Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seems to have all these secret rules and mysterious algorithm language that confuses business owners.

It's our job as internet marketers to educate business owners on what they should avoid in their efforts to get more traffic to their website.

Find out how to improve your Google ranking for almost any keyword here »

One of the ways we do that is to reveal our industries' common SEO mistakes, as well as best practice SEO suggestions and solutions. Here are our top 10.

Mistake #1 - Confusing Paid SEM with Organic SEO

By now, you may have developed an eye for distinguishing between paid listings and unpaid listings on a Google search engine results page (SERP). Does this influence your decision to click?

Surprisingly, that top quarter of Google search results garner nearly all the click traffic.

Check out this heat map depicting where the volume of traffic clicks to illustrate the point. Pretty compelling visual, right?

Google User Heat Map Trend

If users don’t look closely, they may miss the “Ads” icon on the search results page, fooling them into thinking they’re clicking on an organic search result. This can be avoided by bidding on brand terms to increase relevancy, even if competitors also bid on the term.

Mistake #2 - Expecting a Quick Return on Investment with SEO

It's the old adage of who wins the race: the turtle or the hare? It takes time for a new site to see SEO results because site history is one of the website ranking factors considered by search engines.

Most internet marketers agree that SEO efforts can be measured between 6-9 months of a major push. To get your phone ringing while SEO ramps up, consider running Google PPC paid ads during the first several months your website is online. Related: Why 50% of Your Marketing Dollars Are Wasted And What To Do About It

Mistake #3 - Not Knowing Your Audience

The #1, cardinal rule in marketing is this: Know Your Audience. No amount of SEO activity will work if the wrong audience is targeted. Thoroughly research your market to identify terms relevant to the intended audience. Examine the demographic bracket for the particular product or service. How do they talk? For example, is the target market senior citizens? Or, are they teenagers? Adapt the SEO strategy accordingly or this could be the worst seo mistake you could make.Related: How To Turn Web Visitors into Leads for Your Product or Service

Mistake #4 - Building a Website Without Thinking About SEO Upfront

Ooops. Even though your website will automatically show up on the results page when the exact name is typed, failing to incorporate SEO strategy in the build is a common error made by many business owners. Even though SEO is sold by internet marketers as a separate service, it is also a vital process in overall website development. You wouldn't leave for work half-dressed, would you? We don't launch a site that's only half-dressed either. Throughout the entire planning and implementation process, incorporate targeted keywords (the next bullet point, in fact) naturally into content, URLs, headers, and tags.Related: 5 Simple Tips To Improve SEO For Your Website

Mistake #5 - Not Doing Keyword Research Upfront

Okay, so knowing your audience is number one. Next is knowing the keywords that your audience would use to find your business. Not performing poor keyword research will devastate your website's online performance. Imagine that keywords are the bones; the skeleton, of you website. They hold the whole thing together.

It is common for business owners who are experts in their field to shoot for keywords that only industry insiders would recognize. Do you know what a Celette Bench is? Probably not, unless you work in an auto body shop where all the mechanics know that a Celette Bench costs about $100,000 and repairs a car to the auto manufacturer's original specifications. If I need my bumper repaired, it is 99.9% unlikely I would ever type the term Celette Bench in Google when looking for a local auto body shop. Capisci?

Related: 5 Tips For Better Keyword Research For SEO

Mistake #6 - Having Duplicate Content (Stop Stealing)

Large and small companies alike may overlook duplicate content on their websites. Plain and simple, duplicate content negatively affects SEO. Duplicate content includes any matching content, printer-friendly pages and twin product listings across multiple pages. There are a host of plagiarism tools online; many are free, designed to catch duplicated content for revision and omission from a website.Related: Duplicate Content Causes and Solutions

Mistake #7 - Using Flash Animation (Really?)

Search engines primarily read HTML format. Excessive use of Flash content on a website confuses the search engines and may reduce rankings. You should avoid this by replacing Flash content or use descriptive tags to help the engines identify the content.

Mistake #8 - Having Thin Content On Your Site

Another common seo mistake is having pages with a lot of images, like product pages or galleries that have very little text. These pages may be necessary for sales, but can hurt rankings. To counter thin content without losing quality images, use descriptive tags for each image. The search engines will then identify the page with more text and increase the ranking. Generally, shoot to have over a minimum of 250 words per web page.Related: Google's Recommendation To Fix Panda Algorithm Penalty

9. Thinking Like a Robot Instead Of a Person Searching

Search engines function through algorithms, so a certain amount of thought must be put into satisfying the requirements of those algorithms. But devising an entire SEO campaign that doesn’t consider “human” search can be as devastating as ignoring the algorithms altogether. When planning and maintaining websites, always consider the people who will be searching and what they are looking for. This sort of returns us to Item #3 above. It's so important that it bears repeating: Know Your Audience!Related: Google: Focus On The User And All Else Will Follow.

10. Buying Spammy Backlinks

Backlinks are an important aspect of any SEO campaign, but buying spammy backlinks might be the worse seo mistake you could ever make. You're not going to trick Google so stop trying to game the system. Search engine algorithms now consider the quality of backlinks in addition to the quantity in determining the ranking of a webpage. Invest a little time in researching the right backlinks before you are tempted to buy links with spammy consequences.

Conclusion

Internet marketers know that business owners are too busy running their business to learn the In's and Out's of SEO. Still, it's important that business owners educate themselves on SEO best practices for the success of their website performance.

You now know the biggest SEO mistakes outlined here, but we've also prepared 77 Ranking Factors for a better understanding of how search engines rank sites and watch your website rise in ranks! Grab it before you leave today.

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