5 of the Most Horrible, No-Good SEO Content Mistakes (& How to Avoid)

5 of the Most Horrible, No-Good SEO Content Mistakes (& How to Avoid)

by | Jul 20, 2021 | SEO

What’s holding you back from incredible visibility in Google search?

Is it your strategy?

…Or is it your execution?

The best content plan in the world won’t get you anywhere if you’re making these simple yet deadly SEO content mistakes.

seo content mistakes

5 SEO Content Mistakes Plaguing Your Marketing (& Fixes)

These SEO content mistakes are super common but totally rectifiable. If you’re committing any of them, don’t worry – I have some practical solutions to bring your content back to life.

What’s holding you back from incredible visibility in Google? Is it your strategy? …Or your execution? The best content plan in the world won’t get you anywhere if you’re making these simple yet deadly SEO content mistakes. ? Click To Tweet

1. Targeting the Same (or Similar) Keywords in Multiple Content Pieces

Want to know a great way to shoot yourself in the foot with SEO?

Lose track of the content pieces you’ve published, including which keywords you’ve already targeted.

Then accidentally target a keyword you’ve already tried to rank for in a new blog. If the search intent for that keyword hasn’t changed over time, the blogs will end up being incredibly similar – too similar.

Now you have two pages on your site competing for the same search intent, traffic, and clicks. As a result, neither will do very well in search engines, because you’re essentially splitting the spoils. (There’s a technical, dramatic term for this problem: keyword cannibalization.)

What to Do Instead

First, keep track of your content pieces in all stages of the creation process, from the initial idea to the final published blog, article, what-have-you.

This means a content calendar is your best friend (Airtable, Trello, and Notion are nice options). Include information on the keywords you targeted for each piece.

Second, be careful with search intent. Some keywords may be worded very differently from those you’ve already used, but have an identical search intent (i.e., the reason why a user types those keywords into Google).

For example: “Which iPhone should I buy” and “best iPhone to buy right now” only share a few words, but the search intent behind them is identical. Instead of creating two content pieces targeting each keyword, you should choose one to focus on while including the other inside the piece as a related keyword.

2. Writing Overwrought, Irrelevant Meta Descriptions

What a worse SEO content mistake than skipping out on writing unique meta descriptions for each page of your site?

Writing bad ones.

The difference between a good meta description and a bad one:

  • Whether it entices your reader to click your link in the results…
  • Or turns them off entirely.
  • Whether it’s relevant enough to appear in Google results…
  • Or so irrelevant that Google skips it in favor of auto-filling text from your body content.

Relevance, in particular, is huge.

A GOOD meta description for #seocontent: ✅ Entices your reader to click your link in Google (vs. turning them off entirely). ✅ Relevant enough to appear in the results (versus Google auto-filling). Click To Tweet

Look at this meta description from an Eater article ranking for “best burgers in the U.S.”:

meta description that google auto-filled

As you can see, Google auto-filled the description with snippets of the body content from the article. They often do this when no meta description is specified.

Yet, Eater did specify a meta description, as you can see from their source code:

Irrelevant meta description source code.

It reads, “Introducing the burger lover’s ultimate bucket list, from classic iterations to the best bistro burgers.”

What’s the problem, here? Why didn’t Google use it? Irrelevance.

  • The keyword is missing from this description.
  • The description mentions a “bucket list” – but is that what the article is really about, or what people are seeking when they search for this keyword? No. A “bucket list” doesn’t necessarily signify “best.”

The above description looks pretty awful next to this one from a higher-ranking piece on the list:

good meta description

What to Do Instead

If there’s even the slightest chance that Google will skip over the meta description you painstakingly wrote in favor of auto-grabbed text, what’s the point of writing one?

This: With a strong meta description, there’s a huge chance to grab your reader and convince them to click in just a sentence or two. Written well, a good meta description can enhance your click-through rate in the search results.

You just have to make sure it’s relevant enough for Google to grab, and helpful enough (and persuasive enough) to catch your reader’s eye.

A few tips:

  • Meta descriptions can’t be too long – under 160 characters is the standard. To ensure you write within that restriction, use a tool. Yoast SEO is great. So is the Meta Tags tool.
  • Talk to your reader. Tell them what the content is about and what’s in it for them if they read it.
  • Use your keyword. Once is enough.
  • Get creative with wording. Use strong verbs. Avoid useless adverbs, which pad out the character count unnecessarily.

The SEO Content Writer's Cheat Sheet

3. Using Unhelpful, Poorly Structured Headings (Or Not Enough Headings)

I hope you’re already implementing headings in your SEO content writing. This is a basic must-do for a few reasons:

  • Headings help Google understand what your content is about.
  • They help users find the information they’re looking for.
  • They break up long blocks of text for better readability.
  • Headings help organize and structure your content (especially important for people who may not be “reading” your page at all, but using screen readers or some other assistive technology).

Think of headings as helpers. They provide additional meaning and help your reader make sense of your piece as a whole.

That’s why, if your headings are lackluster, generic, or formatted incorrectly, they’ll hinder instead of help.

Take a look at this example of a content piece with unhelpful, incorrectly structured headings:

seo content mistake - poor use of headings

Note the vague wording (“ones” in place of using the actual keyword, “backlinks”) the incorrect use of heading levels (H2s used when H3s were needed), and the use of headings solely for formatting purposes (a huge no-no).

What to Do Instead

Headings split your content into sections and sub-sections (and sometimes sub-sub-sections), which helps with readability immensely. They denote the most important pieces of information and how sections are related.

As such, use headings judiciously, and structure them correctly. Employ them to break up your content in the same way chapters break up a book. Here’s an example.

  • H1 – Types of Cheeses and Where to Buy Them.
    • H2 – The Best Hard Cheeses
      • H3 – 1. Gruyere
      • H3 – 2. Parmesan
      • H3 – 3. Manchego
    • H2 – The Best Soft Cheeses
      • H3 – 1. Brie
      • H3 – 2. Gorgonzola
      • H3 – 3. Chevre
    • H2 – Where to Buy Your Favorite Cheeses
      • H3 – Online Stores
      • H3 – Brick-and-mortars

H1 – The title or headline. Think of it as the title of a book. You only use it once.

H2 – The major headings that break up your content topically. Think of H2s as book chapters. If you’re covering a topic with multiple facets, each facet gets its own H2 heading.

H3 – Sub-headings that break up your H2 sections. Each H3 should be an offshoot of your top-level H2 topic.

H4, H5, H6 – These are less common, but can further break down your topic as needed. (I never use these.)

4. Creating Lots (and Lots) of Mediocre Content

Contrary to popular belief, putting out lots and lots of content, no matter the quality, will not earn you any accolades, let alone Google’s top rankings.

What happens instead?

Just what you’d think – putting out oodles of mediocre content will garner you a reputation as mediocre.

And that is not what you want.

More is not better. Better is better. Even if that means your content schedule scales way back.

In #contentmarketing, more is not better. BETTER is better. ? Even if that means your content schedule must scale waaay back. Click To Tweet

What to Do Instead

Don’t post five times per week if it’s all crap or not worth reading. Do post once a week, bi-weekly, or whenever you can – as long as each piece can stand on its own against the top of Google’s search results for your keyword.

Focus on meeting search intent, answering user questions, going in-depth, and providing thorough explanations and research on whatever you’re talking about.

You don’t “need more content.” You need to create better content.

Need help with that? Let our expert content writing team handle it.

5. Linking Indiscriminately

In your content, are you linking out to any old source you can find? Are you placing those links on random text?

What about your internal links? Does the link to your service page inside your new blog read “click here”? When you mention a related blog, do you link it like this?

seo content mistake - bad linking practices

Stop. ✋ Stop, stop, stop.

These SEO content mistakes are a giant waste of link juice.

You see, links act as signals for Google. When you link to another page in your content, you’re signaling that the page you’re pointing to is not just related and relevant to your topic, but also has authority and credibility.

The search engine pays attention to both the text you use to link to a URL, and the content of the URL itself. This is true for both inbound links (when you link out to a separate domain from your own) and internal links (when you link to another page on your domain).

The way you link, both internally and externally, matters.

What to Do Instead

Don’t link indiscriminately. Be smart and use a strategy to give Google better signals.

  • If you’re linking to a resource or reference that supports a point you made: Take the time to find a quality source with a high Domain Authority (DA), Alexa Rank, Domain Rating, or whichever metric you prefer to rely on. Or, choose one with a reputation you know is solid.
  • If you’re linking to an internal page on your website: Only link to related or similar pages in your content. Don’t spam your content with links to your other pages. Place your anchor text (the text you click on to open a link) on relevant keywords, not random text or “click here”.

Be a Smart SEO Content Marketer

SEO content mistakes are easy to make. But smart marketers can admit them and learn from them.

The good news is, once you know how to fix them, you’ll never look back. You’ll build a better content strategy, too.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

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