Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most powerful processes you can adopt to improve your ranking and increase traffic to your site, which ideally leads to more conversions. The importance of SEO is reinforced by the fact that search engines are still the most popular tools for finding content.
The majority of HR professionals use search engines to find content relevant to their jobs every day, according to a survey conducted earlier this summer by Recruiter.com and my company, Come Recommended. Does your content rank high enough to catch the attention from your HR audience?
Boosting SEO is crucial to getting your content in front of your target audience. They certainly won't find you if your content is buried on the ninth page of their Google search results. You need a plan, but it's difficult to strategize when you aren't aware of the mistakes you're currently making.
Check out these common mistakes in content creation, along with advice on how to improve your content ranking by adopting top SEO practices:
Mistake No. 1: Failing to Use Analytics
It's difficult to develop an impactful strategy when you don't know what works and what doesn't. More importantly, you need to have a clear definition of what it means for your strategy to be "effective," and you need to set specific goals.
Let's look at keywords and phrases. Of course, you want to know which ones drive traffic to your site, but tracking audience engagement doesn't stop there. Traffic isn't your only goal. Traffic won't help you reach your growth objectives unless it leads to conversions.
Tip: To start, establish your conversion goals and know how you define "success." Once you do this, you can start measuring everything.
Tools like Google Analytics can help you understand which phrases and words increase traffic, but more importantly, they can also help you see which ones convert. Set up conversion tracking and use weekly reporting to adjust your strategy accordingly. This knowledge will help you optimize your site and give you a better understanding of which efforts are worth focusing on.
Mistake No. 2: Lacking Unique Meta Descriptions and Title Tags
Title tags are often used on search engine results pages to display preview snippets of content. Your website name and company name don't necessarily need to be on every page title throughout your website.
Searchers also look at what each page contains when sifting through their search results. Meta descriptions are used to display a short description of the Web page. The worst mistake you can make is to completely omit these descriptions, but you also need to know how to optimize them.
Tip: For title tags, make each title descriptive and unique. When your page titles are shared, you can clearly show the topic on the page. Each page should be specifically labelled and include your primary keywords near the beginning of the title.
Place your brand name at the end of the title if you think the brand is less relevant than the keywords. If you have a well-known brand, on the other hand, you should incorporate it near the beginning of the title.
Keep titles short (50-60 characters). Ensure they are readable and make emotional impacts that compel your target audience to read your page.
The meta description gives you 160 characters to be persuasive and descriptive. Find a balance in how you use keywords here. You don't want to overstuff the meta description with them, but you do want to work them in naturally. While it has no effect on your SEO, keywords in meta descriptions are bolded for users who see them in their search results, which will certainly draw their attention.
Consider the user experience when writing title tags and meta descriptions. What would make you click the page? For example, an HR manager searching for talent management software that features video interviewing would probably want to see an informative title and a description that is readable and speaks to their problems. They would not want to see a mash of keywords. That looks lazy and diminishes your credibility.
Mistake No. 3: Relying on Bad Anchor Text
Anchor text links are what search engine crawlers seek out. They use links as indicators of the page's theme and sort out how to rank them.
Those who use "click here," "this post," or other vague phrases as anchor text are missing an opportunity. This text doesn't give your audience or the Google spiders any idea of what type of content you are linking to.
Tip: Include keywords in your anchor links. If you're linking to an internal page within your site, use descriptive text. Let's say you want to direct your audience to read your blog post on employee engagement tools. Given that your keywords are "employee engagement," you should incorporate that phrase in your anchor text.
For example, your sentence may read like this, with the underlined words indicating a link: "Many employers are struggling with high turnover. Tools for improving employee engagement are crucial to positively impacting retention rates and maintaining a productive workforce."
Mistake No. 4: Writing Bad Content
If your content is bad, you will never earn respect from or build trust with your target audience. Others in your industry won't link to you, and your ranking will suffer.
The truth is that SEO can only go so far. Optimized sites won't earn you the readership and traffic you aim for if your content is dull, broad, and of a low quality.
Tip: This one is simple: Write great content! Think about what your audience needs and provide them with educational resources they will trust and want to share.
Moz's 2015 Search Engine Ranking Factors survey found that, based on Google's broad ranking algorithm, "uniqueness of the content on the page" has the strongest influence on ranking for agnostic features (e.g., non-keywords, non-link metrics).
Your content should be unique, relevant, and insightful. Research what your target audience wants, and create great content around their needs for link building. When you're targeting HR professionals, look for the types of content they want and the formats they prefer.
Our survey found that emerging trends, "how-to" articles, and case studies are the top three most popular content types for HR pros, and their favorite content formats are online articles, e-newsletters, and video. Use your market research to guide your overall content marketing strategy.
Mistake No. 5: Committing Keyword Fails
Common keyword fails include using broad terms, not researching relevant terms and phrases, and keyword stuffing to manipulate a site's ranking. These errors can hurt your brand reputation for a long time, and nobody wants to spend time attempting to regain their authority in an industry.
Tip: Choose specific keywords that reflect what your audience types into search engines but also match the purpose of your site and and the product/services you offer. What terms and phrases do your users rely on to surface relevant content?
Once you find out what your audience is searching for, incorporate the proper keywords naturally into your content, anchor text, headlines, title tags, and meta descriptions. This will lead to increased traffic and take you one step closer to meeting your conversion goals.
How are you improving your SEO efforts?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder and president of Come Recommended.