As a professional writer, you want your portfolio of work to reach as many people as possible. And Google is one of the best ways to reach that goal. How? It all starts with your SEO strategy.
In this article, we're going to break down what SEO is, why you need a strategy, and common mistakes that could be holding back your content from the success it deserves.
What is SEO and Why Do You Need an SEO Strategy?
If you are new to SEO, this can be a complicated question.
But let's break it down.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the algorithm that search engines like Google use to rank content on search engine results pages.
This is the algorithm that determines what Google shows you when you search for things like "best things to do in Las Vegas" or "how to start a side hustle". And most of the time, Google delivers high-quality results that actually answer your question – not annoying ads or obscure, dark-web articles.
And Google can deliver these accurate results to their users because of…you got it…SEO.
When you know how to use it effectively, an SEO strategy can do this for your brand, essentially placing your writing in front of the right people.
How to Use SEO
SEO starts with a keyword. This is a word or phrase that people use in their search query to find answers to their questions.
Once you have a keyword for your article, it's time to use is. But you don't want to "keyword stuff" – a practice where you just write the keyword as many times as possible in your article. This raises red flags with Google's search bots and could penalize your content.
Instead, strategically place the keyword in your article enough times so that Google can identify that it's truly about that topic. And there are key places where you should use your keyword to get the best results for your strategy. These include…
- Within your first paragraph.
- In your <h2> and <h3> headings.
- 3-5 times for a 400-word article.
- In your URL.
- In your meta description.
- In the alt text of your images.
So that's the basics of an SEO strategy..
But an effective strategy goes beyond this simple overview.
During my time working with brands on their content writing strategy, I've seen strategies that work well to reach SEO goals…but I've also seen some mistakes.
And I want to help you avoid these mistakes in your own strategy.
With that in mind, let's discuss the 5 most common mistakes I see in SEO that could actually sabotage your strategy.
5 Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your SEO Strategy
Mistake #1: Not Having a Strategy
Some people approach their SEO like it's the wild west – shoot first, ask questions later.
And while I'm glad that you're using SEO in the first place, you can't just go after it half-cocked, without a strategy.
Take the time to research what keywords work for your niche and industry. Invest in an SEO tool that will tell you how many people search for each keyword every month and what the SEO difficulty is for said keyword. Can you reasonably rank for that keyword or would it be better to go for "low-hanging fruit" that does not have much competition?
Now, plan out your writing calendar to ensure you use the right keywords in the right content.
Mistake #2: Not Using Links
An important factor in Google's search algorithm is the links you have within your article. We refer to them as internal and external links. Internal links link to other articles on your website. External links link to other websites.
Internal links are important because they show that all of your articles and content are interconnected and related. It also shows Google what your current article is about.
External links should first and foremost go to high-authority sites – sites that Google has already deemed authoritative and trustworthy. When Google finds these kinds of links in your article, it is apt to trust your article and entire website portfolio even more.
Mistake #3: Not Having Unique Title Tags and Meta Description
It can be tempting to simply copy and paste content – especially if you have similar pages. But this is not going to do you any favors on Google.
Take the time to vary your titles and meta descriptions enough to make your content truly unique for your visitors, as well as the Google bots that examine your site.
Mistake #4: Not Being Natural
Sometimes writers and brands focus so much on SEO that their writing feels somewhat robotic and staged. Instead of writing natural, helpful content, they stuff awkward keywords into their paragraphs
Some of this is just basic common sense. Ask yourself, is this how I would write normally? If not, play around with your wording and find a way to use the keyword that does not interrupt the flow of your writing.
If you can't find a way to fit your keyword into your content in a way that sounds natural and correct, then take another look at your strategy. Find another keyword that better fits your content and writing style.
Remember, your priority should be to write for people first and Google second.
Mistake #5: Settling for a Clunky Website
At the end of the day, SEO strategy is about more than just your written content. Google also takes your loading speed and mobile-friendliness into account – after all, they don't want to send people to a slow, clunky website.
Conduct a speed test to find out where your site stands. If you find your site to be on the slow side, look for ways to make it faster and more mobile-friendly. This could involve choosing a different theme, getting rid of slow-loading ads, or cutting back on high-resolution videos and images that take a while to load.
Of course, if you use Journo Portfolio, they will take care of a lot of this background stuff for you, ensuring your site runs smoothly and is ready for mobile.
There you have it – 5 simple mistakes that people make in their SEO strategy that you can easily avoid.