We live and breathe SEO here in the writing department at REW, which means we see all the incredibly awesome things that are happening in the SEO world. It also means that we see the site-crippling mistakes people are making, and those aren't quite as awesome. Here's a list of the biggest repeat offenders I see in my day-to-day and an explanation of why they're bad:
1. Outdated Practices
One of the most common problems with modern SEO is an unwillingness to adapt. SEO is constantly evolving and developers who don't do the same will fall behind. I see a lot of people ignoring the advice of their SEO expert because they know a guy who had "Method X" work and by gosh, he got leads! Unfortunately, Method X is often some spammy link exchange strategy from 1996 that will quickly get your site penalized by Google in 2013. Modern SEO is all about user-friendly content and ease of navigation, and it's time to revise your approach if your strategy is focusing on anything else as a top priority.
2. Keyword Spam, Spamming Keywords & Keywords That Spam
You see what I did there? Don't do that. This really ties into the first point, where we're seeing the ghost of SEO past manifest in content developers today who misguidedly think using multiple keywords in close proximity is a good tactic. In reality, it's a blatant attempt to manipulate search engines and those search engines have caught on. 2012 was the year of web spam and all these unnatural attempts to rank better are being cracked down on—hard.
Worse still, keyword spam deters actual users. (You know, the people who bring you business.) Web users are becoming more internet savvy and are instantly suspicious of sites that overuse keywords, because it's a known hallmark of low-quality content and malware. Plus it just sucks to read.
If search engines hate keyword spam and users hate keyword spam, what's the point? ...Exactly, there isn't one.
3. Expecting Lots of Leads, Right Away
Honestly, one of the worst things you can do to yourself is expect instant results from a SEO campaign. SEO is a long-term strategy. It takes months for a campaign to become established and you're just setting yourself up for disappointment if you expect to see those leads come in the next day. If you're looking for overnight success, check out PPC. The best online marketing campaigns combine both SEO and PPC strategies to generate leads, because each strategy targets a different type of user.
4. Measuring Success By Google Ranking
There was a time when you could look up your site on Google and see the same results as everyone else. That time doesn't exist anymore. Google has been personalizing search engine results more and more, using things like your Google+ network, previous search history, and so forth to determine the sites that are best for you. This means that your results might not be the same as your next door neighbour's or even the roommate you share an internet connection with.
Instead of measuring success by ranking, we use metrics. Using tools like Google Analytics and the REW dashboard, metrics tells us how many visits your site is receiving and what your visitors are doing after they arrive. The main factors for determining a site's success are leads generated and conversion rate (the percentage of visits that become leads), not what position you think you rank on Google.
The Inevitable Conclusion
Understanding the top SEO mistakes I've highlighted above is a start to understanding what SEO looks like in our current internet era. Web developers have to recognize that the SEO landscape is changing. As the way we use the internet evolves, so does SEO, because search engines simply want to give users the best possible experience—no more, no less. If you can provide a fulfilling experience for your users and implement clean SEO strategies, you'll get the leads you want.