Two Common SEO Mistakes Burying Your Brand on Google: Keywords and Backlinks

Are we using the latest technology to its fullest potential?

That is the question every brand’s marketing team wonders on a daily basis. To capture attention in a highly stimulating digital environment, we have to constantly prepare for the next generation of innovation and user experience.

Ultimately, it’s a competition. You want the target audience to find, engage with, and purchase from you before someone else. But this desire to standout leads many brands to settle for short-term hacks that may actually have the reverse effect.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of those tactics that perfectly falls into this category.

Every marketer knows that optimizing SEO is essential – but very few actually know what to do about it. The problem stems from two things:

  1. A misunderstanding of SEO, how it works, and most importantly, ways that it can work against you if implemented incorrectly.
  2. Over-reliance on buzzwords like image tags, link structure, and page optimization instead of mastering the basics.

SEO is supplemental. The goal should be to produce excellent work backed by smart, creative, and relevant tactics. Ignoring the latter is what ultimately buries many brands in search engine rankings.

Here’s the good news: In many cases, all you have to do is correct a few simple mistakes to start maximizing your results.

Keyword Stuffing

One common shortcoming of SEO strategies is a heavy focus on improving content rank over the user’s needs. SEO is not meant to bring mass traffic to your website. Instead, the goal is to match relevant content with people who are interested in your products or services. This is ideally where keywords come in.

Keywords are meant to help someone find a specific topic. If I type  “Washington DC marketing agency” into Google, the search results will hopefully pair me with a website that has the information I need.

However, this is where brands run into trouble. You might think putting words like marketing, agency, DC, and strategy as many times as possible into a website will push your page ahead of others. These keywords may help to an extent. But we have to remember the ultimate goal: improving the digital customer experience. Reading a blog or landing page jammed with the same couple of words is annoying and disengaging. Search Engines recognize this and mark it as “keyword stuffing.”

So, what can you do to strategically leverage keywords without negatively impacting search engines? Try using the formula below.

Keyword Density Formula

Obviously, a little common sense goes a long way. If you start to feel like a word is being overused, chances are, it probably is.

You should also mix in long-tail keywords and synonyms to lower your total word usage. An easy workaround is command + f, allowing you to search and see how many times a specific word is used.

The trick is to get creative. Google is known to put more value on words at the start of the headline. Another option is to mix keywords into the page’s URL, meta-title and description tags, and somewhere in the first 100 words.

2. Relying on Backlinks

Backlinks are the heart of an effective SEO strategy.

It’s like a vote of confidence for your content. The more votes you receive, the better the outcome. But marketers need to be aware of the difference between high-quality links versus low-quality links.

Aggressively building out phony, broken, or unrelated links, will significantly damage your SEO reputation.

As Brian Sutter of Forbes said, “Sadly, much of the content being published is simply not worth linking to. 75% of it is getting zero inbound links. So forget the ‘more is better’ approach to content if you want links. Go with quality instead. Your content will generate links only if it is truly exceptional—’remarkable,’ as Seth Godin would say.”

Again, just like with keywords, quality is everything.

It might be difficult to accept, but most people outside your niche probably don’t know who you are. That doesn’t mean marketers shouldn’t position their brand to increase high-quality backlinks.

To build topical authority and targeted website traffic, write competitive content aimed at directly answering your ideal users questions, conduct original case studies and research, comment on other relevant blog posts, and leverage relationships you have with other brands.

It isn’t going to happen overnight. But following these strategies will begin to pay off if you remain consistent.

This is a Great Opportunity to Optimize

The awareness of how to build effective digital strategies has risen significantly as society continues shifting largely to virtual formats. However, brands still suffer from typical pitfalls because not enough attention goes into learning, adapting, and preparing for these shifts.

Luckily, there has never been a better time to step back and reevaluate your SEO. If you can start now, before the landscape evolves into what’s next, your brand will hold a significant headstart over everyone else.

Jonah Malin's headshot

Jonah Malin

Jonah Malin is a creative marketing professional, crafting story-driven content to execute a diverse range of digital, print, and social deliverables.

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