You probably heard it too many times to remember – content is king. As played out as this phrase is, it holds certain weight to it. In 2018, great content is still the best way to get traffic and drive new visitors and customers to your site.
There’s only one problem – everybody and their grandma seems to be writing nowadays. The result is thousands of low-quality, poorly optimized posts. Even if you know your business inside and out, you may not be that good of a writer – you are probably making one of many SEO writing mistakes. Here are some of the most common mistakes in writing for SEO, as well as ways to fix them.
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Thinking that SEO Writing is a Quick Fix
Many business owners think that SEO is a marketing strategy that can get immediate results. They pay for content to be written, for some outreach and link building and immediately expect to see a return on investment. Truth is, SEO is more of a long-term strategy.
Depending on your current state of affairs, it may take months for SEO to start working for your business. Google has to crawl and index your pages and other people will slowly start linking to your content. However, the true value in SEO is that a great piece of writing can last for years. You can rank for a certain keyword for years if you’ve written an excellent piece that people love and share.
On the other hand, a pay-per-click ad on Adwords or social media is only worth as long as you keep paying. In terms of return on investment, well-written SEO articles perform incredibly well. Additionally, great content can be shared multiple times and it can be repurposed.
Copying Others’ Content
In order to get some quick SEO points from Google and other search engines, you may think it’s a good idea to copy someone else’s content, word for word. After all, nobody loses and their content gets far more reach. Right? However, copying and duplicating other people’s content is one of the biggest mistakes in SEO writing. Here are some of the reasons.
→ Google will punish you. Google’s algorithms are very sophisticated and they will pick up that you’re not posting original content. As a result, you will be penalized and your pages can even completely disappear from search engine results.
→ It’s unethical. How would you feel if you spend 8-15 hours of your time working on a long-form blog post, only to have it stolen by someone else, without credit? You probably wouldn’t be too happy about the situation.
→ It’s illegal. Once the person you’ve stolen the content from realizes that you’ve taken their intellectual property, they might sue you. Sometimes, it’s enough to simply remove the post, while other times a lawsuit cannot be avoided.
→ You’re putting off readers. By directly copying someone else’s content, you’re showing yourself in bad light to your readers. If you’re in a highly specialized niche, chances are that your readers already know about the source you copied your blog from. If your readers and visitors perceive you as a copycat in terms of content, that opinion will reflect on your brand as a whole.
One way that people get around this fact is by spinning content, i.e. taking someone else’s posts and rewriting them. While this is much harder to detect, it can still be done with tools such as Copyscape. In this situation, you’re also not providing any useful information, just twisting someone else’s words.
Furthermore, it takes a lot of time to “spin“ a long-form blog post – time that could be better spent writing original content. We suggest taking a look at existing content and using it inspiration to write something better, more compelling and with better research. It’s best to provide a unique angle on a topic where you are an expert – as this is the type of content that visitors will love to read and share.
While it was once a legitimate SEO tactic, nowadays it’s considered outdated and plain wrong. Put simply, keyword stuffing refers to placing a chosen keyword all over your website pages, i.e. stuffing your site with them. The idea is that the more repetitions there are of a certain word, Google will consider it a better resource and rank it higher in search engine results pages.
(Un)fortunately, Google is much smarter than that. Not only can it tell that your pages are stuffed with keywords, but it will also penalize you for trying to rig the system. If you think that you can get away with it by stuffing keywords on a smaller scale – think again.
The term keyword density denotes the percentage of your keywords in the total amount of text. While there are some predictions on ideal keyword density (WordPress Yoast plugin suggests 3%), the truth is that there are no rules.
In order to avoid keyword stuffing, simply use your keywords naturally, and don’t place them anywhere they don’t belong. Your copy should read naturally, and any inserted keywords will sound odd and out of place.
In the end, there really are no rules. You could rank amazingly well with just two or three mentions of a certain keyword, and you could do the same with more than 50 uses of the same word. As long as your content is relevant, high quality, reads well and responds well to searchers’ intents, it doesn’t matter how many times the keyword is mentioned. Just don’t try stuffing – seriously, it doesn’t work.
Relying on Quantity Over Quality
Here’s a conundrum for you – is it better to have four 500-word posts or one 2000-word post on a given topic? According to many studies, Google tends to prefer longer content, provided that it also has meaningful information.
While it is beneficial to have a fresh stream of posts coming in on a regular basis, this is by no means an invitation to make short, low-quality posts every day. Depending on the source, data says that your posts should be at least 1500-2000 words long in order to get any traction in search engines. For this reason alone, it’s better to focus on quality, rather than pumping out low-value filler posts.
Bear in mind that in some cases, shorter content may perform better. Some audiences prefer in-depth guides, while others prefer shorter posts with only the crucial information. Before starting with your SEO writing strategy, do some research on what works for your industry and how your competitors are doing.
Writing Without a Keyword Strategy
If you know the basics of SEO, you’re aware of keywords – these are search terms that people enter into search engine results. Ideally, they get a list of related results, they see yours at the top and click on it. Voila – one more visitor secured.
In order to get good, quality traffic to your site, you need to have a keyword strategy in place. It’s nice to write content that makes you feel good and shows your artistic side, but for business purposes, that type of content does not have much value.
Before you begin writing, check what keywords you already rank for. You can do this using Google Search Console or a paid tool such as MOZ, Ahrefs or SEMRush. You’ll get a pretty good idea of how you’re doing so far. Second, scope around for keyword ideas using these same tools.
Start with your basic keywords and broaden your search slowly to get better results. In the end, check out your competitors and see what they’re doing – what keywords they’re writing for and how they’re ranking. In the end, you should have a solid list of a couple of hundred keywords to work on.
Now that you have your keywords, you can’t start writing just yet. You have to identify good opportunities – those that have lots of traffic (large number of searches) and low competition (not many other sites are ranking for it).
Choose a keyword and do some research first. What are the top articles for it once you type it in Google? Are they relevant, and are they good quality? Could they be written differently, or better? If you can write something that betters suits the searchers’ intent for this keyword, you can get on with writing.
There’s a range of things you can fix, such as creating a catchier title, structuring the content better, inserting relevant images and infographics, updating the sources and much more.
At the same time, long-tail keywords are also a great strategy for improving your rankings. As you start creating more content, you will slowly start ranking for long-tail keywords closely related to your main ones, but usually with less traffic. However, long-tail is one of the most efficient strategies in getting valuable, highly-targeted visitors to your site.
Focusing Too Much on Keywords
In your effort to rank high for a given keyword, you may go too far and over-optimize. This means that keywords are in unnatural places and just seem weird in the sentence structure. Even if search engines don’t pick this up, your readers will.
The best of SEO writers know how to strike a perfect balance and write both for search engines and readers. They place keywords in strategic locations, without overdoing it to the point where it sounds forced. A good way of telling if you’re using too many keywords is reading your content aloud once you’re done – or having someone else read it. If it sounds forced – it probably is.
Not Paying Attention to Links
For SEO writing, linking is one of the most important tactics to get right. There are two types of linking to pay attention to:
– Internal linking (links to your own site)
– External linking (links to sites other than yours)
For internal linking, it’s crucial to link to important pages on your own site. These are pillar posts, landing pages, product pages or generally pages that you want to draw visitors to. By setting up proper internal linking, you’re letting Google know about your site structure and you’re making your site easier to crawl. At the same time, you provide meaningful instructions for visitors to navigate your website.
When it comes to internal linking, you need to have a few links to relevant, high-quality content from reputable sources. When ranking your own site in search engine results, Google takes a look at who you are linking to – as great content links to other great content. However, don’t over do it.
In general, having too few or too many links is equally bad – a couple links of both types should do the trick.
When selecting sites to link to, make sure that they are both relevant to your post and have a high domain authority (DA). This is the ranking value of a website, and it can easily be checked with one of the previously mentioned SEO tools.
Get Some Expert Help
Have you made any of these SEO writing mistakes? It happens to the best of business owners out there. However, some entrepreneurs simply don’t have the time to devote to writing compelling content for their site. This is where ADSpirine comes in. With our Growth Hero package, you can get a dedicated SEO writer at your disposal to take care of the job for you. From keyword strategy to content ideation and creation – we got your back. Reach out to us today and get started!