Putting together an effective search engine optimization (SEO) campaign is possible – if you can avoid most of the most horrendous errors.
If we can be real here, let’s just face the facts. No SEO program can be 100% perfect. For example, you can’t know with absolute certainty every single keyword and phrase you should be targeting at any given moment.
Many mistakes can be avoided – or fixed – when online marketers plan ahead, swallow their pride and quickly admit to failings. Here is a brief look at 10 of them:
1. Not Realizing SEO Is An Arduous Journey
I can’t get around this. If you’re optimizing a website, it’s not a one-time endeavor. Can you work on the architecture one time and achieve higher rankings and drive more traffic? Absolutely. Greater success depends on time and effort. Along the way, ranking and traffic trends provide great insights, including the need for expectation adjustments during different seasons and product releases.
2. Being Addicted To Overkill
I’m a huge fan of the measured pace when it comes to SEO. Don’t try too many tactics at one time or you’ll never know the effectiveness of any one strategy. Sometimes a ranking can be improved with an effective change to a page header (i.e. graphic to text).
3. Putting Page Titles In A Lock Box
It’s my biggest pet peeve. The title tag is one of the most powerful places to include keywords. And yet, companies don’t take the time to test out different scenarios. They roll with something and never look back. Plus, they insist on including their company names in that prized spot. OK, I get the branding thing, but who cares what the company name is if no one can find the listing on the search engines. Get the ranking first and then find ways to incorporate the business name.
4. Expecting The World Out Of SEO Specialists
It’s one thing to hire a company with an array of skill sets – the consulting firm should come through for a client. If you’re going internal, you should give the SEO professional plenty of time to make the most of their skills, whether they’re strong in usability, writing, programming or design. Are they also expected to run a successful paid search campaign and lead other online marketing initiatives? Are they handling your company’s PR efforts, including link building? When you stretch someone, something can suffer. What’s getting a half-hearted effort at your business?
5. Choosing The Wrong Keywords
If your website is new, has few pages and fewer inbound links, you have issues. The first plan of attack is not to pursue the most competitive keywords you can find. Put them in the mix, but surround them with a full crop of long tail keywords. And even if it’s an established website, a company always needs to own up to its shortcomings. You can’t rank for everything is the website architecture and content aren’t present to support the keywords that must be highly visible.
6. Putting Link Building On the Back Burner
Link building is hard. It’s not the easiest marketing task ever invented. Websites you’re targeting are run by owners and marketers with plenty on their plates. You should be able to relate. If you want it to work, you need to stick with it, trying time and time again to get others interested in your website if you have compelling content. We’re almost 14 years into this field and many websites are nothing more than brochures. General and industry specific directories can help them. A link strategy always goes back to the content – what demos, white papers, guides, videos, tools, etc. do you have that someone may care about?
7. Resisting Holistic Thinking
Learn to share data from other marketers are your company, whether it’s Bob the email guy or Mary the paid search genius. It just doesn’t make any sense to work in silos. Talk to each other about your target markets, your customers, your web analytics and keyword data compiled from search engine advertising tools, third-party software products, blogs, competitors, etc.
8. Overlooking ROI Improvements
At the end of the day, a search engine specialist is successful if he or she can manage to get keywords at the top of search engines and drive relevant traffic. A business should embrace those efforts and leverage them with a maturing ROI strategy. Sure, you want to track leads. For ROI, start with your website. Is it really effective? Do the colors work? Is the text in the right location? Is the call-to-action clear? Have you crammed too many in the navigation? Can anyone find their way around? Do you look like a first-class operation? I still see countless websites that are all blue or seem fixated on orange. Think contrast, not bland. And it would help to include a phone number (sometimes they’re present but buried).
9. Misdiagnosing Rankings
It’s a huge area for mistakes. You got a #2 on MSN? Big deal. What was the search term you targeted? Show me the traffic and then tell me about conversions. Rankings are awesome if they drive a reasonable amount of traffic that your website can convert.
But what if two pages rank for the same search term? Are you going to work on both the page ranking #7 and the other one ranking #14 on Google? Does the #7 page seem more appealing?
Three ABCs to mull over:
A. Which page is on a page that has more conversion material?
B. Which page do you think can move up even higher?
C. Which page might better serve another search term?
10. Settling for Limited Content
It’s a nice thought that you want to get by with the little content you have, but it’s not going to work. Short pages don’t measure up. You can add content without jeopardizing the usability of a page. Add a section of related links. Summarize other content on the website and include subheads to introduce each text segment. Add a simple FAQ section. Place a full or partial testimonial. Cross-reference something that can be purchased or downloaded.
Plenty of other opportunities exist to excel or slip up. The more you’re aware of your abilities and deficiencies, the more you can anticipate problems and solve them. In the end, your website will perform closer to its potential with SEO as one of its key catalysts.