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5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each

Common SEO Mistakes

Common SEO Mistakes Even the most seasoned content marketers make mistakes. In the world of SEO-driven content, with constant algorithm tweaks and changing search patterns, it’s nearly unavoidable. However, those same mistakes can often lead to discoveries that enable even better content performance. The key is being able to recognize those easy-to-fix SEO mistakes and address them. As a result, your content will become an optimized, integrated network of metaphorical highways, leading searchers to best-answer content in a strategic and purposeful way. So, what are the most common SEO mistakes, and how can they be addressed? Below, I’ve singled out the ‘usual suspects’ along with guidance on how to fix them while setting yourself up for long-term SEO success.

SEO Mistake #1 – Choosing Target Keywords Based on Volume vs. Relevance

How Keywords Affect Content Marketers: Great content isn’t great unless people see it. But when content marketers overemphasize high-volume keywords, they miss out on meaningful engagement. It’s tempting to plug into your keyword research tool of choice and select keywords with the highest search volume as your focuses for new content. But if the content you’re creating doesn’t match the search intent for that high-volume keyword, it’s unlikely to perform to your expectations. The Fix: Google it! All jokes aside, evaluating the first ten search results for your target keywords can help you understand what searchers are trying to find, and what supporting content you should provide to truly be the best answer for that query. While you’re analyzing those top results, pay attention to key factors that will shape your content creation and promotion strategy:

  1. What type of information is NOT included in top content, but is topically related? This can help you inform how you differentiate your content.
  2. What’s the content demand for that keyword? For example, are mostly top of funnel blog posts ranking, or are you seeing mostly product or service pages?
  3. How many backlinks and referring domains are pointing to the top search results? This can help you understand how competitive the first page of results is, and whether or not ongoing link building should be part of your content promotion strategy.
  4. How long is the top-ranking content for that keyword? This will help you determine ideal content length for your own post.

SEO Mistake #2 – Targeting the Same Keyword with Multiple Pages or Posts

How Same-Topic Targeting Affects Content Marketers: Pressure to create comprehensive content on a topic can actually result in dilution within search. The conventional wisdom that more is better doesn’t apply universally — especially when it comes to SEO-driven content. Creating multiple pieces of content that target the exact same keyword is a surefire way to stand in your own way of success. There’s enough competition out there for B2B marketers without having to compete with your own content. For example, a B2B technology company that wants to rank for B2B software consulting should optimize their service page for that term based on what is currently being served in search results. But, if they also create a series of blogs or resources that are targeting that specific term, search engine bots will be confused about which page is the best answer for that query. This could result in none of the content appearing in the top 10 results, in favor of competing sites with a more clear ‘answer’ to that query. The Fix: Determine which of your pages or posts is the best answer for that particular query by analyzing ranking and analytics data. Which post or page sees the greatest amount of engaged organic traffic for your target keyword, and most closely matches the associated search intent? Once you’ve determined your target page, it’s time to evaluate the remaining content targeting that keyword. Look for opportunities to:

  1. Remove or prune low-value or outdated content. Is there a blog post full of stats from 2009 that’s hindering your priority page’s chances of ranking? It might be time to consider removing that post and implementing the proper redirects.
  2. Optimize existing content for related, but different, keyword targets. For example, if you have a priority post for Chocolate Chip Cookies, and another post that more closely relates to ‘Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies’, consider optimizing that post for the latter and implementing internal links back to your priority cookies post.
  3. Combine closely related content. For example, if you have several blog posts around your targeted keyword(s), consider combining those posts into a longer, more robust piece of content.

SEO Mistake #3 – Ignoring Internal Link Structure

How Internal Linking Affects Content Marketers: Links are like electricity on the web, lighting up content for people and search engines alike. Content is discovered by links. Your site’s internal linking structure tells bots (and users) which pages are most important, and which pages are most relevant to specific keywords. If you link to several pages from the same anchor text, for example, there will be some confusion about which page is truly ‘about’ that topic. Other times, you could have pages or posts on your site that are orphaned, with no internal links directing users or bots their way. This can confuse your site users, search engine bots, and even your own team. Confusion is not a ranking factor! The Fix: Make sure you develop and continue to update your site’s keyword map. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists your page’s URL and associated target keyword(s). This keyword map will help you determine what anchor text should be used to link to your target pages. Next, conduct a site audit to determine:

  1. If there are orphaned pages that need internal links
  2. If you are linking to multiple pages with the same keyword-rich anchor text
  3. Where there are opportunities to create additional supporting content
  4. Where you might have opportunities to reduce and prune existing supporting content

Next, you’re going to want to crawl your site to find any orphaned pages. Then, map those into your overall keyword strategy and implement internal links.

SEO Mistake #4 – Ignoring Data from Other Digital Tactics

How Marketing Data Affects Content Marketers: Inspiration often drives ideation for many content marketers, but data drives optimization for ideal content performance. Marketing performance data can provide both. Any data you can collect about how your audience engages with your content has the potential to be an SEO gold mine. For example, analyzing the keywords from your paid search campaigns can give you insight into which keywords are your best converters, and what content best suits searchers for those terms. Social posts that get the greatest amount of engagement can tell you which topics your audience is most interested in. Ignoring data from your other marketing and sales channels means missing out on an opportunity to better engage your prospects. The Fix: Meet with different teams or departments to find out what kind of content performs best on their channels. Look at the data each platform or channel provides and compare that with your site analytics data for a full picture. And, be sure to share your channel performance data with the rest of your marketing team. The more information available related to content and marketing performance, the better equipped you are to optimize.

SEO Mistake #5 – Giving Up

How Persistence Affects Content Marketers: Content performance in search is a long game and persistence is essential for success. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a lack of results can feel demoralizing, but giving up is simply not an option. You wouldn’t stop building your house just because the nearest lumber yard ran out of wood, right? You’d find another lumber yard and keep plugging along. The Fix: Take a step back. Re-evaluate the search landscape, your competitor’s organic presence, and your site’s overall health. Being able to remove yourself from the frustration can help you find opportunities you may have missed and additional whitespace to tackle. Next, seek out advice from other SEOs. Ask questions on social media, in specific groups or forums, or send a question to your favorite SEO blog. If budget permits, enlist the help of a consultant or SEO agency that can help you break through your roadblocks. Finally, we have two big SEO bummers that are tougher to fix, but absolutely necessary to address.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Migrating Your Site with No SEO Plan

How Migrating Without a Plan Affects Content Marketers: A bad migration can effectively undo your hard work, reducing content visibility and creating more user friction. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of SEOs cringing around the globe. A botched site migration can wreak havoc on your organic positioning and torpedo your results. It can take months, even years to recuperate organic visibility to pre-migration levels. The Fix: Always, always consult your in-house SEO team or SEO agency when you’re considering a website migration. Before you move forward, it’s imperative you have a plan for technical, on-page, and off-page factors. If you’ve already migrated your site and have experienced a loss of organic traffic and rankings, start with a site audit. Check for the basics, like whether or not your site is being indexed, first. Then start to evaluate technical factors like broken links, crawl errors, and duplicate content. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Recovering from a site migration is a challenge for even the best of SEOs, and sometimes those big challenges call for a little teamwork.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Not Optimizing for Mobile

How Not Optimizing for Mobile Affects Content Marketers: Even the greatest content can’t stand up to a bad mobile experience. Users will bounce, reducing engagement and sending negative signals to search engines. Mobile accounts for about half of web traffic worldwide. Knowing this, in March 2018 Google started migrating sites to mobile-first indexing. Providing a seamless mobile experience is no longer optional, especially when you’re living in the wild world of search. Sites that didn’t properly prepare for this can and will likely see some declines in organic search traffic and rankings as a result. And, as more sites follow mobile best practices, more users will notice and become frustrated by poor mobile experiences. This leads to declines in other pivotal ranking factors like on-page engagement. In short, if not properly addressed, a poor mobile experience can wreak havoc on your search visibility. The Fix: The first thing to do is to conduct a mobile audit on your site. Understanding your site’s mobile performance is step one toward making improvements. Look for things like:

  1. Mobile site speed. A couple great tools for this are Google Page Speed Insights and Pingdom. These tools can tell you where to look for issues like slow-loading code, images that aren’t optimized, and other technical issues.
  2. Mobile experience. Visit your site on your phone. Ask someone who doesn’t use your site regularly to do the same. Record your experience, take notes on where you get stuck and why. Click on everything. Turn your phone into horizontal mode. Try to think of every single way a user could browse your site. And, don’t forget to try a site search on mobile.
  3. Look at mobile analytics. This will tell you key metrics like mobile bounce rate, mobile time on page and pages per session.

These steps will help you build a hypothesis to test against. Is your mobile bounce rate crazy high? Does your site take a long time to load? Is your time on page way out of line with desktop traffic? Then, use A/B testing to root out the discrepancy. Use these same metrics to test if the fix is working. Then, repeat with another element. So, What Does This All Mean for You? Ultimately, following SEO best practices as a content marketer can reduce performance-related headaches and set you up for long-term success. For example, when Innovatech Labs decided it was time to make major changes to their website, they worked with our team at TopRank Marketing to implement a safe website transition strategy, minimizing their risk of reduced content visibility on Google. This assessment involved avoiding many of the big risks mentioned above, including linking, use of data and keyword research which allowed us to act quickly post-migration to combat organic traffic declines. The result? Double- and triple-digit increases in organic traffic (and increased conversions, too!). A best-answer content strategy focused on creating content with the most relevance to their audience was the ticket to better marketing performance for a martech SaaS company. Working with the team at TopRank Marketing, long-tail and hyper-relevant keywords were researched for a comprehensive content strategy to help the brand content become the best answer for those queries. The “best answer” approach and topics were applied across organic and paid efforts. As a result, the volume of both paid and organic MQLs increased, leading to better content performance and spontaneous proclamations of love from the client’s sales team. Fixing these big SEO mistakes aren’t only for short-term wins. Our longtime partner Antea Group USA has achieved amazing triple-digit growth over three years by avoiding these big mistakes and implementing an ongoing commitment to SEO-driven, best answer content. As I mentioned earlier, even the most experienced content marketers can make these common SEO mistakes. But, with the right SEO strategy driven by diligent execution and monitoring of results, you can get back on track. The key is to be intentional about your site’s architecture, as well as the content you create, and to never, ever give up. Still feeling stuck? Or maybe your team doesn’t have the resources to take on this battle alone? Check out our SEO services, tweet us your thoughts @toprank, or drop me a line in the comments. We are here to help!

The post 5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Setting Your Sights on 2020: How to Brew a Forward-Thinking Marketing Strategy

The high-pressure marketing budget and strategy planning season seems to kick-off earlier each year. It’s as if your boss is asking you to magically construct the perfect strategic and tactical mix at the right budget for 2020, without having enough of 2019 under your belt to predict the best approach. After all, you don’t know what the future holds, right? 

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. So, why not leverage that to get some 20/20 foresight?

Like you, we at TopRank Marketing don’t have any magical crystal balls or employees with psychic powers. We don’t use witchcraft to brew mystical marketing love potions. And we certainly don’t engage in any sorcery with enchanted mirrors, but we’ve honed our craft over nearly 20 years and we do find plenty of value in reflecting.

Just a mystic or a wizard or an enchantress gathers their crystals, herbs, or sacred artifacts, you too have transcendent tools available to you. Read on to learn how you can cast your spell, summon your marketing spirit, or connect with marketing’s natural elements to create a strategic 2020 marketing plan—without relying on the supernatural.

Research: The Magic Ingredient for Concocting Any Marketing Strategy

As a marketer you don’t know what you don’t know. And, that’s okay. Clairvoyance is not part of the job description. Begin your brew with some thoughtful research.

  • Keep up with the latest trends. Is there a new tactic or strategy you should be testing?
  • Read case studies from other B2B businesses. What’s working for them?
  • Re-research your audience. Are your assumptions correct? What has changed since last year? What hasn’t? 
  • Bonus. Learn like polymath Bill Gates and the likes, by dedicating 5+ hours per week to learning. Polymaths lead in their field by becoming competent in at least three diverse domains and integrating learnings into their current skill set.

via GIPHY

Now that you’re tuned up, use your knowledge to spark new ideas, strengthen your plan recommendations, and back up your recommendations with solid rationales.

Data: Unlocking Insight to Season Your Potion

Every wizard, witch, psychic, or gifted mystic has had to spend a great deal of time to unlock the power inside themselves, you too must devote time to understand one of your most powerful tools: data. Anyone can come up with a striking idea, but it takes a special marketer to use data and unlock the insights within. Try this approach to uncover what you need to know to inform your marketing plan:

Gather the Data and Dive In

Leverage your tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to pull data from all of your tactics in the past year, including campaigns and ongoing programs.  You can also gather audience data and benchmarks from the research you’ve been doing. 

Don’t be afraid to spend a little time diving down rabbit-holes. At this annual reflection point, what better time to dig into an unnoticed trend or insight?

[bctt tweet="Don’t be afraid to spend a little time diving down rabbit-holes. At this annual reflection point, what better time to dig into an unnoticed trend or insight? - @ElizabethW1057 on 2020 #MarketingStrategy" username="toprank"]

Confirm Your Benchmarks

Look across your data to establish benchmarks fit to your brand that will be valuable in informing your decisions. Again, feel free to check out industry benchmarks, but remember your brand is a unique situation. For instance, are you a startup looking to create a demand for a new niche? Or are you an established enterprise looking to increase market share?

Unlock the Insights

Now it’s time to turn that data into something you can use. Look for trends, outliers, big successes and big failures. Each one can teach you something and guide your 2020 plan to be more strategic. 

Here’s a simple example of how you can go from data, to benchmark, to insight, to 2020 tactics:

  1. In your latest campaign, you saw 2,652 sessions to your asset 90-days post-launch.
  2. Across your last 4 campaigns, you’ve averaged 2,002 sessions to your asset 90-days post-launch. 
  3. Nice! Your latest campaign drove 32% higher sessions. But why?
  4. You used email as an additional promotional tactic this time. And, email accounted for 27% of your total sessions.
  5. Let’s use email in all of our campaigns that target this audience, and explore a more robust, ongoing email program.
  6. Bonus: 75% of your influencers amplified your asset, driving 22% of the total campaign traffic. But, did they have enough reach, with the right people, to make it worth it? Were there other benefits of including influencers? To understand the impact of your influencer work better, add researching new measurement techniques to your “to do” list.

via GIPHY

Yes, there are many more metrics, variables, and considerations than simply number of visitors or a single promotional tactic, but you can leverage this approach to unlock some actionable insights from your data. Harness the positive vibes you uncover to inform your marketing plan, and bring your findings to the table to back up your recommendations.

Partners: Adding Natural Elements to Bind the Brew

Now, it’s time to combine elements for a comprehensive strategy.

Stay Grounded: The Earth Element

To enable your success, you must stay grounded. It can be easy to go heads down in planning after one quick conversation, but avoid the temptation. There is nothing worse than presenting a complete marketing plan to a room full of confused faces because you missed the core objective or are suggesting using a new tactic that just failed in another business unit.

Chat with your budget stakeholders early and often about:

  • Are we aligned on the objective of my work in relation to the company’s business goals?
  • What are you looking for me to achieve in 2020?
  • Do you have any marketing strategies or tactics in mind that I should be considering? Or avoiding?
  • What does my 2020 budget look like?
  • Are you expecting any cuts? (Budget prioritization tips here)
  • What have senior leadership or other BUs been talking about that I should be aware of?

[bctt tweet="When you go into 2020 planning mode, stay grounded by circling the wagons with stakeholders early and often. @ElizabethW1057 #MarketingStrategy" username="toprank"]

Seek Collaboration: The Water Element

The water element governs relationships, and it changes shape based on whatever vessel contains it. Use the people around you to gather and mold your ideas this planning season. 

The information you gather from your internal teams can be an unmatched input for keyword research. It can also guide your influencer research, inform your tactical mix, or simply spark new ideas or ways of looking at problems.

  • Your customer service team can tell you all the questions customers are asking about your product or service — what drives customers nuts and what they rave about.
  • Your sales team will know every detail about what makes a customer want to buy versus what stands in the way of a sale. They also probably have competitive insights on the marketplace and know who influences their prospects. Just ask them!
  • Your product team probably briefs with you ever so often, but have you talked to them lately? There might be a feature or benefit that you’ve yet to focus on, or not highlighted enough. With the insights you’ve gotten from customer service and sales, you’ll know just what to do with the product info.
  • Though often difficult to get in front of, your senior leadership will have invaluable insights into the company’s direction. Keep up on any content they’re publishing or sharing on social. And, when you get the opportunity to connect, be prepared with thoughtful questions and discussion points.

Get Transformative: Fire Element

Transformation, passion, and action are the domain of the fire element. Your marketing agency should embody this completely. 

Every fruitful client-agency partnership is rooted in a collaborative passion and drive for your success. So, who better to ask for help on your 2020 marketing plan?

Your agency should have its finger on the pulse of the latest marketing strategies, tactics, and measurement techniques. And, it should be a consultative partner, giving you what you need to make the case for your 2020 budget. Tap your agency for anything from an informal brainstorm to proposing new ideas and tactics, and from campaign extension ideas to full collaboration on your entire plan. 

Seek Reflection: Wind Element

The final element is wind or air. Air is sometimes a harsh element. It cuts away the nonsense and gets us right down to the facts. This is where your plan comes together and you begin to shine. 

Collect everything you’ve researched, studied and gathered, and reflect. Wipe away your emotions and what you feel like you should do. Give new ideas space to grow and be molded by your data and what you learned communing with your teams. 

Unleash Your Mystical Marketing Strategy Planning Abilities

You started making your magic marketing potion with research, filled it to the top with data and sprinkled in all of the world’s natural elements. Now, the power is in your hands. 

You’re ready to concoct your 2020 marketing plan. Don’t hesitate to check back in with your team while you brew. Gather their feedback and refine, because collaboration is how the magic happens. 

Would an agency partner be helpful for your 2020 planning? We’d love to help. Get in touch today.

The post Setting Your Sights on 2020: How to Brew a Forward-Thinking Marketing Strategy appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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