If you're new to the whole search engine optimization thing -- or, heck, even if you're not -- it might be a little intimidating to think of all the factors you have to consider to have a rockin' SEO strategy. Even worse, what if there's stuff other people are doing that you didn't even know about?
But it doesn't have to be that complicated!
If you're still struggling to get that lovin' feelin' from your friends at Google, consider this post a good 101 class. Here are some of the things to watch out for in your SEO strategy -- use it as a barometer to ensure you're not inadvertently shooting yourself in the foot.
And hey, don't worry. We all mess up sometimes.
1) Putting on the Black Hat
I thought this was pretty common knowledge, but I still see this happening all the time, so bear with me on this one.
Marketers and business owners with the best intentions may still be doing things like keyword spamming in the comments section of a popular websites, or even buying links to get some quick wins for their site. Avoid those unsavory methods altogether, and be vigilant about only investing in white hat tactics.
Yes, content creation and link building the right way takes time and effort, but that doesn't mean that time and effort isn't worth it. Consider the alternative: engaging in some not-so-great black hat SEO.
If this all sounds a little unfamiliar to you, here's one of the best resources you can use to get up to speed on optimizing your content for modern-day SEO: "Blog SEO for the Modern Marketer." It's an excellent, accessible place to start your white hat SEO education.
2) Failing to Focus on Quality Content
It's not uncommon for marketers to spend too much time focusing on making their websites look fancy -- who wants to look at some plain-looking site, right?
While I love looking at a sexy site, as a user, I'd rather have access to one of the core component needed for great SEO: Quality content.
Why does quality content matter for your SEO? Because quality content gets shared. It gets linked to. It keeps people on your site longer. It keeps people coming back for more. And these are, conveniently, also the signs to search engines that your site is worth surfacing in their SERPs.
If creating quality content is on your to-do list, but it's too intimidating to even fathom, check out this ebook. It'll help you get started with creating quality content in an efficient way that you can easily incorporate into your existing marketing team. Once you get to the point where you're churning out top-notch, keyword-friendly content at a steady clip, you'll see your pages gradually move up on search results. In the words of Ron Burgundy ...
3) Stuffing (or Obsessing Over) Keywords
Even if you're new to SEO, you oughta know by now that Google recognizes sites that use keywords with care (meaning judiciously) above ones that jam-pack them into their pages (meaning ... well ... a lot more than judiciously).
As Matt Cutts has noted in the last year or so, it's just not a wise decision for marketers to stuff as many keywords as possible in their content. There was a time when using many-a-keyword in your blog posts and landing pages was a big plus. Today, though, Google is all about getting high-quality, pertinent, and useful content to the tops of its search results pages.
That's why it's more advantageous for marketers to stop obsessing over keywords, and instead, start thinking about topics. Topics are things readers might want to, well, read. Keywords are what search engines read. Think about content that's reader-friendly, and I think you'll find that the keywords (and search authority) will naturally follow.
4) Giving Up On Off-Page SEO
A lot of marketers can get nervous about off-page optimization, because it feels totally out of their control. But there's plenty you can do that's within your control!
For instance, are you getting guest posts published to -- and building relationships with -- reputable sites? Are you posting regular and relevant content to your social channels that people will want to share? Are you investing in quality on-site content that people will want to link to, like seminal how-to guides or interesting thought leadership pieces?
The benefits you'll reap for having a comprehensive off-page SEO strategy -- even if it's not 100% in your control -- will reap considerable benefits for your overall SEO.
5) Not Sharing Regularly on Social
True or false: Developing a solid off-page plan can be pretty hard if you're not active on your social accounts.
Yeah, we thought you'd go with the former. (Mostly because I just told you in point #4.)
Social signals are only gaining in importance in Google's search algorithm, and it makes sense. Think about the old inbound link analogy -- it's like a vote for your content. Well, it's no different with social shares. The more someone shares your content on social media, the more votes it's getting in Google's eyes.
If you're struggling to keep up with social media marketing, this blog post has a ton of resources that can help.
6) Failing to Keep Up With Search Algorithm Changes
Google has been very, very busy in 2013. And chances are, the search engine giant will have plenty more up its sleeve in 2014.
This means that if you haven't already been paying attention to the changes to Panda and Penguin and Hummingbird (oh my!), it's time to allocate some ... well ... time ... so you can keep up with these algorithm adjustments and developments. Falling behind on the algorithm updates can leave you inadvertently practicing some outdated SEO that, at its best, does nothing for you -- and at its worst, actively penalizes you.
(Want to find out about Google's most recent algorithm? You can learn all about what changes arose with the advent of the Hummingbird formula here.)
7) Trying to Do Too Much
More is better. Right?
Not when it comes to SEO campaigns.
Do you really want to track the progress of, say, 200 keywords? And then try to fit them all into your 20 monthly blog posts? That seems a little aggressive -- and usually results in a lack of focus, and efforts spread too thin for any real impact.
Instead, focus your efforts on a smaller mix of keywords -- let's say 20 or so -- with a nice mix of head terms, long tail terms, and quick wins. It's a more sustainable way to approach SEO, and makes it more likely you'll actually see some success from all that hard work!
What other common mistakes do you see that can really hurt marketers' SEO progress?