Search engine optimization is a continuously evolving field. Google makes around 500 adjustments to its search algorithm each year. Thus far 2014 has seen nine major algorithm updates. In the last two years Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird updates have rocked the SEO world and together account for the biggest shift in SEO in the last decade. You can learn more about Google Algorithm updates at Moz.
So what is a marketer to do when uninvited Google animals crash the party?
How does one stay up to date on SEO best practices? What happens when what used to be a best practice is now a red flag? (ahem – Hummingbird. More on that later.) Keeping on top of search engine marketing can seem overwhelming, and many companies don’t have the time to spend doing so.
Enter: SEO NO-NOs
Sometimes, knowing what NOT to do is the best way to stay competitive. Of course you’ll still have to be proactive with your marketing, but staying out of the Google penalty box helps.
The SEO No-Nos series will share advice and tips on how NOT to practice SEO. We’ll keep up on the ever-evolving best practices for you, so you can focus on sharing your company message. Check back regularly for tips, and follow JBMediaGroup on Twitter: #SEOnonos.
Today we’ll start off with a biggie:
SEO NO-NO #1: Not Doing Keyword Research
Doing keyword research is like turning on your GPS when you start a road trip – you’ve got a plan and you know where you’re going. Without it you’re driving blind.
Keyword research is the process of discovering what phrases people use when they search in Google. It is the #1 most fundamental and foundational step to any SEO campaign, paid search campaign, and, I’d argue, online marketing campaign. Keywords are your guide!
Once you know how people are searching for terms that are relevant to your products or services, you can see if your website shows up for those terms. If it doesn’t then it’s time to create a plan to target those keywords.
With a Google AdWords account doing keyword research is FREE! You don’t need any special programs, plugins, subscriptions, or anything. Basically what I’m saying here is you have NO EXCUSES for not doing your keyword research.
Excuses People Make Anyway:
1. Keyword research is hard. I don’t understand the tool.
2. I hate spreadsheets.
3. Werds r knot my strong suit.
4. I don’t know what to do with the keywords once I’ve found them.
My Responses to the NaySayers:
1. It is hard. To make research more manageable try sticking to a single keyword theme at a time. Download and organize ideas as you go. Take breaks. In the future I’ll write more posts about how to make keyword research easier, but in the meantime check out Google Support’s Keyword Planner How-to.
2. Your mom hates spreadsheets.
3. Words are the building block of communication. You’re in marketing, right? And if you’re more of a math person, just remember that SEO is math with words. That makes words seem like numbers instead. Magic!
4. Keywords can be used in many ways: like choosing the best terms to create your site navigation, deciding what phrases to associate with your products or services, brainstorming blogging ideas, interlinking pages on your website, starting fascinating conversations with your peers…
Have I convinced you, yet? Keyword research offers a blueprint to your marketing strategy, and allows you to add a deeper level of intentionality. So, don’t not do your keyword research!
Please check back periodically for more SEO NO-NOs and advice on how not to get beat up by Google’s next animal updates.