The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Sticking with an old list
Assuming the same keywords still work like they did a year ago is a major mistake because it may be time to revamp what keywords bring you the most leads and traffic. Keywords are becoming more specific and localized, so be sure that your strategy reflects these changes.
Not considering long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords are becoming more important in the way people search the internet for products and services. Instead of typing in one or two keywords, web searchers are using phrases. Adjust your keyword practice to include how people are actually searching for your product or service by looking for long-tail keywords through Google keywords.
Forgetting to close the loop
Even the best keywords are wasted if you don't have a targeted plan for capturing those customers. Simply redirecting the user to your home page or contact page is useless. Instead, you should set up separate landing pages with specific call to actions that provide instant value to the user.
Not writing for your readers
You should always write primarily for your readers. If you focus too much on placing keywords into your blog posts, articles, and social media posts, it will be obvious. Awhile back, Google started penalizing the practice of keyword stuffing, but some people still do it. Keywords are still important, but they should be used naturally in the text. The reader shouldn't even be aware of them.
Overusing your core keyword
Overusing your core keyword is a big no-no. It eats up great opportunities to target secondary keywords and makes you look "spammy" to search engines. User experience is also impacted as readability becomes impaired when the core keyword is mentioned too much. We can get so caught up in keyword targeting that we forget how frequently we're using a specific one. It becomes unnatural at some point.
Not researching changes to SEO standards
When you don't keep up with the basic updates provided by Google, you are making a huge mistake and costing yourself ranking results. It's easy to stay up to date by subscribing to Google's SEO update notifications so you can learn what you must change as the company refines its ranking policies.
Keyword stuffing your website
Keyword stuffing can hold back content marketing efforts. Keyword stuffing is the practice of stuffing as many relevant and not-so-relevant keywords onto your webpage in an attempt to drive traffic by ranking for as many keywords as possible. Now Google's algorithms are smart enough to notice this, and they will actually de-rank and penalize your site for engaging in keyword stuffing.
Not paying attention to spelling and grammar
Grammar and spelling were never more important than they are today. Your marketing copy is the first impression that most potential customers will have of your company, but now it is also a quality signal to Google on how authoritative your domain is. You can research keywords and write new landing pages, but if your spelling and grammar aren't on point, you aren't going to get very far.
Failing to consider searcher intent
Traffic is not equally valuable. Search referrals from users with intent to buy are more valuable than referrals for informational searches, which is why it's important to consider both traffic levels and conversion rates. If a page attracts a lot of traffic but low conversions, think about whether it's properly keyword optimized for search queries that demonstrate an intent to make a purchase.
Focusing only on search volume
A keyword that has 20,000 monthly searches might sound good, but only if that is a keyword with buyer intent, rather than an information-based keyword. Buyer intent keywords, even those with much smaller monthly search volumes, are much more valuable when it comes to SEO and pay-per-click. Put yourself in the shoes of your target customer and determine what they are likely to type into Google.
Not using tools
Successful search-engine optimization starts with keyword research. Keyword research will tell you what to write about and what to optimize each page of your website for. The only way to correctly generate keywords is to use tools such as SEMrush or Spyfu. These tools allow you to look at your competitors and your existing rankings. Using tool intelligence will maximize your rankings.