When it comes to protecting and building your business on-line, ‘doing the right thing’ is an excellent rule-of-thumb. And this is just as crucial for your SEO activities. From short term-thinking to black-hat SEO and so much more in-between, there’s lots of folk out there who fail to do the right things when it comes to search engine optimization. Today, we’ll look at the 7 bad SEO techniques you can do when handling your SEO tactics….and what you should be doing instead… #1. The quick fix mindset This is the best place to start. Understand that quick-fixes are exactly that, just an interim fix that may in the long run hurt your website ranking. It takes time, effort and a lot of planning and monitoring to earn your top position. Quick fixes may have been possible in the old days when the search engines were getting to grips with rankings and algorithms but the quick-fix is most definitely a thing of the past for the serious online-marketer or small business website owner. #2. The lack of a strategy Put simply, if you fail to plan… you plan to fail. Your SEO strategy should at least include the following elements. Customer segments – understanding who your customers are is very important because your website should be structured and written for your customers and NOT just for search engines. Structure – plan your website structure. Don’t create a structure around your own business structure but think more about what your customers need from you. For example, crucial content must be clearly accessed as top level pages. Keywords – what are your customers looking for online? You can use some great tools online to research this like the Google Keyword Planner (in your Google AdWords account) or use Google itself. Start typing in your target phrase and see what suggestions Google gives you. How will you build your target keywords into your page content? Remember you are writing for your customer primarily and not just making it search-engine friendly. Include your keywords into the following areas but make sure it reads and sounds natural for your customers. Page names, Urls, Page headings (h1-h6), Alt text, Link anchor text, Body of text, Highlighted text, Meta titles and descriptions. Content marketing – what content will you provide for your customers? You will obviously provide content around your products and services but what content will you provide that goes beyond your sales pitch? Think about how you will show your expertise in your field? Your best bet is to create a plan for the next 6-12months. A plan is important but it is also crucial that you write about things in your industry as they are happening. You must respond and react to news stories or developments in your industry and your content must stand out from the crowd. How will your content break through all the noise already out there? Link building plan – links coming into your website from relevant high-ranking relevant sites are important. Sit down and make a plan of how you will achieve this. Will you contribute to another blog? This will tie in directly with your content marketing plan mentioned above. Remember to create content that people will want to link to, endorse and share with their networks on social media. #3. Buying links is a bad idea This point ties in well with the ‘quick-fix’ mentality that we spoke about earlier. It may seem easy and there are lots of companies out there that you can pay, to manage and build your links. And yes, this has worked in the past but as I always advise, you must focus on quality and on growing your links organically. This comes down to creating valuable content that people will want to read, share, link to and endorse. Consider your customer segments and think about what content you can produce that will help them and ensure they’re more informed. Excellent examples of content include eBooks, infographics, blogs, white papers and case studies. #4. Stuffing keywords is damaging In a nutshell, you need to write for the customer first, not the search engines. It is true that including your target keywords in the page content is important but you must ensure that you are not ruining your brand message or user message by forcing clunky copy or wording into places they just don’t fit. #5. No article submissions There are thousands of article-submission-websites out there that are being used primarily to help with link building. And a lot of them have been set up for that very reason, to drive SEO. Once again, this comes back to content. You should only create content that your customers will want and then publish them on reputable websites. Google will penalise you for what they see to be managed spammy links. Heavily optimised articles with highlighted keywords and stuffed links look spammy, can be low-quality and will lead to penalties from Google. The golden rule here is to contribute to websites where you know your customers are. #6. Don’t ignore the power of social media If you are creating valuable, high-quality content for your customers, you do need somewhere to promote this content. It’s important to nurture your social media network so that when you write and share this content, your network will be more receptive to it, will read it and share it with their network. This will help with building your links and will drive traffic to your website. #7. No measurement…no knowledge How can you know if your website is performing if you are not tracking visitors to your website. By using tools like Google Analytics and Mouse Flow, you can learn a lot about where your visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your website. Tools like Moz.com and Hubspot.com can help with your SEO management, giving you key reports like your position for your target keywords/phrases, traffic driven into your website from those keywords and similar metrics. Google has moved to encrypted search so it will not be reporting on what keywords are generating traffic. There are positives and negatives to this. While it makes it more difficult to know what target terms are generating traffic to a website, it does (or should) make you focus on creating more valuable content and focusing on what pages people are landing on and their path from there. Taking the rights steps to get the best from your SEO is a smart bet. Like other aspects of your business, it’s long-term, strategic thinking that will get you the best results and not simply throwing money at short-term fixes. 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