Top SEO Mistakes You Must Avoid (Cheatsheet)

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I’ve been gathering information on some common SEO mistakes.  Here is a list of what I have so far.  Be sure to comment and add any that you have experienced.  Let’s all learn from these:

MistakeWhy It’s A MistakeSolution
Not doing proper keyword researchYou think you know how people think, you certainly know how you think and how you would search so you just go with the phrases that you think people will use.  Big mistake.  People search differently, especially because different people are in different phases of the researching and buying process and you want to use keywords that will catch them in all phases in the process.  Keyword research is the foundation of your campaign and not a step you should skip.Review web stats, brainstorm with colleagues, use keyword research tools, check out competitors.  Put the proper time and attention into keyword research.
Doing your own SEO…but then never making time to actually get it doneYou don’t have to outsource, you can handle it yourself – as long as you really do handle it yourself.  Often the tasks site on a to do list for a long time and you never get around to it, but you still hopefully check your web stats – expecting to somehow find the engines picked up your site and sent a ton of traffic.Be honest with yourself about whether you have the time or not.  If you do have the time, make it a priority and do the work, if you don’t then you need to outsource.
Ignoring social media because you “don’t get it” or “don’t like itLike it or not, get it or not, social media is part of SEO and its here to stay.  You are missing out if you aren’t doing SEO.Just Do It!!  At the minimum get a profile and get connecting on LinkedIn.  Get a Fan Page and get active on Twitter.
Lacking a strategy and planWe are all busy, we all need more hours in the day.  Without a strategy and action plan, most things won’t get done.  If you are handling your own SEO, Blogging, Social Media, you need an action plan and you need a focused strategy that has goals attached so you know what you are working towards.Reverse engineer your goals to come up with a daily action plan. Also be sure your tweets, Facebook posts and articles/Blog posts all work together to create momentum.
Obsessing about ranking reports and not paying attention to traffic statsSEO is a means to an end.  It’s a way to get traffic.  It’s not about looking at pretty reports and feeling good.  Look at your traffic stats, learn from it.  Often you are hitting yourself over the head to get a certain phrase ranked but you don’t realize that all these other phrases are bringing in some traffic and expanding those could be a great way to go.  Ranking reports can give a snapshot of where you are at on a set of words you chose to run the report on.  But the beauty of SEO is that if your site is well optimized, the engines will start picking your site up for other related phrases and you won’t even know that traffic is actually increasing because you are too busy lamenting a ranking report that doesn’t show great rankings on one impossible, coveted phrase.Glance at ranking reports if you must, but look at traffic stats and see what is really going on.  Use Webmaster Tools to also get an idea of what’s going on and find areas you need to focus on/improve.
Focusing too much on the engines and not enough on site visitorsGetting your site ranked isn’t going to do much good if your site isn’t prepared to convert site visitors when they get there. You need to make sure your site is user-friendly and well written.  It needs to be compelling.  It needs to work for you and not against you.  Never optimize your site at the expense of the users experience.Don’t do it!!  J  Make sure each step of the way you ask yourself 2 questions:  1. Is this good for the engines?  If the answer is no, try to tweak it so it is good for the engines but most importantly question 2 is: Is this good for site visitors?  Don’t compromise on this one.
Putting all your eggs in one basket.  It’s not “content” OR “links” it’s “content AND links” (have a strategy plan for both)SEO is made up of many factors, on-page, social, site structure, linking etc.  Ignoring one piece of the puzzle will limit results.Be sure you have a well thought out strategy and make sure you do the right things at the right time (get your site in top shape architecturally and get on-page in place and then get out there to build links and participate in social).
Not growing your site content.The engines like fresh content and so do site visitors.  It gives them a reason to return.  Not updating content makes your site dated and you lose opportunity to increase rankings and further engage site visitors.Get a Blog or create an Articles/Info section on your site and add helpful/informative content regularly.
Keyword stuffing, spamming, setting up or participating in link farms.The engines don’t like it, you risk getting penalized or banned.  It is not good for site visitors.Educate yourself on what best practices are for SEO and follow them.

I’m sure this list will continue to grow.  Would love to hear your take on this and any mistakes you want to add.

Jennifer Horowitz

Jennifer Horowitz

Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing for www.EcomBuffet.com – a full service SEO, Web Design & Development and Social Media Firm. Since 1998 Jennifer’s... Read Full Bio
Jennifer Horowitz

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