Quality SEO is very difficult to come by. As a matter of fact, SEO companies that are capable of offering results-oriented work at reasonable costs have become more of a dying breed.
The truth is that search engine optimization can, at times, be difficult to grasp even by the most experienced digital marketer. Due to the ever-adapting nature of SEO, practices that were effective last year might no longer be available today. But this doesn’t mean that the misconceptions have also disappeared.
Even if you have no idea what search engine optimization is about, you should make sure that you’re bringing the right people on board. In the following article I will highlight 5 blatant mistakes that SEO companies make with your content marketing and link-building campaigns.
1. Failing to Audit & Create a Transparent SEO Roadmap
Before an SEO company can begin working on your website it must first conduct a comprehensive Audit to identify the problems that are preventing it from ranking (examples: duplicate or missing meta-tags, spammy links pointing towards your site, broken links, content structure or length, page loading speed, image size, CSS or Java Script files etc.).
Even if this Audit doesn’t contain all the technical data that was gathered, it should clearly summarize critical issues and offer a strategic on-page and off-page roadmap. The roadmap should also be aligned with your company’s marketing calendar and updated frequently. It doesn’t matter if you have SEO knowledge or not, because a good agency will ALWAYS share its findings and consult with you before taking action.
Stay away from companies that promise the moon and stars but do not share their method of work. Chances are that they’re using unethical SEO practices to promote your site (examples: building links on spammy websites, producing thin content etc.).
2. Skipping the Keyword Brainstorming Phase
Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of search engine optimization. Keywords should accurately describe your website in a way that will reflect your customers’ vocabulary.
When they are buried in a project, most SEO agencies focus on getting content out, they slap on some keywords right before publishing and move on. This is wrong for two reasons. First of all, quickly adding some vanity keywords may (initially) increase your traffic, but will result in low engagement and increased bounce rates.
Secondly, keyword brainstorming should be given adequate forethought. The keywords used on your website will determine your target audience, content strategy, and marketing goals. Is this something you want to leave to chance? A true SEO expert will conduct a comprehensive analysis of your current and potential keywords. He will also monitor their performance and adjust his strategy according to them.
3. Failing to Deal with Duplicate Content within the Site
Content duplication occurs in a number of forms. Although these problems are easy to solve, many SEOs tend to overlook them. Here are the most common forms of content duplication that will affect your site:
- Duplicate content in more than one location (frequent on eCommerce sites with many product listings, or large sites). Can be solved with 301 redirects or the rel=canonical tag.
- Duplicate title tags and meta-descriptions. It baffles me how some websites expect to rank for their targeted keywords when most of their pages use the same meta-descriptions and titles. While it is true that certain CMSs (Drupal and Joomla), auto-generate page titles, this doesn’t mean that you should leave them as they are. Page titles are extremely important for on-page SEO and they should accurately reflect the content of your page. Meta-descriptions, which summarize the content on your page, should be unique, but they should not exceed the 160 character limit.
4. Building Unnatural Links & Using Irrelevant Anchors
Many will agree that the safest path to building natural links is creating engaging and interesting content. Nevertheless, some SEOs believe that it’s still a good idea to manipulate the search engine by making a backlink profile look natural, even if it isn’t. In order to do this they resort to aggressive link-building strategies. Most of the times, the anchors they use are stuffed with keywords or completely unrelated to the topic of the site. Sometimes they also make irrelevant blog comments or posts on forums.
Link-building shouldn’t be the primary focus of any SEO agency. It should result from a solid digital marketing strategy. Still, if your SEO Company insists on building some links (which isn’t necessarily bad), they should be equally distributed through a variety of channels.
But what about anchor text for internal and inbound links? Once again, variety is key. Don’t settle for generic anchors like “click here”, or “read more”. Use longer phrases, keywords, or branded words for more diversity.
5. Failing to Keep up with Industry Changes
Communication goes beyond simply creating an audit or roadmap and sharing it with the client. It also extends to the relationships that a company has with experts in the industry. Knowledgeable SEOs should be among the first to find out about industry changes, innovative strategies or algorithmic updates that might impact your content strategy and link-building campaign.
While it is true that Google doesn’t always divulge its upcoming changes, there are plenty of experts within the industry – like SearchEngineJournal and Moz– who monitor and report on any unexpected changes. They also share new techniques of building organic links and crafting shareable content.
“SEO is a field that changes over time, and the most successful SEOs embrace change and turn it into an opportunity.” – Matt Cutts, 2010
There are many other SEO mistakes that your agency may be making, but it can hardly be blamed for some of them. By the time you finish reading this article another Google update may roll out and invalidate what we are now referring to as ‘best practices’.