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					12 SEO Campaign Killers
Want to avoid putting your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign on life support? It might help to know what can result if you can’t keep up with the rapidly growing industry tools (free and expensive) or can’t set your ego aside. Here are 12 sure-fire ways to legally kill your strategy. The death watch will vary depending on how much you emphasize each:

1. Assume Responsibilities You Can’t Handle
I’ve been working with online marketing since 1997. Believe me, it’s getting tougher to keep up with each facet. Key team members at Fathom SEO keep my head above water so I can see what’s going on around me. If you’re new to this (or if you’ve been messing around awhile), take a long look in the mirror and decide if you’re really cut out for search engine optimization. Do you know the tactics and the language of the field? SERPs aren’t drinks. They’re fun to look at, but don’t mean a whole lot until they’re united with more useful data. Natural search engine optimization will fail (or at least fall incredibly short of its potential) if you’re also busy doing paid search, writing an annual report, working on media relations, keeping up with summer re-runs, evaluating web analytics, appeasing clients/co-workers and buying print ads.

2. Resist Holistic Thinking
Turf battles are kind of fun to watch, but being a player isn’t a joy. Website marketers want link love, but they have to give love too. Need to frame this thinking with a mental picture? If you’re old, think Hands Across America (circa 1986). Otherwise, crowd surfing will do (everyone’s a friend). Share keyword research, traffic data, creative and other information with other folks on your team. You are on the same team, right? For example, the marketing folks running the paid search campaigns can’t lock themselves in a silo while the website development staffers try to get higher natural rankings in their separate silo. Both teams can do better by cooperating.

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3. Put ROI Improvements on the Back Burner
Rankings and traffic are just the start. Heck, even web analytics has limits. How sound is your company’s ROI strategy? Is someone really using page views as your Key Performance Indicator (KPI)? I hope that’s not the main KPI. How well do your natural search engine optimization efforts correspond with your company’s ROI initiatives? Ultimately, it’s about brand, lead generation, sales and the bottom line. Do you have a compelling message? Is your phone number visible? What fonts are you using? How crowded is your page? How are you tracking leads with technology? Do human beings even ask how a caller found the website? Are you using separate phone numbers to have more precise tracking?

4. Keep Ego in the Clouds. Fail to Lock It in the Closet.
Maybe you know how to do some things, but not others. Admit it and move on. Where can you do the most damage? Keyword selection. If your website is new, has few pages and no link bait, what do you expect? The results of keyword search volume can be captivating. Mature adults start saying things “Gimme.” Yep, I see it all of the time. When I show someone extensive search data, they skip the longtails they may be in a position to rank for and push only for search terms people use more frequently. They’re not always interested in whether their website has enough going for it to rank for these highly competitive keywords. “Too competitive” aren’t words anyone wants to hear me say. I’m working on a professional way to say: “YOU DON’T DESERVE THAT KEYWORD.” Go for less competitive keywords and see how they perform. If you earn a gold sticker for those, you can move to a higher grade. Hint: Include a few extremely competitive keywords in your mix early on so you can see how they perform over time. Invariably, they also can influence the performance of other search terms. Longer search terms get less traffic, but they improve the odds of higher conversions. You’ll never determine your best scenario unless you test.

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5. Misdiagnose Rankings
You got a #3 on MSN? Big deal. What was the search term? Show me the traffic and then tell me about conversions. If you’re easily excited by rankings, take something to calm you down. What if two pages rank for the same search term? Are you going to work on both the page ranking #8 and the other one ranking #18 on Google? Does the #8 page appeal to you more? Three ABCs to mull over: A. Which has a better chance to lead to conversions? B. Which one is easier to work with to achieve even higher rankings? C. Which one might better serve another search term?

6. Settle for Limited Content
I’m sorry if your website wasn’t designed with search engine optimization in mind. Now it’s YOUR problem and opportunity to improve. Adding tons of content and playing all of the theme games takes time and sensitivity (to keyword relationships, website content messages, usability, etc.). Start somewhere – like your home page and some product/service pages. Turn graphics into text. It’s not that hard. CSS is your friend. If you’ve never met CSS, find someone who dates CSS.

7. Serve Brochure, Not Link Bait
Maybe your website has more copy than your two-line, boldfaced listing in the Yellow Pages. But what do all of your words really accomplish? Why would anyone in their right mind link to you? You had better line up some white papers, tools, studies, or downloads. And don’t buy the “buzz” about how great content generates links. Sure, it does if it’s REALY, REALLY hot (and it doesn’t have to be sexy either). Chances are, you’re going to need to do your part. It’s going to cost time and money to make your company stand out.

8. Ignore Social Sites in Your Industry
While your lawyers haggle about what you can and can’t post in your still-on-thedrawing-board blog, spend time on your competitors’ and industry blogs. Are you an expert? How will anyone know if you don’t alert people to your insights on a consistent basis? Even if you don’t post, be a sponge and apply your own experience to something someone else posted. Always do a better job than yesterday. Social resources abound. Here’s one: Check out your company and the competition at Serph: (www.serph.com)

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9. Fail to Keep Up with the SEO World
How good will you be if you don’t at least read what the experts are talking about? If you survey the land, you can get a pretty good handle on what’s worth your energy. Try SEOmoz Ranking Factors Version 2 on for size: (www.seomoz.org/article/searchranking-factors)

10. Play One-Shot Games with Page Titles
If you fail to put keywords in your page titles, you will suffer if you never change them after the first time. Bigger websites can get around this rule because they have other things going for them (age, size, links, content). Most sites need them. Should the company name appear first or last? Try both ways on strategic pages and see what happens. I hope it’s a short company name.

11. View SEO as a Shopping Spree
Yes, your analysis is sure to have holes if your SEO “strategy” means stuffing website pages like a giant turkey. Don’t try everything at once. Just because you get a notion or read something at a forum doesn’t mean you should poking your SEO project like it’s a lab animal. Staggering is a better bet. Get the site architecture ready. Evaluate. Beef up the titles and meta data and page headers. Evaluate. Build that content. Evaluate. Work on the internal linking within the content. Evaluate. Watch the incoming links, etc.

12. Work Around Graphic Headers
Work around? Are you kidding? If you’re not careful, maybe you’ll end up creating extra text high on the page and impede the usability just because someone won’t let you change graphic page headers to text. Put your foot down. From that list, is there anything you can improve? Be honest. Look in the mirror. What can you pull off? It’s time to get started.

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Michael Murray, Fathom SEO's SEM thought leader, has shaped online marketing strategies since 1997. He has been a speaker at regional and national events, including Search Engine Strategies conferences in Chicago, New York City and San Jose. With an emphasis on best practices, Mike has guided projects for FedEx Custom Critical, Eaton Corp., Bissell, Cleveland Clinic, Career Education Corp. and more. His online articles have appeared in WebProNews, iMedia Connection, ReveNews and other online publications. Mike also authored how-to guides and white papers, including "Is Search Engine Optimization Worth It? SEO and the ROI Debacle." He led two national studies on how health care companies and manufacturers use SEO. His SEM passion grew out of a writing background. Mike earned his BA/journalism at Kent State University in 1986. Over the next decade, Mike wrote for daily newspapers and tracked technology trends for a regional business publication.

About the Author

Fathom SEO is a market-leading firm dedicated to Search Engine Marketing (SEM), with an emphasis on organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The company offers "SERV" programs (Search Engine Ranking and Visibility), a series of productized SEO, Online PR and Link Building offerings using a proprietary process, software, web analytics and consulting. Fathom SEO's services dramatically increase traffic to a client's website by improving referring traffic and placement at the top of search engines for keywords and phrases important to their business. Fathom SEO also offers programs for Pay Per Click (PPC) Management, Online Video Production and Distribution and Opt-in Email Marketing. Visit Fathom SEO TV (www.fathomseo.com/channel-guide.asp) for video demos and advice. Or call 1-866-RANK-YOU (726-5968).

About Fathom SEO

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posted:4/17/2008
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