SEO is in a Constant State of Flux
We recently covered an article on the Top 10 Tips for the Scientific Marketer, had that article been written just two years ago, the advice would have been very different. This is because the state of SEO is constantly changing. Whilst some of the principles may remain the same, it is important to review and refresh your SEO strategy to avoid common mistakes which are now outdated SEO misconceptions. Gone are the tired tactics of link building - Content creation has arrived, and it's here to stay.
72% of Marketers say that creating relevant content is the most effective SEO tactic - Marketing Profs
OK, when I say link building is tired, perhaps it's better to specify that manipulative link building is tired... After all, if your link provides a segue to a more comprehensive user-experience, by all means do it. The key here though is user experience, a handful of good backlinks that enhance the user experience can add way more value than hundreds or even thousands of lower quality links. As more marketers realize the value of getting great content on the Web, the old, bland, keyword-stuffed sites are shifting their way down search engine lists.
While all the tried and true SEO guidelines should not be thrown out the window, there are still some outdated SEO tactics that marketers make over and over. Here are 10 tips to help you avoid common SEO mistakes:
Don't do Keyword Stuffing
This might sound like it’s against everything that you believe SEO to be, but search engines are getting smarter, so they’ll pick up on keyword stuffing. The future of SEO centers around mobile-friendliness, relevant link building, relevant content creation, and Latent Semantic Indexing in place of keyword stuffing.
Consumers are also more aware of SEO, and are easily frustrated when they encounter content that is filled with buzzwords but devoid of any relevant information. The notion that a page will rise to the top of a search engine’s results simply based on keyword density is, in large part, an SEO myth. Yes, keywords should be used, but if they are not relevant and a natural extension of great content, they’ll only make your content appear to be spam.
Don't Skip Keyword Research
Yes, keyword stuffing is a no-no, but strategic and tempered keyword use can help your site rise in the rankings.
It’s tempting to skip the research and use keywords that reflect the brand you are trying to create, only your product name or what you think someone would search for; but your focus should really be on what your potential consumers or partners will be looking for. Searches are not necessarily short, either.
Around half of all searches use keywords that are 4 words or longer.
Readers tend to skim while reading web content (well done if you got this far into the paragraph!), so utilizing keywords in headings throughout your content can help you capture attention. Variety is also important. Using the same terms over and over turns your content into that keyword-stuffed spam that you’re trying to stay away from.
But it needn't be a chore, much like the LSI keyword generator, there are a host of keyword tools with added features that help you through the process and prioritize the most important.
Don't Submit URLs to Search Engines
When SEO first developed, search engines had submission forms. Site owners would tag their sites, along with each of their individual pages with keyword info and then submit this to the search engines. A bot would then crawl and include these resources in their index.
It’s easy to see how this process could be abused, and search engines became inundated with spam. Since the early 2000s, search engine submission has become irrelevant, and has been replaced by linking (responsibly) to other sites. Submission pages can still be found, but they’re not really a focus for savvy marketers.
Don't Over-Spend On Paid Search Results
While you are searching for scientific marketing solutions, you’ll likely run into those who will convince you that pay per click is the only way to improve your SEO rankings. However:
Organic results receive 8.5x the amount of clicks of paid search
With good reason too, nothing worth having ever came easily, quality content creation and high ranking in the SERPs is a value added, labour intensive process. Users are beginning to understand this, and are naturally gravitating toward content which ranks well organically - Furthermore, the robustness and value of organic rankings mean that they can't just be knocked off by the next highest bidder.
Even so, paid ads still do have their merits and there is research to suggest that although they receive far fewer clicks, those who do click through convert at 1.5x the rate of the organic results. If you do decide to invest in paid search, make sure you test, measure and continuously optimize.
Don't Spam with Low Quality Content
By Spam we mean low quality content. Users don’t like spam, and search engines work hard to fight it. Producing spam can actually take more time and effort than producing quality content that you’re knowledgeable about, so it’s better to just get great content out there. By avoiding spam, you also protect your organization’s reputation and avoid penalties imposed by search engines.
If you have lots of older, tired content, why not try combining 3 or 4 shorter pieces on a similar topic to create a useful longer piece that has more value? Updating old content or consolidating content is a great quality signal to the Big G that you care about your user experience. Your readers will thank you, and the search engines will see the quality signals too! The above graphic from Backlinko shows that there is a positive correlation between word count and Google position.
Content that ranks well will be relevant to readers and easy to read
As marketers are realizing the value of content marketing, a great deal of digital material is being produced. The pressure to keep publishing new content can get overwhelming, so some begin to publish anything and everything, whether it is useful or not. Sometimes less is more... if you are struggling to dedicate the necessary resources to produce one article a week, try one every two weeks to ensure that the quality does not suffer.
...Or don't link irresponsibly! Speaking of search engine spam, manipulative linking is another popular, but inappropriate tactic. Some sites create link pages that point back to one another in an attempt to raise link popularity. Other schemes create low-value sites that exist solely for the purpose of linking. Finally, some seeking high rankings will pay others to place links on their pages or put them in pay-for-placement web directories. The major search engines know that this happens and have built systems to prevent inappropriate linking.
Of course, you should be linking to relevant content, both within and outside of your site. The key is to link to content that is relevant and serves as an extension to the knowledge that you are sharing. When you link to interesting content, especially within your own site, you keep readers engaged, which makes it more likely that they’ll reach out to you for more information.
Don't do Cloaking
Search engines expect you to show the same content to your actual visitors as you would to their bots. Cloaking is another outdated blackhat SEO tactic in which hiding text within the HTML code on your site may cause search engines to take notice and impose penalties.
Don't Duplicate Content
The content on your site should also be unique. Visitors do not want to read content that is the same as something they’ve just read on your site or someone else’s. Sites that opt for quantity over quality generally do not rank well (I see a common theme occuring!)
Search engines do not want the same material overcrowding their indexes so they use algorithms and review content manually to prevent this. Producing great content once and then duplicating it over and over again will not produce favorable results. Note the distinction between repurposed content (i.e. adding value) and duplicating content (copying and pasting!)
Repurposed content can be one of the most effective ways to add value for your audience
If you want consistently high rankings, you have to produce consistently readable content and add value wherever posisible.
Not Optimizing Your Site
SEO is an ongoing process that works best when you develop a solid strategy that evolves based on changes and trends in the scientific market. Investing the effort to increase your search engine rankings will bring in more of the right type of visitors and get you the leads that will help you meet your bottom-line objectives. There are lots of quick wins which are easily identifiable by tools like the Website Grader.
User Experience Wins the Day
Most scientific marketers understand that developing some sort of SEO strategy is necessary for capturing attention on the web and bringing in new leads. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can develop a plan of action that enhances user experience, attracts visitors and keeps them coming back for more.