January 11, 2017

Are You Being Your Own Worst Enemy?

Not another “SEO Dos & Don’ts” article!

Yes, I know what you are thinking: “I already skimmed fifteen articles today about how long title tags should be and how spammy link building will destroy my hopes and dreams.”  Nope – this is a little different. This is about some very common things that will almost guarantee your SEO campaign will ultimately fail.

SEO Mistakes - Don't shoot yourself in the foot

1) The Wrong Goals

Gotta have goals, right? Absolutely! But what are “good” goals?  The goal of an SEO campaign may be something broad like getting more & better traffic to the website in general, or something more specific like improving the visibility of just one product or service in the search results. Success is defined differently for every business, so I can’t say exactly what your goals should be. But I can say that if you think your goal is to rank number one for a few keywords, you are going to be disappointed. Keywords positions don’t mean much if the traffic doesn’t improve or the visitors to your site aren’t buying what you are selling.

wrong wayOne thing I frequently encounter, especially with clients who have worked with other SEO companies in the past, is an obsession with a few keywords.  For years, SEO’s stressed what they felt was the ultimate importance of keywords – gotta have them, gotta be number one or you may as well quit. Now, after keyword-obsessed strategies have failed, site owners moved forward into inbound marketing and smarter SEO. But they often fail to let go of the belief that certain keyword rankings are a must-have. Time and time again, I see sites that are getting more visitors, becoming more popular, and making more money – even though the keywords the boss insists are the only thing that matters are not ranking number one.
If improved traffic, higher revenue, but no change in rankings looks like failure to you, that is because you have the wrong goals.

How to Avoid It: “Know what is really important”

Take some time to figure out what is really important to your business. Is it increased sales, brand & product awareness, better engagement on your website or…? Ranking well for some keywords may help achieve those things, but rankings alone do not pay the bills.
Define realistic goals for your business first. Then think about how you can use your website and social media presence to achieve those goals. High search engine positions themselves are nice, but it is even better when you can turn all that traffic into actions that really mean something to the growth of your business. Think of that number one ranking as an opportunity, rather than as the goal itself. A tool rather than a goal.

2) Sprinting In The Marathon

This is somewhat related to misaligned goals, but the cliché “inbound marketing is a marathon not a sprint” is worth repeating. SEO, content marketing and other inbound marketing methods all take a significant amount of time. The cause and effect relationship is not always easy to see right away.  For example: your SEO consultant makes recommendations about how to improve your site, and you decide that it is too much work and you want him to do something that will immediately improve your situation. Your SEO is now faced with a choice: try to explain to you how all of those little things work together for the long term, or do something stupid like buying links to your site just to meet your demands for immediate results. The right thing for your consultant to do is to bring you up to date with how SEO works and how pushing too hard, too fast will usually result in disaster.

How to Avoid It: “Patience is a virtue”

Being patient is not the easiest thing to do, but that’s how it is. SEO takes time.
Google’s organic search is designed so that a website can’t just jump to the top of the search results for any meaningful keyword overnight. If you have hired a reputable SEO provider, listen to them.

This brings us to one of the worst things you can do to sabotage your own business:

3) Not Knowing What You Don’t Know

Did you ever work with someone who was so far removed from reality that they seem to think that up is down and black is white? This type of person has come to believe something, and he is never wrong. When someone who is more informed says something that does not fit his view, he becomes defensive, or ignores anything that does not support his beliefs. Don’t be that person.
The uninformed and unaware of it type will listen to explanations about keywords and the time SEO takes and respond with something like, “OK. You can still do something to rank number one for my keywords next week, right? I fired my last three SEOs because they couldn’t do it.”

knowledge is powerAnother example of this is the person whose website has been penalized for violating the webmaster guidelines – and neither the business owner nor whoever is supposed to be in charge of internet marketing have ever heard of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. He followed some advice he read somewhere other than Google, and has managed to break the rules. Therefore, in his mind, the website should not have any problems ranking organically in Google. And he is not going to follow Google’s recommendations on how to fix the problem, because he knows what to do about it: follow some other blogger’s advice while complaining about how unfair Google is.

How to Avoid It: “If you don’t know, hire a pro

Do not take it personally. If you do not know everything about everything, it does not mean you are not still great at what you do. This is especially true of the ever-changing landscape of online marketing. Frankly, if you ARE staying on the cutting edge of SEO, you probably don’t have time to run the rest of your business.
Professional SEOs are weird. They live and breathe this stuff, and should know much more than you when it comes to what works, what does not, what will get you in trouble, and the reasons why. Even the best SEO in the world will not have an instant answer to everything. But he or she will have a much better chance of learning the unknowns of SEO than a “normal” person.


Three Things To Remember:

  1. Set Realistic and Meaningful Goals

  2. Be Patient

  3. Don’t Assume You Know Everything

  • Lauren Green

    This is good advice! When I started my online business, I thought everything was as easy as clicking a button. That’s what GoDaddy, Wix and the other instant website companies want you to believe.
    But no – you need a REAL website. And no – the website company’s $100 SEO package is not going to help.
    I learned my lesson the hard way and wish someone had told me earlier that it is best to start by doing things the right way and not on the cheap.

    • Good point! Thinking everything is going to be super-easy (because that’s what the commercials said) is definitely a common pitfall.
      To be fair to Wix, their sites are not nearly as difficult to work with as they once were. GoDaddy’s sevices are improving, as well. It is tough to provide a simplified solution for a complex thing like website building or marketing.

      That said, believing that an automated “sign up, pay $50 and we’ll handle everything” product can compare favorably to something that would normally cost thousands, is a head-smacking mistake to avoid.

  • David Kley

    Great article Nick, loved reading it. We run into many of the same issues when taking on new clients. I wanted to let you know we added a summary of your article to our site. We market this to thousands of marketers and small business owners. In the article summary, we have linked out to your page, and also to your Google Plus profile.

    • Thanks!

      • David Kley

        Not a problem. As you create great articles in the future, dont hesitate to submit them at the link above. We are always looking for new and informative articles to share. Have a great day!