By Bryan Driscoll, founder of Think Big Marketing 

Instead of just diving in, let’s take a step back and demystify SEO for a second. When it comes to SEO strategy, there’s really only one constant. If Google doesn’t know who you are, no one does. So, you need to make sure that Google knows and values your brand, site and content. Jut how do you do that?

Well, your placement on search engine results pages (or SERPs) comes down to a variety of factors, but they all revolve around a common theme: being useful to the user. And that’s not by accident. Google understands that people will only continue to use its service if it’s the best search engine in town -; meaning that its continued relevance relies on its ability to always provide the right answer.

That’s where you come in. If you want to rank higher on SERPs, you need to ensure that your approach to SEO revolves around addressing pain points and optimizing the consumer’s experience. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common SEO mistakes that hold businesses back.

Sound good? Great, let’s get started.

1. Ignoring Mobile Users

Even if you’ve been involved in the digital marketing world for some time now, there’s a chance that you’re not paying enough attention to the experience of your average mobile user. It’s worth pointing out that your carefully curated desktop-centric website can be an absolute disaster on a mobile device if you’re not careful.

With half of all internet users navigating sites on mobile devices, this isn’t just an SEO issue. It’s a conversions issue, and worth examining for any business owner.

Google has made it clear that it is more focused on mobile than ever before. But don’t just take my word for it. It has made this case itself over the years. Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly will rank lower than sites that are, placement on SERPs is based on mobile-first indexing -; you get the idea.

If you want an SEO strategy that actually works, make sure you’re taking care of your mobile users just as much as (if not more than) your desktop users.

2. Focusing on the Wrong Keywords

Keywords will always have a special place in the world of SEO. Unfortunately, some small businesses have developed bad keyword habits over the years. Optimizing certain web pages for specific keywords is a relic of the old-school SEO era. It’s a relic because it’s become obsolete.

In today’s world, people can tell when you are writing content just to stuff keywords instead of writing to provide valuable content. Doing this nearly guarantees that your users will have a poor experience on your site, which will drastically drop those conversion rates. The real tragedy is that it doesn’t even work anymore. Google’s algorithm is particularly clever, and there’s no amount of clever keyword wizardry that’s going to outsmart it.

That’s why you shouldn’t even try. Instead, focus on the need your site’s content can address and focus on keyword topics and long-tail keywords (three words or more) that will be relevant to your audience. It’s important to keep the end user in mind and always provide top-quality content and information.

3. Forgetting About Evergreen Content

Learning to extend the lifespan of your content is one of the first steps toward becoming an online authority. If you’ve had a blog for one to two years, you probably have at least five to ten pieces of content that could be repurposed.

There’s plenty of content that’s just a few quick edits away from an indefinite lifespan. And the longer your content is relevant, the more useful it’ll be on your blog.

My advice? Find your highest performing site pages and blog posts, and do some keyword research. By doing this, you’ll be able to identify what components your content needs before it’s truly evergreen.

Conclusion

Listen, I understand that creating (and executing) an SEO strategy can be a bit stressful. But the truth is, if you start with the right focus in mind, it’s only a matter of time before you learn to communicate with Google (and your audience) in an authentic, effective way.

Start by paying special attention to the members of your audience who use mobile devices. Learn to focus on the right keywords and keyword phrases when creating content. Recycle your content and take some time to leverage local SEO. And above all else, never compromise your UX.

Once you’re able to do all that, you’ll be able to increase your SERPs ranking and execute the kind of SEO strategy you’ve always dreamed of.

Bryan Driscoll is the founder of Think Big Marketing & an SEO expert helping businesses grow their brand, improve Google rankings, and generate more sales. 

Published on: Feb 20, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.