If you’re reading SEO articles from 2013 and applying them to your content today, you’re doing it wrong. If it gets to 2025 and you’re still reading this article… you’re also doing it wrong!
There are some cornerstone principles in SEO and a lot of good advice from great sources. However, if you’re getting too much of your advice from older sources, you could inadvertently be practicing bad SEO. With this topic in particular, you can’t afford to take too much out-of-date advice.
When Does SEO Go “Out of Date”?
There’s a lot of good stuff that comes in old packages. You can learn some valuable lessons about how SEO works, and how it worked historically, from articles published by authority sites years ago. The catch is that you shouldn’t put tactics or specific strategies into action unless they’re targeted to Google’s latest algorithm updates (other search engines too, but mostly Google).
Search engines regularly update their algorithms in a constant effort to keep providing users with the best results possible. Every time a new, significant update is released, it’s time to re-evaluate your SEO strategy to make sure you’re still doing all the right stuff.
Everything can change in an instant. One minute, it’s all about exact match keywords, and the next day people are talking about LSIs and long-tail keywords to promote their SaaS products.
The point is that SEO is an ever-changing practice. Search engines may know we’re doing it, but whenever we get too good at it, they just change up the rules again. For that reason, there’s no time limit or specific expiration date for good SEO practices. But, with every update, you need to learn what’s in and what’s out so you can use your time and effort wisely.
If you’ve been taking advice from older content, even if it’s from authority sites, or if you haven’t updated your SEO strategy in a while, it’s time for a quick check-up. Make sure you’re not falling into any of these time-wasting SEO traps!
7 Ways to Waste Your Time with SEO
#1 Stuffing Keywords Everywhere
Image source: Freepik.com
We can all agree that keywords and key phrases are important. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they might be your competitors trying to sabotage your efforts. However important keywords are, it’s time to stop pretending they are the end-all-be-all of SEO. Stop throwing awkward keywords all over your content and expecting that to help you rank. Stuffing is just plain bad SEO today.
Hopefully, you’ve heard this advice before. But, considering how easy it is to find content online that’s full to the brim with awkward phrases, out of place keywords, and obvious stuffing, it doesn’t seem to be common knowledge yet. You can still find people pushing the idea that a 1-3% keyword ratio is ideal, using exact match keywords only. This is a great way to get penalized as a spammer!
People hate reading stuffed content, so search engines updated algorithms to detect awkward repetitions and keywords or phrases that are overused or out of place. If your site is overflowing with keywords, you’re unlikely to get the first page or earn a high ranking at all.
What to do instead: Focus on making content that’s valuable and beneficial in some way to your site visitors. Use keywords, but make sure they blend into the content seamlessly, rather than trying to fit awkward exact match phrases into an article. Spend more time perfecting keyword placement rather than keyword ratio.
#2 Having a One-Track Mind
Repetitive keywords and phrases are never a good idea. If you’re putting the same optimized phrases in every SEO title, tag, meta description, alt tag, captions, etc., it’s time to switch it up. Often, when a search engine detects repetition like this, it will consider it spam and won’t count any of these things towards your ranking.
You need to focus on creating unique content that’s relevant to what you’re posting or the pages of your website. No two pages should have the same meta descriptions, titles, or otherwise. Stop cutting and pasting keywords and key phrases to fill in the blanks.
What to do instead: Write unique everything whenever possible. If you have a lot of content, focus on a few keywords, and remote them out into otherwise unique and useful content. For pages that have numerous image alt tags, opt to have a few images with unique alt tags (even if some are blank) rather than all page images having the same alt tags.
One of the ways you can write unique content that caters to the various kinds of your audience is creating user personas. This way you can get really granular with what every kind of user wants and deliver targeted content to them that solves their specific pain points.
#3 Stressing Over Exact Match Domains
Clever things to do back before 2012 or so was to get an extra keyword associated with your business by putting it directly into the domain name itself. Although it sounds logical, it makes somewhere between minuscule to absolutely no difference today. A 2012 Google algorithm update made exact-match keywords in domains far less important and the usefulness compared to the quality of the site overall.
The biggest problems with exact match domains are that they look spammy, they limit your business activities, and there’s no solid data showing they’re worth the sacrifice. It’s not essential to get an exact match domain.
What to do instead: Choose a flexible domain name that can grow with you and that doesn’t make people cringe at the thought of clicking on your links. Example: Acmecameres.com versus Bestpolaroidcameras.net
#4 Focusing on the Wrong Devices
Image source: Freepik.com
As of November 2019, just over 52% of internet users worldwide connected via mobile, compared to a little over 45% on computers. If you narrow it down to Europe alone, that changes to 53% mobile and 43% of computers. Who are you targeting with your SEO?
If you’re building your entire site around desktop view and optimizing everything for computer users, it’s time to update your strategy. User experience is a major ranking factor, meaning your site needs to be attractive and easy to use for all people. Sites that focus exclusively on desktop users are notoriously difficult to navigate on a mobile device or tablet.
What to do instead: Optimise your website for a seamless experience on any size or type of device. You should have a useful mobile site that works on small and large phones as well as tablets of varying sizes. The desktop version should still exist, but you shouldn’t be so invested in making that the best version of your website. There’s a good chance of more than 50% of your site traffic is coming from mobile users.
Also, look into having dynamic content that gives recommendations to users. This can be adjusted to give more mobile-specific or desktop-specific recommendations based on usage. It’s a great strategy to keep people moving around your site.
#5 PBNs and Bad Links
Are people still using PBNs (Private Blog Networks)? This has always been considered a semi-black hat SEO trick, meaning it could get you in big trouble if you were discovered. Some site owners would take the risk because of the fast results. In case you’re considering it for yourself: It’s not a thing anymore.
The cost and time needed to set up an effective PBN today could be better spent doing actual SEO work. To rank for a competitive keyword, you could waste thousands of dollars (not an exaggeration) and tens to hundreds of hours setting up dummy blogs. With that amount of capital and time, do something worthwhile, such as a legit link building strategy.
What to do instead: Launch a guest posting campaign to get your links from legit, existing sources. Guest posts on authority domains can give you the link juice you need without risking a penalization from Google.
#6 Pretending That Voice Search Doesn’t Exist
Image source: Pixabay.com
You can put your head in the sand, but voice search is already here and is only set to increase in use from now onwards. Here are a few interesting snippets about voice search:
- 20% of searches on mobile are done through voice search
- 40% of adults use voice search regularly
- Almost 50% of people use voice search for product research
- From 2008 to 2016, the number of voice searches increased 35x
- 16% of Americans own smart speakers at home
There’s a lot going on with voice search. It may never fully replace text search, but it’s a convenient search method in certain situations. We can expect voice search to keep growing. It’s not just a short-lived trend.
What to do instead: It’s time to accept that voice search is a common thing and begin optimizing content for it. Product-related searches and answers to questions are the perfect place to start. Increase your page load speed, structure your content in a favorable way, optimize for casual/natural speed keywords, and shoot for local SEO.
#7 Writing Super Short Content
You may have read an article or two a few years ago talking about how long-form content is dead. These predictions did not come true. In fact, the opposite has turned out to be the case.
Short-form content is often seen as cheap or unhelpful. Some people may just want a short answer, but a majority of users place higher trust on websites with long-form content. They assign automatic authority to the site. We just don’t see this happening with short-form content.
For reference’s sake, long-form content is anything above 1,200 words, with short-form being anything below that. True long-form content is likely to be 1,500+ words.
The problematic assumption is that no one wants to scroll through such a long piece of content on your site. However, content consumption and customer experience metrics show that’s not true. People do enjoy long-form content, and many people seek it out as opposed to shorter pieces of content on the same subject. A thorough, well-thought-out piece of content that answers every question is better received than a short piece in many industries.
What to do instead: Add long-form content as a regular part of your content marketing strategy. You can gradually begin writing and posting more long-form pieces to build up the attractive links on your site.
A quick disclaimer: Long-form content is only good when you format it properly. No one wants to read a 5,000-word article without paragraph breaks or a 3,000-word blog post that’s not spaced out with subheadings, shortlists, appropriate screenshots, etc.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad information out there. With so many sources writing about SEO all the time, there’s also outdated information that’s not relevant today. It’s tricky to wade through the sea of information to find something that’s both useful and still relevant, but it’s worth trying!
If you’re still practicing any of these bad SEO strategies, it’s time to throw out the old and bring in the new to get your site back on track towards page 1.
Top 7 SEO auditing and monitoring tools in 2020
Are you a newbie or an expert in digital marketing?
Are you using the right professional SEO audit tools to optimize your content on the website?
Don’t worry, here I am going to give you the few tools that improve your skills in digital marketing.
Each and every digital marketer should know how to perform a professional SEO site audit, but doing so entirely “by hand” is a time-consuming and difficult task.
Instead of spending much time on manually handling the SEO, a digital marketer should focus on the most reliable SEO audit tools. These tools will help the digi people to address critical website issues, that creates or brings a negative impact on the site performance.
As a digital marketer, if you want to know more trends, pitfalls and how to establish your business, there are certifications like digital marketing course, SEO marketing, etc.
To help you, I have presented the best SEO audit tools that help to make your website more search engine friendly and achieve success.
Yeah, now let’s walk through each and every SEO audit tool in -depth.
Top 7 SEO auditing and monitoring tools in 2020
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free service provided by Google that enables advertisers, web developers or site administrators to easily track their appearance in Google Search results.
Google Search Console provides tools and reports that help users identify some of the most common technical SEO issues. You can use the platform to check that Google’s web browsers are able to access all pages on your site, ensure that new pages are indexed as planned, and receive updates when Google detects indexing or spam problems on your website.
Aside from the professional SEO features, the console enables businesses to browse the complete backlink profile of their website and track all their keyword ranking positions on the SERPs.
Screaming Frog is among the leading companies in the field of technical SEO auditing, with a consumer base that includes Google, Apple, Amazon and Disney. The company’s SEO Spider tool is a web crawler that quickly analyses web pages of any size and provides technical SEO personalized recommendations.
Use an SEO spider to recognise broken links on your website, find sections with poorly customizable or missing metadata, generate accurate XML sitemaps that speed up indexing, diagnose and fix broken redirect chains, find duplicate pages, and more.
Semrush Site Audit
SEMrush is one of the most reliable and popular all-in-one search marketing software platforms in the world. The system enables its professional Seo audit capabilities through a single site audit tool that diagnoses over 130 technical and on-page SEO issues.
SEMrush covers the full range of technical SEO performance concerns in the execution of a website audit. The major difference between SEMrush and these other tools lies in their dashboard and reporting capabilities. SEMrush offers thematic reports, custom reports that users can access that are specific to one aspect of technical SEO.
Custom reports for crawlability, site performance and international SEO are available – just to name a few. The tool also highlights the major technical issues affecting performance, making it easy for digital marketers to prioritise their workflow optimisation.
Ahrefs SEO audit
Ahrefs competes for high positions among the best and most reliable all-in-one SEO resources. To its credit, Ahrefs offers one of the most detailed and user-friendly technical SEO audit resources you can find on this list.
Ahrefs would provide you with all the computing tools you need to conduct your audits and other services. The Ahrefs site audit software automatically identifies over 100 technical and on-page SEO issues that could have a negative effect on your SERP rankings.
The best thing is that such issues are organized by category and analysed into full-colour chart reports that you can print and either share with your team or present to your customers. The types used here include output, HTML tags, social tags, content quality, incoming and outgoing links, broken images or scripts.
Hubspot Website Grader
HubSpot launched a Web Grader tool that helped companies explore search engine optimization opportunities. Since a lot has changed since then, the company has developed a new and updated version of the tool for 2020.
It is a free online SEO audit tool that generates personalized reports based on the performance, mobile-ready, SEO and security, etc.
To get the grade of your website, go to the Grader website, enter your URL and email, and then get your ranking. In a matter of seconds, you can see a ranking between 1 and 100 as well as a comprehensive chart.
When you have received your study, you can see actionable insights into how you can boost the efficiency of your website to drive more traffic.
BuzzStream could be the cheapest way to handle your outreach to people who can provide inbound links to your website.
While backlinks to your website are vital to Google ranking well, the outreach you do when building a connexion may feel a lot like a cold call. BuzzStream makes it easy to find the right people, come up with interesting email addresses, and watch who’s going to approve them.
BuzzStream lets you recognise outreach candidates based on their profession and how they are active across different social networks — so you know who would be most open to your backlink request and raise your Google ranking.
Moz’s Pro tools
The Moz Pro subscription is used as an all-in-one tool to increase the search ranking of your company. Moz’s range of research tools provides subscribers with the information they need to identify SEO opportunities, monitor progress, report and maximise their overall efforts.
For example, the Crawl Test tool uses Moz’ own web crawler, RogerBot, to examine up to 3,000 links on a given URL. When completed, users will receive an email report describing the data for each page linked to the site.
All the above-mentioned SEO audit and monitoring tools help digital marketers to improve their website performances to a great extent. Each and every tool has its own importance in terms of efficiency. Try them one after the other, based on your requirements. Even if you found any other helpful tools just comment on them.
How to Boost Search Traffic Using Long-Tail Keywords
Are you tired of trailing behind on the search engine results pages (SERPS)?
I get you. Nobody likes losing out to competitors. But what should bother you most is when you invest effort and money in SEO but don’t get the desired results.
If that sounds familiar, you’re reading the right article.
Your SEO efforts may be failing if you are investing in outdated SEO techniques, like targeting short, popular keywords.
You need to revamp your SEO strategy and start focusing on long-tail keywords.
Actually, it’s a sound strategy, backed by research and successful use cases.
In this post, I’ll explain how you can take advantage of long-tail keywords to top the SERPs.
But first, let’s talk about what long-tail keywords are and why they matter.
What Are Long-Tail Keywords and Why Do They Matter?
Long-tail keywords contain three or more words. They are very precise but unpopular search terms. By “unpopular,” I mean they generate fewer searches than corresponding shorter keywords. Then, why do I recommend using them?
That’s because long-tail keywords convert exceptionally well. They closely resemble the actual search queries that people type in search engines. Since they match user intent so precisely, they get more clicks and your website gets more targeted traffic.
One of my blog posts about Instagram Spaces is getting a lot of traction on Google. I compiled the keywords it’s ranking for, and here is what I found:
Note that “how to space out Instagram captions” (a long-tail keyword) beats its shorter counterpart (“Instagram spaces”) in most aspects. It’s generating more clicks, click-throughs (CTR) and gets me to position two on the SERPs.
Though it’s lagging in impressions, that doesn’t impact my website traffic as much as the other parameters.
If you’re still not convinced about the efficacy of long-tail keywords, take a look at their main advantages below.
1. Long-Tail Keywords Have Low Competition
There is fierce competition to rank for short keywords. But their targeting is not as precise as long-tail keywords.
Fewer marketers target long-tail keywords, though the trend is changing after Google’s Panda update. Lower competition means more opportunities to rank as well as more cost savings (more on that later).
Image via Instapages
To verify the low-competition claim, I did some keyword research of my own.
I compared the keyword difficulty (KD) of three semantically-similar keywords (LSI): “lose weight,” “how to lose weight,” and “how to lose weight fast.” Take a look at the results:
Image via SEMrush
The longest keyword had the lowest difficulty score (KD%). That means you can reach the top of the SERPs faster if you build your content around longer keywords. That’s good news as moving up one spot on SERPs can improve your CTR by nearly 30.8%, according to Backlinko.
2. Long-Tail Keywords Help Drive Qualified Traffic
I already mentioned how content that is optimized for long-tail keywords satisfies user intent.
What exactly is “user intent” or “search intent”? It is what triggers users to turn to devices (the web, in this case) in search of information. User intent can be transactional (buying-type), informational (educational-type), or navigational (locational-type).
If you understand a searcher’s intent, you can present them with content they are looking for, which can push them down the sales funnel.
Long-tail keywords help you align content with user intent.
When a searcher types a query like “affordable camping gear in Texas,” (a long-tail keyword), you know they are ripe to convert. You can serve them listicles of top suppliers or tools to search for vendors, or to your own product pages (if that’s relevant).
For doing this, you can create SEO pages with exact-match keyword anatomy. You can include the long-tail keywords in the page copy, meta-tags, and images so that Google crawlers don’t miss your page. You can create an SEO friendly landing page using the best landing page software.
If your content is insightful and high-quality, there’s a good chance that the searcher will engage with it. Being broad terms, shorter keywords don’t have scope for such precise matching. That’s why long-tail keywords are more effective in driving targeted traffic organically.
3. Long-Tail Keywords Are Cheaper
Now, we come to the best part about long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords have lower cost-per-click (CPC) compared to their shorter peers.
Image via Instapages
CPC is the actual amount you pay when you invest in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. If you build your Google ads around long-tail keywords, you incur lower advertising costs since these keywords have a low CPC. As a result, you can draw more mileage from your advertising spend.
Refer to this image from the “lose-weight” example we saw earlier.
Each click on Google ads that target “how to lose weight” will incur you a cost of $1.21. The cost goes up as the target keyword gets shorter.
In short, long-tail keywords can help you excel at organic as well as paid searches.
How Can You Use Long-Tail Keywords to Drive Website Traffic
As you can make out, long-tail keywords can help you win the coveted top position on Google. No matter how often Google algorithms are updated, targeting long-tail keywords remains the preferred strategy of experienced content marketers.
Yes, long-tail keywords are the secret weapon to win more website visitors. But that doesn’t mean that you should stuff them in your landing pages and other pages. After Google’s RankBrain algorithm, such marketing ploys can get you a red flag.
Here are five ways you can use long-tail keywords naturally in your website content.
1. Write Keyword-Rich Headlines
Your page headlines grab the attention of Google crawlers first. So, front-load your long-tail keywords in your page titles.
If you’re wondering how to write catchy headlines, use Google’s Keywords Planner, Just insert your target keyword and hit the “Get Ideas” button.
Image via Google Keyword Planner
Google will list variations of your target keyword.
Next, identify the search intent of the keyword variation you select. Simply, copy-paste the keyword into Google’s search bar and click on “Enter.” Analyze the kind of pages ranking on the SERP. You will learn what kind of content Google indexes for the keyword.
Image via Google
In this example, I can see that service pages are topping the charts for the keyword “affordable search engine optimization.” So, I can either create a new, optimized service page or keyword-enrich my existing service page.
Whatever format you select, ensure that the keyword should fit naturally in your headlines and sub-headings. You can try LSI keywords in the Related Search section or auto-fill suggestions.
2. Write Long-Form Content
When we compare long-form and short-form content from an SEO perspective, longer content wins, hands down.
Why, you ask?
Because longer content offers more opportunities to add long-tail keywords. Your page’s keyword density increases. Plus, they allow you to deep dive into the topic and deliver value to consumers. All these factors add up to make your page attractive to search engines and visitors.
Since our key concern today is attracting website traffic, you need not worry about losing social audiences who don’t have the patience to read lengthy content. You can also use tools like LinkedIn automation tools, Facebook tools, etc to get best results for your social audiences.
3. Optimize File Names
Lastly, don’t forget to add long-tail keywords to your page URLs. Enrich your image URLs as well. The Backlinko research I cited earlier shows that if your page URL perfectly matches your target keywords, the organic CTR soars.
Image via Backlinko
Even Google recommends this. Their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide says that site URLs should resonate with the page content, which is molded around keywords.
Image via Google
Are You Ready to Be a Long-Tail Pro?
Long-tail keywords are effective but underrated. However, seasoned marketers vouch for their effectiveness, especially for driving organic traffic. Today, I’ve explained how they can help you excel at PPC marketing as well.
Do you have any questions about SEO for website optimization? Leave them in the comments below. I’m always happy to answer.
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