These days, there aren’t many brands that can survive with a brick-and-mortar store alone.

An internet presence is absolutely essential if you wish to have any kind of lasting impact on the market. While you can use a diverse mix of tactics ranging from PPC advertising to social media, SEO remains the bread and butter of establishing a powerful web presence.

The problem, of course, is that many brands go about SEO in the completely wrong way.
Without the right tactics, your efforts at building your web presence could backfire and set you further behind the competition.

Here are four common “newbie” mistakes brands make when diving into the world of SEO that you can (and should) avoid:

1. Not having a defined strategy

As with any other marketing tactic, your SEO efforts should have a clear goal in mind.
With so many different tasks that can contribute to a company’s SEO rankings, establishing marketing goals and priorities will prove crucial in identifying your primary area of focus.

It doesn’t do you much good to pay for link removal if you’re not sure if it even contributes to your goals.

According to Josh Steimle, founder of MWI, “If you’re not sure what you need, start by figuring out the job to be done. Do you want to grow sales by 20 percent over the next 12 months, or leads by 50 percent over the next six months? If you can’t measure how successful your SEO efforts are, you’re less likely to be successful with them.”

By determining what you want to accomplish with your SEO efforts, you’ll be able to invest in strategies that deliver the greatest impact and better evaluate your return on investment.

2. Focusing on short-tail keywords

We often associate SEO keywords with short phrases like “new car” or “fancy shoes.”
But in reality, trying to invest your SEO dollars in these short-tail keywords will likely do little for your site rankings or sales growth.

Instead, long-tail keywords (phrases such as “new car with no deposit” or “best lawn care provider near me”) are becoming the go-to recommendation by SEO experts.

In fact, according to Neil Patel, 70 percent of all online searches use a long-tail keyword.

These specific searches not only have less competition than short-tail keywords, they also tend to convert customers at a higher rate. This is because they typically deliver more relevant results, which will subsequently improve your click-through rates and site ranking.

They can even help guide your content creation strategy.

3. The wrong content balance

Many companies first diving into the world of SEO find themselves at opposite ends of the content creation spectrum.

They’re either not creating any content at all, or they start churning out a glut of articles in an attempt to boost their search rankings.

Neither approach will generate the results they need.

You have to publish unique, original content to your site to provide value to customers and improve keyword optimization. But with digital content, quality will always trump quantity.

As Kristopher Jones explains, “Sometimes we fall for the fallacy that we must produce content just to have more of it. That’s simply untrue and leads to thin and useless content, which amounts to wasted resources. Don’t write content without completing strategic keyword research beforehand. Take the time to invest in long-form content that is actionable and evergreen.”

By creating high-quality content, you’ll be more likely to organically generate backlinks to your site and gain a loyal audience for your posts.

Stick to a content calendar so that you post regularly, but remember that five great posts will always outperform 50 crummy ones.

4. Using ‘first-page fast’ schemes

Black-hat SEO has long created headaches for reputable digital marketers.

These unethical tactics seek to artificially boost your search engine rankings — and if you’re new to the world of SEO, you may not even recognize that such tactics are problematic in the first place.

Shady SEO operators will often use these schemes to try to get internet novices to part with their money. Tactics like keyword stuffing, buying hundreds of links, using link directories or spinning articles may seem to deliver quick results, but Google’s algorithms are cracking down on spammers.

As Jon Morrow notes, “Once upon a time, Google didn’t penalize people for making mistakes. They would withhold benefits, yes, but they wouldn’t actually reduce your ranking or make you disappear. Now, they’re much more punitive.”

Continues Morrow, “Even if you don’t make a big enough mistake to get yourself blacklisted, you can still see your search engine results drop overnight if you do something wrong, potentially by dozens of pages.”

Stay away from anyone who promises these “get-rich quick”-style schemes.

They’ll only harm your business in the long run.

Climbing the rankings

SEO is highly competitive. Even when you avoid these mistakes and utilize industry best practices, you’re not going to jump to the top of Google search results overnight.

But that’s okay. Remember, SEO is a long-term game. As you make a consistent effort to improve your rankings, you’ll work your way up and grow your customer base.

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