Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, plays a leading role in today’s digital marketing arena. If properly implemented, crafting your content, images, and other mediums to appease Google’s algorithms can transform a struggling business into an unstoppable growth machine.
But if your approach to SEO is impure or fueled by common misconceptions, proceed with caution. Countless businesses have learned the hard way that there are several ways bad SEO hurts your bottom line.
Listed below are some of the most common bad SEO practices we come across in digital marketing. Learn how they can hurt your company’s bottom line and how to either prevent a similar scenario or bounce back from an SEO mishap.
Bad SEO Habits That Kill Your Bottomline
1. Conflicting SEO and CRO
CRO, or Conversion Rate Optimization, and SEO are useful tools for online businesses; however, a conflict between the two can lead to one of the first ways bad SEO hurts your bottom line.
CRO’s goal is to get visitors to buy a product or service on a company’s webpage. SEO’s goal, on the other hand, is to improve the visibility of a webpage.
According to Forbes, companies spend an average of $2,000 per month on CRO tools. But if bad SEO is bringing the wrong audience to a webpage, a company’s CRO investment is less likely to provide any sort of return.
For example, let’s say a real estate agent implements an SEO campaign around the keyword neutral color palettes that sell with the goal of drawing in new leads trying to sell their home. However, the keyword is more popular with interior designers and contractors than those ready to sell their homes. So, while the agent’s SEO efforts paid off in terms of making their website more visible, resources spent on optimizing conversion rates are likely to go to waste.
To prevent conflicts, plan SEO and CRO strategies with the other in mind. They should each be able to stand on their own without overwhelming the other. Choosing the right keywords (more on this in a bit) will pour strong foundations for both SEO and CRO campaigns.
2. Poor link practices
Google uses over 200 ranking factors in their algorithm and links are considered to be one of the most important. There are dozens of types of links you can use within your website but when it comes to SEO, focus on the following.
Internal links will take visitors from one page of your website to another. As an insurance agent, you might have a single webpage listing all the types of policies you offer, each with a link to a separate webpage that goes into more detail about each coverage type.
External links are also known as outbound links and take readers to another website if clicked. Though sending visitors to another webpage might seem counterintuitive, this practice is one of the most important SEO efforts to keep in mind. For best results, only link to quality domains.
Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are links other websites include in their content that direct their readers to your website. The more backlinks you can obtain, the better. However, natural backlinks are best. If you’re purchasing backlinks or spamming links to your website, you’re putting your site’s online reputation at risk (and your bottom line).
When it comes to SEO links, there are a few best practices to follow:
- Guide visitors through your website with an internal link strategy. If you mention a product or service, link to a relevant page. If you suggest readers contact you, link to your on-site contact form. Think of internal links as doorways that keep visitors exploring your website and brand.
- Outbound links are crucial for SEO but if you’re linking to suspicious or low-ranking sites, you could be doing more harm than good. Only stick with reputable sources and use your best judgment.
- Guest blogging is a common method used to obtain inbound links. If you’re writing content for well-reputed sites, this is a quick way to grow your list of inbound links. Stay away from suspicious or spammy sites and never, under any circumstances, purchase links.
Don’t forget to routinely check your website for broken links as these can hurt your SEO efforts.
3. Incorrect choice of keywords
An effective SEO strategy requires the use of relevant and highly in-demand keywords. Choosing the wrong keywords is one of the most common ways bad SEO hurts your bottom line.
Remember that keywords determine your website’s visibility. In other words, the keywords you choose to focus on will determine the type of reader, and how many of such readers will find your company organically online. If you’re focused on or ranking for keywords that are irrelevant or rarely searched for, you won’t see much revenue growth.
When choosing keywords, keep the following tips in mind.
- Take all factors into consideration when choosing a keyword, including the number of searches, number of currently ranking websites, and the overall difficulty. Just because a keyword is easy to rank for doesn’t mean it’s the right keyword for you.
- Think like a customer who doesn’t know the industry. What is your ideal customer searching for? You may be surprised.
- We always recommend choosing longtail keywords over short or single-word keywords (e.g. “two-bedroom townhomes for sale in Newton” will bring in more targeted leads than “townhomes for sale”)
- Focus on one main keyword per page. You can use supporting keywords throughout your content but don’t pull Google (or readers) in too many directions.
4. Long loading times
SEO is more than keywords. Slow site speed can have a negative effect on your SEO and bottom line. According to Google, under half a second is the goal loading time for a desktop webpage. Don’t feel bad if yours isn’t quite that fast (you can test your website loading time here). The average is just over 8 seconds.
Imagine half the people coming into your office walk in the front door and immediately turn around. You would do something, wouldn’t you? Make loading time a part of your SEO efforts to ensure you’re engaging with as many potential clients as possible.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to improve your site speed. Here are a few to get you started.
- Don’t choose a website host based purely on price. Shared hosting can slow down a website with large influxes of traffic. Consider VSP hosting or, if your budget allows, a dedicated server to improve site speed.
- Compress files using a software application like Gzip.
- Enable browser caching to minimize site speed for repeat visitors.
5. Not targeting MQLs
A marketing qualified lead, or MQL, is a website visitor with engagement levels that indicate a higher chance of becoming a customer. In other words, an MQL is your ideal client at the ideal place in the sales journey. Bad SEO practices, even if they’re improving your website’s visibility, could be bypassing MQLs and bringing in less than qualified visitors instead. If you’re pushing…
- Free quotes
- Free samples
- Free products
…do so with great caution. While traffic is always a plus in SEO, bringing in the wrong type of traffic may be smothering any potential growth for your bottom line.
When developing and implementing SEO, remember to also focus on brand-related page optimization. Many businesses focus on blog or social media content and leave brand-related pages, like your About Us page or Contact page, untouched. Experienced marketers understand that form submissions often provide great MQLs. If your SEO program is acquiring traffic, take the extra steps to guarantee that traffic is leading to MQLs and not one-time bargain hunters.
Is Bad SEO Permanent?
SEO is more than a buzzword. For some companies, it’s the key to their success…or failure.
There are many ways bad SEO hurts your bottom line. The good news is that it’s never too late to adapt white hat SEO techniques and start repairing the damage. It may take time but with a strong plan and plenty of perseverance, you can overcome a past of bad SEO and grow your bottom line.