Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.
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.
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.
- Invest in analytics. Plan for tomorrow after knowing exactly where you stand today.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Review your internal organizational structure. Are your departments (Sales, Marketing, PR) and staff organized effectively for communication and collaboration?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.