In any career your bound to make some mistakes, especially if your career path involves something as ever-changing as SEO. Here are 5 mistakes that taught me lessons about cutting corners, doing things on the cheap, and choosing convenience over quality. These are listed in the order in which they occurred.
1. Outsourcing to other countries. When first starting out, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the quick and easy approach to anything, and some aspects of SEO were just plain boring, so I did what a lot of mistake-makers like myself do: outsourced services to another country. It seemed like a good idea at the time; after all, the promise of massive quantities of links at dirt cheap prices was too good to pass up! Unfortunately, I quickly found out that you get what you pay for, and many of the links and citations included incorrect spellings, wrong links, and inaccurate information with atrocious grammar. Lesson learned.
2. Using the same SEO strategies for every client. Early on in my career I thought it was possible to utilize the same template for every industry. What works in one industry will not work in another, and spending the time to learn a client’s industry, not following others in it, helps separate industry leaders. Universal directories, which were big when I started 7 years ago, were used for every client, and I used the same list for all of them. Once relevance became more important, this option went out the window. I learned to ask the question: “If search engines didn’t exist, would I still use this strategy?” From that point on, if the answer was ‘no’, I didn’t do it.
3. Falling behind on the latest industry updates. It’s easy to find a strategy that works and stick with it, but in any industry, no matter if you’re a lawyer or a home painter, you need to keep up with the latest news or you’ll fall behind. Keeping up daily with the latest tweets, posts, and comments in your industry, whether it be your own or your client’s, is essential to staying with, or ahead of, the curve. Innovation is key to any successful business, and without knowing current trends you can’t innovate. Lesson learned; I spend an hour each day reading up on the latest news.
4. Hiring the wrong people. Once things started to take off, it was time to start bringing new people into the company. Early on I asked friends and relatives if they knew anyone who was ‘good with computers’. Because the work these new employees would be doing was relatively simple, albeit repetitive, I figured it didn’t make a difference whom I hired. Big mistake. Employees are an extension of you and your beliefs, and it’s crucial to hire employees who will further your company’s culture. A few new employees harmed the company more than helped it. Look at resumes and interview multiple candidates to find the one whose philosophies most align with your own. You wouldn’t marry the first person of the opposite sex who crossed your path, so why would you enter a work relationship with the first person looking for a job in your field? Try reading Forbes’ article on Hiring Great Employees.
5. Trying to do everything in-house. With the ever-increasing importance of content in internet marketing, we hired an in-house content writer and put them to work creating content for every one of our clients. That’s 15+ different industries for which our writer had to create content. The problem: he couldn’t possibly know everything about everything, and the content just added to the rest of the thin drivel that clogs up the internet. Although some work is still done in-house after extensive research, finding high quality content writers with experience in our clients’ industries significantly improved the quality of work created and also increased client satisfaction. Although freelancers with industry experience generally cost more money, in the long run it’s a win/win.
Ultimately, 7+ years of internet marketing have taught me one thing: There are no shortcuts to quality, and if you aren’t going to do something the right way, don’t do it at all.