SEO is becoming more complicated, and far beyond getting a green signal on Yoast plugin. Google has developed several methods over the years not to know whether a content is a quality one or not, irrespective of the “length”.
If you are trying to write contents that rank on Google SERP in 2020, you should avoid these on-page SEO mistakes.
#1 Ignoring Keyword Research
If you want to get more traffic, keyword research should be your first priority. Before you start to jump into your post editor, you should make sure that you have the chance to rank for a keyword.
When I first created my blog (with low authority), I was able to rank my first 3 content pieces for their target keywords.
How did I do that?
I targeted long-tail keywords with low difficulty.
If I had done the opposite, my post would probably have been buried on the last page of Google SERP.
A good rule of thumb for a long-tail keyword: contains 4+ words.
In order to find good keywords here are two ways to go about this.
The first method involves when you have a base keyword in mind. For example, when I enter “Jogging shoes” into a Google search box, I get these suggestions:
Now, I have some potential keywords. These keywords with more phrases are “more specific and easier to rank for”.
You can also use “Keywords Everywhere Chrome Extension” to get more search keywords.
You can also check “Google People Also Search” or “Google Related Keywords”.
The second method is to check the keywords your competitors are currently ranking for. This method is most especially useful when you find your competitors with good traffic with “not-too-high” domain authority.
- Enter their URL into one of those research tool (SEMRush, Ahrefs, Ubersuggest)
- Go to the Keywords session.
- Export their keywords and check the difficulty (with the tool and Google SERP analysis)
Next, you want to check the difficulty of the keyword.
No matter the quality of the content you are about to write, you can’t just rank for some keywords if your authority is too low compared to the authority of the blogs in Google SERP for that keyword. That is why I always check Google SERP for my target keyword. To do this, you can also enable Moz Bar Google Chrome extension. It will show you the metrics of the websites on Google SERP immediately that you search.
Doing this you can avoid wasting time writing content that you won’t rank for. If you want to learn more about keyword research, check out this comprehensive guide on Keyword research by Brian Dean.
#2 Ignoring Search Intent
What answer is the searcher looking for exactly? That is one question you should have in mind before you start writing at all.
There are four types of contents based on search intent:
- Transactional and;
When you are able to figure out WHY a searcher entered a particular search query into Google search box, you will be able to provide the most relevant content that provides the answer.
Take for example, if you are optimizing for the keyword: “how to study for an exam”. It is expected that your post should contain tips that will help your readers study for an exam, right?
If you end up writing detailed quality content that explains “WHY your readers should study for an exam”, you have just failed to identify the search intent. That approach will NOT give you the ranking you want to get.
So, before you start writing, put yourself in the searcher’s shoes and try to find out what EXACTLY they are looking for.
#3 Not Properly Optimizing Title Tags
Your title is the first thing your readers will see. In fact, Moz ranked title tag as the second most important On-page SEO ranking factor (only behind the content of the page).
Below are some very good ways to optimize your title tag:
- Shorter is better
- Use Power keywords
- Make it compelling
- Use your keyword in a natural way
- Add a year (if possible)
Takeaway: A simple tweak in your title can give you higher Click-Through-Rate (CTR) in Google SERP than what you should originally get.
If you are in the 6th position, a well-optimized title tag will give you more clicks. Eventually, Google will move your results high in the ranking.
#4Writing Shallow Content
Content remains KING in SEO even in 2020. In fact, content is still ranked as the “Most important SEO ranking factor”.
Research by Backlinko.com has shown that longer contents tend to perform better in Google SERP.
So, next time you want to write content for your blog, make sure to write a detailed, in-depth content that will answer the questions of your readers.
#5 Focusing on Quantity Over Quality
While most quality content is long and in-depth, NOT all long content is “quality content”. Do not focus on the quantity of the content, ignoring the quality. It will hurt your blog. Your users won’t continue to read your “long content” if it does not provide any value. You are even unlikely to get a share or comment.
The worst part?
It will increase your bounce rate and send bad user signals to Google. Focus more on the value your content is providing even if it means it will be shorter.
#6 Content that is Not Properly Structured
You can have the best content in the world. If your content Is not properly structured, your users will still hate it. Therefore, your content structure is another important thing you should focus on.
Check out this guide on how to structure content properly to learn more.
Use Headings Properly
Use of headings to structure your content will help your users to understand your content better. Although the keyword in heading does not provide a direct SEO advantage as it used to be in 2000, Google still uses heading tags in SEO. Here’s what Google’s John Muller said about headings: “We do use headings when it comes to search. But we use them to understand the content on the pages.”
Use a Table of Content
Table of content is a very good visual that will immediately help your readers to understand the structure of your content. It will provide a good and fast navigation system through the content of your blog.
The best part?
It also helps Google to understand your content better. If you have a knowledge of HTML and CSS, you can easily create a table of content for your blog content in 10 minutes. If not, you can use the Table of content plugins.
#7 Writing Content that is Not Compelling
You know what? If you are reading this paragraph, it means this content is compelling enough for you. If not, trust me, you would have bounced away by now.
How can you write more compelling content?
Avoid a long introduction
The purpose of your first line is to make people read the second line. If you lose your readers in your first 3 paragraphs, you lose them forever. Make your introduction as short as possible. Short paragraphs perform better than long paragraphs. Next time you are writing, avoid boring your readers with those unnecessarily long introductions.
Hook your readers
The best way to keep your readers is to hook them. There are several ways to do this. First, promise to give them something they REALLY want. Here’s a good example:
Another way to hook your users is to show the results. This method WORKS so well that A LOT of sale landing pages page uses this. Nothing is more promising than seeing people getting results I want to get too. In fact, Neil Patel uses this method A LOT in his blog post.
Use shorter paragraphs
Look at the content below. Which one would you rather read?
Definitely the second one, right? Short paragraphs are better and easier to read.
Avoid big words
Here’s a simple truth, big words DO NOT WORK! In fact, if you are trying to impress your readers with big words, you are getting it ALL WRONG.
#8 Not Using Internal Linking Properly
Finally, you’ve written some high-quality, well-structured and compelling content. Another mistake would be to not link to/from it properly.
Internal links will increase the Page authority of your copy especially when they are coming from pages with higher authority on your blog. If you are not using it properly, you are missing out.
#9 Keyword Stuffing
Do you still add chunks of UNNECESSARY keywords to your blog post in order to try to fool Google ranking? Then, you are making a very BIG mistake! Stop forcing keywords into unnatural positions. In fact, doing this can land you a Google penalty.
This is where QUALITY content comes into play. When you write in-depth quality content that answers the questions of your potential readers, LSI keywords will naturally come into their right places in your content. In fact, using LSI rather than keyword will help Google understand how in-depth your content is. That way, Google will rank you higher on SERP for your main keyword and the related ones.
# 10 Unoptimized Images (size, dimension, alt text)
While images are very good when included in your content, they can be dangerous if not properly optimized.
First of all, using unscaled and uncompressed images can seriously slow down your blog pages (which is very bad for SEO). Also, if you are not properly using the Image ALT text, you are missing out on the SEO benefits of images. When Google bots crawl your pages, they cannot see images the way you see them. By adding an appropriate ALT text that describes the image, Google bots will be able to understand your images then.
RECOMMENDED: 9 Steps To Optimize Your Image for SEO
Take away: Make sure you scale your images to the proper size before upload, compress it properly (to reduce the size and improve page speed). Finally, make sure you add a descriptive ALT text to the image so that Google bots will understand your images better
#11 Bad URL Structures
Shorter and cleaner URLs have been shown to perform better than longer URLs (all other things being equal). Avoid using URLs that are too long and containing unnecessary stop words, numbers or dates. Instead of using “YOUR-URL/how-to-do-content-marketing-in-2020”, use a cleaner URL structure like “YOUR-URL/content-marketing”.
#12 Not Checking Broken Links
Broken links can hurt your website in at least two ways. According to Google’s guidelines, “Always check for broken links, they can frustrate your users”.
Since Google’s aim is to provide the best user experience, broken links can affect your SEO. First, when you have broken links, Google will de-index that page with the 404 error. Also, Google bots will crawl your website less often (and affects your ranking). In fact, it is said that all pages linking to the broken page will also be affected.
About the Author: Soneye Saheed is the founder of TechProfet.com, a tech blog focused on proving valuable content, strategies, and tips on Blogging and SEO, affiliate marketing, WordPress guides. He is a passionate blogger and SEO enthusiast.