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1. Failing to Measure

With so many free tools available, it’s a stupid mistake to fail to measure the effectiveness your efforts. Every campaign should be carefully monitored to determine ROI. If you deploy a large social media effort and it fails, you can take a step back and determine why it didn’t work. Then, each subsequent time you launch a campaign on social media, you can change things and see which changes make the biggest difference.

By now, you’ve likely heard the buzz about Big Data. If your competitors are gathering detailed data on their efforts while you aren’t, you may already be losing. You don’t have to hire a top-notch data analyst to track your data; start with free or cheap analytics software, and expand as necessary.

2. Crappy Link Building

Inbound links are the most important single factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. Unfortunately, that’s about the extent of the knowledge most business owners have about them. In an effort to acquire inbound links, they hire cheap SEO firms who claim they’ll build hundreds or thousands of links. The end result? A complete backfire; a Google penalty that slams the rankings of the website so far down the search results, they might as well not even be there.

These penalties are a result of Google discovering link schemes which are meant to artificially boost search engine rankings. Link building is absolutely crucial to any SEO campaign, but it must be done properly in order to achieve positive results while avoiding risk. Guest blogging is a fantastic, legitimate way to not only build links, but also garner credibility, authority, and reach across major publishers.

3. Improper Keyword Use

In the days before Google’s Penguin and Panda updates to its algorithms, it was benefical for businesses to create pages of content with many instances of a certain keyword. Known as “keyword stuffing,” this practice resulted in pages full of nonsensical content that was ranking highly in Google’s search results because its algorithm wasn’t sophisticated enough to detect the manipulation.

Google solved this problem with its Panda and Penguin algorithms, which penalized websites that employed these manipulative tactics. While many business owners are now well aware that keyword stuffing is counterproductive, many are still wasting way too much time worrying about proper keyword usage. When a client asks me what keywords and how many should be in each piece of content they publish, I tell them not to worry about it. These days, producing content that’s shareable and invites conversation and engagement is a much more effective and productive use of time than trying to dial in the right dose of each keyword.

4. Failing to Focus on Conversion

While it seems like it should be obvious, many business owners focus on traffic, while forgetting about optimizing conversion rates. Traffic and conversion are both important, but they completely rely on each other; without one, having much of the other won’t matter at all. Even the best content will be ineffective if it doesn’t motivate customers to buy. It’s important to introduce customers to your brand, but it’s also important that you encourage those customers to take action that will benefit your business.

5. Publishing Crappy Content

The definition of quality definitely varies by niche, but there are several indicators of quality content that Google probably uses. Some of the most important include:

  • Length of content (longer is generally better)
  • External links to trusted sources
  • Inclusion of images and/or video embeds
  • Proper grammar & spelling
  • Proper and helpful use of bold, italics, header tags, and other text markup
  • Author of the content
  • Inbound links to the content
  • Social shares of the content