Search engines are a great way to get your content new eyeballs, but a lot of times you are holding your content back from prominent positions in the search engines. Search engines want to show the world your content, but they only want to put in the “top content” for particular phrases.

Therefore, you need to give the search engines what they want. Below are the main hurdles content writers make when writing content with the hope to gain search engine traffic.

Short Content

Google likes long form content, and it really cannot be disputed. The reason it likes long form content is because it gives the searcher enough information to satisfy their need. Generally, the more in-depth content is, the more likely it solves the searcher’s intent or question, and that is what Google wants.

In fact, SerpIQ made a study and found content around 2,400 words was in the 1st – 3rd position in Google. In short, the longest content ranked at the top of Google.

Does this mean you should be writing for length for the sake of length? No, but you want to make sure you answer to the fullest with your content the question or searcher’s intent.

A good tactic with each piece of content is to decide what the main keyword phrase is. Google that phrase and see how long the content is for the top 3 rankings. Make sure your content is longer, more in-depth, more concise, and more well-thought-out. If you do that, the users will think more highly of your content and, in turn, Google will rank you higher.

No Imagery/Design Elements

No one likes stale websites that look like they were made in 1999. New modern-designed websites perform better, which is why everyone is in an arms race for the best websites. Our content should be the same way. If you have pages of text with no imagery or design elements, Google may not favor your content over your competitor’s content.

Using design elements is a great idea, as it breaks up content and keeps readers on the page longer. The longer they are on the page, the more likely Google will boost you up the rankings due to dwell time. Basically, the longer they are on, the more they read, and the more likely they enjoyed it, which means a better chance to be shared on social media, linked to, or be revisited later.

Misspellings/Content Errors

Misspellings and content errors technically are not an SEO factor, but it does hurt your credibility and your chance to be linked to. Acquiring links is the best way to get content to the top of the search results, so having misspellings and content errors can hurt the credibility of the content.

Matt Cutts describes it best if you want to know more.

No Content Breaks

The average reader’s attention span is very short. In fact, according to, our attention spans are shorter than those of goldfish! Hence, the importance of capturing human beings’ attention continuously throughout an article is important.

To do this, breaking up the content is always a sound idea. Using headers in between content, lists, or images to break up the content will keep the readers reading and keep them on the page more, which will help for SEO.

Using Long Paragraph Content

On the same note, using long paragraph content is a good way to get your readers to leave immediately from your content. The shorter the paragraphs are, the better you can keep the attention of the readers and keep them reading.

Pauline from discovered this and wrote a good piece on the benefits of shorter paragraphs.

For our purposes, we want to keep readers on the page more, which means a benefit from SEO. So, using shorter paragraphs makes our content more concise and will help our SEO efforts.

No Outbound Links

Readers want credible content. If your content is only you talking and does not link out to other content for sourcing, why would the readers find it credible and want to link to you?

Google also recognizes this, and a few SEO experiments discovered that pages with outbound links generally do better in the search process. Is this because content that has outbound links is just generally better, more well-researched content? Absolutely! But that still means we should be using outbound links to share the authority and make our content more credible.

Reboot Online even did an experiment to see if outbound links helped for organic search results, and they did find it made an impact. They couldn’t see how big of an impact, but it made an impact!

No Promotion

Just because you create this content, do all of the right things, and make it better than everyone else, it does not mean it will go instantly to #1. There is a reason SEO takes a while. You have to wait for people to come to your content and give it positive SEO-ranking signals, such as links and social shares.

These ranking factors could take hours, days, months, or years, with the latter being the most likely. However, if you promote your content, you can get it to the right eyeballs quicker and get the ranking signals quicker.

Having a solid promotion strategy is key, and I wrote a really good post on how to promote content via social media.

No Meta Optimization & CTAs

Another hindrance is using the default options for your meta information. This is the least of the mistakes, but this section can be better optimized, as Google will take your header and the first two sentences by default. You want to write unique meta titles and descriptions for each of your content pieces. This is easy to do in WordPress using SEO by Yoast.

You also want to grab people’s attention with CTAs or calls to action in the meta information. If you can grab the attention of people when they search, they are more likely to click on your list. Click through rates are one of the largest ranking factors, and this was found out by Searchmetrics during their 2015 Ranking factor study.


If you pay attention to these common mistakes and make sure you do not make them, you will be much more successful with organic search traffic to your content. Not by coincidence, you will also be making some amazing content, which will, in turn, help bring you additional traffic due to word of mouth and other various channels.