Are you looking for ways to get better results from your SEO work? If you use SEO to increase sales leads or drive e-commerce revenue, you’ve probably been advised to do a number of things that don’t really need doing. If you stop doing these things, you will:
- Reduce the cost of your SEO
- Spend more time on SEO work that makes a real difference
Here’s a list of 16 SEO activities you don’t need to do.
1. Starting an SEO campaign with a vendor or in-house without clearly defined goals
You’ll see in the activities that follow how important focus is to effective SEO execution. It’s pretty hard to be focused if the SEO campaign has no clearly defined goals — and yet, a lot of organizations dive in headfirst and just start doing stuff. In general, an effective SEO campaign targets strategic keywords and shapes on-site content and off-site efforts to support those keywords. Don’t spend a dime on an SEO campaign until you’ve done that.
2. Chasing keywords you may never be able to obtain
A common error in keyword selection: going after high-volume, competitive keywords for which your organization doesn’t have the resources to compete. Moving up in the rankings from page 10 to page 7 won’t move the dial for lead generation or e-commerce revenue, and with some keywords, that’s all you’ll ever do. Target keywords for which you have a legitimate chance to reach a first-page position.
3. Chasing keywords with no search volume
We see this frequently when conducting SEO audits. If keywords have been selected without careful research, you may be chasing keywords that sounded good to you in theory but have limited or no search volume. Getting to the top of Google for a keyword for which nobody searches is a waste of time for lead generation and e-commerce campaigns.
4. Optimizing webpages that are not SEO targets
Certain aspects of on-site SEO must be universally applied, but others do not. Most lead generation or e-commerce campaigns target the home page and some or all of the product/service pages. Thus, it is not necessary to optimize non-target pages such as the contact page or company history page.
5. Worrying about on-page issues for untargeted pages
On-page problems such as low word count, poor internal linking structure and broken links do not need fixing from an SEO point of view. You may have other reasons for them — I’ll address that issue as it applies to on-page SEO and other activities at the end of this post.
6. Social media
Social media is not essential for SEO. It has little or no direct bearing on Google rankings. Small and midsize organizations in particular expend an enormous amount of energy chasing likes and social shares that may feed the ego, but do not feed the lead or e-commerce revenue pipeline.
Blogs have some SEO value when they are executed with a smart, long-tail keyword strategy and top-shelf content. However, running such a blog requires tons of time and talent that most small and midsize organizations simply cannot spare. Swapping the company blog for a more robust off-site content program yields much better results because it builds high-value links to your targeted website pages.
8. Press releases
Press releases were a common and somewhat useful SEO tactic … seven or eight years ago. Today, very few people read press releases, very few companies have a steady stream of newsworthy content to report, and the overall link-building value of press releases is negligible to nil. Again, shifting efforts from press releases to other content-related SEO efforts makes sense.
9. Obtaining multiple guest posts on the same domain
If you’re contributing multiple articles to the same website/blog, you’re not getting much if any value from links other than the first one. From an SEO point of view, there’s not enough benefit from multiple posts to justify the effort.
10. Nofollowing or noindexing pages (unless your site has hundreds of thousands of pages)
Nofollowing and noindexing are technical SEO activities that help very large websites maintain link integrity on their site (nofollowing) and enable Google to efficiently crawl their site (noindexing). Unless your site has hundreds of thousands or millions of pages — as some e-commerce and news sites do — you needn’t worry about either.
11. Using the keyword meta tag
Google started ignoring the keyword meta tag years ago because so many organizations were overusing it, stuffing it with keywords that may or may not have been relevant. If your SEO campaign devotes any time to filling this tag, you can stop immediately.
12. Including keywords in your meta description tag
Meta description tags are useful when they are persuasively written and thus inspire search engine users to click on your link. However, there is no need to get bogged down trying to incorporate keywords into those meta descriptions.
13. Optimizing all images with alt tags
Strategically important images should be optimized with alt tags — those images are typically images of products. Optimizing stock photography or images on non-target site pages is not important for SEO. Attempting to optimize images across your entire site is time-consuming and draws resources away from important aspects of the SEO campaign.
14. Hiring cheap writers for content creation
Poor-quality content detracts from SEO; the more of it you crank out, the worse your SEO will be. Not only can Google detect (and overlook) your low-quality content, but also, if some search engine user should happen to stumble across it, he or she will only acquire a very poor impression of your company. None of this is in any way conducive to lead generation or revenue production!
15. Producing too much content
In the early days of blogging, it was commonly heard that adding five new posts (webpages) per week to your site was great for SEO. And, of course, over time adding five pages turned into adding 10 pages to adding 25 pages, and so on. From a link-building standpoint, organizations produce content 24/7, looking for links anywhere and everywhere. This content mania is not necessary. Produce on-site content for additional target pages and/or that strategically supports your existing target pages. Produce off-site content strategically, to acquire links from relevant and credible sources only.
16. Using blog comments to get links
We used to do this as part of our SEO campaigns. We stopped. It doesn’t work.
Deal with these issues outside your SEO budget
As I mentioned in No. 5 (on-page issues), you may have reasons for addressing certain issues — not because they affect SEO, but for other reasons. For instance:
- Broken links on a non-target webpage may not hamper SEO, but still detract from the user experience for visitors to that page.
Social media engagement may not improve SEO, but still improves brand recognition.
Press releases may not have SEO value, but still get an important message on the record for truly newsworthy events.
The point is this: Do not allow your SEO campaign to become a budgetary catchall for work undertaken to improve user experience, branding, content marketing, customer engagement and other marketing objectives beyond the scope of SEO.
This happens because it’s easy to say, “We’re doing content marketing or social media or public relations because it helps SEO.” Does it? If the connection between the marketing work is theoretical or marginal, it’s really not something you do for the sake of SEO. By keeping your SEO goals, budget and campaign work strictly focused on what is concrete and fundamental, you will build the lead pipeline or online revenue stream you’re after.