Breaking Bad SEO Habits: Unlocking Success for Online Marketing

Habits are often viewed negatively, but they have a purpose. Habits are designed to simplify our daily routines and help us achieve more without constant deliberation. Professionals in the SEO world also develop habits with time. Some habits are a result of necessity, while positive experiences reinforce others. However, certain habits can make it difficult to manage and direct online marketing campaigns for clients. In this article, you will learn about five common SEO mistakes that even experienced analysts can make and how to break them.

Overcoming Personalization Bias when Searching Results

SEO analysts are taught to limit personalization in search results. It is important to evaluate the rankings of your client’s websites without personalization due to search history and location. Using only non-personalized results can hide important insights into how users search.

Understanding the impact of Google+, localization, and blended search results can provide valuable SEO information. The majority of your client’s potential customers only perform Google searches with personalization. Understanding the variations in SERPs they encounter as they travel to your website, while it is impossible to replicate their exact experience, is crucial for an effective online strategy. Remember that the user experience begins with the SERP and that this experience is crucial to the success of your marketing campaigns.

Move Beyond Daily Ranking Checking

Rankings are a key factor in the success of an SEO campaign. Ignoring how search engines rank your client’s website for important search terms could have disastrous consequences. But constantly monitoring rankings and being overly reactive to them can be detrimental to your campaign.

The pursuit of a higher ranking can compromise an online marketing strategy. Reactive tactics based on daily ranking fluctuations often produce poor results. It is important to stick to the plan, even if temporary ranking dips occur when launching an SEO campaign. SEO professionals are familiar with long-term best practices. Do not get caught up in minor changes in rankings, and have faith in the process. SEO is a long-term process, not a quick sprint.

Strategic Implementation for SEO Enhancements

Any successful SEO campaign will have the enhancement of your client’s site as its primary objective. It is important to make sure that these enhancements are in line with your client’s model of business and make logical sense.

Every aspect of your website should be tuned to work harmoniously with the larger framework. The ultimate goal is converting visitors into customers. Unfortunately, this goal is not always reached. Some SEOs will try to implement authorship, rating, and review markups even if they are not relevant or beneficial to the client.

Recent Google changes, such as the reduction of rich snippets on SERPs, highlight potential harm caused by these tactics. Rich snippets that are overused or misused can be viewed by search engines as a low-value signal, which could lead to ranking loss. You can lose focus if you chase the latest SEO trends. Prioritize targeting relevant audiences and directing these visitors to your website.

Seeing the world through fresh eyes

It’s said that “you can’t see a forest for trees,” and this is true of SEO professionals as well as the websites they optimize. SEOs need to revisit their clients’ websites with a new perspective, just as a writer needs to distance from his work in order to evaluate it objectively. This helps identify issues that could hinder the conversion of website visitors into customers.

It is important to visit your clients’ websites regularly, but it is also crucial to periodically look at your own work with fresh eyes. It can be very valuable to collaborate with SEO analysts who are knowledgeable or to seek advice from colleagues. Bruce Clay, Inc. analysts are often involved in fruitful discussions where they share insights and best practices. Take advantage of the chance to learn new perspectives and avoid getting bogged down in the minutiae of on-page optimization.

Prioritizing user experience over search engine optimization

This is an important point that SEO professionals tend to overlook. It is difficult to strike a balance between optimization and conversion, but many SEOs sacrifice the usability of websites by focusing too much on ranking for specific keywords. Making changes for the sole purpose of optimizing keywords can have negative effects on a website’s usability.

Keyword optimization is becoming less important. Ranking for relevant search terms still remains important, but its importance in SEO is decreasing. In-depth research shows that users are finding websites by using unconventional and nonintuitive search terms. Long-tail keywords are the most effective for conversions. Capturing long-tail traffic can be achieved by creating comprehensive content that is naturally and intelligently tailored to a topic rather than over-optimizing a single keyword.

Google’s algorithmic updates, especially with the introduction to Google Hummingbird have shifted the emphasis from keyword-based search engine optimization (SEO) to topic-based search engine optimization. Search engines now focus on providing complete information to users and answering their queries instead of focusing solely on keywords. To capitalize on this shift, sites should prioritize comprehensive content that covers topics in depth.

SEO Habits Adapted to an Evolving Landscape

All SEO professionals are committed to promoting the best interests of their clients. It is important to realize that certain habits can hinder the success of managed sites. SEO is a dynamic area that constantly changes with search engines. This requires a constant and critical evaluation of the tactics used.

Reflect momentarily: Are you guilty of any bad SEO habits that need to be broken? By recognizing these habits and actively working on them, you can improve your effectiveness as an SEO professional and drive more success in online marketing campaigns. Share your experiences or confessions in the comments.

Break free from detrimental SEO habits today to elevate your online marketing success—prioritize user experience, embrace strategic implementation, and adapt to an evolving landscape for lasting SEO achievements. Contact us

FAQ: Unveiling Negative SEO Practices and Online Marketing Success

SEO is a constantly evolving field that requires professionals to adapt to the changing demands of search engine algorithms. Certain ingrained habits, however, can negatively impact a client’s success in online marketing. In this whitepaper, we will explore five common SEO habits that can be a trap for even experienced analysts. By analyzing and understanding these habits, we hope to equip SEO professionals with modern approaches for optimizing websites and driving successful online marketing campaigns.

1) Habit: Limiting Personalization Bias in Search Results

SEO analysts have traditionally been advised to focus solely on non-personalized results in order to accurately assess website rankings. This approach is a good way to evaluate ranking strength, but it does not consider factors that affect the search experience of the average user. Localization, personalized searches, and blended results all play a significant role in determining the SERP experience of users. Ignoring these factors can hamper the development of comprehensive marketing strategies. To combat this, SEO professionals need to tailor their campaigns according to the SERP variations that users encounter.

2) Habit: Daily rank checking is excessive

Rankings are unquestionably a key indicator of SEO success. A focus on ranking daily can lead to a reactionary approach that hurts overall campaign performance. SEO professionals should instead adhere to a clearly defined strategy and avoid being swayed too much by minor fluctuations in rankings. It is important to maintain a long-term outlook and trust in established best practices. SEO is a process that takes time and requires patience.

3) Habit: Implementing the “Newest” SEO enhancements blindly

Any SEO campaign should aim to improve a client’s site. Implementing the latest SEO trends blindly without considering their relevance and compatibility with a client’s business can be harmful. SEO professionals need to ensure that all website components contribute to the overall goal of turning visitors into customers. Implementing authorship and rating markups without relevant content or context is counterproductive. SEO strategies should be based on a thorough understanding of the target market and aligned with the client’s objectives.

4) Habit: Inability To See The Big Picture

SEO professionals may not be able to identify larger issues that are hindering conversion rates if they visit a client’s site frequently. It is important to revisit the website regularly and from a new perspective. Collaborating with colleagues and asking for their advice can help you gain valuable insights and identify blind spots. By gaining a broader perspective, SEO professionals can overcome tunnel vision and tackle underlying issues that impact the website’s conversion rate.

5) Habit: Prioritizing Search Engine Optimization Over User Experience

It is difficult to achieve a balance between the search engine optimization (SEO) and the user experience. Prioritizing keyword optimization above usability can compromise the overall effectiveness of a site. Over-optimization of specific keywords can lead to poor user experiences and reduce conversions. Search engines are increasingly prioritizing topic-based SEO. It is, therefore, important to create comprehensive, relevant content that answers users’ questions. By focusing more on valuable information and answers than on specific keywords, websites can better cater to users’ needs and align themselves with the changing search engine algorithms.

SEO professionals need to be aware of the habits that can hamper the success of online campaigns. By letting go of these habits, SEO professionals can optimize websites more effectively and achieve better results. An effective holistic SEO approach involves prioritizing user experience over SEO, considering personalized searches taking an overall long-term perspective approach to client’s models, and developing new perspectives. Professionals must stay ahead of this ever-evolving SEO landscape to remain competitive while giving their clients optimal results.

Step-by-Step Procedure to Break Bad SEO Habits and Unlock Success for Online Marketing:

Step 1: Overcoming Personalization Bias when Searching Results

– Emphasize the importance of evaluating search rankings without personalization to gain valuable insights.

– Explain that understanding variations in SERPs encountered by users is crucial for effective online strategies.

– Highlight the significance of user experience starting from the SERP and its impact on marketing campaigns.

Step 2: Move Beyond Daily Ranking Checking

– Stress the importance of rankings in SEO campaigns, but caution against being overly reactive to daily fluctuations.

– Encourage sticking to a long-term plan and best practices, even if temporary ranking dips occur.

– Emphasize that SEO is a process requiring patience and a focus on overall campaign goals.

Step 3: Strategic Implementation for SEO Enhancements

– Explain the primary objective of enhancing the client’s website and aligning improvements with their business model.

– Caution against implementing trendy SEO tactics without considering relevance and benefits to the client.

– Highlight the potential harm caused by overusing or misusing rich snippets and the need to target relevant audiences.

Step 4: Seeing the World Through Fresh Eyes

– Encourage SEO professionals to evaluate their clients’ websites periodically with a new perspective.

– Suggest collaborating with knowledgeable colleagues or seeking advice to gain fresh insights.

– Highlight the importance of avoiding getting too focused on on-page optimization details and minutiae.

Step 5: Prioritizing User Experience over Search Engine Optimization

– Stress the need to strike a balance between optimization and conversion while prioritizing usability.

– Explain that keyword optimization is becoming less important, and comprehensive content tailored to topics is crucial.

– Highlight the shift from keyword-based SEO to topic-based SEO and the importance of providing complete information to users.

Step 6: SEO Habits Adapted to an Evolving Landscape

– Emphasize the dynamic nature of SEO and the need for constant evaluation and adaptation of tactics.

– Encourage reflection on personal SEO habits and identification of bad habits that need to be broken.

– Highlight the importance of actively improving effectiveness as an SEO professional to drive success in online marketing campaigns.

This article was updated on December 16, 2023.  

Robert Ramirez is the senior SEO manager for Ticketmaster. Prior to joining Ticketmaster, Robert worked for several years as the SEO manager for Bruce Clay, Inc. With many years of internet marketing experience, Robert's passion for SEO and offering exceptional service to clients in markets large and small is well documented. A self-professed tech-geek and sports addict, when Robert isn't busy working on one of his websites, you can usually find him rooting for his favorite Los Angeles sports team. Follow him on Twitter.

See Robert's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (12)
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12 Replies to “Breaking Bad SEO Habits: Unlocking Success for Online Marketing”

@Christopher I’ll back up Rob and say there’s value in checking a signed-in SERP from time to time. What you’ll see from looking at a SERP as a typical signed-in user is a “full” SERP experience. What Universal listings are showing up on the page? What rich snippets may be delivered for this query? Is Google testing a new layout, a carousel, a map on the page? These are all things that a SERP tells us but a tool can’t, with a signed-in SERP delivering an even further personalized experience we should be familiar with.

Great post, I definitely know some people who over do these habits and it drives me nuts. Thanks for sharing!

@David Black

“Checking rankings in the SERPS is a pain – do you know of any automated way to find where you appear in the vast Google rankings for particular phrases?”

Indeed it is. Both Google Webmaster (and Bing) Tool give you the most accurate ranking; note they’ll only give you rankings for search terms a page actually shows up for, i.e., a page could potentially rank for any keyword or phrase in the text of the page, but if no one uses the keyword or phrase in search, or Google or Bing’s algorithms decide the page isn’t relevant for a given query, then there’s no data to report.

For more, see “Using Search Queries to improve your site:”

It’s a great informative article. Yes, this is things we used to do repeatedly. Thanks for reminding us for our bad habits.

“While non-personalized search results are important for judging a site’s ranking strength, they also hide important aspects of the average users’ search experience.”

Why would you use an on-the-fly personalized search (SERP)? What information can you get on the SERP that you won’t more accurately get from Google (or Bing) webmaster tools?

If you want to look at rankings, then Google (or Bing) webmaster tools is the most accurate source of that data. If you want to see how any particular listing appears in search, i.e., page title and description, then it doesn’t matter whether or not your logged in. In the end, GWT gives the best picture of ‘important aspects of the average users’ search experience’ since it factors in, or average over (in the case of rankings and CTR), personalized and localized search.

Looking at the SERP however, is necessary if you want to see how your listing compares to a similar listing from another site (that you don’t own) which closely ranks to your listing, and in that case I’d use an unbiased SERP, but it may not matter . . .

P.S. Google’s webmaster youtube channel has some terrific videos about how to use GWT for SEO tasks; they released their latest one, ‘Creating an SEO strategy (with Webmaster Tools!)’ just a few days ago . . .

@Christopher, thanks for the comment! I would definitely recommend you take a look at how a SERP can change when you perform a signed in search, you might be surprised by what you find. I agree that you need to rely on data from Google (or Bing) webmaster tools when analyzing your searchers experience, but every once in a while putting yourself in your customers shoes and examining what their path to your site looks like can be valuable. This is especially true for local and mobile searches where the personalization can’t be suppressed.

That’s what I do a lot :) I check ratings every day, even 2-3 times a day. I don’t see it a as a bad habit – it is just a little time wasting. But it is addictive!

@Kodulehe – Thanks for the comment! Checking rankings is definitely addictive. It’s when you end up revising your SEO strategy to account for every position shift that you get into trouble.

Visiting a site daily does indeed lead to blindness to the details. I often advise having a week off – go back and take a fresh look – I’m sometimes amazed at things that ‘jump’ out at me.
Checking rankings in the SERPS is a pain – do you know of any automated way to find where you appear in the vast Google rankings for particular phrases?

Follow these and you won’t go far wrong.
Rank should be seen as a “reward” for getting it right, an epiphenomenon, not something to obsess over. If you fix the business, the rank follows later.

@David – I couldn’t agree more. Like I say in the article, you have to have faith in your tactics and stay the course! Improve the site and user experience and the rankings usually follow.

I Confess: This is a great reminder-article. Thanks.


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