SEO Don’ts
Image Credit: Sean MacEntee.

SEO is one of the biggest buzz words (actually, it’s an acronym) in marketing right now, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. It is also one of the most ambiguous. With the complexity of the algorithms Google and other search engines use to determine search engine rankings, it is no wonder so many are at a loss for where to start. Sometimes, though, it’s not just about doing what’s right; it’s also about avoiding what’s wrong. Let’s explore what tasks should be kept on the do not do list.

Do not pay $4.99 for 500 links. Or $5.99 or even $6.99! In other words, be leery of companies that promise you spectacular results for dirt cheap. They implement the shadiest techniques and are more likely to get your site penalized than number one rankings. If you want to rank well you will need to make an investment. Find a company that will be transparent about their process, analytical in reporting, and responsive in communications. Or, hone up on the best practices and perform the basics on your own.

Do not think Google is the only search engine. While Google is the biggest and probably most well-known search engine in the U.S., it isn’t the only one. Both Yahoo and Bing are hovering around 15% of the online searches each (source). A lot of the techniques will be the same to rank well across search engine algorithms, but it is a good idea to take note of differences between the major three players (Google, Yahoo, & Bing).

Do not optimize for SEO. Optimize for users. The ultimate point of your website is not for search engine spiders to deem your site worthy, it’s for consumers to find you, learn about you, and ultimately become an advocate (whether that is purchasing goods, services, or supporting your cause). If you rank #1 but your visitors aren’t enjoying or revisiting your site, would you really consider it a success? Probably not. You’ll need to find the sweet spot between providing information to your visitors and writing it in a way that search engines find it relevant.

Do not limit SEO to a one-time task. Content is constantly being added to the Internet, new websites are being published, and search engines are tweaking their algorithms to provide better results to their visitors. In light of this, if you want to see steady results from your SEO efforts, it needs to an ongoing part of your strategy. Just like if you want to be a professional athlete; you don’t buy the sports gear, practice for a day and think you have what it takes to be on top. You invest time and money in to practicing and learning the techniques necessary to succeed. The same goes with SEO.

Do not use SEO as your sole online marketing technique. SEO is not the end all be all of online marketing. While it is important, there are also several other online channels you can use to increase traffic to your site and convert visitors into customers (PPC, social media, banner ads, email marketing, etc.)

Do not think you will jump to #1 over night. If it were possible to jump the ranks like that you would be just as likely to be jousted from your #1 position the next day. Like I stated in #4, positive and quality SEO results will take time. SEO efforts require a long term investment.

Do not steal your competitors’ info. Also known as “scraping” a site, not only is it unethical, it is very likely Google will penalize you for this practice and mark your site as spam. Take pride in your understanding of your target audience and tailor your content to fit them to a T.

Do not add keywords just to have them. It used to be a common strategy to write very keyword dense content, most of the time well past the point of comprehension. Not only is this a turn off for your visitors, search engine algorithms are onto this and will penalize you. Please refer back to #3 – don’t write for spiders, write for people!

Do not think all links are created equal. “SEO Gurus” often strive to get as many links as possible without worry about the quality of the link. A link is a link, right? Wrong. The fact is that quality does matter in building links. Spend time retrieving quality links, not just volume.

Have you seen any other SEO no-no’s being committed? Have any other advice to relay regarding SEO don’ts? I’d love to hear from you!