Don’t Do a Belly Flop!
Only 1 in 5 Americans have even heard of SEO. There’s a good chance that if any of the other 80% have a website, they might be doomed to make a few mistakes along the way. As Google goes through approximately 200 algorithm updates a year, the marketers who maintain high rankings are those who keep current on best practices and never stop creating quality content. Your inbound marketing strategy can fail if you ignore some of Google’s pet peeves:
1. Publishing Thin Content
“Thin content” is one of those terms that are often thrown around by inbound marketers, but it’s rarely defined well. Jason DeMers of ViralHeat writes “to me, a piece of content is thin when the information it provides is minimal or unimportant.” Here are some factors that can make your content creation process look lazy to search spiders:
Short Word Count: If your blog content is consistently less than 100 words and earning no social shares or inbound links, Google might think you’re phone it in.
Poor Research: If your content is poorly researched and you rarely link to any websites aside from your own, it’s certainly not going to look like you’re going the extra mile.
Filled with Fluff: If you’ve found yourself repeating yourself endlessly or making common sense statements to hit a target word count, it’s probably time to step back from the keyboard.
You can’t half-ass content marketing. Well you can, but you won’t see positive SEO results or help your community grow. Take the time to deliver longer, well-researched content to your readers, and vary your posts between video, infographics, and written content. You can write shorter snacks, but they shouldn’t be the only thing on your menu.
2. Being Redundant
Ever feel like you’re writing and re-writing the same content and topics over and over again? Sorry, but Google is smart enough to realize that you just hit “Publish” on “10 SEO Tips” and you wrote “10 SEO Tricks” last week. It’s not going to result in great search rankings or much authority. If you’ve found yourself in the awkward position of being a borderline article-spinner, it may be time to go a little deeper in your research and coverage.
3. Not Waiting to Build Authority
Content marketing is just one piece of a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy. According to SEO Aaron Baker, “these days any successful SEO inbound marketing campaign needs to address social signals.” While marketers have known for a while that Facebook “Likes,” ReTweets, and Google +1s matter to your content’s ranking, it’s apparent that these things matter more than ever:
And if you haven’t taken the time to set up Google authorship, do it. It takes five minutes, and it’s really important.
4. Submitting Your Site to Sketchy Directories
Back when SEO was a big extended party trick, you could boost your website just by going around the Internet and buying cheap spots on website directories. There are good and bad website directories, but the vast majority won’t do anything good for your ranking.
5. Buying Links
Just don’t do it. We’re aware there are rare exceptions to the rule of the Internet that “buying links is a black hat move,” like sponsoring local events, but it’s generally an awful, awful idea.
6. Being Impatient and Greedy for Links
You can build a million links to your website by being the most aggressive guest poster or employing even sketchier methods, but it’s not going to do much for your brand. In fact, Google is aware of the fact that positive SEO isn’t built overnight.
7. Abusing Anchor Text
Marketers really do ruin everything. Back in the day, you could boost your site’s ranking on secondary keywords by using them to host links in your content. Now, search engine spiders get pretty suspicious if you’re using the same anchor text on every piece of blog content you write. Escape suspicion by varying your text.
8. Not Watching Your Backlinks Profile
Malicious marketing is on the rise, and your competitors could really mess you up by purchasing scores of links to your website from the darker corners of the web. Keep an eye on your backlinks profile. Google’s disavow tool is just a click away.
9. Linking to Sketchy Websites
You don’t want sketchy websites linking to you, but this one is actually a two-way street. Your links need to be relevant and authoritative, or it could make your content appear thin. IMA’s content team has a list of blacklisted websites that writers can’t link to in client content. It includes many of the usual suspects, like Wikipedia, HubPages, and eHow.
10. Not Formatting Your Content
No one likes a 600-word blog article that’s one continual paragraph. You need to break it up. If your prospects’ first thought when they hit your website is that your blog looks like a wall of text, they’re probably going to bounce.
12. Not Understanding the Role of Blog Comments
Blog comments still have some SEO value, but it may be less than you think. Sites with a Facebook or Disqus plug-in installed have no SEO value, while no-follow links just aren’t worth what they used to be. But DeMers says commenting on other blogs in your niche is a vital part of a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy, since doing so is key to building relationships with other bloggers. However, you’ll fail to see much results if it’s your one and only link-building strategy.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s certainly a start on how you can avoid negative SEO. What factors do you think are critical to seeing real SEO results?
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