5 Common SEO Mistakes You Could Be Making Right Now
SEO is often said to be constantly evolving. The "O" in SEO stands for "optimization" of course. That very word carries with it the connotation of a never-ending strategy. This is good for SEO companies selling you SEO services, but it might not boost traffic to your site. Why? Well, there are some basic SEO strategies that don't change. If you don't get these right, nothing else matters.
You Don't Have A Value Proposition
You've probably heard the old saying "if you build it, they will come." Well, the first part of that sentence is possibly the most important. You have to build it, first. Building a value proposition means that you have something of value to offer your website visitors. If you can't explain what it is that you have to offer in simple terms, forget about it.
Most peoples' attention span these days is pretty poor. On top of that, no one will want to link to, or mention, your website without a real reason to do so. If you have to buy links, "likes," "tweets," "+1s" or anything else that is designed to help you rank well in the search engines, you don't have a value proposition that's appealing to any market. This is actually marketing 101, but for some reason a lot of the Internet community has chosen to ignore it.
You Have A Segmented SEO Strategy
If your business development, SEO, and offline marketing department don't talk to each other, you're in trouble. You should take a holistic approach to marketing, rather than a segmented approach. Make sure your offline marketing department understands what your online department does, and why.
For example, if you run ads offline that direct users to your website, pay attention to the marketing language used in the offline ad. Often times, the language used points to a "key word" or keyword, as it is called in the online world, and you have to optimize for this keyword or you risk losing valuable prospects.
Let's say you run an offline ad for some kind of promotion your company is running. Let's further assume you set up a promotional site that is separate from your main site, and that you use the term "customize your widget and get a free gift" in your offline ad. If you use the term "customize your widget and get a free gift" in your offline ad campaign, but your offline marketing department directs users to your company's main page instead of the promotional page (even if the main page links to the promotional page), users may become confused and leave the site without ever taking advantage of your cool promotion.
You Make Things More Complicated Rather Than Simplifying Your SEO
Google gives you clues as to how to keep up to date with changes in the SEO world. For example, for sites with paginated content, some website owners tried using the work around of using "rel=canonical" on subsequent pages to their main page. This caused the site to lose indexed pages in Google's search engine. It's much better to follow Google Webmaster guidelines and avoid using "rel=canonical" altogether in favor of "rel=next" and "rel=prev" markup for paginated content.
You Get Caught Up With Shiny New SEO Objects
This is something a lot (RE: most) SEO companies and webmasters do. When a new SEO tactic or strategy is discovered, everyone seems to jump on the bandwagon. Remember when Facebook "likes" were all the rage? Actually, they kind of are still all the rage. What happened to traditional SEO that focused on building good-quality backlinks that were merit based and from authority websites? You see, webmasters and SEO companies keep jumping from strategy to strategy, chasing the "next awesome SEO strategy" and fail to just stick to the stuff that works, has worked, and will always work.
Build good quality sites. Create good quality content. Get that content linked to by authoritative sites that have to vet the links (i.e. get merit-based backlinks). That old, but tested strategy, will always beat out the "fly-by-night" strategies and blackhat tactics that only work for the next three months (or less).
Even though basic SEO principles will never change, implementation will. Optimizing your site so that Google can better crawl it, improving user experience based on new coding language and other web technologies, making sure your site's sitemap is updated, and making sure you follow Google's Webmaster Guidelines so that you stay up to date with the newest algorithm changes ensures that you will always stay current with what's going on in the SEO industry.
It also helps your ranking if you can define metrics for your site's success, implement improvements as soon as you see the need for improvement on your site, measure the impact of any changes you make, create new improvements that enhance usability for your visitors, and prioritize improvements based on your market and your capabilities (which is naturally limited and dependent on your internal personnel).