8 Common SEO Mistakes That Can Cost You Long-Term Progress & How to Avoid Them
SEO as part of digital marketing is considered to be a long-term strategy. However, many business owners, webmasters, and even marketing specialists struggle to envision what it actually means, falling roughly into two camps:
- Those who are impatient and constantly looking for quick wins
- Those who take “long-term” as an absence of any time frames, and are waiting way too long to see results
However, as is often happens, the truth lies somewhere in between. Indeed, when it comes to “strategy” there is almost no such thing as a “quick” SEO win. This being said, when it comes to certain cases of technical or optimisation issues, there is a possibility that you can see almost instant SEO impact by speeding up your site, or implementing metadata for the first time. Yet, this is usually a one time push and the rest will depend on a full-scale strategy.
On the other hand, long-term doesn’t mean eternal, so if you put a lot of efforts into SEO for a year and still don’t see any impact, then most likely something is wrong with the strategy.
Time wise, if the strategy is working, you should start seeing some improvements at around the 3 month mark, which will increase over time.
So, if you are not seeing any results, reached a plateau, or noticed negative trends, you most likely made one or more of the following common SEO mistakes.
SEO challenges due to lack of planning
Planning might seem basic, yet it is absolutely crucial when it comes to SEO success and marketing in general. SEO strategy is a combination of on-site, off-site, development, and content efforts that should work together strengthening a website as a whole. Therefore, it is important not to forget that each element takes a different amount of time to create, implement, and evaluate. Additionally, each of these elements will have a different impact from both SEO and CRO perspectives.
Inconsistency and poor SEO performance
Consistency and dedication is the key to success, and SEO performance is not an exception. We all want “everything right now”, however, life and business rarely work this way. If you switch your keyword targeting, pages, and/or content focus every 1-3 months, you are unlikely to see major results from any of them.
SEO issues due to wrong targeting
Unfortunately, this mistake happens way more often than you would expect, even among professionals. Usually, the wrong targeting is connected to one of the following pitfalls:
- Targeting is too broad and/or difficult
- Targeting is too narrow and/or easy so you don’t have room to grow
- Incorrect target audience
- Lack of understanding of your target audience even it’s correctly defined
- Optimisation for the wrong user intent
Wrong priorities resulting in ineffective SEO strategy
Whatever your strategy or goals are, you need to make sure you have the right priorities. In order to make sure that you are on the right track, you should be able to justify your actions, both to your management/clients/business partner, and most importantly to yourself. If the answer to “why do this?” is close do “I’m doing this because I read I should”, “Everybody does this”, “There is nothing else to do” and so on, it’s time to stop and reevaluate your efforts, really thinking about why you should do “this” from strategic and ROI bringing perspectives.
Underestimation of the importance of technical performance
This is one of the most common mistake I come across. Usually, there can be a number of reasons why this happens:
- Lack of budget for development
- Lack of manpower or development resources
- Wrong/different priorities – other development tasks always come first
- Underestimation of the impact that technical improvements can bring
- Misconception of SEO working in a vacuum. This can be summed up by the phrase “I want to see some positive SEO changes first to decide if it is worth the effort/budget”
First and foremost, I would like to mention that, depending on the situation, each of the above mentioned points can be a fair one. This being said, technical performance and website health is something that can have a tremendous impact on your SEO success. So if you want to see positive results you will have to prioritise your efforts and/or budget for technical improvements.
SEO issues due to poor quality control
In the long run, quality always wins over quantity, or speed. Whether you aim to acquire external links, expand your content efforts, or re-build your website, quality should come first. Usually, poor quality control is caused by one of the following:
- Inadequate quantity. In a rush for success you do more than you can handle or even more than you actually need. This leads to time and management issues that will make poor quality slip through, preventing you from moving forward smoothly, if not causing even bigger issues.
- Fragmented management and lack of the bigger picture. This is a common issue for bigger companies and corporations that have independently managed departments and fragmented cross-department communication. Since SEO is somewhere on the edge of development, content creation, and general marketing, it is extremely important to have some supervision in place to avoid turning your strategy into The Broken Telephone game, when the result is far from the initial concept. Oftentimes, external SEO consultancy can be more beneficial than hiring someone in-house, simply because an outsourced person or agency is less likely to fall into the same communicational trap.
- Lack of knowledge. This is relevant for a lack of both SEO knowledge, as well as market/industry knowledge (let’s say you just started doing business internationally or launched a foreign language). In this case you will need to consider hiring someone in-house or finding a reliable SEO service provider that will help you transition to the next level.
- Simple lack of attention to detail or underestimation of the importance of quality. Not much needs to be explained here.
Lack of self-reflexion and analysis
As any long-term strategy, SEO has its own routine. And a routine, combined with pressure for results, can create a never-ending circle of chasing unrealistic or incorrect goals that result in doing a certain task just for the sake of doing it. Let’s give a simple example. You want to speed up your results so you started link building, or publishing content, or optimizing every single page on your 2,000+ page website. In 3 months time, the results are not as good as you expected, so you doubled your efforts, and in another 3 months you doubled them again, and then again. But the results are still not as great as you want them to be. By now, you are doing so much that you hardly have time for anything else. STOP!
Sometimes, regardless how hard it is to admit it, the strategy isn’t working because it’s simply not the best strategy. This is even more critical in case you clearly put more efforts into one specific area. Don’t be afraid to stop yourself or your team, pause all your efforts for a month, and take this time to run a full technical site audit, competitor analysis, full backlink profile check, QA etc. You might very well discover that the issue is hiding in quality or even completely somewhere else.
Incorrect strategy due to unrealistic goals
Goals are extremely important to outline the strategy and plan time allocation and budget accordingly. However, there is a difference between calculated and estimated potential, and an unrealistic dream goal. You need to make sure that you goal has a realistic stable ground to stand on, otherwise you’ll force yourself into a potentially false strategy that will not get you to where you want to be.
Marketing in general, and SEO in particular, is a never-ending race for the best results. Mistakes are natural, moreover, they can benefit professional growth and bring fresh ideas to achieve new heights.