5 Critical SEO Mistakes Leaders Must Avoid

It isn’t easy being a leader in today’s digital economy. The rapid shifts in technology and the way customers adapt to it has transformed business. Barriers between online and offline business have broken down. Capital alone is no longer decisive in determining success.

Seth Godin Quote

Google’s various offerings are a huge growth opportunity for B2B and B2C businesses alike. Even offline companies and neighborhood stores are dependent on Google because customers flock there. SEO is no longer optional — it is mandatory. Hiring an experienced SEO consultant can be your most valuable business investment in 2013 and beyond.

If you are a business leader, you’ll find it interesting to review two of my earlier Search Engine Land columns where I shared my 8 most effective e-commerce SEO tips and explained how I doubled revenue for my clients within 12 months using SEO.

Based on many years of consulting with companies ranging from multinational corporations to small businesses and start-ups, I’ve listed the most common SEO mistakes that I’ve seen being made over and over. They include challenges that leaders face and actions they take which become obstacles to business growth.

The focus of this report is not on details but on what you, as a CEO, CFO, or business leader, must know about SEO. Implementing these suggestions will not only bring more traffic, attract more leads and make more sales, it will also strengthen the entire company and help you speed toward your financial and strategic goals — at a lower cost.

SEO Mistake #1: Being Stuck In The Past

The digital ecosystem is evolving very rapidly. Many business leaders, however, are not keeping up with new developments. They remain rooted in what used to work, clinging on to the past.

You can’t navigate by looking through the rear-view mirror! If you’re investing in the same things you did last year (merely increasing your budget), you’re missing the business advantages to be claimed through effective SEO.

SEO Take-Aways:

  1. Invest in analytics. Plan for tomorrow after knowing exactly where you stand today.
  2. Build actionable dashboards in your analytics tool. Keep only business-critical information that you can act upon. How well are you performing? How successful are you in reaching economic and strategic goals? Focus on what makes you more effective — not just getting more traffic, but actually increasing sales, growing business and becoming more cost-effective.
  3. Hire an external consultant to help you concentrate on important things. If 100 people arrive at your website and 2% are buying, why are the rest (who initially showed interest in your product or service) not buying? Looking backward in time, (analytics) can decode the secret to your success.
  4. Don’t spend money on what isn’t measurable. Everything can be measured. Track and analyze the value of everything you spend time and money on.

SEO Mistake #2: Managing — Without Leading

The challenge for leaders, when it comes to managing a business, is to decide how much is too much.

As a leader, you have a better overview of the entire business. You understand how different components weave and work together. Orchestrating them to perform in sync should be your highest priority. Micro-managing and getting involved in too many minute and specific details could hurt your results.

SEO Take-Aways:

  1. Avoid micro-managing your SEO consultant. Back off. SEO is complex, dynamic, and involves detailed insight and knowledge into multiple disciplines. You may not be well-versed with all of them — your SEO expert is.
  2. Give the expert enough space. Calling to insist upon specific isolated SEO tactics (“Can you build us hundred more links this week?”) is not a good approach. When your involvement becomes necessary, your SEO consultant will ask you.

SEO Mistake #3: Clunky Organizational Structure That Lacks Synergy

I’ve found myself in consulting situations where the business model or organizational structure itself becomes a limiting factor. Especially in large, old and traditional corporations, convincing leaders about the dampening effect this has upon profits is a challenge.

It is critical in today’s economy to build a business model that is scalable and can quickly evolve and adapt to shifts whenever required. Under such circumstances, smaller is sometimes better.

SEO Take-Aways:

  1. Review your internal organizational structure. Are your departments (Sales, Marketing, PR) and staff organized effectively for communication and collaboration?
  2. Delegate work to the right departments and people. Assign responsibility for ensuring synergies between different marketing activities. Have them oversee and approve every initiative before it goes out of the door.
  3. Consumerize your business and marketing. Focus on meeting your customer’s needs, not your own. Stop talking about your business and tell them how you will solve their problems and transform their lives through your products and services.

SEO Mistake #4: Lack Of Integration

Where many leaders fail is in setting up integrated multi-channel sales and marketing efforts, guided by a unified strategy that creates synergy and strengthens each component of the whole.

There is crucial interdependency between Search Engines, Social Media, PR, Mobile Units and how successful you are at getting more local customers and sales for your local business(es). There is plenty of low hanging fruit ripe for the plucking — if you have the right strategy.

SEO Take-Aways:

  1. Real SEO experts are an ideal hybrid of analyst, business developer and marketer. An experienced SEO consultant will help you find new ways to attract qualified customers, spot business opportunities, and optimize other parts of your business.
  2. Don’t underestimate the interdependency and synergy between different parts of your marketing mix. SEO is complex and difficult, but it can add value in so many ways that you’ll be totally amazed.

SEO Mistake #5: Short-Term Thinking & Budgeting

I’ve seen that decision-making about buying marketing or SEO services is usually based on gut instinct and flawed perceptions. Often, leaders underestimate the importance of SEO, thinking it is limited only to ranking sites higher on search engines like Google. But it is much more than that.

SEO is never a “cost” — it is an “investment.” One that usually pays off in a big way, earning dividends for years and years.

SEO Take-Aways:

  1. Re-evaluate how you plan and buy SEO services. For many businesses, SEO is the largest contributor to revenue. Yet, it receives only a small fraction of the overall marketing budget. By increasing your SEO budget, you can reach your financial and strategic goals faster.
  2. Stop focusing on price while buying SEO services. Good SEO is not formulaic. While low-cost SEO providers may offer you one route, it may end up being costlier, more complicated, and even dangerous to your business in contrast to a more expensive offer that is rooted in best-practices.
  3. Try setting up performance-based retainers. If your SEO consultant drives many qualified leads and sales but is limited by resource allocations, open yourself to an arrangement where you give him a free hand and “unlimited” budget (as long as it brings you a big ROI). It can be very profitable.
  4. Invest in knowledge transfer and SEO training. Clients who are willing to invest time and money on it experience the greatest benefits, both immediate and sustained. This is why I recommend basic SEO training for all my clients — not because I’ll earn more money (!), but because they get a serious advantage from it.
  5. Quick fixes are short lived. Some businesses don’t want to bother with knowledge transfer. They just “want the problem fixed.” Without exception, these companies will stagnate or fail. The cost of “fixing” this situation later on is exorbitant.

As mentioned earlier, it isn’t easy being a leader in today’s digital economy. But by implementing the above suggestions, you’ll not only generate more traffic, attract more leads and close more sales, you will also achieve your financial and strategic goals at a lower cost.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Channel: SEO | How To: SEO

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About The Author: is Head Of SEO at MediaCom Norway. He has over 10 years of experience specializing in digital strategy, e-commerce and SEO. Trond is the author of the books "Importance of SEO for Your Online Business" and "Power Social Media Marketing". He can be found on Twitter @TrondLyngbo.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • Drew Rigler

    Well said and agree with every point. Everyone wants in on the SEO game, but most don’t have the right equipment when they take the field. Either outdated info, the wrong expectations, or lack of a focused and effective budget to meet goals. For every SEO client that gets it, there are 10 more calling every day to check their rankings. It takes a synergy of expectations, goals and knowledge to work towards the ultimate goals of success online. Anyone who trusts their SEO to anyone without having any fundamental understanding is foolish and ultimately pay the price.

  • Speedwell :D

    Thank you for this useful article. Nowadays, SEO and SMO strategies should be really implemented together. Veronique Duong

  • Joe

    Give me a an up vote if you’ve sat in a meeting and the boss asked you why this particular keyword isn’t #1 yet even though you acquire traffic from several hundred/thousand different keywords.

  • Custom Pages Jeremy

    Amazing article, I really like Your point on a good seo person must first be an analyst, business developer and marketer. that is why I started my company rocket referral being a 15 year vet of the online marketing world. I’m always amazed when I get new clients who are charged outrageous amounts from other companies who don’t even optimize their front pages.

  • Custom Pages Jeremy
  • http://www.brandappz.com/ BrandAppZ

    Nice article!! Thanks you for sharing useful information… Everybody must knows about the SEO factors.

  • http://www.stramark.nl/zoekmachine-marketing/ Wouter Blom @stramark

    SEO is an essential part of most business inbound marketing and sales. It is often the most profitable part. Thank you for writing this impressive article on the strategic/management part of SEO that does not always get the proper attention.

  • http://loryzhang.com/ Lory Zhang

    SEO is devalued. Still have many small business owners don’t understand SEO or trust SEO’s power. Your article made a great vote for our SEOs

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    I agree especially with #2. You have to know when to take a step back and let your team do what they are best at. No one person can do it all and do it all well and the best leaders pull together a team with the right combination of talents to get the job done.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/josephmaresca Joseph Maresca

    Oh Nick! Stop selling yourself short man. We all know you can do it all brother! ;)

  • Spook SEO

    Rather than saying being stuck in the past, I’d rather say not being able to cope up with the future. There are tons of business leaders who seemingly know important SEO ideas right now but are failing to learn the updates. With all the updates that Google is making (and yes there’s a lot of them), missing out even just a month or two worth of updates can make your knowledge about SEO obsolete.

  • gregory smith

    SEO and SMO (lol) are implemented together.. Where have you been these past 3 years?

  • Speedwell :D

    I’ve put “really” in my previous comment (because many entrepreneurs don’t do that …). I obviously know that they have to be implemented together.

  • http://www.viralseoservices.com/ MOS SEO Services

    This is quite the nice list you’ve got here. Thanks for sharing

 

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