5 Ways Companies Half-Ass Their SEO Efforts

Why it matters and how to prevent the same mistakes…

A good search engine optimization strategy requires a difficult mix of analytical prowess, creativity, and a detail-oriented mindset. While not all of us are able to decipher algorithmic formulas or draft the most powerful piece of linkbait; we can improve in almost every aspect of SEO by maintaining strong attention to detail and a commitment to getting things done right.

This post talks through 5 potential ways companies fail to fully develop a strategic SEO initiative and why it can lead to ineffective or even disastrous results.

1. Not Considering the Long-Tail

Somewhere between millions of searches per day and zero there are opportunities for “long-tail keyword searches“. This term refers to longer variations of keyword phrases which may bring a few visitors per day or even per month from search engines to a website.

While competitive search terms may get all the attention, the trickle of traffic from long-tail keywords can lead to incredibly profitable website visits if the site is built & designed effectively. It never surprises me when website owners fail to realize and capture the power in ranking for a large portfolio of these keywords over the course of their keyword strategy.

With the enhancement of Google’s keyword tools to better understand search volume, there’s really no excuse for not taking the extra time to make sure your content is optimized for any and all opportunities.

Still not sold on the idea?
Here is a spreadsheet of a few hundred Cape Cod related keywords with approximate search volume in Google. I’ll bet that any relevant site (or maybe even irrelevant site) could quickly rank for some of these long-tail keyword opportunities with a bit of good content and a proper SEO site structure.

2. Implementing Web Address Changes

For individual web address changes, the SEO effort is usually pretty straight forward. For site-wide changes (such as creating static web addresses for dynamic websites) it can get complex. Your job (or your developer’s job) isn’t done just because you’ve uploaded the new page or new piece of code. Bug check your work.

Web administrators should be 301 redirecting the original web address to the new destination(s), and also making sure that the specific web address changes have been incorporated in all facets of the website design structure.

Where you need to check for web address consistency:

  • Main navigational elements (traditional nav, footer, utility links)
  • Breadcrumb trail
  • Internal cross-links
  • Sitemaps (for the user and for search engines)
  • 404 pages
  • Inbound links & offline marketing collateral

Why you should check for this?
A 301 redirect only protects you from oversights and should not be used to “solve” the problem or save time in implementation. In some (rare) circumstances, 301 redirects can not be implemented as a result of business-specific issues or constraints.

Failing to cover all instances where an outdated web address appears can result in duplicate content, confusing search engines, and possibly incurring search penalties or a devaluation of the targeted keyword strategy.

3. Implementing A Domain Change

Moving domains is a bit more complex. Whether you’re acquiring a website and merging it with your existing business or re-branding your company entirely, make sure to cover all loose ends with a domain redirect. When moving domains, instituting a 301 redirect is essential.

Similar to web address changes, failing to be detail-oriented with this process can result in duplicate content, duplicate indexing, search engine confusion, and potential penalties.

Where potential domain redirect issues can occur:

  • Indexed pages (use the search command “site:domain.com” in Google)
  • Canonical/non-canonical web addresses
  • Secured pages
  • Sub-domains
  • Dynamic pages
  • Inbound links & offline marketing collateral

Don’t take a domain redirect for granted and think that simple adjustments to the domain registrar’s control panel are the solution. While recent SEO discussions have debated the precise strategy for redirecting to a new domain, at the least consider where your most important pages (from the site being redirected) need to be pointed.

In my experience, I have successfully instituted 301 redirects on a page-by-page basis, pointing outdated or non-essential information to the appropriate section overview pages, or the user-facing sitemap.

4. Press Release Strategies for Link Building

You’ve done your keyword research, written a compelling press release, and gotten the budget approved to syndicate on a major PR distribution service. Once your press release hits the wire and starts to gain visibility in news services like Google or Yahoo News, don’t think that your job is complete. The hardest yet most critical part is yet to come.

It would be nice to think that all the editors in your industry are always monitoring everything that happens and immediately getting emails together when they find something of value. It almost never works out that way. Compile a short list of contact information for the most important editors, and/or publishers you want to reach, and use the press release as an entry point for your link building strategy.

Your press release may help to:

  • Start a conversation about why you have something of value
  • Provide some fundamental company information in a non-obtrusive manner and without over-stuffing your email message

And don’t forget the following additional communication details:

  • Create a personalized message to the recipient
  • Get to the point; quickly
  • Reference the press release and give your own personal view on why it’s valuable to you (note: this is different than giving a personal opinion on why it’s valuable to them).
  • Pick up the phone and follow-up on your correspondence

It’s probably not advisable to use press releases as a basis for reaching out to bloggers, but I have never done so to know with certainty if it would fail or succeed. I’ve recently been reading Susan Getgood’s posts on communicating to bloggers and would highly recommend her blog for those interested in the same information.

5. Social Media Submissions

If your contact list only contains a list of social media news sites, it’s time to start reconsidering your priorities. Social media news sites like Digg, Reddit or even niche verticals are not built to be a wasteland for the mass distribution of press releases or product updates.

At best, your company will build a history of worthless submissions with little to no SEO link value. At worst, your company will be known for submitting horrible information or nothing of value, damaging your reputation – possibly beyond repair.

What you need to consider:
Every social media community has its own personality, style, and unspoken rules of etiquette. If you or your company is really interested in creating success through social media, invest the time to understand the communities within which you would like to contribute.

Social media resources to help you on your way:

Even if you believe your information is social media newsworthy, hitting submit and moving onto the next endeavor is rarely the best course of action. Manage your submissions and interact with the people commenting and/or contributing to your information in these communities.

Are You Half-Assing Your SEO Strategy?
There are many other components of a search engine optimization project that can fail or simply not work effectively if the implementation is not sound. Sometimes overlooking things will not cause harm, but it usually will not lead to the results a business wants (or needs) for success.

I find that productive long-term SEO strategies rely more on detail and perseverance, than quick hits or home run tactics. But even tactics designed for short-term goals need to be well thought out. Remember to consider all of the facets of your website or online strategy which may be affected by an SEO project in order to ensure you get the desired result.


10 Responses to “5 Ways Companies Half-Ass Their SEO Efforts”

  1. | Search Blog on August 26th, 2008 12:11 am

    […] 5 Ways Companies Half-Ass Their SEO Efforts By Derek Edmond While not all of us are able to decipher algorithmic formulas or draft the most powerful piece of linkbait; we can improve in almost every aspect of SEO by maintaining strong attention to detail and a commitment to getting things done … Cape Cod SEO – http://www.capecodseo.com – This message was scanned by Mailcortex and is believed to be clean. […]

  2. Maria Reyes-McDavis on August 26th, 2008 1:24 am

    Great posts and I even found some I’m guilty of… Thanks for sharing :-)

  3. Melany Gallant on August 26th, 2008 4:43 pm

    Straightforward, easy-to-follow tips/advice (when you think about it of course). Thanks!

  4. Derek Edmond on August 26th, 2008 4:58 pm

    @Maria – I think in many cases we have to learn from experience, so its very difficult (especially when it’s all new) to get everything right at first. Networking and sharing insights can be very helpful when making decisions and checking oneself – if hiring a professional consultant or company is not the answer.

    @Melany – thanks very much for the feedback – it is appreciated!

  5. vindia on August 27th, 2008 8:01 am

    i wont say I’d disagree with anything you said.a good reminder of them all.

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