I love sharing articles that I believe have a lot of value for my social followers and email contacts. I’ve never been one to keep the “good ideas” all to myself. So when I came across a really great article from one of my favorite sources, my first instinct was to share it directly.
On later reflection, however, I decided that the article would be more impactful if I shared how it connected to some real work I was doing for one of my clients, PainPathways Magazine. PainPathways is a national pain management magazine with a website containing content from their print edition and “featured” content created by me.
The article, from Marketing Profs, covered eight SEO mistakes that people make when creating online content. I’m a big believer that online writing has to be good writing first but also have the right SEO baked into it. It isn’t that hard to do, but it’s easy to make mistakes. The folks at Marketing Profs know that and did a great job outlining these simple mistakes (and explaining how they impact your ranking in search).
I always strive to avoid SEO mistakes – especially the ones mentioned in this article. So here’s how I avoided the ones highlighted by Marketing Profs in a recent blog article for PainPathways. The article was about online counseling – and here’s a link in case you want to see it online.
Content too short
Problem: Google wants your content to meet the needs of the searcher. Longer content tends to do a better job at this. As a result, Google tends to “reward” sites that produce longer content with a higher search engine ranking. A recent study even confirmed that sites with greater word counts were more likely to dominate the first three spots.
My solution: For more complex subjects where a searcher might be looking for more detail, I always plan for a longer article. For this piece, we had an interview with one online counseling provider – plus were providing information on several others and the process in general. So my word count was 1211.
Lack of imagery or design elements
Problem: Pages with all text and no images are…well, boring. Readers will not favor your content over your competitors’; thus, Google will feel the same. Any design elements that break up text keeps readers on the page longer. More time on the page means Google will likely boost the content’s rank due to a concept called dwell time.
My solution: Aside from a featured image at the top of my blog, I like to include at least one additional image that fits with the article’s content. In this case, I added an image of a woman using a phone, which fit with using mobile apps for online counseling. I also chose to present some of my content in the form of a chart graphic I created using a free tool called Canva. It was easy to create and made my page more visually interesting. Here is is!
Misspellings and content errors
Problem: While not technically SEO issues, when you have misspelled words, poor grammar or bad links it impacts your credibility. Users will quickly leave your page and other sites will be less likely to link to you (both of with DO impact SEO).
My resolution: This one is easy – I use Grammarly! Grammarly is a free tool you install on your computer and it provides grammar and spellcheck for anything you write within any platform (social media, email, WordPress, etc.). I also double check any link I add to my article to make sure that when I click, it is going to the right place. This article had several copy links as well as image links – definitely worth taking a few minutes to check.
Lack of content breaks
Problem: Readers have the attention span of a gnat! So it’s important to break up your content into smaller chunks to keep them engaged and on the page (which helps that dwell time).
My resolution: I use subheadings, bulleted lists and even indented quotes as a means of making the text varied and create more bite-sized portions for my content. It’s also a good SEO trick to incorporate your keyword phrase and any LSIs into those subheadings.
Long paragraphs of text
Problem: Which would you prefer – long paragraphs of text or short ones? The choice is obvious. Very similar to content breaks, long paragraphs are hard on the eyes and don’t keep readers engaged with your content.
My resolution: I tend to keep my paragraphs short – usually no more than three to five sentences. I may have several paragraphs within a section (under a subheading). For my article, this helped with the scanability of the content and gave some dramatic effect to some of my more impactful statements.
No outbound links
Problem: If you are the only one doing the talking in your article, how does your reader know you are credible? Without outbound links, the reader has nothing to show them that you know what you’re talking about.
My resolution: Google rewards sites in search that use outbound links because they recognize that the content is well-researched if it is linking to other sources. In my article, I started off citing mental health statistics from Mental Health America. This set the stage for the rest of my article. Then I referenced several providers of online counseling and linked the reader directly to their sites.
Lack of promotion
Problem: “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work with blog content. There is a reason SEO, and your number one spot ranking takes a while. You have to wait for people to come to your blog and give off positive SEO-ranking signals, such as links and social shares.
My resolution: For this client and all of my clients, we always share their blogs on social media. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and event Instagram get a post with a link to the content. For other clients, I also push it out through email marketing and even LinkedIn. By asking a question in my Facebook status, I generated some discussion around online counseling from those in favor and against it to peak interest so folks will click through and read my article.
No meta-optimization and CTAs
Problem: Don’t use the default options for your content’s meta information (titles and descriptions). You should always optimize the content title and description. If you don’t, Google will use your header and the first two sentences, by default. Remember that if you can get a user’s attention when your content shows up in a search result, they are more likely to click on it.
My resolution: For starters, our clients use the SEO by Yoast plugin, which walks you through creating a custom meta title and description. The title should be engaging…attention-getting. The description should be impactful and succinctly tell the reader what your article is about. For my blog, I also wanted a CTA (call to action) to “learn about online counseling” to motivate them even more to move their mouse and click!
Always make sure your writing is good quality, interesting and achieves a goal (educate, entertain, solve a problem) …but don’t forget about SEO! Avoid the commons SEO mistakes and you should start to see your articles get a better ranking with Google. More questions about anything I’ve covered? Don’t hesitate to reach out.