1. Assuming that people are searching for you

Not every product or service is being sought out. Some products or services are “searched” more often than others.  Have you done the keyword search to see if people are actually looking for you?

People search for topics they don’t know. So, you’ll see a lot of searches around information that is new to them.  Do you have web pages on your site that are “new to them?” Or are you basically replicating the same information that they don’t find interesting or new.

Moreover, some industries have become synonomous with search like travel, real estate and retail. At the same time, other industries are still not “wired” and people find using the “old fashioned way” as a better means to obtain information about them.

2. Assuming SEO is great for your business or website

Some industries are simply not as congruent with searches. And some industries have interesting behavior in how people make a buying decision. Sometimes SEO can be a very long term process figuring out what people are doing before they finally pick up the phone and call or before they fill out their private information in your contact form and ask you to help them.

The Music and Entertainment businesses revolve around buzz names and titles of products like songs or movies. People search for what’s trending or what people are watching or listening to. So, if you’re a music artist or a writer of a book, how do you conduct SEO? You don’t simply just rank high for the genre because frankly very few individuals can do that, but you learn how perhaps you can be in front of people for what they are searching that is related to you. Maybe you can sing a song that’s quite famous and get in front of the searches for that particular song. Many Youtube success stories revolve around singing covers of famoust artists.

Regardless, it is critical to figure out what people are doing with your field before just assuming you need to be in front of everyone for “xyz” searches.

3. Not having content that is relevant to searches

It’s very well known that google tries their best to return “relevant results” for all the searches on their engine.

Related to the 1st mistake, people might not being searching for content on your site because it’s not relevant to them. Think about your own searches. What are you looking for? Are you satisfied with the results? Think through the eyes of your consumers and make sure you’re satisfied with the page that you land on to answer the question you are literally asking via the search.

For example, if you were searching for an dentist in the Los Angeles area. Do you feel like you can make a decision based off of what you see (after you click on the search page result)? Or do you have to click out and then click on many more results? If you’re the dentist, you’ll want to do your best to limit the number of pages the consumer has to click in order to get what they want. Perhaps the consumer was looking for “whitening treatment in Los Angeles.” They could be looking for a solution they conduct themselves or they may be looking for a dentist who can do it for them affordably. Build the pages that answer these questions that people punch into search engines.

4. Thinking you’ll get results overnight

There are many stories of SEO success. But there are many stories of SEO failures that are never broadcasted beyond a gripe session over beers. One of the biggest reasons why there are failures, however, is our #10 reason below. It takes time and for some industries, it takes an incredibly long time to rise organically. Sure, there are many searches that you can potentially crush! However, there is a high liklihood those searches are few and far between.

For the more valuable searches though, there’s a reason why there is a high demand for them. There’s also a bigger set of variables that make it difficult to land in those results.

Since there are many stories of success, there is a large assumption that you can get there right away. Sure, we’ve done incredibly well with many clients and even our own website by obtaining first page results for highly sought after phrases like “seattle seo” in less than 2 months. However, there were windows of opportunity that are constantly changing. Google supposedly makes 500+ changes annually to their algorithm  Their goal is to make it extra difficult to artificially manipulate the results. They have high paid engineers who are literally trying to close any chance for websites to find a “quick route” to success.

5. Drinking the cool aid

There’s a ton of posts out there that are tearing into SEO’s. For example, “Want SEO’s to lose their job? Start doing yours!” by a guy who does SEO or “The Inconvenient Truth about SEO” or even famous VC Guy Kawasaki saying “Just Write Good Content“.

Do you know why they write them? It’s literally bait for all the folks who have dedicated years to the business and their industry is getting attacked. When you think about it, the posts are literally saying something like “Why use a doctor? They’re all practicing snake oil.” Fortunately for doctors, western medicine has been accepted for hundreds of years and is not going anywhere. SEO, on the other hand a very new industry and can be said is only as really old as google has been alive. So, you could say it’s only 11 years old.

Instead of just simply reading these silly posts that get SEO’s and web developers all fired up online, read some common sense by people like Rand Fishkin, Avinash Kaushik or even Matt Cutts (from Google). You’ll realize there’s a ton of value in just being reasonable about the topic. The posts are actually created to feed into the second C of SEO: getting people to link back to the source. Some people simply like to create hysteria because it’s good for business.

6. Being cheap about SEO

If you want to make your website very optimal for searches, please go right ahead. Read SEOMoz, Search Engine Land and the many other great blogs out there. Read the books, experiment on tons of websites and again, make sure you execute on #10 below.

However, if you’re going to get a serious professional to take care of your website, don’t try to nickle and dime them. They have to put food on the table as well. The cheaper you are, the cheaper the results will be. Frankly, there’s a ton of work that needs to be done in order to truly make your website VERY search engine friendly.

Whenever people contact us to help them out, they expect a relatively simple answer to their problem. However, just like their lives, their websites have many facets and require quite a bit of examination before operating. How much would you pay to have a doctor work on your body? How about your child’s body? Hopefully you value your website that much as well and understand how important it is to spend enough to show you really value their services.

7. My website doesn’t need a blog

I’ll bet you $1 million dollars that there is a topic that almost every single website or owner of a business could answer in response to a question. These proactive answers are frankly the content you should be blogging about.

Whether or not you want to “give away the farm” is up to you, but at least answering some questions that may save you time anyway in the process of securing a client or customer is a good thing, isn’t it?

Admittedly, most people aren’t the best writers. So, it’s understandable that people out there don’t want to blog because they are insecure about their skills as writers. Why not get some help to deal with this problem? How about using Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation software or another voice recognition tool that puts your words onto paper (i.e., a word doc or blog post). I know there’s a lot of great talkers out there who could probably have some software tool put their “gems” of advice into blog posts.

You’ll be surprised how much traffic a blog post can drive. One of our posts about google searches now drives 10X’s as much traffic as our entire website did before it caught on fire at the end of last year.

8. My SEO can do everything

Frankly, your SEO shouldn’t be doing everything.

Google is constantly optimizing their algorithm to have website owners “naturally” rank in the search engine results. They want website owners/managers to be the folks who control their own destiny. They want the companies to be out there and building up the credibility of their website by not only creating valuable content, but possibly being in the right places (offline conferences, online communities and press releases) where websites are potentially linking to you because they find it worthy.

The people in your company should be out there pounding the pavement as well and constantly building up the “natural signals” that show the online world you exist. If your employees or if you’re not out there building up your brand name or telling people reasons why they should visit your website, google simply doesn’t want it to be in their search engine. They want an organic & democratic means of the “internet community” deciding what is something they would like to click into and surf. Sometimes this is somewhat bolstered by simply word of mouth via online and offline sources.

Donate to a non-profit who thanks their supporters online, join local business directories who post their members on their website, or answer questions in websites that give credit to the source of their answers like Quora or Yahoo Answers. However, do all of this in a somewhat normal time span and don’t look like you’re doing this simply to build up your online credibility. Don’t squeeze this all in a 24 hour period.

9. I’ve optimzed my website. Now I’m set for life.

Frankly, search engine optimization MUST be ongoing. While you may not need it for every single month of your businesses’ life, you should definitely get updates regularly. Google’s changing constantly like we said above and they’re refining the results as well. You should also be monitoring your results to see how certain phrases that drive your traffic are performing periodically.

Again, it doesn’t have to be for all time periods, but I would definitely do an annual update. Maybe at least 3-6 months each year would be good, in my humble opinion. I say this because it’s a minimum of 3 months for an SEO expert to truly assess, witness and implement effective solutions for your website. Over time, it may be quicker, but if they aren’t looking at your website monthly, it may take some time to reassess what’s been going on in the time you haven’t been working with them. It might not be a bad idea to get competing services, but you may also have some bad experiences too.

10. Not being patient

If you’ve read through this entire post, perhaps you haven’t made this mistake. However, if you couldn’t read through to this last point, you probably suffer from impatience. As a result, you’ll possibly continue to fail at SEO.

Hopefully, it’s loud and clear, but we’re talking about the “organic results” and not the paid ones within google. You can pay for overnight exposure, but it takes time for google to a) index your content, b) for it to read through all the signals that show it that it’s a stronger page than others and c) to land in the top pages because google knows there’s very few overnight successes in any field. There are things that are viral and newsworthy, but content that ultimately is considered valuable for a search phrase needs to be assessed over time.

After you build the content, it’s very had to give it the best ratings by the most critical search engine in existence. Plus, the second C of SEO needs to be supported if google is going to believe your content is worthy of showing up in the top results.

Frankly, showing up after a while may also give you a higher chance for it to stay there. It won’t look artificial. It replicates what society does when it builds value in brands and how it respects people. Google wants web pages/content to be judged in the same way.

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