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5 Mistakes SEOs Still Make With Links & Content
Columnist Pratik Dholakiya discusses common SEO mistakes that could be costing you traffic and explains what to do about them.
You make a lot of mistakes. That’s part of life.
And SEO is a complex field; there’s a lot to remember, even more to do, and everyone’s stock answer to your questions seems to be, “It depends.”
Furthermore, it’s not just the fresh-faced, new-on-the-scene SEOs who are making mistakes. Seasoned veterans and outright experts are doing it, too.
Here are five well-known mistakes that SEOs make in regards to links and content — and that are costing vital traffic:
Mistake #1: Building All Links On The Home Page
It’s tempting to point all your links to your home page. Because, well… that’s usually where your sales funnel starts, right?
Or your client is nagging you to drive all your traffic there — which can be even worse.
But building all your links to your home page isn’t just a mistake.
It’s a bad strategy.
Firstly, most sites have too many home page links. And if most sites are doing it, you shouldn’t be. Because following the crowd in SEO is guaranteed to find you somewhere on the 10th page…if you’re lucky.
A good strategy is to link deep into your site and use all those lovely internal pages you took the time to craft.
Neil Patel said it best in this post about link building:
Look at Wikipedia. The site that ranks for almost every term out there and is the 6th most popular site in the world. Majestic SEO is showing that Wikipedia in total has over 600 million backward links, whereas the home page has roughly 6 million links. That means 1% of their total links point to their home page, while 99% goes to internal pages.
Spreading your link equity across your site, rather than concentrating it on your home page, just makes sense. Instead of users landing on your home page and having to fight to find the content they’re looking for, they’re already there. It feels more natural — and if your content is good, it builds more trust.
Linking deep helps you build the overall SEO value for your site, too — the more high-value pages you have, the more opportunities you have to achieve search engine visibility.
It’s a win-win.
Mistake #2: Stopping Link Building After Hitting The First Page
Look, let me be straight with you: search engine optimization efforts don’t last forever. Within a matter of weeks, you’re going to need to change something.
That’s why campaigns never really finish; they just change focus for a while.
SEO is constantly changing, and it’s your job to keep up with it.
Sure, when you hit the first page, give yourself a pat on the back. Grab a beer, high-five your client, take a few screenshots, and enjoy it. But once you’re done celebrating, it’s time to work on a strategy to help you stay on the first page.
Think of this from Google’s point of view: Your site wasn’t doing anything. Now, it’s suddenly hot and alive and interesting. And then it stops doing anything again.
It assumes you’ve either had a quick hit of a link building campaign or a viral blog post, and you’ve finally run out of steam.
Keep building links. Don’t stop being hot and alive and interesting in the eyes of Google — or you’ll run out of traffic (and clients) quickly.
Mistake #3: Not Using Blogging As A Strategy
Not long ago, I had a conversation with a marketing director at a Fortune 500 company. She asked me to write a series of blog posts for her that would drive traffic to their new initiative.
I asked her, “How long would you like the post to be?” To which she said, “It doesn’t matter; it’s not like anybody is actually going to read it.”
This is what’s wrong with how businesses and old-school marketers view blogging. They view blogging as low value — and it’s a view that’s rubbed off on lots of SEOs, too.
But not blogging is a big mistake. In fact, it can be one of the highest-value strategies you can use.
Look at it this way: How often is the content on your site updated? Not often. Because you can’t really update your About Me or Services page more than a couple of times a year.
That means your site is just sitting there dormant. And Google doesn’t like inactive sites.
But if you have a blog, you’re adding another page to your site at least once a month — if not once a week or once a day.
That says to Google, “Hey, look at us! We’re working our butts off over here. Come and see what we’ve made.”
And if you’ve got more pages in your index, there are more pages to rank with that you can work your SEO magic on for a little extra traffic.
Take a look at HubSpot, for instance: 70 percent of their traffic comes from old blog posts — that is, content they didn’t create that month. That’s a ton of visitors for work they did months ago.
And with every month that they grow their content index, the bigger that 70 percent becomes — because they’re bringing strangers into their site and converting them with great blog content.
You don’t have to focus on your blog as much as some big sites like HubSpot or Buffer to get the most out of your SEO. But even having a blog you update with relevant content twice a month is better than having no blog at all.
But, as you’ll see next, relevance is the key.
Mistake #4: Ignoring Content Relevance
I believe there are two big flaws in online marketing:
- Marketers think people are dumb.
- Marketers think search engines are dumb.
Advertising legend George Lois once said, “If you think people are dumb, you’ll spend a lifetime doing dumb work.”
And he was right.
People aren’t stupid. They’re clever and brilliant. They want to be sold to and discover products in creative ways.
But most of all — and what makes them smart — is that they want trust. They want to know that they’re spending money with someone worthwhile.
So if the content you’re creating to rank isn’t relevant, they’re going to see right through you. They won’t trust you. And, they’ll bounce quicker than my niece on a trampoline.
If you think search engines are dumb, then you, my friend, are in the wrong game.
In the same way that people want relevant, trustworthy content, so do search engines. In fact, it’s what the boffins (techies) at Google are crying out for. Because, as you’ve just read, it’s what the people want.
So just creating SEO content for the sake of creating SEO content isn’t good enough anymore.
But what makes relevant content?
- It fits the topic of the site you’re writing for.
- It adds value to the end reader.
- It fits any (and all) keywords you’re using.
- It makes sense for any backlinks to point to it.
- It contributes to the overall quality of the site.
If your content isn’t doing any of those things, then it isn’t relevant.
Mistake #5: Not Using Brand Anchor Text
Anchor text is probably going to remain a constant in SEO for years to come. But it’s not anchor text itself that’s a problem — it’s the type you use.
For example, it’s no secret anymore that the more diverse your anchor text, the better — and the more natural it is in the eyes of Google.
But there’s one type of anchor text that SEOs always overlook: branded anchor text. That is, links on text that are:
- Your brand name
- Your name
- Your URL
For example, by linking to Apple’s home page with the text “Apple Inc.,” I’ve just created a branded anchor text link.
Now, you might be thinking, “But you just said don’t link to your home page.” And you’d have a point — you shouldn’t link to your home page if it’s more relevant to link to another page.
All too often, however, SEOs will write a guest post or some content and leave their brand name unlinked. And it’s a sin — because it’s the perfect opportunity to boost your search rankings.
Of course, you have zero control over what anchor text people use when they link back to you. But that’s out of your control, so I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about when you do have control. When your name, brand or URL come up naturally in content, take the opportunity to link it.
You won’t be penalized for it, and it could get you a much better ranking.
Don’t Worry, Get Traffic
Be honest with me: How many of those mistakes are you making?
It doesn’t matter if it’s one, two or the whole list. What matters is that you do something about it.
Because if you don’t make the change, you’re going to be left in someone else’s virtual dust, aren’t you?
Let’s quickly recap the mistakes, and what to do about them:
- Building All Your Links To The Home Page: While some links to your home page are great, don’t saturate it. Focus on deep linking and creating a rich index of SEO content.
- Stopping Once You Hit The First Page: SEO doesn’t last forever. The minute you relax is the minute it changes. Keep working and getting backlinks to make sure you’re a permanent fixture on the first page.
- Not Using Blogging As A Strategy: Keep your site active and create a big index of pages that you can link to.
- Ignoring Content Relevance: People and search engines aren’t dumb. So don’t treat them that way. Create relevant content that’s fit for purpose.
- Not Using Brand Anchor Text: Don’t let easy links to brand messages that use your name pass you by. Link them, and look for the difference it makes in your rankings.
So tell me, which one are you going to focus on first?
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.