Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an integral part of virtually any marketing strategy for businesses of all kinds.
By properly optimizing your site for search engines, you can boost your ability to appear in relevant web search results.
SEO is ultimately one of the most cost-effective ways for websites to be found online.
That said, SEO is complex. It’s also subject to sweeping changes from year to year.
As Google becomes better at recognizing what web users want, its search algorithm evolves.
As a result, it’s easy to make a mistake that could hinder your progress or even hurt your brand.
To prevent these problems before they occur – or to fix any issues while they’re still manageable – you’ll want to keep reading and learn from these mistakes.
MISTAKE: Relying On Outdated Strategies
Remember when we said that SEO changes at a rapid clip?
The way we use the internet shifts over time, which means Google has to constantly adjust.
So do marketers and SEO analysts.
If you don’t stay on top of the latest trends and Google’s best practices, you could unknowingly be engaging in marketing techniques that have fallen out of favour.
At first, that might not seem like a huge deal. But you need to consider the potential consequences.
Not only are these older strategies ineffective, but they could actually harm your ability to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs) at all.
Google could penalize you for using techniques that fall outside the scope of its official recommendations.
Even if you don’t think you’re doing anything wrong, you could risk your reputation if you stick to antiquated tactics.
Black-hat SEO techniques, like keywords stuffing and spammy link-building, may have improved your rankings years ago. These days, Google knows better – and if you get caught, you could receive major penalties.
Aside from underhanded manipulations, there are other outdated strategies that may prove less effective.
For example, creating separate pages for each and every keyword you want to target (excluding specific locations or services) typically won’t yield the results you’re looking for.
Exact-match root domains and exact-match anchor text have also been removed from the SEO to-do list. While they aren’t against Google’s rules, they just aren’t the best way to go anymore.
Making sure you’re well-versed in Google’s current best practices can allow you to avoid these mishaps. If you don’t have time to do the research yourself, working with white label SEO programs can give you the expert-level access you need to ensure your strategy is set up for success in 2021 and beyond.
MISTAKE: Trying to Rush Your Results
With any kind of marketing or promotion, you need to ensure your expectations are realistic.
That doesn’t mean you can’t aim high – but it does mean you need to acknowledge when your goals aren’t attainable within the confines of your strategy.
In some cases, a larger budget or a different approach could yield better results.
But in others, your expectations may simply not be in line with the techniques you’re using.
With SEO, in particular, it’s crucial to understand how the process works and how long it typically takes.
There are no guarantees with SEO. But you definitely shouldn’t expect overnight results.
You probably won’t see any major movement within a few weeks, either.
Most people find that once their SEO campaigns reach the three-to-six-month mark, they’ll be able to view real progress.
If this sounds familiar to you, it’s important to not get discouraged.
While it can be frustrating to wait that long for your results, remember that this is the way SEO is supposed to work.
It isn’t meant to be instantaneous; it’s designed to build organic traffic and better web visibility over time.
This more natural approach will require some patience. But in the vast majority of situations, that patience pays off in the end.
The investment you make in SEO will continue to grow in returns months (and even years!) down the line.
Simply put, SEO can’t really be rushed. And if you try, you’ll probably see worse results.
Attempting to publish a slew of new blog posts all in one day won’t really help you reach your goals. Instead, consistency is the name of the game.
When you need results fast, you’ll want to consider something like PPC. But if you’re in it for the long haul, you’ll want to prioritize an affordable and effective strategy like SEO.
MISTAKE: Targeting Overly Competitive Keywords
Some people get so caught up in the idea of ranking at number one that they lose sight of the actual goal.
Being a top dog is nice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your business will thrive.
Likewise, ranking fifth or ninth doesn’t spell disaster for your strategy.
That’s especially true if you’re operating within a highly competitive industry.
But in order to really make your mark, you’ll want to think outside the box a bit.
Instead of targeting a broad keyword and coming up short, it’s better to get hyper-specific.
This can align your strategy more accurately with customer intent and reach the people who are most likely to purchase your products or services.
Less competitive keywords often still come with decent search volume. But because you don’t have to compete with as many businesses, you’ll be able to stand out.
Targeting the most competitive keywords within your niche will often result in wasted money and a whole lot of frustration.
You can feel free to use these keywords for context on your site. However, you’ll want to ensure your chosen keywords are a good fit for your budget, your business, your customers, and your ultimate goals.
MISTAKE: Ignoring Website User Experience
Optimizing a website involves more than choosing the right keywords and creating content around them.
You also need to be certain that your website provides a great experience for every visitor.
Many business owners will overlook the importance of web design when developing their marketing strategy.
But it won’t matter how much marketing you do if your website is difficult to use.
That’s why you need to prioritize user experience (UX). Web design and SEO go hand-in-hand, so don’t forget to test the usability of your site first.
Make sure your site is fast, mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, secure, and free of the barriers that could derail a sale.
Remove full-page popups, increase the font size, and check to see if your site is accessible on all devices.
Since more than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile, you literally can’t afford to ignore mobile users.
Google will index the mobile versions of your site first – so if you don’t have an accessible website design, your rankings could suffer the consequences.
Beyond mobile features, you’ll want a simple design that’s attractive, functional, and guides the visitor along each step of their journey.
SEO may be complex, but that doesn’t mean mistakes are inevitable. When you know what to watch out for, you can develop a better strategy to market your business.