The world of search is often thought of as being shrouded in mystery – and acronyms such as PPC, CPA, CTR. As well as strange-sounding software like Crazy Egg and Screaming Frog do little to dispel this notion. However, despite the jargon, a lot of what it takes to succeed in search is actually based on common sense.
Firstly, it’s about understanding what keywords are relevant to your target market, and then strategically writing about those terms on your website – ensuring you craft compelling content that delivers real value (as opposed to just being stuffed with keywords) for your customer. Once that is done (and you’re maintaining it by regularly updating your content), the main objective is to show Google your website is popular or worthy of traffic. Simply put, that’s done by getting other websites to point to you, which increases your online presence. Think of it as social proof or as if they’re voting for you!
Seems simple enough, right? Despite this, there are a few traps that amateur SEO’s and business owners fall into. This month I’ve put together the pitfalls to avoid in order to win with your search efforts in 2018.
The term ‘link building’ has earned itself a bad name due to all the rouges out there. However, links are still one of the three most important ranking signals for Google.
The main problem here is when people take shortcuts, like buying cheap links from websites such as Fiverr and EBay. Or worse still, acting on one of those many unsolicited emails proclaiming to offer lots of high quality links at affordable prices. Be warned: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Content is also one of the three top ranking factors, so why is it on the problematic list? Unfortunately, lots of people think that the more content you write the better. This isn’t true and it’s often a waste of time. To write content properly, you must invest in keyword research and then craft high-quality long form content. Aim to include images and dynamic content where possible.
Many people think SEO software is the golden panacea – however, no one piece of software can give you the whole picture, nor will any of them be able to do everything for you. See the point above about if it seems too good to be true; the same goes for if it appears too easy…
People fall into the trap of thinking that if they pay for a license to Moz, Screaming Frog, or the like, they’ll have all the answers.
A lot of website developers and other self-proclaimed experts on social media talk up how good they are and overpromise when it comes to what they can do for your website and its rankings.
It can be hard to tell who is really just a snake-oil salesman. Look at these people’s websites; do they rank organically themselves? How is their company’s social media page performing?
These things will give you some quick clues to tell the good ones from the bad.
There is no short (and ethical!) way to rank on Google for a competitive term. If someone is promising you quick results, run away (unless it’s through paid advertising like AdWords).
Another red flag is those people guaranteeing rankings; no one actually knows the algorithm for this, and besides, it changes all the time. If they’re spinning this story, it’s likely they’re taking some significant shortcuts.
A lot of businesses can’t afford to employ a specialist, so they end up going for the DIY or cheap option. Some of this has some merit, but it is false economy to go for the cheap option or work with a company that does not rank themselves.
If you do want to DIY your SEO, there is a free guide by Google (search for Google’s SEO Starter Guide). There is also a great course run by Unitec and several reputable blogs you could follow, including Google’s own webmaster blog, the Moz blog and others.
These options, armed with an awareness of the pitfalls above should stand you in decent stead to get started. Good luck!