3 Common SEO Mistakes Writers Make
Writing for the web comes with its own set of distinct rules. Content has to be of a high quality and search engine optimized (SEO). This will ensure that a website has good exposure, is well ranked by search engines, and can be found by internet users.
However not all bloggers or online writers do SEO well, or even at all.
These days Google will punish those that it deems to be breaking its rules. That means no keyword stuffing, black or even grey hat SEO, and now even guest blogging can be perceived as being dangerous ground. Online writers have to keep up to date with Google and its algorithm changes if they want to be successful online.
Easy Mistakes to Make
There are many easy SEO mistakes to make so let’s consider some of the more common ones and look for ways that you can avoid them. The main problem is that there are so many people writing content for the web and they all have different degrees of knowledge and ways of approaching SEO.
Here are some of the main online writer ‘types’:
- Writers that don’t understand SEO and fail to even attempt to use it
- Those that have failed to grasp SEO practices – but are attempting it anyway
- Those working off bad information and perpetuating bad habits
- People who deliberately violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
- Writers who do it well, understand SEO, and obey Google’s guidelines
The first three writer types mentioned above are ones that unknowingly perpetuate SEO bad practices. Many will criticise Google for making their job hard if they don’t follow the rules or if they don’t use particularly good spelling, grammar and layout for falling down the rankings. However, Google is in the business of trying to ensure that good content rises to the top, and that means that it must be readable.
The writers that deliberately violate Google’s ‘laws’ are making everything that little bit more difficult for everyone else. Google has to constantly update its algorithms to keep abreast of the ‘illegal’ writing practices that black/grey hat SEO encompasses. The worst thing is that four out of five of the writer types we mentioned are doing it wrong. The odds are though that at least some of them think that they’re doing it right – and are passing that information on to others.
The result is a world full of SEO related confusion and mistakes, and unfortunately there are also unscrupulous individuals that will promise the earth (in this case top rankings) and deliver little. Let’s look at some ways to avoid negative associations between you and the copy that you write.
Anyone well versed in the online sphere will have heard this term. Duplicate content has been around for a very long time and it derives from lazy coding or a failure on the user’s part to configure their CMS. In some cases it’s as simple as writers not realising that it’s important to avoid duplicate content.
Effectively, duplicate content is a simple enough concept to understand. It can be defined as the same content (or nearly the same) appearing on two separate and distinct URLs.
This type of content upsets search engines and it can have a negative effect on your website itself. Duplicate content is likely to make your site rank lower and send you less traffic. If you’re one of the culprits, deal with it immediately. Leaving it alone will only exacerbate the problem and as time progresses it’ll become more and more time consuming to deal with.
Not Writing Enough
When it comes to online copy, it’s important to make sure that it’s the right length for the web. A good rule of thumb at the moment is to aim for content that’s at least 800 words in length for blog posts. However recent evidence suggests that 1600 words is actually the optimal length. It doesn’t entirely matter; just make sure your copy is long form and well-structured with clear H2 headings throughout.
If your content has little in terms of text then search engines may deem your site to be of poor quality. This is more likely to happen than not and it’s known as thin content. This often happens because the writer understands that content should be diverse and on a number of different pages but has failed to put enough effort into creating those pages.
Make sure that your work is adding to the conversation and that it’s unique and valuable. Research and write pieces that are a minimum of 800 words in length and you’ll see a good return of visitors and an increase in new customers.
For actual site copy, a different approach should be taken, as it’s not ideal to have 1000s of words to give an overall view of a company. So for pages, it’s necessary to craft each word carefully, using different headers such as H1, H2 etc., to layout the page and choose related keywords and phrases in order to maximise SEO. This is a skilled job and one that only copywriters with a good understanding of SEO should undertake.
Write for People, not Search Engines
Many people take the whole SEO thing a little bit too far. Yes good practices can make search engines notice you and rank your content more highly but it’s the people that you’re writing for that read the copy. Keep them in mind at all points and remember that overdoing your SEO efforts can have a negative effect on your website.
Remember never to indulge in keyword stuffing and keep keyword density low, below 3% as a maximum.
Search engine algorithms change all the time; keep up to date with the new practices but most importantly write for your audience. Provide your users with the best possible experience whilst browsing your website. Avoid the common SEO mistakes mentioned above and make your site a place where good work is championed over good search engine rankings.