Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is like play­ing the drums; every­one thinks they can do it.

Inevitably, the lay­man writes con­tent stuffed to the brim with a tar­get key­word and can­ni­bal­izes his/her own web­pages by using the same five key­words across all of their web­pages.

As infal­li­ble as we some­times think we are, even the best of our indus­try can make some pret­ty hair­brained mis­takes.

Some­times the best way to move for­ward is to take a step back and go back to SEO basics.

As Google and Bing’s algo­rithms con­tin­ue to evolve and incor­po­rate new tech­nolo­gies for search, so do our strate­gies.

Between opti­miz­ing our con­tent for voice search, desk­top vis­i­tors, mobile swipers, and our social media fol­low­ers, the task can feel impos­si­ble and over­whelm­ing.

Breathe a lit­tle, you’re not alone.

As much as the medi­um may change, the same prin­ci­ples still remain in place and so too do the same basic errors.

Here are eight com­mon SEO mis­takes that even the experts still make.

1. Presenting a Poor Internal Link Structure

As your web­site bal­loons in size with all of your awe­some con­tent, you’re bound to encounter some pret­ty basic inter­nal link­ing errors. This includes every­thing from pro­duc­ing mass dupli­cate con­tent to 404 page errors crop­ping up.

I think inter­nal link­ing struc­tures are vast­ly over­looked by web­mas­ters, yet it serves one of the most valu­able func­tions in your UX and SEO strat­e­gy.

Inter­nal links pro­vide five valu­able func­tions for your web­site:

  • Pro­vid­ing clear path­ways to con­ver­sion pages.
  • Spread­ing author­i­ty to web­pages hid­den deep on your site.
  • Pro­vid­ing addi­tion­al read­ing or inter­ac­tive mate­r­i­al for users to con­sume on your site.
  • Orga­niz­ing web­pages cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly by key­word-opti­mized anchor text.
  • Com­mu­ni­cat­ing your most impor­tant web­pages to search engine crawlers.

Resub­mit­ting an XML sitemap to search engines is a great way to open up crawl paths for search engines to unlinked web­pages.

Along the same lines, it’s impor­tant to use your robots.txt file and noin­dex tag wise­ly so that you don’t acci­den­tal­ly block impor­tant web­pages on your site or a client’s.

As a gen­er­al rule of thumb, no web­page should be more than two clicks away from the home­page or a call-to-action land­ing page.

Reassess your web­site archi­tec­ture using fresh key­word research to begin orga­niz­ing web­pages by top­i­cal­i­ty.

Hub­Spot pro­vides a great guide for cre­at­ing top­ic clus­ters on your web­site that arrange web­pages by top­ic, using seman­tic key­words, and hier­ar­chy to their shared the­sis.

2. Creating Content for Content’s Sake

Best prac­tices dic­tate that you should pro­duce con­tent con­sis­tent­ly to increase your brand’s expo­sure and author­i­ty, as well as increase your website’s index­a­tion rate.

But as your web­site grows to hun­dreds of pages or more, it becomes dif­fi­cult to find unique key­words for each page and stick to a cohe­sive strat­e­gy.

Some­times we fall for the fal­la­cy that we must pro­duce con­tent just to have more of it. That’s sim­ply untrue and leads to thin and use­less con­tent, which amounts to wast­ed resources.

Don’t write con­tent with­out com­plet­ing strate­gic key­word research before­hand.

Make sure the con­tent is rel­e­vant to the tar­get key­word and uti­lizes close­ly asso­ci­at­ed key­words in H2 tags and body para­graphs.

This will con­vey full con­text of your con­tent to search engines and meet user intent on mul­ti­ple lev­els.

Take the time to invest in long-form con­tent that is action­able and ever­green. Remem­ber, we are con­tent mar­keters and SEO spe­cial­ists, not jour­nal­ists.

Opti­mized con­tent can take months to reach page one results; make sure it remains rel­e­vant and unique to its indus­try when it does.

3. Not Investing in Link-Worthy Content

As we under­stand it, the quan­ti­ty and qual­i­ty of unique refer­ring domains to a web­page is one of Google’s three most impor­tant rank­ing fac­tors.

Link build­ing is a major indus­try pull for agen­cies. But going out and pur­su­ing mass links through guest post­ing, man­u­al out­reach, and influ­encer mar­ket­ing can be cost­ly and resource inten­sive.

The best way to acquire links is nat­u­ral­ly, lever­ag­ing stel­lar con­tent that peo­ple just want to link to.

Instead of invest­ing time in man­u­al research and cre­at­ing hun­dreds of guest posts a year, why not invest in a piece of con­tent that can acquire all of those links in one day of writ­ing?

Again, I bring up Hub­Spot, which pro­vides a great exam­ple of this. Every year, they pro­vide a list of indus­try sta­tis­tics they scour from the inter­net, such as “The Ulti­mate List of Mar­ket­ing Sta­tis­tics”, which serves as an invalu­able resource for any­one in the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing indus­try.

As pre­vi­ous­ly stat­ed, invest the time in craft­ing long-form con­tent that adds val­ue to the indus­try.

Here, you can exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent forms of con­tent, whether it’s a resource page, info­graph­ic, inter­ac­tive quiz, or ever­green guide.

Ded­i­cate some of your man­u­al out­reach strat­e­gy to pro­mote a piece of con­tent pub­lished on your own web­site and not some­one else’s.

4. Failing to Reach Customers with Your Content

Con­tin­u­ing this dis­cus­sion, you need to have a strat­e­gy in place to actu­al­ly get peo­ple to view your con­tent.

I believe that much of the indus­try and many busi­ness­es don’t invest as many resources into con­tent pro­mo­tion as they do pro­duc­tion.

Sure, you share your con­tent over social media, but how much reach does it actu­al­ly acquire with­out paid adver­tis­ing?

Sim­ply post­ing your lat­est arti­cle on your blog, social media chan­nel, and e‑newsletter lim­its its reach to a small per­cent­age of your exist­ing audi­ence.

If you’re look­ing to acquire new leads for your busi­ness, then you’ll need to invest more resources into pro­mo­tion­al tac­tics. Some strate­gies include:

  • Paid social cam­paigns.
  • Tar­get­ed shar­ing using key­word opti­mized hash­tags.
  • Pro­mot­ing con­tent over influ­encer chan­nels.
  • Link build­ing.

While it’s rather chick­en and egg, you need to pro­mote con­tent to get links to it. Only then can you begin to acquire more links organ­i­cal­ly.

5. Optimizing for the Wrong Keywords

So you invest­ed the time in craft­ing a piece of long-form con­tent, but it’s not dri­ving large-scale traf­fic to your web­site.

Just as bad, your vis­i­tors have low time on page and are not con­vert­ing.

More than like­ly, you’re opti­miz­ing for the wrong key­words.

While most of us under­stand the impor­tance of long-tail key­words for infor­ma­tion­al queries, some­times we run into some com­mon mis­takes:

  • Fail­ing to seg­ment search vol­umes and com­pe­ti­tion by geog­ra­phy.
  • Rely­ing too much on high vol­ume phras­es that don’t con­vert.
  • Focus­ing too many resources on broad key­words (exter­nal links, inter­nal link anchor text, etc.).
  • Ignor­ing click-through rates.
  • Try­ing to insert awk­ward exact match phras­es into con­tent.
  • Ignor­ing AdWords val­ue.
  • Allo­cat­ing tar­get key­words to irrel­e­vant con­tent.
  • Choos­ing key­words irrel­e­vant to your audi­ence.

It’s impor­tant to actu­al­ly research the search phras­es that appear in top results for both nation­al and local search­es.

Talk to your cus­tomers to see what search phras­es they use to describe dif­fer­ent ele­ments of your indus­try. From here, you can seg­ment your key­word list to make it more rel­e­vant to your cus­tomers.

Use key­word tools like Google Key­word Plan­ner and SEMrush’s key­word gen­er­a­tor for rel­e­vant key­word ideas.

Don’t for­get to opti­mize for infor­ma­tion­al and com­mer­cial search queries.

6. Not Consulting Paid Media

As the indus­try cur­rent­ly stands, SEO focus­es on acquir­ing and nur­tur­ing leads, while paid media focus­es on acquir­ing and con­vert­ing leads.

But what if we broke down those silos to cre­ate a cohe­sive mes­sage that tar­get­ed the buy­er at every step of the jour­ney?

As an SEO provider, do you even know what your client’s adver­tis­ing mes­sage is or the key­words they use? Are you pro­mot­ing the same products/service pages with the same key­words as the paid media depart­ment?

There is a lot of insight that SEO con­sul­tants can learn from PPC key­word research and land­ing page per­for­mances that can aid them in their own cam­paign.

Beyond this, Face­book and Twitter’s adver­tis­ing plat­form offer robust audi­ence analy­sis tools that SEO con­sul­tants can use to bet­ter under­stand their client’s cus­tomers.

By focus­ing on a uni­fied mes­sage and shar­ing in each other’s research, SEO con­sul­tants can dis­cov­er key­words that con­vert the high­est and dri­ve the most clicks in the search results.

7. Forgetting About Local

Google’s Pigeon update com­plete­ly opened up an entire­ly new field of local SEO.

Between local direc­to­ry reviews, cus­tomiz­ing a Google My Busi­ness page, and the local three-pack, local SEO is high­ly tar­get­ed and high con­vert­ing.

Con­sid­er some of the sta­tis­tics:

  • 50 per­cent of search­es over a mobile device result in an in-store vis­it that day.
  • Half of local, mobile search­es are for local busi­ness infor­ma­tion.
  • Any­where between 80–90 per­cent of peo­ple read an online review before mak­ing a pur­chase.
  • 85 per­cent of peo­ple trust reviews as much as per­son­al rec­om­men­da­tions.

It’s impor­tant to seg­ment your key­word research for both local and nation­al intent.

If you pro­vide local ser­vices, be sure to cre­ate con­tent that reflects local intent, such as includ­ing city names next to tar­get key­words and in the body of con­tent.

While most of us focus on grow­ing busi­ness at the nation­al scale, the impor­tance of local SEO should not be ignored.

8. Not Regularly Auditing Your Own Website

One of the biggest mis­takes we all make is not con­tin­u­ing to opti­mize our own site and fix mis­takes that crop up over time.

A site audit is espe­cial­ly impor­tant after a site migra­tion or imple­men­ta­tion of any new tools or plu­g­ins.

Com­mon tech­ni­cal mis­takes that occur over time include:

  • Dupli­cate con­tent.
  • Bro­ken links.
  • Slow site speed through over­sized images or poor JavaScript imple­men­ta­tion.
  • Unop­ti­mized meta tags.
  • Dupli­cate con­tent can occur for a num­ber of rea­sons, whether through pag­i­na­tion or ses­sion IDs.

Resolve any URL para­me­ter errors or dupli­cate con­tent from your cook­ies by insert­ing canon­i­cals on source web­pages. This allows all sig­nals from dupli­cate pages to point back to the source page.

Bro­ken links are inevitable as you move con­tent around your site, so it’s impor­tant to insert 301 redi­rects to a rel­e­vant web­page on any con­tent you remove. Be sure to resolve 302 redi­rects, as these only serve as a tem­po­rary redi­rect.

Audit­ing your web­site is para­mount for mobile search. Sim­ply hav­ing a respon­sive web design or AMP is not enough.

Be sure to mini­fy your CSS and JS on your mobile design, as well as shrink images, to pro­vide a fast and respon­sive design.

Final­ly, one part of the audit that is often over­looked is reeval­u­at­ing your onsite con­tent strat­e­gy. Most indus­tries are dynam­ic, mean­ing that new inno­va­tions crop up and cer­tain ser­vices become obso­lete over­time.

Remod­el your web­site to reflect any new prod­uct offer­ings you have. Cre­ate con­tent around that top­ic to show­case its impor­tance to your hier­ar­chy to both search engines and users.

Con­tin­u­al­ly refresh your key­word research and audi­ence research to find new oppor­tu­ni­ties to scale and stay rel­e­vant.

Final Thoughts

Every­one is sus­cep­ti­ble to mis­takes in their craft and one of the best ways to rec­ti­fy them is to con­sult the best prac­tices.

My best bit of advice: Keep your mind nim­ble and always take a step back here and there to eval­u­ate whether you are doing the best to scale your or a client’s busi­ness.