SEO Keywords

SEO Keywords: 5 Mistakes That Are Costing You Traffic (And How To Fix Them)

How important are backlinks, really? What about on-page SEO and site architecture? LSI? (that’s latent semantic indexing—if you’re unfamiliar)

If you’ve ever wondered if your SEO consultant is leading you true, then John Doherty has some answers for you. John is the CEO and founder of Credo, a site that matches businesses with verified, reputable SEO and digital marketing providers.

John started Credo in the spring of 2013. Today, the company earns $25k MRR in subscription fees and commissions thanks to its reputation for reliability in the SEO world.

We asked him to share some of the most common SEO mistakes he’s seen—and how to fix them.

(Note: After you implement John’s advice below, you should start getting a lot more organic traffic. If you want to turn that traffic into leads for your business, make sure you try Fieldboom)

5 SEO Mistakes and Misconceptions That’s Costing Your Business Thousands

1. Does Link Building Matter?

Misconception: Social media has replaced the need for link building.

Reality: Link building is still the #1 factor in your Google rankings.

With the prevalence of social media for sharing and upvoting content, many creators are tempted to abandon the quest for backlinks altogether.

But social media isn’t a replacement for backlinks.

“You absolutely still need links,” John emphasized. “For Google, backlinks are still the strongest part of the algorithm.”

While social media is also a useful tool, he says that there’s no proven causation between success on social media and improved organic search rankings.

So, if you want to earn quality backlinks (instead of using risky black hat SEO), how do you do it?

Create Master Articles on Subjects People Care About

When John is ready to use his “secret-sauce marketing strategy,” he focuses on one market at a time.

For example, he used this strategy to be seen as an expert on real estate marketing.

Guide to Real Estate Marketing Funnel SEO mistakes

Here’s the strategy he uses every time:

  • Offer solutions for a small set of pain points in your chosen space
  • Select keywords that attract traffic for those pain points
  • Write 6-10 long-form articles on the chosen subject
  • Upcycle the articles into an “Ultimate Guide” of around 8k-10k words in length
  • Offer non-gated access to the guide on your site, but also offer it in downloadable PDF form

John says the content should be “long-form, high-quality stuff that no one else has really written before.”

In other words, you can’t just recycle what’s already on the internet. Going above and beyond in your research and adding new insights to your work will make it worth reading and sharing.

As a result, you’ll build traffic to both the blog posts and the guide.

Leverage Subject Authority to Earn Backlinks

Once you’ve authored an “ultimate guide,” people will start to see you as an authority.

This is where John’s promotional strategy kicks in.

Once the ultimate guide is out, John’s PR consultant does outreach to popular news outlets. She helps him understand which angles to pitch so he’ll land more opportunities to post and be a guest (and thus, more quality backlinks).

The result? Guest posts and features on sites such as The Next Web and Entrepreneur.

John Doherty Entrepreneur SEO mistakes

John does podcast outreach himself. Many podcasters would be more than happy to have you appear on their show if you have useful insights to share with their audiences.

John Doherty Podcast SEO mistakes

He also runs FB ads and drives traffic to download the free guides he creates.

Once the promotional cycle winds down, he buckles down on another topic that will boost business.

2. How Often Should I Refresh Homepage Content?

Misconception: Refreshing homepage or landing page content every few months improves ranking.

Reality: Refreshing this content every few months does nothing but tank your conversion rates.

“I’ve talked to companies that are literally refreshing the content on their homepage every three months just because they’ve been told they should do it,” John recounted.

In other words, they’re sacrificing time, money, and optimization in the hopes of better search rankings. Meanwhile, it’s an uphill battle to secure high conversion rates.

That said, “refreshing, updating, and adding to editorial content can definitely help with traffic to those pages.”

Focus on Quality and Outreach

So what should you do instead of refreshing your landing page content?

  • Consistently publish quality work
  • Do outreach to build backlinks

“Over time,” he explained, “that really adds up in your rankings.” More so than just changing content all the time.

Following John’s strategy for content creation + promotion (detailed above) will help you establish a better organic presence.

3. Should I Use Long-Tail Keywords to Target Clients?

Misconception: 2-3 pages filled with long-tail keywords is enough… for my entire site.

Reality: Ideally, you should have one page for each long-tail keyword you want to target.

Want to dominate organic search results? John says that using long-tail keywords is the key: “It’s super fundamental, but most people just don’t do it. Build out specific pages to target your ideal customers.

It’s advice he tested himself before sharing with others. When he rolled out new pages in a massive 2017 SEO update, he tripled his traffic in two weeks using long-tail keywords.

John Doherty Credo Traffic Screenshot: SEO mistakes

Those new pages targeted long-tail keywords that had two characteristics: low competition and high conversion rates.

Low competition, high conversion

For example, if he wants to target companies looking for help with Facebook ad optimization, he would build out three pages:

  • Facebook ads consultants
  • Facebook ads agencies
  • Facebook ads companies

Doing so captures a larger share of the traffic for Credo’s SEO experts. He used this strategy to dominate search results for “B2C Facebook ads consultants.”

Credo Google Results B2C Facebook Ads: SEO mistakes

As you can see, his “Top 20 B2C Facebook Ads Companies” page grabbed the first search result, followed closely by two other Credo pages.

Credo B2C FB Ads Companies Page: SEO mistakes

If you want to implement a similar strategy, John emphasizes that you need to look at search volume for the keywords you’re considering.

If it doesn’t get traffic, don’t waste your time building the page.

Over time, he used this strategy to grow his website from 250 pages to over 3,000.

4. Usage Metrics: How Important Is Bounce Rate?

Misconception: Shaving milliseconds off your bounce rate will boost SEO.

Reality: Usage metrics matter, but not as much as you’d think.

Yes, Google does consider usage metrics like time on site and bounce rate. But worrying about your bounce rate before settling on a solid SEO foundation is a bad plan.

Build a solid SEO foundation before worrying about bounce rate

“That’s not going to move the needle for you,” John explained. “If you don’t have pages that match intent, you can do all you want and people are still going to bounce.”

He recommends focusing on the basics—like building pages with long-tail keywords and making sure those keywords are being used by your target audience.

Improved bounce rates often come naturally if the rest of your SEO and marketing plan is good.

5. What’s With On-page SEO?

Misconception: On-page SEO doesn’t matter/you can’t optimize it enough to increase traffic.

Reality: It’s nuanced, but onpage SEO factors do matter.

Some “on-page” SEO techniques really don’t matter. For example, “LSI (latent semantic indexing) makes my stomach curdle,” John lamented. He’s not a believer.

But other techniques do matter. In fact, fixing on-page SEO is one of the first services John provides to his clients.

Worthwhile tweaks for on-page SEO

Here are some SEO techniques that John believes are worthwhile:

  • Internal linking
  • Good site architecture/navigation
  • Proper use of HTML and headers

In other words, you should make it easy for Google’s bots to crawl your site and feature your content.

Final Thoughts

“The thing I always tell people is there is no silver bullet with SEO,” he added.

It’s all in the execution over time. You need to be working on it every day, every week, every month.”

(Note: After you implement John’s advice below, you should start getting a lot more organic traffic. If you want to turn that traffic into leads for your business, make sure you try Fieldboom)