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The Number One SEO Mistake and How You Can Avoid It

By Lauren Cohrs - August 15, 2013

Every Monday morning, I sit down with my computer and coffee to join fellow employees in our weekly production meeting. But this week something extraordinary happened that would completely change my outlook on SEO. The SEO gurus offered a prying question: what is success for us as SEOs?

Now at first, the question may appear to have one obvious answer: getting ranked higher on search engines! I mean, that’s what SEO is, right? But something in the coffee that day got us all thinking more about this inquiry, eventually lingering on one simple, yet powerful concept that the coveted number one spot on search engine results pages isn’t actually the pinnacle of SEO success. The heavens of SEO enlightenment opened up and led us to our epiphany that day,

The number one SEO mistake: failing to recognize and focus on the specific goals we intend to achieve through a website and online marketing.

That’s right! It’s worse than forgetting to put in a meta description, completely ignoring keywords, and spammy site links all combined. Here’s why.

The Goal of SEO: Your Goal

We each have differing motives in mind for our online marketing- rev up site traffic, augment sales, build and maintain a powerful online reputation, promote quality content, the list never ends. But our journey to the forefront of online marketing often is tainted by a lack of focus on these goals. Suddenly it becomes all about one common byproduct of great SEO: getting to the top of search engine results pages. We’re just plain brainwashed!

ricky bobby will ferrell ricky bobby- seo mistakesRemember the famous one-liner in “Talladega Nights the Ballad of Ricky Bobby” by Will Ferrell “If you ain’t first, you’re last?” Pretty ridiculous. But, despite the absurdity of the phrase, many SEOers have actually bought into this idea themselves when it comes to online marketing. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being number one on the SERP, SEOs must remember that being first does not necessarily mean that your site serves its purpose.

Why You Should Focus on the Number One Spot Last

Success and website ranking don’t exactly correlate! I can’t count the number of times I’ve clicked on the top link of a SERP only to be led to poorly written, irrelevant content. With these sites, the title of being “number one” means high traffic, but also high bounce rates, and highly frustrated visitors. Awesome!

When website-owners concentrate solely on reaching the top-spot, it can lead to an:

  • Over-emphasis on search engine indexing and operating which may lead to an acceptance of poor SEO tactics from keyword stuffing and link spamming to doorway pages and invisible text
  • De-prioritization of visitors and user-experience
  • Failure to provide meaningful or engaging content for visitors
  • Neglect for the utilization of effective on-page marketing tactics

But for SEOs who prefer to overcome number-one obsessive syndrome, it’s time to take our elders advice and get our priorities straight!

All Jacked Up on Good SEO

Whether you’re just beginning to optimize your site or you have been performing SEO since the acronym came into existence, you can achieve your online marketing goals through one simple SEO three-step method.

  1. Plan: Determine an overall goal for your website and develop a plan centered around this goal. Keep it clear-cut and attainable, and create actionable items within the plan. For example, businesses wishing to get more leads from online traffic may consider building a plan around creating a sound marketing campaign through their website, tailor content to the item they wish to sell, and capture clients through calls-to-action.
  2. Optimize: Make your site the best it can be! Instead of fretting about where you rank on SERPs, perform proper SEO tactics and generate powerful content that visitors will love. The rest will follow! Search engines promote well-designed, optimized sites that engage visitors by pushing them to the top of SERPs. This tactic will remove the temptation to use black-hat SEO tactics to get ranked higher; both you and your visitors will love it!
  3. Evaluate: All it takes is a little comparison between Lebron James and Michael Jordan to see that the measurement of success varies greatly from person to person. In the SEO world, it’s no different! Form a method for tracking your success. Like counting how many championship rings each player has or calculating the player efficiency ratings (PER) in basketball, SEOs should nominate a strategy to use for testing website results. From here, website owners should refine their SEO tactics and repeat the process while raising the bar for their goals!

For SEO firms, it is our inherent duty to do the same for clients. Don’t let ranking be the absolute benchmark for your website’s success. It’s a cut-throat market for competition in the online world. Put your blinders on and keep your eye on the prize as you make strides to achieve it.

Shake ‘n’ bake!

ricky bobby-shake n bake- seo mistakes

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