There is absolutely no doubt that bad SEO costs your company money. Not just due to poor results, but also by creating lasting damage that adds more costs to rectify ranking penalties later on.
These days many companies both large and small are hiring SEO agencies to try and get higher rankings on Google. Unfortunately, as the SEO industry is still relatively young and public understanding of Search Engine Optimisation is quite limited, the people in charge of hiring the SEO agency are doing so using either inadequate or just plain wrong information.
Here’s what you need to know about the SEO mistakes that could be costing you money right now.
1. Guaranteed Rankings on Google
This is a huge red flag, and if any SEO offers you a guaranteed position on Google, they are WAY overpromising. Rankings constantly shift from the sheer volume of changes that websites make every second.
When your competitors and other industry-related sites make changes to their pages, search engines will update their results pages, too. Suddenly, a change from a competitor can make them rank better, and that forces the whole page to reshuffle. But then when another website changes one of its pages, the pages reshuffle again.
You cannot ever be guaranteed a position.
2. Dodgy Backlinks
Establishing quality links between your website and other third party websites is a vital part of any SEO strategy. Why? Because one of Google’s ranking factors, is how many other high authority sites link to your content. This shows Google that other sites that rank well in your industry trust and reference your material, resulting in better authority for your domain and maybe even improving your ranking. These links that send traffic to your site are called ‘backlinks.’
The trouble with this ranking factor is that many SEO’s have figured out how to manipulate it. Want to buy 10,000 backlinks to your site? It’s possible and has been happening with some SEO agencies in recent years. This is HIGHLY penalised by Google and if caught, your site won’t just lose ranking positions, it will be removed from Google search all together.
Now, as a business owner, we know this isn’t your marketing style, but beware of the SEO agency that starts building many links to your site overnight. If these are not quality sites in your niche, you may just suddenly find that you are being endorsed by gambling and pornography sites to simply rank you higher, and it won’t. Outreach takes time and a quality strategy.
3. Ignoring User Experience
How does your website look to a customer? Is it easy to navigate? Or are there pop-ups for your newsletter, new products and special offers blasting onto the screen every five seconds.
Having too many ads on your website, or a website that takes a really long time to properly load detracts from your customers’ overall experience. This won’t only lose you traffic out of your customer’s sheer frustration, Google punishes slow websites and websites where visitors appear to leave very quickly (high bounce rate.)
4. Ignoring basic on-page SEO
One of the quickest ways to lose traffic is to lose focus on the basics. Huge off-page SEO strategies have their place, but if your SEO ignores all of the on-page elements, you will simply fail to rank your pages. Do your pages and posts each have unique meta descriptions? Are you placing keywords in the alt-tags of your images? Are your posts structures using effective header tags? How are your keywords placed throughout the content? These tasks are the responsibility of your chosen SEO (Search Engine Optimizer). Make sure they are covering all of these bases before moving on to outreach.
5. Failure to understand metrics
If you aren’t using analytics to determine which of your keywords are generating not only traffic to your website but traffic that converts to sales or clients, your website will never truly be optimized. While it is your SEO’s role to improve these numbers, you have a responsibility to understand what you are looking at so that you can effectively evaluate your site’s performance independently. How else will you know if your chosen agency is actually achieving results?
6. “I know someone at Google and he told me..”
One of my favourite SEO scam emails starts something like the above heading. Let’s just squash this one now. No. Your SEO does not have an in at Google. He/she could not possibly know anything about the Google algorithm update that is “about to be released” and if he/she did, we can assure you, they are not going to use this inside information to rank your plumbing business.
Say it with us.
There are NO GUARANTEES in SEO!
Good SEO takes time and strategy. Understand the basics of what is required. There are a basic set of strategies and rules that all SEO’s use. Any secret, special or instant success stories are simply that; stories.
Choose an agency with quality testimonials to back up any claims and remember, nothing happens overnight in SEO. If someone approaches you offering guaranteed rankings and fast results, run.