they boost your site's search engine ranking as much as possible.

The best way to do this is to compress the image and choose the file format that will load easily and quickly. Usually, this is a JPEG format for images, and PNG format for graphics or images that contain words within them.

Mistake #10 – Not linking internally

Finally, let's discuss internal links. Creating multiple internal links between your pages not only enhances the user experience on your site by helping visitors navigate more easily—it helps Google index your site's structure and quickly determine the relevant keywords it should rank for. If you're wanting to boost certain pages within your website, one of the easiest ways to do this is to internally link it to one of your site's top-ranking pages.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the best practices in content strategy for SEO is using more than one technique. Too much focus on one element can backfire or be penalized by Google, and it takes a broad approach, along with frequent research on current Google algorithm trends, to most effectively build your website's audience and ranking.

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