The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the path to SEO success is cluttered with mistakes threatening to derail your campaign every step of the way if you aren't careful.
While the search engines do their best to educate site owners on what is and isn't black hat SEO (and therefore frowned upon by the search engines) there are few bigger mistakes that could damage your SEO campaign before it even gets off the ground.
1. Not giving your SEO campaign enough time.
SEO is a long term and ongoing process.
Depending on a variety of factors, it might be 6-9 months before you really see the effects of your SEO kick in. I've seen plenty of SEO campaigns with a lot of potential get cut off at the knees because site owners didn't think it was moving fast enough. In today's economic environment, many businesses are looking for immediate wins and short term gains; SEO is not the place for short term anything. While it may be hard to convince your higher-ups that their investment in SEO will be worth it in the long run, it's the truth.
SEO is not for the impatient, so you have to be willing to make a move and then wait it out. This is especially true if you think your site was penalized and are trying to fix the issue. The search engines do not re-index every site every day-it's just not possible given the size and scope of the Internet. You might make changes to your site today (new content, better internal linking, redesign the navigation, etc) and the search engines won't see those improvements for a few months. This was an issue many sites faced after the first few rounds of Google's Panda update. For some site owners, it took several months and multiple changes before their site was back in Google's good graces.
2. Not taking a rounded approach to Internet marketing as whole.
SEO is important. However traditional link building and onsite SEO by themselves are not enough to keep your site competitive in today's online space.
Most of your competitors have stepped on their online game and if you want your site to compete well you have to do the same. Without social media marketing and content marketing getting incorporated into your Internet marketing campaign, your SEO efforts are eventually going to plateau.
Content is really the driving force behind both SEO and social media, so at the very least you need to create and routinely publish a company blog. Online press releases, guest blogging opportunities, webinars and video marketing are other content marketing tactics that can really propel your SEO forward and help build your online brand.
And it's really no secret that social media and SEO are essentially two sides of the same coin. The search engines are looking at social signals (how many times your content is shared in social networks) to determine how valuable it is and where it should fall in the SERPs. Author authority is also being used as a factor, meaning the more powerful your social reputation is (not just based on how many followers you have, but who is following you) the more weight your social signals carry.
For instance, if Matt Cutts of Google Tweets a link to your blog, that one link is worth so much more than 10 bot profiles Tweeting the same message.
3. Failing to adapt to changing behavior.
The Internet is not a static thing-it is constantly growing and evolving and user's search behavior is changing right alongside with it.
One of the biggest mistakes you could make as a site owner is failing to roll with the punches. For instance, in last few years, the SEO industry has developed an entire new lexicon around social media marketing and inbound marketing. A few years ago, social media marketing didn't even exist and now we use phrases like "geo-tagging" and "community engagement" in every day conversation. Any online marketing company that failed to adopt these new keywords would be seen as a relic of the past and would have been passed over by companies willing to embrace the way things are, as opposed to clinging to what was.
The same holds true for SEO. How users are searching for your products/service today might not be how they search for the same thing a year down the road. You have to be willing to morph your messaging to meet expectations and fall in-line with changing user behavior.
These are just three of the big mistakes many site owners make that could end up harming their SEO campaigns.
While there are plenty of little mistakes to be cautious of when you get down to the nitty-gritty of SEO, if you are guilty of one of these three your SEO campaign is most likely dead in the water, no matter what else you do.
About the author: Nick Stamoulis is the president and founder of Brick Marketing, a Boston SEO and SEO consulting firm. With over 12 years of Internet marketing experience, Nick Stamoulis has created SEO strategies for small and large companies in almost every industry. In order to share his SEO knowledge, Nick Stamoulis regularly writes for the Brick Marketing Blog and publishes the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 150,000 opt-in subscribers.