6 Common SEO Hacks Left Undone & What They Cost You

Filed in SEO by on December 1, 2014

Hacking account of social networking.SEO is a beast. It’s so big, there’s absolutely no way for you to conquer it all.

There’s so much expert advice out there that if you don’t deliberately choose not to listen to 75% of it, you’ll be confused forever.

But in the same way SEO can be your worst enemy if you’re trying to conquer it, it can also be your best friend if you realize it’s an untamable beast and you lower your goals from conquering to just being able to pat it’s head without it breathing fire on your site and scorching you to death.

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to tame the SEO dragon enough so it can benefit your site’s search rankings and organic traffic without burning yourself with search engine penalties by working too hard at it.


(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 220 profitable buyer keywords click here or the image below)



1. Keywords in Headlines, Subheadings & URLs

We’re really not trying to insult your intelligence here, but as obvious as this seems, you’d be shocked at how many bloggers and web content managers ignore these minor details while they’re busy looking after the bigger picture.

If you don’t take care of this though, you’re costing yourself significant potential rankings and quality organic traffic of people looking for the exact information you’re writing about.

It’s a quick fix though. To remedy it, we suggest using a plugin like Yoast for WordPress. It reminds you before you publish whether or not you’ve integrated your chosen keyword enough to have a passable SEO grade.


yoast seo plugin

Yoast also helps you optimize your SEO for local search, video sites, news and commerce.




2. Phrase-Padded Back Linking

Over-doing the direct, spam-style back links can lead to search engine penalties, especially if you’re super obvious about it and repeat the same three-word anchor text two hundred times in one week for one landing page.

However, instead of directly hyperlinking obvious keywords, hyper link the keywords with a few pillow words. (Just don’t do it 200 times for the same page - let it come naturally as you guest blog and build out your website.)

For example, instead of linking “diet pills” over and over again back to your landing page, link occasional variations of anchor text like “when I started taking diet pills” or “these diet pills worked better than others I tried before.”

This does not come across as spam. And if you’re particularly careful about the sites you choose to back link from, the search engines will actually reward you for it.

That’s right, there’s no need for this irrational fear of back linking that’s so rampant all over the web as long as you don’t spam.



3. Optimizing Your 404 Page

404s are frustrating. When I land on one, I get frustrated—especially if there’s nothing to help me find what I’m looking for.

But 404 pages offer a great way to recover otherwise lost traffic.

Instead of driving your site visitors to click away in frustration, you can apologize for the error and create a list of links using your on-site key words to help them find what they’re looking for.

This is great for inner-site keyword linking without spamming. It’s valuable and genius.


Caption: On their 404 page, Starbucks apologizes for their error and gives some possible reasons for the error. They suggest trying the URL again, but if that doesn’t work, they send the user to their entire site map. This works better for them because their website is rather large and placing all the links on the 404 page would create a lot of clutter.

Caption: On their 404 page, Starbucks apologizes for their error and gives some possible reasons for the error. They suggest trying the URL again, but if that doesn’t work, they send the user to their entire site map. This works better for them because their website is rather large and placing all the links on the 404 page would create a lot of clutter.




4. Writing Longer Content

There’s been a time-set standard that blog posts and web pages should be around 500 words each.

To be honest, I’m not really sure where that came from, but it’s fortunate that people are moving away from that now.

B2B blogs and product-based websites now typically like their blog posts to be at least 1,000 words, but what really makes Google happy is pages have 2,000 words or more.

This level of word count isn’t a guarantee of quality, of course.

But it does mean that whoever wrote it has put in some serious time and effort, so the chances of it being better quality content for the end reader is much higher.

To an SEO hacker, it also means you can put more keywords on a page without triggering any keyword-stuffing red flags.

Neil Patel did a test on this. He replaced a 1,200+ word page with a 488 word page, and the longer page performed 7.2% better than the short one.

So skimping on the word count could be costing you valuable traffic and conversions.


5. Focusing on Small Wins

There’s always going to be that one big win keyword that gets all the traffic.

Most people, deep down, feel that if they could just find a way to make it work with that keyword and get into the top five, they’d have it made with countless leads and a skyrocketing bottom line.

But daydreaming, hoping, and wishing for that scenario can be a waste of energy and precious time.

Instead, you can focus on ranking in the top five for a few keywords that get less traffic, but will still win you lots of conversions.

Refusing to focus on the small wins means you lose out in the short term and the long term.

Ranking well for lesser-known keywords boosts your websites credibility and actually increases your chances of ranking for that big win keyword down the line.

But focusing on the small wins now means you still generate business today and increase your chances of hitting it big later.



6. Having a Responsive Site Design

Of the 3 billion people with internet access, 1.2 billion of them access the web via mobile.

Not having a site design that’s responsive to mobile can have a greater effect on your SEO than simply losing the one-off site visits that click away because they can’t read your tiny text.

It’s debatable whether or not bounce rate has an effect on your organic search rankings, but it’s certain that a high bounce rate greatly affects your statistics and quality score in AdWords.

That means if you ever try to advertise your services or want to do a push for a product launch, you’ll have to pay more money per click for lower rankings and less traffic than if you invested in a responsive website and didn’t have so many mobile bounces.

If you’re a solopreneur setting up niche websites without a full-time developer to do your bidding, this is actually a relatively easy fix.

All you need to do is update your site to a responsive theme, make small adjustments according to the new look, and go live.

The rest is done for you and you decrease your bounce rate.


Your Best SEO Hacks

So, tell us. How do you relate to the SEO monster?

Do you feel you've tamed the dragon or have you been burned in the past?

What are some of the practices that have helped you improve your rankings?


Author Bio: Chelsea Baldwin is an online marketing consultant, business writer, and personal finance niche blogger. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Chelsea Baldwin
Chelsea has a background in journalism and IT, and besides writing for NicheHacks, she's the founder of Copy Power, a business and a website that helps business owners figure out how to get remembered online via copywriting.

She excels in the topic of SEO but can write on a wide range of topics of which you can discover by clicking on her name.

Comments (16)

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  1. Hi Chelsea,

    Sometimes, i don't really understand why people are worried about creating backlinks.

    Two years back, i started a fashion blog. I was new to blogging and did not know anything about blogging.

    I just started creating best content i could do.

    After one month of blogging, i got to know about WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast and installed it on my blog. Whatever it asked me to do, i just followed it. And within 7 months i crossed 10,000 visitors marks.

    I think that is the best we can do to improve SEO, without working on creating backlinks and doing guest posts.

    You have also covered everything what i am trying to say!


  2. Hi Chelsea!

    Admittedly, I've never been real big on SEO so I'm always looking to learn new information about it. Dennis Seymour from LeapFroggr has been my go-to guy for SEO information and I've been starting to focus a bit more time on optimizing my site. I see him on Niche Hacks from time to time so I wonder if he'll pop up here too.

    I was kind of surprised to see that Neil only saw a 7.2% difference when the word count was halved. I expected the difference to be much larger. I've begun working on longer article lengths this year. 500-600 words used to be normal to me, now I try to aim for 1000. I find it's a lot easier than it sounds and really helps the articles feel more complete.

    If I had to pick my own SEO hack it'd have to be networking. While it's not affecting SEO directly, the friendships you build through networking is what's going to get you the high quality, natural backlinks Google loves. It's worked well for me so far, although it's been more difficult for me in the smaller niches I'm working in where there are less bloggers.

    Great article Chelsea and I hope to see more from you in the future.

    - James

    • NicheHacks says:

      Thanks for commenting James. Yeah I agree 1k words is nothing and comes really easy to me I find. You can't get in depth with 500 words. Networking / maual outreach with some good quality content helps a lot for me too. Picked up plenty of natural links

  3. Shalu Sharma says:

    Great article on SEO hacks. The word count is a good one. Once I wrote an article around 2500 words and got some social media shares and it did quite well as far as ranking is concerned. Also use of images with ALT tags is important. Some of these images rank well and gives you traffic.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Yeah and really how much can you write in 500 words anyway? I can't write an article worth reading that's so small. 1,000 words + is easy anyway IMO.

  4. Hi Chelsea,

    Power SEO points! I went a bit overboard. I published a 7,000 word post today. Nobody confuses me and the term "short winded" these days, lol. But honest, the point works for me. Trim the fat after writing long form posts and you'll have created something which required some serious thought.

    People appreciate thoughtful posts and if people appreciate this, you better believe that Google does too. It's a win-win situation all around if you pack real meat into those 2,000 word or longer posts.

    So much SEO stuff is common sense, from the perspective of no trying too hard. Like, don't try too hard by stuffing 80 keyword phrases into a blog post and/or squeeze page.

    Yet, do the simple stuff, like placing keywords in titles, and in URLs, to send a clear message to search engines. Follow basic tips, write for people, add SEO and more than anything, solve pressing problems in a thorough fashion to make a real impact, and to better target your niche.

    Thanks Chelsea! And Stuart!


    • Chelsea says:

      "Trim the fat after writing long form posts and you'll have created something which required some serious thought." - Right on, my friend! I do the same thing, and whether it's a blog post for my own purposes or for a client, readers appreciate it.

  5. Tim says:

    Personally I struggle with getting to 500 words in a post. I guess it's the screenwriter side of me and my "less is more" approach. I just found this site and I'm glad I did. Thanks.

    • Chelsea says:

      Hey Tim,

      I'm a minimalist and I get that it can be hard sometimes to come up with long-form copy, especially when you feel like what you've got to say can be summed up in far fewer words.

      The thing to remember about creating long-form pages is that they still have to be well-written. A well-written 500 word page will out-perform a poorly-written 2,000 word page any day: after all, people are still people and don't enjoy their time being wasted with worthless copy. So if you really don't have much at all to say, it's still best to keep it short.

  6. Howie says:

    You really bring up some great points! Sometimes we over complicate things, but I have found some simple things are commonly overlooked.

    Not only have I found that my longer content gets more love from the SERPs, but the impact that the "low hanging fruit" keywords can have on your content is often astounding. In many cases, you can target and rank for multiple less competitive keywords in one piece of content. If you add up the average traffic generated from those keywords, you will find that in most cases, it will drive just as much targeted traffic to your content as the more competitive keywords you be wasting your time trying to go after.

    Many people look at the wrong numbers when doing their keyword research and make their lives a lot more difficult.

    Again, great post and great advice about optimizing 404 pages. I hadn't really thought about it before. All the best!

    • Chelsea says:

      Hi Howie,

      I agree with you - I really prefer to keep things simple rather than getting into overly-complicated strategies. And as it turns out (in online marketing and life in general), simple approaches just seem to give better results. It's refreshing to hear that you've had some success with focusing on the small win keywords, I always love those stories!

  7. Julia (July) says:

    The responsive theme tip is gold.

  8. Responsive theme and keyword finding tip is the key that can lead to amazing traffic.