Published: 06 March 2017
Whenever I’ve been required to give a Content Audit, or simply asked to “check out” a blog and tell people what I think, there’s one big mistake I find more often than any other.
Rather than getting into a big pre-amble and burying the lead, lets just get into it. Here’s (in my experience) the most common blogging mistake: Targeting the same keyword over and over and over again, across multiple blog posts.
For example, whenever you upload a blog post, chances are you're doing so because you want to rank for a certain keyword. You'll make sure that this keyword is present in your Title, URL, H1 and possibly H2, Meta Titles & Descriptions, which are all good practices. However its not a good idea to repeatedly do this for the same keyword. In fact, doing so actually harms your SEO, rather than help it.
Read on and we'll explore why this happens, and what best practices you can implement to improve.
Who Typically Makes this Mistake?
Years ago, during my first fledgling marketing role, I did. It’s a very easy mistake to make, so don’t be disheartened. A little education and tweaking can go a long way.
I find this issue most often with small businesses who are looking to improve their SEO. They’ve gotten the idea that they need a blog (great), but not quite sure why, or what the best practices are (not so great).
In fact, after I’ve usually looked over a blog, about 70% of the time I’m asked the question “Why do we need a blog in the first place?”
That usually tells me that they’re not seeing any results from their blog posts (no rise in rankings, no rise in traffic, but a whole lot of time and money spent), which means we need to go back to basics.
Think About Why You’ve Got a Blog in the First Place
There are two big reasons a business might need a blog:
1. To help rank in search results for questions or queries when a potential customer makes an online search
2. To create exceptionally interesting or useful content designed to be shared online organically, without relying on searches (think Buzzfeed, online news, influencer thought pieces)
Most businesses lean toward the former, and that’s usually the best choice for them.
Let’s say you sell pens – the best, most elegant and fanciest fountain pens. Your blog might feature 15 posts about “the best fountain pens”, all talking about how great they are, in the hopes that a reader might be inspired to buy one from you.
Sound logic. So why doesn’t it work?
Even if you’ve got a top-notch writer who is an expert on fountain pens, his talents and passion are sadly going to go to waste.
The problem is, by creating 15 blog posts all targeting “the best fountain pens” as a keyword, you’re hurting your SEO, making your content rank lower, and limiting the number of readers who will actually see your content. This means less traffic, which ultimately means less pens sold.
Plus your expert writer will probably be sad no-ones reading his wonderfully passionate articles about pens.
There’s a very simple reason as to why this happens: When someone searches for “the best fountain pens”, Google’s robots crawl the web and bring back the best, most-relevant results. In most cases, it aims to bring back the single best result. As you know, you’ll be fighting against other pen selling websites to rank highest for that keyword and be considered that single best result.
Here’s the thing: If you’ve got multiple pages all targeting the same keyword, Google simply doesn’t know which one you’d prefer to rank highest, and so decides not to rank any of them. Remember that Google’s robots are looking for the single best result, and your site is giving them 15.
In other words, you’re not just competing against other websites, you’re competing against yourself.
This is known as Keyword Cannibalisation, and should be avoided.
Without a doubt, Keyword Cannibalisation is the most common blog mistake I’ve come across, but fortunately it is one of the simplest to avoid.
Defeating Keyword Cannibalisation is simple, but will require a rethink of your blog/content strategy going forward. Simply put, you need to get more specific and varied with your targeted keywords, and eliminate the possibility that you’ll compete against yourself again.
Commit to some in-depth Keyword Research, discover more specific questions or searches that people are searching for, and tailor each individual piece of content to be the single best answer to that query. For example, you might find people are searching for the "best fountain pen for retirement present", "best fountain pen for secondary school", or "best fountain pen for £100".
Repeat after me: aim to provide the single. best. answer. This is your mantra, and will deliver a boost to your traffic, and more pens sold, if utilised correctly.
Plus, your pen-loving expert writer will be much happier.
If you’re unsure about how to move forward with this knowledge, or if you’ve got a question you’d like to see me cover in another blog post, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, check out my guide to deciding which digital social media platform is best for your business.