There are no quick results in SEO. It’s an investment that requires time, testing and measurement to achieve the desired results. Many SEO companies sometimes waste funds on certain efforts that yield zero return. Here are nine ways you’ve wasted money on SEO and how to avoid getting burned in the future.
1. Going in Without a Plan
If you do SEO without a clear set of objectives, there’s nothing to measure. Without defined goals, your SEO team spends more time looking at the wrong performance metrics.
You’re not on the same wavelength as the client who’s expecting something entirely different from their SEO budget. No one wants to work with an SEO team that’s winging it as they go or praying for a Hail Mary.
Be specific with your objectives for SEO. Goals help you measure the success of your SEO strategy. You also require a definite strategy to ensure you attain your goals.
However, your strategy should be flexible for changes. If you notice stagnancy or lack of growth after six months, it may be time to hire a new SEO company.
2. Your Website Isn’t Optimized for Search
I had a client who wanted SEO services. I was hesitant because her site was built on a CMS that was not SEO friendly.
I advised her to migrate to WordPress, but she refused. When I tried to conduct a site audit, I found out her entire website had a “no-index” tag that prevented Google bots from crawling her web pages.
Before investing in SEO, ensure you know what you’re getting into from the onset. Certain SEO elements affect the search visibility of your web pages. Find out if these elements can be updated. That way, you’ll know whether you need a new website or website update.
3. Measuring the Wrong Metrics
There are countless SEO metrics on the web. You can’t track them all. What does SEO success look like to you? It’s different for each company as your services or products are not the same.
Understanding marketing analytics is crucial for conversion. Measuring the right analytics allows you to minimize waste and increase efficiency.
Who is your ideal customer? Take a holistic picture of the customer journey to eliminate guesswork from your measurement plan.
Which tactics will drive the most conversions? That’s what you should focus on to avoid wasting money on strategies that only contribute to one part of a bigger picture.
Some of the most important KPIs to measure are:
- Keyword rankings
- Organic search performance
- Bounce rate/dwell time
- Conversion goals
- Indexed pages
- Page loading speed
4. Focusing on the Wrong Keyword and Search Intent
One of the primary goals of an SEO strategy is to increase your search ranking for keywords your audience use when searching for your services.
A big mistake I’ve seen companies make is optimizing for the wrong search intent or keywords.
If you try to rank a transactional page for a navigational keyword, you’ll end up on Page 2 or Page 3 at best, but never page 1.
Optimizing pages with the wrong keywords is a waste of money. For instance, if you sell a 55 inch Samsung flat-screen TV in a brick and mortar store, you can drive traffic with all four types of search intent:
Navigation – “Buy 55 inch Samsung flat-screen TVs in Manhattan.”
Commercial – “Best 55 Inch flat-screen TV.”
Transactional – “How Much is a 55 inch Samsung flat-screen TV?”
Informational – “What are the features of a 55 inch Samsung flat-screen TV?”
As you try to improve your site’s rankings for keywords in your niche, you have to be specific and consider the search intent behind the keyword.
Short tail or two phrases keywords are difficult to rank for. You’ll spend more money optimizing for an ambiguous search query.
Long-tail keywords are more impactful. They have lower competition, and the user knows what they want.
5. You Built a Ton of Irrelevant Pages
Have you ever spoken to an SEO professional who guaranteed they could get you to the top pages of Google Search by building a ton of pages?
They claim that the more pages you give Google to index, the higher your rankings. But the result is usually web pages filled with fluff and low-quality content. That’s the type of content Google is trying to kick into a black hole.
Creating web pages as an SEO strategy only works when you have high-quality, relevant content. A bunch of pages without structure won’t improve your SEO.
A website with ten pages that are well-written and properly optimized for search is better off than a website with 100 low-quality pages.
Rather than publishing each one separately, combine related articles into a pillar content to improve its performance.
Take time to create more long-form posts without fluff. Content with over 1500+ word count ranks higher because search engines believe they give more value to the readers.
To test this theory, Dan Shewan at Word Stream started incorporating more long-form copy in his content strategy to increase user engagement. The average time on site increased from 1:33 to 4:35.
6. No Customer Research
SEO is not limited to your position on the Search Engine Result Pages. You could rank for a bunch of keywords without generating leads.
Think of SEO as a holistic process. Your primary goal is to solve for the searcher’s intent and to create content that engages your audience.
I’m talking about high-quality, long-form content that attracts a wider audience. But you can’t solve problems if you don’t know your audience.
You’re wasting money if you’re not putting the customer first. Ask your SEO team to spend more time on keyword research.
What problems can you solve? What type of viral content has your competitor published? What is the best content format to get your message across?
Remember, Google is happy when your readers are happy. Adopt a customer-first approach if you want long-term results in your SEO strategy.
7. Black Hat or Unethical SEO Strategies
Black hat SEO refers to underhanded tricks aimed at manipulating search engines to improve your website’s SERP ranking. The entire focus is on search engines, not on a human audience.
A few black hat tactics include:
- Keyword stuffing
- Adding hidden texts and links
- Click baits
- Building web rings
- Guest post scam
- Paying for backlinks
- Negative SEO
- Over-optimized meta descriptions
While you might jump a few positions for a day or two, Google bots eventually catch on. Google Search updates such as PenguinandPigeon targeted sites that used unethical SEO tactics.
Apart from wasting money and time on black hat tactics, Google also penalizes your website ranking. You’re worse off than when you started.
White Hat SEO techniques take time, but it’s worth it in the long run. You drive qualified traffic from search engines, increase dwell time on your site and enjoy higher ROI from your SEO.
8. Outdated SEO strategies
Your SEO efforts may not yield the desired results if you’re using outdated strategies. Google updates its algorithm between 500 and 600 times every year. Most are minor, but they could still have an impact on your search performance.
If you are still applying these old school SEO strategies, you run the risk of throwing money down the drain.
9. Buying SEO Tools You Don’t Need
Ever heard of the “magical” SEO plugin that makes SEO easier? No SEO plugin or tool can rank your site automatically on its own.
You need SEO tools for:
If you dig deeper, one keyword research tool could perform ALL the SEO tasks you need. Some tools are seasonal, and others you only require for specific jobs. Choose multi-functional tools that offer a robust solution.
Investing in SEO is not a fool-proof guarantee for page one ranking. Take time to understand the fundamentals of SEO and grey areas that confuse you.
Ultimately, it all comes down to outsourcing to the right SEO agency or building an in-house team that delivers measurable results without overshooting your budget.
Chima excels in creating SEO-optimized web content that drives traffic and increases conversions for online businesses. She is an experienced copywriter who has published on numerous top blogs such as Jeff Bullas, Search Engine Watch, and Hacker Noon. You can find her at Zenith Copy.