Hello dear Semrush blog readers!

In every chat we are discussing best practices and the best strategies for success. Although, sometimes what really slows you down is not a lack of examples or insights, but simple, more impactful mistakes. Professionalism is about building around elementary skills. The average day of an SEO professional includes the same routine as any newcomer, but with less mistakes.

Our special guest Ian Lurie, CEO of Portent, and hundreds of our participants reveal their good SEO habits, debunk some myths and point out some crucial SEO issues. Read on and learn from their mistakes to avoid making them yourself!

Q 1. What are some common bad SEO habits that lead to mistakes?

Old habits die hard, but if they don’t help you move forward, getting rid of them should be the number one task on your to-do list. So if you recognize yourself in some of following statements, it’s time to change! If not — congratulations, you are on the right path!

Surprisingly, a lot of participants pointed out that some SEO specialists’ problems come from having the wrong idea about SEO.

Solving SEO problems is not like solving an equation. So consider SEO as a set of particular moves that have to be done is an aberration, which can mess up the whole process.

Ian Lurie ‏@portentint gave a great example of a common bad SEO habit: “thinking there's a 'right' keyword density, 'unique-enough' copy, etc. There isn't.” This SEO delusion can lead to a very deplorable mistake.

Now let’s list the most common SEO mistakes. There are a lot of them, and, not surprisingly, they all relate to the foundations of SEO.

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Neglecting referral traffic
  • Ignoring duplicate content
  • Unnatural link-building
  • Overlooking image descriptions
  • Not tracking anchor text distribution
  • Over-optimized anchors

Thanks to the following participants for pointing them out:

AJ Ghergich ‏@SEO DOZ ‏@DOZCOM Erik Campo ‏@erikcampoparra Nathan Gotch ‏@GotchSEO Tara Clapper ‏@TaraMClapper TechWyse ‏@TechWyse Whitney Hitt ‏@TheCommonGreat.

This list can go on and on; but if you want to refresh your memory, here are two articles that might help:

Now let’s get a bit deeper. A lot of mistakes occur when SEO begins to intersect with other marketing activities. Or, should we say, when SEO doesn’t intersect with them at all.

Content is a king, but what is a king without a suite? Another content issue — “creating content blindly without regard for your audience, or just creating content just to have it” — Matthew Young ‏@MatthewAYoung.

Actually, thinking more about machines than users is a common bad SEO practice, and it affects not only your content, but also your UX.

The reason for all this wrong ideas persistence can be hiding in a lack of knowledge, or “not understanding the technicalities of ‘why’ Google ranks pages” — Tony Dimmock ‏@Tony_DWM.

And refusing to learn and keep up to date. “For me, the worst is sticking to old tactics, not learning and evolving” — Boris Krumov ‏@SeoKungFu

We can suggest only one way out the bad habit cycle – learn, explore, research and don’t stick to misperceptions. Be critical and inquisitive!

“The answer is right there in the question itself. When it comes to SEO, don't form “habits” — Rohan Ayyar ‏@searchrook.

Q 2. What is the most problematic part of your daily SEO activities and where are you likely to trip?

Right now, we’ll spend the day with an SEO expert. Let’s call him Paul. Seems like our Paul is not really a lucky guy, because he’ll have to face all the problems that our participants pointed out in one day. Let’s help the guy solve them all! Problems can originate from communicating with clients. Usually troubles can appear because of clients’ lack of understanding of how SEO works.

Poor Paul must “educate clients who feel that ranking for a single keyword is the best strategy” (Andrea Fine ‏@AndreaFine) and “make the clients understand that SEO is not immediate” Erik Campo ‏@erikcampoparra. Well, all you can do is drive and advertise your client. Just spending a little time consulting and explaining can answer most of their questions.

And we are talking not just about explaining basic SEO principals and meaning of algorithms’ updates, but also necessity of analytics. 

But if Paul wants to explain something to his client, he’d better spend some time on self-education. And it can take some time to “just keep up with industry news and updates. SEO is always changing, it never stays the same. Gotta stay fresh” — Marty.B.Trent ‏@Marty_Marketing.

OK, Paul’s meeting with his client is over, and he’s read the news. Now it's time to get to work! One of the most important SEO tasks that was pointed out by our participants is link-building. “Link-building is becoming more difficult and clients still expect quantity over quality” — Optus Digital ‏@optus_digital.

That means multi-tasking and a lot of teamwork. So another very important thing Paul better think of is good management. Learn how to “connect all the dots. SEO is often about bringing order to chaos” — Tony Dimmock ‏@Tony_DWM.

So, summing things up — what advice can we give Paul? Avoid jostling and confusion, educate yourself, manage your team’s work and remember that the one thing that matters is quality! So don’t “try to do 10 good ideas at the same time instead of doing one great idea properly” — AJ Ghergich ‏@SEO.

Q 3. How can you avoid SEO disasters during a website redesign?

Website redesign can turn into a nightmare and lead to disaster. Here is the reminder of the most important steps of redesign and a great advice from Ian Lurie.

Website redesign checklist

Q 4. How can SEO pros benefit from their competitors' mistakes? 

Competitor research can give you tons of great information. Although it can take some time, the lessons you may learn can be priceless. To begin, identify your competitors and follow their activities.

The main purpose of competitor research — learning. Don’t just measure their successes or their failures — analyze them and draw conclusions.

In the great marketing race, you should keep an eye on leaders. Take a look at what Luke Jordan ‏@LJordanOnline had to say: “I'm more concerned about what competitors are doing WELL rather than what mistakes they're making.” So if you want to learn, learn from the best.

But we still didn’t get to the point — what is the biggest mistake your competitors can make and what benefits can they bring you? Your competitors’ greatest vulnerability is not their failures, but the gaps in their strategies.

Making something better than a race leader can be tough, so do something they’re not — become the best on the new playing field. It’s an excellent opportunity!

Nicholas Chimonas gave the best advice on this subject. And I can’t agree more.

Q 5. How could SEO activities affect other marketing channels in a negative way?

This one is interesting — how can something good turn out to be something bad? Let’s take a look at the process of creating an SEO Frankenstein. Step one: produce a lot of bad content. Well, it doesn’t even have to be a lot. A couple very poor-quality articles will be enough.

Keyword stuffed, non-related content can bring traffic, “but your branding, retargeting and social media will suffer greatly” — AJ Ghergich ‏@SEO.

Even if your content is great, it’s easy to make it invisible.

Well, it seems that if you want your SEO to harm your business and website as much as possible, you just have to wear a black hat. Every black hat technique, including spammy link-building, is the best way to screw things up.

And again, each bad practice will not only hurt your website, but your relationships and your credibility.

“If your spammy links show up on my blog, no marketing technique will convince me to use your product” — rjonesx ‏@rjonesx.

If black doesn’t suite you, it can be easily avoided. There are other, more legitimate ways to mess things up. Hint: have an unbalanced SEO strategy and focus on machines instead of people.

So, what is the best way to avoid creating an SEO monster? First of all, communicate with your users and your team. Remember that SEO should be a part of your marketing mix, but not the main dish.

Q 6. What was the worst SEO mistakes you have ever made and how did you fix it?

Even the smart SEO expert can make a mistake, but smartest always learn from them. Here is you never-to-do list, which came from the experience of our participants.

If You Made an SEO Mistake,

That's it for today. As usual, before saying goodbye we want to thank following participants fro their tweets, which we used for creating images.

@AndreaFine @AndrewDennis33 @betweenstations @Beymour @bill_slawski @ClassicCranmer @DOZCOM @fighto @GotchSEO @HermanTinkura @itsdansmith @jacquesbouchard @jbergess @JuliaEMcCoy @kmullett @leegermeroth @Marty_Marketing @MilwaukeePPC @NChimonas @netmeg @optus_digital @orbiteers @paramaya @portentint @rjonesx @Ross_Quintana @ruthburr @SeoKungFu @sergio_redondo @shendison @Tony_DWM.

Author Photo
Elena TerentevaElena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush. Elena has eight years public relations and journalism experience, working as a broadcasting journalist, PR/Content manager for IT and finance companies. Bookworm, poker player, good swimmer.
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