Avoid These 5 SEO Faux Pas

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You may have read our posts praising the virtues of creating engaging content, and heard us extol the importance of responding to reader or customer feedback and making appropriate adjustments. You may also know a bit about quality backlinks and using the correct header tags, sourcing images legally, and creating compelling headlines. Today we’re going to take a look at five thing your business should stop doing if you want to make sure you have killer Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Take a look at our list of faux pas and make sure to steer clear of these big mistakes.

1. Stop keyword stuffing
While it’s still important to include relevant search terms whenever it makes sense, remember that you’re writing for people, not just search engines. If your writing is filled with keywords just to attract search engines, will most likely turn off any real readers that make it to that content hoping for something of value. Make sure to avoid throwing in a phrase over and over again when it’s unnecessary, even if it’s a phrase you want to rank for. Google can penalize sites that have an inappropriately high number of keywords.

2. Don’t let your SEO expert run amok
If you have an agency, SEO expert or someone else, work closely with them on your SEO goals. Research SEO best practices, and make sure your expert is accountable.

Just as Google sometimes penalizes keyword stuffing, having too many low-quality backlinks get you in trouble with the search engine. Don’t outsource your SEO work without knowing what they are up to. A smaller amount of relevant, high-quality links leading to your site is better than many low-quality, irrelevant ones, so make sure your entire team is aware of what you’re looking for.

(And if you do end up with a Google penalty, check out our post on that topic to figure out how to bounce back).

3. Don’t steal content
Don’t scrape content, and use it word-for-word on your site or blog. Reposting other people’s information is tempting, but it’s important to both get permission and give source credit. And you’ll want to go beyond simply giving credit where credit is due. Add extra value to the information by adding your own angle to the information or sharing another point of view that provides context for your audience.

One shining example is the Muck Rack Daily, which includes masterful curation of trending topics among journalists, including tweet-worthy stories and what others are saying about them. The editors clearly put a ton of thought into creating a daily email that’s timely, relevant, crisp, and with a great narrative flow. 

4. Don’t use clickbait headlines
It may be tempting to ask cliffhanger questions in headlines in hopes that people will click through, or to even write misleading headlines that may draw more attention to your content. But although these types of headlines may work in the short term, they don’t build long-term trust with your readers, who are less likely to return if they don’t get value from what you post.

For some examples of clickbait headlines – with an explanation of what they cover intact – check out the twitter profiles, Saved You A Click and HuffPo Spoilers, and learn what not to do!

5. Stop being complacent
With all of the information on SEO best practices and strategies, updates and changes, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. Still, the worst move you can make is to become too complacent and do nothing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just take a look at our step-by-step beginner’s guide to SEO to get started.

Your turn
Have you engaged in any of the practices listed above and learned a hard lesson? What business success have you found as a result of newfound practices? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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