Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complicated subject. Like everything else in the world, it's constantly evolving.
And in the world of SEO, Google is still king. Which means that we're always at the mercy of the next algorithm change.
People who have been online for a while can tell you horror stories of losing a tremendous amount of traffic overnight as the latest “Google slap” significantly affected their rankings.
That's why it's important to understand how SEO has changed lately, and where it might be going.
And as much as SEO has changed over the years, there are still people who are thinking and acting like the same rules apply as five years ago.
That simply isn't the case.
Here's one of the biggest mistakes people continue to make when it comes to SEO:
Keywords used to be … well, key. But then content became king.
You still need keywords. Two mistakes that novices and “experts” alike continue to make? Stuffing keywords and targeting the wrong words.
Stuffing aims to trick the engines by using an exact keyword phrase in an unnatural frequency. Observe:
“Our car polish is the best car polish on the car polish market. If you’re looking for the best car polish, then look no further than our best car polish. It’s the best car polish money can buy!”
Horrible. Do that, and the engines will penalize you. It sounds stilted, it offers nothing of value and it’s obviously meant to game the system.
Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) to analyze your page's intent and determine keyword variations. Trust it. Use naturally occurring synonyms and alternatives instead of word-for-word repetition.
Have a keyword focus, but don’t force it. Include the keyword and its variations in the title, opening paragraph, meta-description and throughout the body of the text (within reason).
Use the Keyword Planner to identify words that pop in searches, but resist the automatic urge to go after those with the largest search volume. Instead, find the relevant long tail keywords (three- to four-word phrases that make up the bulk of searches) with a decent volume. Use Trends to determine what’s popular and what’s so last year.
A little homework goes a long way.
You can read about more SEO mistakes you might be making at Entrepreneur.