A problem I see with many site owners that manage their own SEO campaigns, especially if they don’t have a strong SEO background, is they often get fixated on the wrong SEO goals. SEO means building links so that’s all they care about—just get a link and move onto the next one. Websites that rank #1 get the most visitors so do whatever it takes to get to the top of page 1. But when you start to lose sight of the bigger picture and pigeonhole your vision on one particular SEO goal your whole program is bound to suffer.
Does ranking on the first page of Google help your business reach a wider audience? Yes, and there are plenty of reports out there outlining what percentage of clicks each position in the SERPs is bound to get. But website rank, although important, should not be your primary goal of SEO. In my mind, ranking well is a side effect of a great inbound marketing campaign that pulls the best of SEO, social media marketing and content marketing into one.
When you do everything right your website will slowly move up the SERPs. Trying to force your website rank to improve as quickly as possible usually means you’re resorting to black hat tactics and that almost always comes back to haunt you. And please remember that website rank is becoming increasingly personalized. What you see in the SERPs might look completely different than customer A which looks completely different for customer Q, even if you do search for the same things.
Driving more visitors from priority keywords only.
I’ve worked with several clients over the years that had a short list of keywords they wanted to focus their SEO campaign on. While knowing what you want to target is important, sites that limit themselves to a short list of priority keywords limit their long term success and often lose site of the forest for the trees. Think of it like this—let’s say your website gets 5,000 unique visitors each month. When you take out the 1,200 that come from branded searches (which can be influenced by SEO!) that leaves you with 3,600 hundred visitors that came from non-branded keywords. Let’s say 1,500 of them came from your priority keywords. That means that another 2,100 came from long tails and other variations of your priority keywords! Just because your priority keywords aren’t driving the lion’s share of visitors to your site that doesn’t mean your SEO isn’t working! Much like website rank, it’s easy to get so fixated on one component of your SEO that you start to silo your results and lose sight of the big picture.
Building links for links sake.
After the Google Penguin updates put the smack down on sites with unnatural link profiles, site owners everywhere need to be extra careful that they aren’t building links for links sake. Yes, links are still very much the bread and butter of SEO but getting more links isn’t nearly as important as getting better links. Link building is an ongoing process, so there is no need to take any link that comes your way. You’re allowed to be discerning with your link building!
At the end of the day, you have to answer for your link building actions so be sure it’s something your website can stand on and won’t land you in hot water with the search engines.
Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.