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6 Common SEO Mistakes Bloggers Make & How To Avoid Them

You’ve probably heard that blogging is great for SEO, right? What if I told you that your blog posts could actually be hurting your SEO?

After doing audits on hundreds of websites for photographers and other creatives, I’ve noticed some patterns in the things that most often need improvement. These mistakes are usually the result of trying too hard to optimize for search engines instead of creating content for real visitors. In this post, we’ll talk about the most common SEO mistakes made on blog posts and how you can avoid them!

Mistake #1: Using the same focus keywords on multiple posts

When you write a blog post, you are creating a unique page on your site that has an opportunity to rank for many different keywords. What most people don’t realize is that Google *usually* only wants to display one page per website for any given search term. Sometimes this is your home page, and sometimes this may be a blog post. However, unless the term has almost zero competition, you’ll almost never get multiple posts or pages to appear in the first few pages of results for the same keyword.

In other words, let’s say you want your home page to rank for “Charleston wedding photographers.” If you are successful and your home page ranks in the first few pages of results for this term, it is very unlikely for any of your blog posts to also rank for this term. If you use the term “Charleston wedding photographers” in the title of every blog post, you may be causing your pages to compete for the same term (this is called keyword cannibalization).

Best Blog Post Title Ideas

If you are a photographer or other wedding professional, keep in mind that it is very unlikely for your blog posts to rank for highly competitive head terms. Generally terms like “Charleston wedding photographer” or “wedding planners in Dallas, TX” are going to return mostly home page results. When you write blog posts, often it is best to focus on more specific (or “long tail”) keywords. Things like specific venues, seasons, colors, or themes that might be unique to the post. You can check out this worksheet for tips on writing blog post titles, or read about what to do when you have multiple blog posts at the same venue.

Mistake #2: Trying to be -:-{~~c u t e~~}-:- instead of clear

I often see creatives trying to be too… well, uh, creative. Things like trying to write their titles with special characters or writing everything in the post in lowercase letters. Usually humans are fairly good about understanding these things, but machines don’t always make those same connections. To a search engine, the word “creative” and the letters “c r e a t i v e” with spaces between them don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Misspellings and made up words are also often confusing for search engines.

Bottom line, keep your message simple and to the point. Especially when it comes to your page title and the main copy of your page.

Mistake #3: Improper use of categories and tags

This is a tricky one because there are many different “right” ways to use categories and tags. There is some room for creativity, but there are also some specific rules you should follow.

Categories should be the broad topics of your site. Most sites will only have 5-10 categories. These are like the chapters of a book (think non-fiction reference books). These should be simple and easy to understand. For photographers, examples of categories might be things like “Weddings,” “Engagements,” or “Personal Work.” Every post should be assigned to a category (and usually only one category).

Tags are more specific topics that are used to group similar posts. Tags are NOT a place for putting all of the keywords you want to rank for. Tags are like the index of a book. Think about things that a visitor might see in a post that would make them say “ohh, I want to see more posts that have ____.” Good examples of tags for a wedding photographer might include: waterfront, traditional, sparkler exit, pink, church, cupcakes. Don’t overdo it with the tags, usually 3-7 tags is a great target. Make sure the tags are very likely to be used on future posts, or have been use in old posts. Tag archives that only bring up one post are essentially worthless to visitors.

Finally, don’t duplicate tags or categories. Make sure to avoid having a tag and category with the same name, and don’t add multiple tags that mean exactly the same thing.

Mistake #4: Not including any text

One of the most common things I hear (especially from photographers) is “I hate blogging, I don’t know what to write.” Leaving text out completely is not only bad for SEO, but also bad for getting users to connect with your work and your process.

Don’t focus too much on trying to hit a very specific target (like the 300 words recommended by Yoast), but make sure to include relevant details that might be interesting to someone searching for things included in your post. If you are posting photos from a wedding, write a few details about the venue, the choice of flowers, the time of year, and any special traditions or unique details from the wedding. Think about a future couple who might be planning a similar wedding, and what advice you might give them based on your experience photographing this wedding.

From an SEO perspective, I’d rather see one post a month with great storytelling and thoughtful descriptions than a post every week with no text. There may be rare exceptions to this rule, but in general quality is more important than quantity.

Mistake #5: Not including alt text on images

This could be a whole post by itself, but I’ll keep it short and simple.

Alt text is a huge opportunity to include contextual information to your post that will increase the confidence that your post is about a specific topic. Alt text should describe the contents of the image (for accessibility reasons, in case someone is using a screen reader or has images disabled).

When Google sees a post about “weddings” it knows to expect words like: bride, ceremony, kiss, cake, dance, church, reception, bouquet, rings. By describing each photo, you are providing these contextual keywords and helping search engines to verify the topic of the page.

Mistake #6: Using (bad) default settings for titles, meta descriptions and permalinks

Often I see the title, meta description, and permalink left to the default set by the the theme or template. In some cases, this isn’t terrible, but in other cases it can be really bad for SEO. If you are using WordPress, use a plugin like Yoast, All in One SEO, or The SEO Framework to easily set these on each post. If you are using Squarespace, make sure to set your default templates to the post name, and then be intentional with your post title. Other platforms will usually allow you to edit these fields as well.

For URLs/permalinks, I personally prefer keeping them simple, without dates. Also be aware of the length and make sure to shorten permalinks when they get way too long.

Most of the title mistakes I see come from adding the site title to the end of every blog post, making the title far too long.

For meta descriptions, often the first text in the post is used if you don’t set a specific meta description. Use this as a mini ad for your post to get people to click from search results, don’t leave it to chance!

If you avoid these common SEO mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to having posts that help you rank for hundreds of different keywords and bring a steady flow of new traffic to your site! Happy blogging!

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