I see the following scenario happen time and again …and it’s agonizingly frustrating.

Client ABC Inc. wants to line up a killer search engine optimization (SEO) effort.  They’ll study the field:  they’ll learn all about keywords, meta & alt tags, inbound links.  They may even subscribe to Search Engine Journal, buy stock in Google (a bit late, perhaps) …even engage eMagine’s search consultants.  And when they finally embark on their SEO program… by gum, they’ll get most of the exotic stuff spot-on.

Only problem is, they’ll blow it on some of the really elementary stuff, such as:

  • Insufficient content. You should have at least one page per targeted keyword.  If you make a collapsible widget but have no page describing that product, what do you think happens when a buyer enters “collapsible widget” into a search-engine box?  Your site probably doesn’t show up in the first 500 pages of results.
  • Little/no effort to generate inbound links. Links to your site from others’ have been important only since the dawn of the Age of Google …and since then they’ve only grown in importance to Google’s engine, and have become a page-ranking factor for most of the others as well.  It’s astounding how many B2Bs will not devote the relatively small amount of time it takes to do this …especially when:
    • They have a business partner program, which usually can be engineered to be a slam-dunk ongoing source of links;
    • Their industry has several directories that serve it, who would be ecstatic to give their site an inbound link …if only they’d submit an entry;
    • They generate a press release a month (or more) and post them only on their site;  when, for a few dollars more, they could send slightly modified versions (to avoid a duplicate-page penalty) to one of the online PR services and get an inbound link that lasts forever (plus one for each online media outlet that picks up their release and runs some version of it).

And then there’s my personal fave:

Dead-wrong keywords. How does this ever happen, when generally clients actually do the required research (or have it done for them)?  Quite often it’s by management fiat, as in the following Dilbert-like fictive scenario…

Marketing: “Our research shows that most people search for products like ours (and our competitors) using the phrase ‘data mining/analysis.’”
Top exec: “Sure, but that was yesterday’s news;  we’ve moved beyond that now.  To really pull away, we need to position ourselves as providing ‘intergalactic business intelligence.’”

Guess what happens next?  This firm’s site gets visited by the 2 or 3 analysts who’ve decided that the next big thing is going to be “intergalactic business intelligence.”  But the real prospects searching on “data mining/analysis”?  Well, since the words they’re using are nowhere on our client’s website, they mostly end up on its competitors’ sites.

This becomes especially critical when it’s the homepage that contains some cooked-up or “wannabe” term, and not the phrases that prospects will actually use.  Why? …because 99% of your inbound links are to your homepage. If there’s nothing there that matches the anchor text and context of the linking page, then all the potential conferred authority of that backlink is lost, and the effort spent acquiring it is wasted.

When a client defeats themselves in one or more of these very avoidable ways and then becomes disgruntled about their poor SEO results, they’ll typically come back to us and say, “Well, can’t you sprinkle on some magic SEO pixie dust?”  Of course we would, if we could;  but since there isn’t any such stuff, we can’t.

It’s sad, really:  clients pay their SEO consultants good money;  it really behooves them to follow all their counsel …not pick and choose what they feel applies or is easily enough done.