SEO 101: 7 things that are wasting too much of your time
And what you can do instead & save your time to have more time later
I’ve been a full-time blogger since 2017 and since then I’ve seen all sides of this coin. I’ve seen 0 in my bank account and now I’ve been seeing 0’s in my bank account.
Before I was a ‘full-time’ blogger, I was into an MNC with a set job and a part-time blogger. Sure I did not earn anything blogging, I sure did learn from it.
I’ve been juggling things along with blogging since 2012, first my college, then my job.
Blogging has been common since 2012. The best thing blogging has taught me is SEO — what actually works for SEO and what doesn’t.
The ‘what doesn’t’ part is exactly what I’m going to share here. (plus what you should do instead)
The reason why I’m writing this post is the fact that I have myself gone wrong with these time wasters and have learned ‘what works’ part the hard way.
If you’re finding it difficult to cope with SEO along with everything else you’ve been doing for your blog, this post is for you.
If you don’t own a blog yet, this post still can help you save a lot time by avoiding things that least matter now.
My only goal with this post is to help you save time and without further ado, let’s deep dive-in.
#1 Checking Analytics
You don’t have to keep checking your stats every now and then. Neither it’s going to tank in one day, nor it is going to sky-rocket in one day.
If you have consistent traffic, you can check it weekly or bi-weekly — it would suffice.
The reason being, checking analytics will keep you busy making changes and not allow the dust to settle.
Once you publish a post, it takes at least 3–4 weeks for it to start rippling & reach a broader audience.
I used to check analytics every day in the initial days of my career. I ended up getting defocused with a huge lump of data available in Google Analytics & Google search console.
I found myself lost in the data when I used to spend time on the GA & Google search console.
I still do when I randomly stumble upon any analytics software, but not when I have fixed days to do so.
Here’s what I do right now (bi-weekly).
- Setup weekly audits on Alexa, SEMrush & UberSuggest [I like second & third opinions ;) ]
- Pull the impressions data of the existing pages & optimize (& update) the posts.
- Find new keywords for the existing posts from the keyword research tools by putting in the competitor’s URL.
Doing this has not only to help me save more time but also find more relevant keywords, hence more relevant traffic.
All by allowing the existing (& the new ones) to settle.
#2 Keyword density
I was obsessed with keyword density.
I used to maintain 3–4 percent of keyword density. All in vain.
In fact, one article that I didn’t create with keyword density in mind is still bringing in 30% of traffic to one of my blogs.
Keyword density was a thing when Google didn’t pay attention to keyword stuffing. But with the penguin update, Google eliminated took a dig at the keyword spammers.
Think of it this way, when you search for “How to set up an iPhone”, you wouldn’t expect an article with “set up an iPhone” in 50 places.
If you create a blog post with keyword density in mind, you add value to the end-users. All you’d do is find “prominent” places to stuff the keywords.
Here’s what I do instead
- Don’t give a damn about keyword density. Never!
- Pick a target keyword, find LSI keywords of that keywords and sprinkle them in the blog post.
- Focus on the topic than just the keyword(s). Content is still the king, but context is god. Worship god! Creating content contextually will cover more ground and hence bring more keywords under your umbrella. The trick is to target the roots and just not the branches & fruits.
Backlinks are overrated, more than I can admit. Sure they’re the foundation of Google, in the first place.
This is something I’ve never struggled with. I have never focussed much on backlinks. Never dedicated time specifically to do this — I might be wrong, I might get more traffic if I do, but I’m experimenting the ‘otherwise’.
Keeping all the significance aside, think organically.
If you focus on backlinks, and not building content worth getting backlinks, you’re draining all your efforts.
It doesn’t matter what niche you’re into, there’s an evergreen way you can generate backlinks — by putting out numbers together.
Here’s what I do instead
- I create almost all blog posts that include definitive statistics.
- Create content that includes case studies, trending topics, ‘how to’ list-based post.
- I repurpose the published blog posts that further creates more traction on various platforms (medium & quora)
- and…. that’s it.
I don’t do anything more than that. No link building campaigns, no email outreach. It’s not because I find it overrated, I mean generally.
I’m not against building backlinks, I’m against the time people invest to build links. People take backlinks so seriously that they don’t consider even the content that generates backlinks in the first place, any important.
This is what I’m against.
Key takeaway: Create content that includes
- Numbers (statistics)
- Case studies
- Facts & user data
- Super in-depth guide(s)
Out of these, case studies & data are the two types of content that get the most backlinks even if the content creators do not try to promote it.
Sure, when no one knows that your blog exists, you need to run like a headless chicken to promote it. You can either include building links as one of the ways or consider it once you have that traffic.
#4 Only focusing on high-competitive keywords
Do you know what makes high-competitive keywords? It’s the search volume. Higher the search volume, tougher it is to rank for that keyword.
Since many people are typing in that search query, search algorithms show only the best results and seldom change the rankings unless you come up with a completely disruptive blog post.
I don’t find any valid reason to run behind high-competitive keywords.
Listen, I don’t mean you shouldn’t create content targetting the high-competitive keywords.
All I’m saying is stop wasting time optimizing the existing blog posts that target high-competitive keywords.
This is where you end up tangling yourselves in google analytics and other analytics tools finding opportunities to rank that page higher.
I do just one thing instead
- Target less competitive keywords (directly relevant to the high-competitive keywords).
- Create multiple blog posts targeting those keywords, and interlink all those blog posts to the post that is targeting a high-competitive keyword.
- I call this the grapefruit technique.
The trick is to send more link juice to the high-competitive targeting blog post from low-competitive targeting blog posts.
Thank me later!
#5 Focusing on the desktop version
51.51% of people primarily use mobile devices to browse the internet. I’m not saying it, Statista says it.
Sure, there’s still 49.49% of traffic coming from tabs & desktops — but the rate at which the mobile traffic is increasing is alarming. By 2025, a huge percentage of traffic will come from mobile devices.
2025 isn’t far. If you begin to optimize for mobile devices, it will take at least 2–3 years to become rock solid & ‘kill it’ at the mobile-first algorithm by Google.
The attention span of humans has gone down lower than that of a goldfish. You have less than 3 seconds to grab a user’s attention. If your blog takes more than 3 seconds to load, the user will immediately head back to SERPs and click on another search result. You won’t get that organic traffic, let alone make any money.
I’m still struggling at making my blogs mobile-friendly. The desktop version is fine, loads at a decent speed and doesn’t bother me much. It’s the mobile version that needs my immediate attention.
Here’s what I’m doing
- Have an AMP version of my blogs load every time someone seeks my blog pages on mobile devices. AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages, it is a collective project run & managed by Google & other industry leaders.
- There are cases when AMP versions wouldn’t run well for specific themes for your blogs (like in my case). In that case, you can use a mobile-friendly theme or use free tools like Pingdom or Google’s PageSpeed Insights. You can also use a Mobile-friendly test tool on Google search console to get your blog audited.
- Use CDN & cache plugins (on WordPress) or premium managed wordpress web-hosting services. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network, which saves the cache version of all the webpages of your blog on servers located across the globe. When a user requests a specific page of your blog, the network will automatically fetch the cache version from the server that is nearest to that user. This saves a lot of time.
CDNs cost a bomb of money, even premium managed wordpress hosting services too. If you’re a beginner and do not have a godfather backing you with a s*** load of money, you should do the easy way until you earn enough to invest in CDN or premium web hosting.
#6 Having a free blog
I know this is going to hurt, but a free blog isn’t going to land you anywhere. If you’re someone ambitious about your blog, a free blog on wordpress.com or Blogspot ain’t gonna help.
Setting up a blog is a piece of cake in today’s time. However, if you have a shoe-string budget, I’d recommend writing on Quora and/or medium.
These two platforms have a crowd that’s educated about pretty much everything under the sun. You can reach anyone on the internet as both the platforms are SEO friendly, i.e. your posts will rank in Google search.
Furthermore, even pages from medium rank high on Google SERPs.
You get the point.
If you want to make money before you invest, I’d suggest Quora & Medium. On Quora, your opinion matters, and when you blog on Medium, your idea and way of conveying it matters.
If you’re planning to have a blog that makes money using affiliate (promoting other’s products and make a commission from that sale) Quora & Medium will not be a problem.
However, Quora might block your answers if you haphazardly promote the affiliate links.
Quora is a place to build authority first, add value, push out your opinion(s) and then even think to make money on Quora.
I’ve made over $300 from Quora, but not by promoting affiliate products. I reviewed a marketing tool for a couple of months and that amount.
I’ve been active on Quora since 2015 and I made that money in 2019. 5 years before I even made a single dime. I’ve answered over 700 questions, over 1 million views before I could make any money.
I don’t make anything from Quora now, other than authority & personal branding.
That’s the whole game.
But there’s a problem with Quora & Medium. By putting out quality content for 30 days straight will definitely place in bigger league, you’ll be ranking higher, reaching more people.
But you won’t know anything about your target audience. All you’ll know is the number of people your content is reaching, number of upvotes or claps, and done.
You’ll have no idea about your target audience, that’s something medium & quora will have as ‘their’ intellectual property. You efforts will run their business.
I’m not against these platforms. That’s how businesses run. All I’m saying is, even if you’re reaching 100k people every month (to begin with) you wouldn’t know anything about them.
Knowing about them is important because you can use that data to cater personalized content.
On these platforms, you cannot do that.
Data is everything and everything is data.
I’m writing on Quora & Medium not to get more views, my goals is to establish myself as a brand. Let more people recognize my work, help the beginners, add more value, practice & better my writing.
I’m already having my blog where the real business happens. Being more active here will not only promote myself as an authoritative source, it will also trigger brand search on search engines which is the cream for me.
More people searching for me (& my work), higher me & my work rank for various queries. That’s what search engines want. Authoritative content for their end users.
Brands are the solutions — Eric Schmidt
Therefore, if you’re serious about your idea (your blog), just get started by creating a blog.
Having a free domain will be a huge waste of time & energy.
Further reading to help you get started with creating your blog:
- Pick the best web hosting — make data-driven decision
- Wordpress.com vs Wordpress.org: Key difference before you switch sides
- Move to self-hosted wordpress (complete control over your blog)
- 21 things you should do after installing Wordpress (without fail)
- WordPress FAQs: Most confusing questions about wordpress, answered
#7 Running after perfection and not progression
I get it.
The first impression is the last impression.
But when it comes to making an impression online, the first impression may not be the last impression, but it is definitely a long-lasting impression.
Hence, falling for perfecting your blog posts is natural. I’ve fallen for it.
But you don’t have to do that, especially if you’re just starting out.
It gets better with time.
If you keep waiting to perfect your blog posts before you publish it, you’re never gonna publish anything.
I’m going through that for podcasts & videos.
Trust me when I say it’s coming from experience.
I promised myself to record a video & podcasts every single day since Jan 1st, 2020.
I must admit, I’ve just recorded 2 podcasts & 3 videos out of 31 days.
I’m preparing myself to get in front of the camera & feel free to record my voice. I thought I’ll gather some courage, make myself comfortable and then begin.
All I’m did is kill my time & confidence.
I’m not doing it anymore.
How much ever I can, I’m gonna perfect my goal on the go. Not before I begin.
You too do the same way. That’s how heroes learn to fly.
Waiting for perfect work is such a waste of time.
It gets perfect as you do. Every single time, no exceptions.
What you can do instead?
Create whatever you think is right. Optimize, organize & update as you progress.
That’s the trick. Progress on the go.
… and that’s how heroes learn to fly.
I’m sure this post has helped you clear some air around this topic. The last thing you’d wanna do is commit these mistakes.
Blogging is simple. You express your thoughts in the most helpful way. If making money is what you’re planning, never ever commit these mistakes.
In fact, whatever your goal is — you can’t afford to go wrong these 7 ways.
Google is already making it tougher to rank higher, for all good reasons. I request you not to make it tougher by committing these mistakes.
Or use #DaveyJi to tag me in tweets raising questions around any topic that bothers your idea of growing a successful online business.