During my first internship several years ago, I had little understanding of SEO.

Back then, I thought SEO just meant using a primary keyword throughout your content.

While it's important to optimize your content with keywords, I had a limited view of the industry as a whole.

I didn't understand why we were supposed to optimize our content and why it was so important to use certain tactics to rank higher in organic search.

Now, as a marketer, it became imperative for me to expand my view of SEO to understand how to improve organic search rankings.

Below, let's review the top six mistakes that could negatively impact your SEO.

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1. Conducting poor keyword research.

Although I didn't have an understanding of it then, during that first internship, we would conduct keyword research that helped guide our content strategy.

That's why, as a content marketer, keyword research has to be detailed and specific.

One SEO mistake I've seen people make is they target generic keywords that are highly competitive and also ignore search intent.

For example, the keyword term "athletic wear" is rather generic. If you own a small company, it's going to be hard to rank for that term against industry giants like Nike or Fabletics.

On the other hand, you could use more specific, detailed keywords, such as "how to wash athletic wear." This way, you're answering a question and can sell your product at the same time.

Additionally, a long-tail keyword is beneficial because you're answering a user's question. If someone types in "athletic wear" they might be wondering how to wash it, where to buy it, or how to start an athletic wear company.

With generic keywords, it's much harder to match search intent, which could impact your search rankings and click-through rate.

To conduct better keyword research, consider using a tool like Google Trends to filter popular keywords per geographic location. This is a great strategy if you're a local company.

Also, optimizing for the right keywords is important because it signals to search engines what the purpose of your content is and whether or not it answers a user's inquiry.

Proper keyword research could help you rank higher and hopefully convert more visitors to buyers.

Tools like Google's Keyword Planner, Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush can help with your keyword research.

2. Using improper anchor text for internal links.

Have you ever been reading an article and an internal link is hyperlinked with anchor text like "click here"?

If so, you've seen an SEO mistake in action.

Whenever you have an internal link, the anchor text should always be descriptive of what's on the page. This gives search engines and readers context on the topic of a page.

The easier it is for search engines to understand what your web page is about, the better your rankings will be.

3. Ignoring quality backlinks.

One of the basic rules of SEO is that quality backlinks help determine your authority and credibility online.

Typically, if you're an industry leader, you're more likely to rank higher in search engines.

That's why it's important to gather quality backlinks from sites with high domain authority. It isn't necessarily the amount of backlinks that matters, but the quality of the sites that backlink to yours.

When you're creating a backlink strategy, remember to focus on getting links from relevant, high authority sites.

You can check for domain authority using some of the keyword tools above, including sites like Moz or Ahrefs.

4. Writing content without considering search intent.

Again, in my first internship, I didn't understand that the assignments I received were all vetted through our SEO consultant.

I didn't grasp that keyword research was done and topics and angles were chosen based on search intent.

When readers type in "how to wash athletic wear," they expect instructions on washing athletic wear. If your blog was only trying to sell athletic wear, your content would be ignoring the search intent.

When you write and create content, it has to specifically address the keywords from your research and answer questions that your audience is asking.

A huge SEO mistake is just creating content for quantity sake. It's more important to create quality content that is likely to rank than to create bad content that no one wants to read.

If you ignore search intent, you'll likely have low click-through rates, low time on page, and a high bounce rate, all of which negatively impact your SEO. Plus, you'll have low conversion rates on content that doesn't match search intent.

Search engines will be able to tell that people don't want to read your content, and you won't rank high.

5. Neglecting local search optimization.

If you're a local company with a storefront or a service area, then optimizing for local search is important.

This type of optimization helps your company show up on Google Maps, and on local searches such as "pizza near me."

To start, your name, address, and phone number should be consistent across your social media accounts and website.

Additionally, you can use region-specific keywords in your page titles and meta descriptions. You can include the city name in your page title. For example, if you're a marketing agency, the page title of your home page could be "Orange County Digital Marketing Agency."

Also, you'll want to ensure that your site is listed on multiple directories, such as Yelp, Google My Business, or FourSquare.

On these directories, be sure to pay attention to your online reviews. Responding to both positive and negative reviews can impact your credibility with your audience.

Ignoring these tactics will greatly impact your ability to rank in local searches.

6. Disregarding analysis and site audits.

Just like with anything in life, if you disregard analysis, it'll be impossible to improve.

However, before you can analyze your SEO efforts, you'll need to conduct a site audit to see what changes you have to make.

For a site audit, you'll check to see if you have duplicate content, broken links, or slow site speed. This will help you come up with a list of SEO items to fix. Additionally, after reading this list of SEO mistakes, you should have a few ideas of areas to improve.

Once you make those changes, you should begin tracking your results. Look at measurements such as keyword ranking, bounce rate, time on page, and conversion rate. These should give you an idea if your organic rankings are improving and search intent is being met with your content.

SEO is the best way to improve your organic search rankings and visibility online. If you're always evaluating your strategy, then you should always be improving and limited the amount of SEO mistakes you make.

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Originally published Mar 4, 2020 5:15:00 PM, updated January 19 2023