5 mindset mistakes you may be making when it comes to SEO

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Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about different approaches to page speed optimization.

During this process, I stumbled onto some older posts on the topic, including an old blog post on the topic from Matt Cutts, Google’s former head of webspam. As I got to the comment section, I remembered how intently SEOs used to read Matt Cutts’s blog. The comments on those posts always revealed a lot about how people thought about Google and SEO.

As with most areas of life, lots of people had reasonable questions like this:

A reasonable question from a commenter

Or this:

Another reasonable question from a commenter

Other people were pretty positive and went the flattery route:

A flattering blog comment re: page speed

And, of course, as with virtually every internet discussion, some people had strongly worded, multi-paragraph hot takes:

A longer comment on the page speed blog post

And still others had a (justifiably) difficult time keeping different components of Google’s ranking factors and information for webmasters straight:

A comment about page speed impacting page rank

Such is the nature of internet commenters (though as comment sections, go this one was actully fairly reasonable and civil). That said, these familiar reactions to a now seven-year-old Google announcement did make me think about five different SEO mindsets that I frequently see holding clients and different companies (of all shapes and sizes) back from growing traffic from organic search.

1. Content topic narcissism

Sharing knowledge about things that you’re expert in is a great way to get links and traffic. Many successful blogs have started without the author even knowing what SEO is and end up driving massive amounts of Google traffic by simply sharing solutions to problems that he or she had.

However, this is very different from the approach I see many (frankly, probably most) corporate blogs taking. “Scratching your own itch” and sharing helpful information that you’re interested and expert in is not the same as just writing about whatever you and your company want to generate content around.

Many corporate blogs are a mix of company-centric short posts (effectively press releases), extremely short content proclaiming the importance of something (typically a product or service the company sells) without really demonstrating that importance conclusively and with no real added value for readers, and/or short lists of not-particularly-actionable tips the reader could find at several other sites.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with including shorter content, product/company updates, or posts that are more explicitly designed to drive leads and sales — these are, after all, company blogs. But if a blog post falls in the forest and no one’s around to read it, its not going to drive any leads, right?

This is a concept that’s been talked about by SEOs and content strategists ad infinitum, but I still see tons of companies who want to crank out self-referential sales materials and have someone “sprinkle SEO pixie dust” on top of content that no one would have any reasonable incentive to share or link to.

So, what’s a better approach?

A better mindset is to be focused on delivering useful content that your audience wants, even if every single blog post and page on your site isn’t going to generate immediate sales. Specifically, you can think about a mix of:

  • problems you’ve solved for yourself or your clients that you can share information about.
  • research on the things your prospects search for and post about (e.g., keyword research).
  • posts that curate and link out to other resources (which is helpful for both your prospects and the resources you highlight).
  • industry reports, surveys and other kinds of content that prospects will find so valuable that they’ll be happy to exchange their contact information for them.

This doesn’t mean you stop offering case studies, demos, consultations, free trials and more on your site — it just means you’ll have a better chance that people will actually be on your site to find them.

2. Excessive Google pleasing

Much of the advice you get from Google about whether you need an SEO — and about SEO in general — is pretty good. Much of it focuses on making your site accessible, creating content for readers and avoiding some of the things that are against their guidelines (which are high-risk tactics).

That said, a majority of recommendations Google makes are in the best interest of Google’s users and/or Google’s business — and so, not everything Google recommends will be in your business’s best interest.

[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Tom Demers is the co-founder and managing partner of Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content. His companies offer paid search management, search engine optimization (SEO), and content marketing services to businesses of varying sizes in various industries.


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