One of your mains goals as a business owner is to raise awareness of your business. You work hard to keep your social media accounts active, and you’ve beefed up your website with content to help it rank well in search results. Yet, despite all your efforts, you haven’t seen an increase in sales. What are you doing wrong?
While there’s plenty of information online that provides solid SEO tips, very few resources address the mistakes many business owners commonly fall victim to. By reviewing these mistakes, business owners can pinpoint areas where they can make improvements, resulting in a more efficient use of their time. Here are five of the most common stupid mistakes I see business owners make with regard to their SEO campaigns.
- Failing to Measure
With so many free tools available, it’s a stupid mistake to fail to measure the effectiveness your efforts. Every campaign should be carefully monitored to determine ROI. If you deploy a large social media effort and it fails, you can take a step back and determine why it didn’t work. Then, each subsequent time you launch a campaign on social media, you can change things and see which changes make the biggest difference.
By now, you’ve likely heard the buzz about Big Data. If your competitors are gathering detailed data on their efforts while you aren’t, you may already be losing. You don’t have to hire a top-notch data analyst to track your data; start with free or cheap analytics software, and expand as necessary.
2. Crappy Link Building
Inbound links are the most important single factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. Unfortunately, that’s about the extent of the knowledge most business owners have about them. In an effort to acquire inbound links, they hire cheap SEO firms who claim they’ll build hundreds or thousands of links. The end result? A complete backfire; a Google penalty that slams the rankings of the website so far down the search results, they might as well not even be there.
These penalties are a result of Google discovering link schemes which are meant to artificially boost search engine rankings. Link building is absolutely crucial to any SEO campaign, but it must be done properly in order to achieve positive results while avoiding risk. Guest blogging is a fantastic, legitimate way to not only build links, but also garner credibility, authority, and reach across major publishers. If you’re looking for help with your link building strategy, I recommend these resources:
- The Ultimate, Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Business by Guest Blogging
- 8 Ways to Build Links When Guest Blogging Isn’t Possible
3. Improper Keyword Use
In the days before Google’s Penguin and Panda updates to its algorithms, it was benefical for businesses to create pages of content with many instances of a certain keyword. Known as “keyword stuffing,” this practice resulted in pages full of nonsensical content that was ranking highly in Google’s search results because its algorithm wasn’t sophisticated enough to detect the manipulation.
Google solved this problem with its Panda and Penguin algorithms, which penalized websites that employed these manipulative tactics. While many business owners are now well aware that keyword stuffing is counterproductive, many are still wasting way too much time worrying about proper keyword usage. When a client asks me what keywords and how many should be in each piece of content they publish, I tell them not to worry about it. These days, producing content that’s shareable and invites conversation and engagement is a much more effective and productive use of time than trying to dial in the right dose of each keyword.
4. Failing to Focus on Conversion
While it seems like it should be obvious, many business owners focus on traffic, while forgetting about optimizing conversion rates. Traffic and conversion are both important, but they completely rely on each other; without one, having much of the other won’t matter at all. Even the best content will be ineffective if it doesn’t motivate customers to buy. It’s important to introduce customers to your brand, but it’s also important that you encourage those customers to take action that will benefit your business.
In my article “The Definitive Guide to Crafting Winning Calls to Action in Your Content,” I provided tips for moving consumers from simply reading your content to taking action. I detailed the value of including calls to action in your blog posts and articles. Similar measures can be occasionally incorporated into your social media posts, although it’s important not to fill your followers’ newsfeeds with requests.
In another article titled “The Four Elements Of Any Action, And How To Use Them In Your Online Marketing Initiative,” I outlined the four key elements that must be present before anyone takes any action — ever. It’s largely psychological, but if you know and understand those four elements, you can drive actions on your website. Actions equal conversions, so it’s important for business owners to look at their websites from the perspective of conversion rates if they want to see positive ROI.
5. Publishing Crappy Content
Many business owners know they need to publish quality content on their website for a successful SEO campaign, but they don’t really understand how quality is measured. They publish once a week, at best, articles about the recent company holiday party, and wonder why nobody cares.
The definition of quality definitely varies by niche, but there are several indicators of quality content that Google probably uses. Some of the most important include:
- Length of content (longer is generally better)
- External links to trusted sources
- Inclusion of images and/or video embeds
- Proper grammar & spelling
- Proper and helpful use of bold, italics, header tags, and other text markup
- Author of the content
- Inbound links to the content
- Social shares of the content
So, the next time you look at your company blog, ask yourself these questions:
- Would readers want to share this with their friends?
- Does this provide value to my readers?
- Is the author an expert on this subject?
- Does my content look like a wall of text, or is it visually attractive?
For more on how a blog affects SEO, see my article, “Why An Active Blog is Necessary for a Successful SEO Campaign.”
If you’re making these stupid mistakes in your marketing efforts, you could be wasting valuable time and money.