10 Business Decisions That Can Hurt SEO

Believe it or not, the most critical SEO mistakes are often ones that cannot simply be “fixed” by an expert SEO professional.

On the contrary, many SEO mistakes boil down to an underlying business decision that was made — whether it’s opting to make additional investments in your website to be more SEO-friendly, vetting and choosing a great SEO consultant, setting clear business goals for your campaign, allocating the appropriate budget and resources to meet those goals, or even making the decision to end your SEO campaign if you do not see the results you want.

The point is, an SEO professional can put in the work to push your business where you want it to be, but ultimately, the efficacy of your SEO campaign depends on how you, as a key decision maker, are supporting and prioritizing those efforts.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of ten common business mistakes that can make or break the success of an SEO campaign:

    1. Not having a responsive, mobile-friendly site design
    2. Having a “set it and forget it” mentality after launching your website
    3. Hiring an SEO consultant that makes unrealistic promises
    4. Skipping the benchmarking & goal setting phase
    5. Producing mass amounts of thin, mediocre content
    6. Overlooking the importance of site architecture
    7. Targeting the wrong keywords
    8. Neglecting local SEO
    9. Not having a CRO strategy once users do find your site
    10. Halting SEO work after only a few months

Wondering if your business decisions are helping or hindering your SEO efforts? Continue reading.

1. Not having a responsive, mobile-friendly site design

Mobile device user

When people think about SEO, they’re often thinking about keywords, but keywords are just one thing that Google’s algorithm takes into account when evaluating your site.

It’s also determining whether your site is easy for visitors to use. After all, Google’s ultimate mission is to provide useful and usable search results to its users. With more and more people are experiencing the internet via mobile devices and voice-activated technology than ever before, it is critical that your site is responsive and mobile-friendly.

Even if your content is fantastic, that doesn’t mean much if the vast majority of users cannot access it.

2. Having a “set it and forget it” mentality after launching your website

Let’s imagine that after a months-long website redesign process, you’ve finally launched a new website. The new design is responsive and mobile-friendly, and before launch, special care was taken to add SEO titles and meta descriptions to all of your pages. Needless to say, your SEO is in great shape! Now that you’ve ticked all these boxes, you shouldn’t have to worry about SEO for a while, right? It’ll just be doing its thing in the background, right?

Not quite. 

If you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck from your recent website redesign, hitting the ground running with a digital marketing campaign is the best way to do it.

Even if you’re not ready to embark on a full-blown campaign quite yet, it’s essential to at least sustain the integrity your site’s on-page SEO over time. At a minimum, SEO requires ongoing maintenance to ensure you’re keeping up with Google’s latest algorithmic changes. This is especially critical if you find yourself updating or adding new content to your site regularly.

3. Hiring an SEO consultant that makes unrealistic promises.

If an SEO consultant promises you the moon, consider that a red flag. As much as I’m sure they would love to guarantee you the number one spot for a highly competitive keyword phrase, the truth is that they just can’t.

So what exactly should a legitimate SEO consultant promise you?

Straight talk.

If you have lofty goals, a good SEO consultant won’t say that it’s impossible to attain, but they will be realistic with you about how much time and work it will take. If you’re ready to put in that time and work, a good SEO consultant will provide recommendations based on your unique goals and provide meaningful reporting and data that empowers you to make important business decisions.

What else should you keep in mind when shopping around for an SEO consultant? Here are seven things to look for in an SEO company.

4. Skipping the benchmarking & goal setting phase

Setting goals and benchmarks

Before you dig into any SEO work, it’s critical to set some clear goals and benchmarks first. Going through this process helps you identify the gaps between how your business is performing now and how you want it to perform in the future. Most importantly, it will help you determine the return on investment you’re getting for your SEO efforts at a later date.

Wondering how to get started? We got you. Don’t miss our step-by-step guide for benchmarking your digital marketing strategy.

5. Producing mass amounts of thin, mediocre content

As with many things in life, your content creation efforts should prioritize quality over quantity. Publishing content regularly is one of the hallmarks of any great SEO strategy, but if you’re churning out content so fast that the quality is beginning to suffer, it may be time to slow down.

The internet is bloated with content these days, which means it takes more effort than ever to make your content rank for desired keywords. To stand out, you need to make sure you’re creating high-quality SEO content. Thin, mediocre content awkwardly stuffed with keywords is just not going to cut it.

So, instead of putting your money toward creating dozens of short, hastily written blogs that barely scratch the surface of your intended topic, opt to spend that same amount of time writing something more comprehensive that provides depth to your reader.

6. Overlooking the importance of site architecture

The way that a site’s pages are structured and linked together is known as “site architecture.” Your site architecture affects not only how your users navigate your site, but also how Google ranks your site. How? Well, Google’s spiders rely heavily on site architecture to crawl and index pages within a website, so you could be tripping yourself up if your site architecture doesn’t make sense or has too many layers.

Two of the most essential best practices for optimizing your site architecture include using a “flat” site architecture and making sure you have an XML sitemap available for Google to crawl. Even if you have these basic best practices down, site architecture can be leveraged to optimize your search performance further (for example, as part of an SEO content cluster strategy).

7. Targeting the wrong keywords

As a business owner, you may think you know what keywords you want to rank for, but unless you’ve done thorough keyword research, you’re just guessing. And even the most educated of guesses may result in you targeting the wrong keywords. Typically, the “wrong” keywords are:

  • Too competitive — When starting out on your SEO journey, you may want to avoid going after “high” competition keywords right off the bat. Remember that SEO is all about the long game. Shooting for lower hanging fruit at the beginning builds up your authority, which can help you go after those more competitive keywords later in the future.
  • Too generic — Sure, an all-natural dog grooming business in New York City would probably love to rank well for the term “dogs,” but it’s way too generic to be relevant for your niche. The easiest way to avoid generic keywords is by going after longtail keywords, which are highly specific keyword phrases consisting of three to five words. Because they specifically tap into the intent of a user, they are significantly easier to rank for than a one-word generic keyword. For example, that dog grooming business might find more success by going after longtail keywords like “NYC dog spa” or “best natural dog groomer.”
  • Not being searched for at all — If a longtail keyword has almost no competition, then yes, you’ll probably have an easy time ranking for it. That’s great, but there’s one caveat to consider. A keyword with slim to none competition may mean that almost no one is searching for that keyword at all. So, if no one is even searching for a keyword, is it worth putting in the effort to rank for it? Or is it a waste of your time and resources?

To make sure you’re choosing the right keywords, you need to know what people are searching for, how many people are searching for it, and what your competitors are doing. You gain these insights while doing keyword research, so make sure not to skip that process.

8. Neglecting local SEO

People at a restaurant eating burgers

 

How easy is it for your customers to find your business hours or directions to your location(s)? Does this information pop up when someone searches for your business in Google or do users have to dig for it? If it’s the latter, it’s time to start paying attention to your local SEO (also known as local optimization).

Local optimization is a branch of SEO that focuses on improving your appearance in local searches, and it’s especially vital for brick-and-mortar businesses that conduct business specifically within a geographical region. For example, if you own a restaurant with really great burgers, you probably want to make sure your business shows up in Google when users in your city type “best burgers near me.”

There are many things you can do to optimize the local findability of your business, though the first step you should take is claiming and filling out your Google My Business listing.

9. Not having a conversion strategy once users do find your site

You’re putting in the hard work and seeing progress in your rankings, but how do you know if it is paying off?

Well, first off, congrats on the progress, but you need to keep your eyes on the prize. Your ultimate goal isn’t about getting the highest rankings. It’s about converting your site visitors into serious leads, prospects, and customers. But how do you know if your SEO efforts are actually responsible for conversions? The answer is conversion rate optimization (CRO).

Moz defines CRO as “the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take a desired action — be that filling out a form, becoming customers, or otherwise. The CRO process involves understanding how users move through your site, what actions they take, and what’s stopping them from completing your goals.”

The most common way CRO is used to support your SEO is through conversion tracking, which allows you to see what conversion actions were taken by a visitor referred to your site by a search engine. Implementing conversion tracking requires that you first create a Google Tag Manager account, but once you’ve done this, you can track all kindsa keyword is “wrong”  of visitor actions — from contact form submissions to digital downloads.

Remember, your SEO strategy is only as strong as your CRO strategy, so make sure you’re not leaving this piece of the puzzle out.

10. Halting SEO work after only a few months because you don’t see results you want

As I’ve already mentioned, SEO is inherently a long game. There are two main reasons for this. First, any new content or changes you make to your site can take weeks or even months to fully reflect in search engine results. Second, SEO work is very iterative; it requires data-driven course corrections to get you to where you need to be, and that takes time.

That’s why it’s painfully short-sighted to abandon your SEO efforts after only a few months simply because you’re not immediately getting the results you want.

If you’re starting an SEO campaign from scratch, you’ll quickly realize that so much of this work involves baby steps forward (and yes, sometimes even baby steps backward). But if you’re willing to put in the time and work, those baby steps start to add up to real progress.


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