Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process vital to the success of your site.   In its most basic terms, SEO involves on-site and off-site efforts to attract visitors by offering them what they are looking for.  The challenges increase regularly with the proliferation of internet information and changes in search algorithms.

Since it is to your advantage to utilize every opportunity to improve your SEO and traffic, here are five sure-fire ways to kill your SEO efforts and how to avoid them.

1. Ignoring Mobile Demand

According to the Pew Research Center, 64% of American adults now own a smartphone.   and 49% of those smartphone owners experience the frustration ofcontent  not displaying properly on their phone.   For the first time in 50 years, television is not the screen Americans see most, it has been surpassed by the mobile screen.

According to Bluebridge founder, Santiago Jaramillo (@SantiagoJara), “Mobile commerce is growing at a rate 3 times greater than ecommerce.”  84% of users experience problems with transactions and what’s more alarming is that Sixty-three percent of all online adults surveyed said that they would be less likely to buy from the same company via other purchase channels if they experienced a problem conducting a transaction on their mobile phones.

When a website doesn’t work well for smartphone and tablet users, bounce rates will be higher and conversions will be lower. Google interprets higher bounce as a sign of low content relevancy and as of 2015 penalizes non-mobile-friendly sites in mobile search.

Mobile is the reality.  Today’s solution is a site that is responsive and truly mobile-friendly. A well-developed responsive site will work efficiently on a mobile device and on a desktop, ensuring smooth and consistent customer experiences. Offer your visitors the quality mobile experience they want.  (And make Google happy.)

2. Stuffing Your Site with Keywords

Excessive keyword use in the body of a page is one of the clearest overly-optimized signals on a website. Stuffing keywords and key phrases into your content at every opportunity makes it painful to read. If it’s unnatural for human readers, they will not like it and search engines like Google, Bing and others will detect it and penalize you for the cheap shot.

You need Keywords in your page titles, headers and occurring naturally in the text.  But they should be supported by the rest of the page content in a logical, human-friendly way.  Generally speaking, if the text starts to read poorly, you’ve gone too far.

The days of cramming  a list of 20 keywords into the code on a page are dead and buried.  People search in whole thoughts and questions, not word lists.  Find long-tail keyword phrases that make sense for your consumers and their questions.  Then focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses those keyword phrases in a meaningful context in blog articles and site pages.  When your customers ask, “How do I __________?” — you want to be the one answering that question.

3. Publishing Low-Quality Content

Duplicate, thin, or superficial content leads to a poor user experience. Creating high quality material is a process – it takes research and planning with the intent of creating unique, shareable content that is focused on the user.  Share information you know your visitors want to read – information that is engaging, actionable, and relevant. The best content is written with the reader in mind – not search engines.

Search Engine Land recently shared an article with 20 factors that contribute to and help define Quality Content.  Some of those factors include strategies like:

  • Helping the Reader Complete a Task
  • Making Sure It Inspires, Educates And/Or Entertains
  • Linking to Good Sources, and
  • Asking yourself if you would share it!

4. Ignoring Social Media (still?)

Social SEO is something business owners can no longer afford to ignore.  Social media is powerful, allowing you to spread your online reach faster. It enables you to extend the reach of your blog and site content, promote events and engage with clients and consumers in a conversational way.

Sharing quality content across social media sites helps your audience feel involved and connected to your company.  Today’s consumers want to know the “inside scoop”, the back story, and feel they can trust your brand. When you create experiences they enjoy and appreciate, they are even more loyal and share your content with others.  In today’s hyper-connected world, referrals, reviews and connections are created online through social channels more than ever.

There’s a debate about the level of impact active social media accounts have directly on SEO ranking factors, but KISSmetrics and Hootsuite make the following important points:

  • Google uses Twitter to discover new content
  • Social Media Profiles Rank in Search Engine
  • Social Media Channels are Search Engines, Too
  • Google loves Google+ (and YouTube)

Then there’s the huge reality called social proof:  if 10,000 other people like you… you must be cool, right?  Active social accounts that provide a good consumer experience drive more quality traffic to your site.   If you can’t do it, delegate it, but get it done.

5. Don’t Prioritize or Plan Offsite SEO

Sometimes, the problem is not on your site page.  It’s just that your site page is not enough by itself. Offsite search engine optimization is an ongoing effort. Major search engines view reputable websites that link back to your site as indicators of high quality content. If numerous sites choose to link to your content, it must be good, relevant content.

In addition to social sharing and engagement discussed above, you can create quality inbound links by guest blogging. Reach out to the editors of blogs in your industry where your prospects are already reading, and offer to write a regular blog post. Many editors are thrilled to have industry experts contribute to their blogs, so it’s not typically difficult to become a guest blogger. Just be certain that your guest blog posts include links back to your website. Do this regularly and you will begin to drive more traffic to your site.


Ultimately, improving SEO cannot be separated from improving the user experience.  It’s a cycle that builds momentum: Changes that lead to happier visitors are likely to lead to higher search engine rank, which leads to more happy visitors…  Combine engaging, high-quality content with a solid user experience, and website traffic will start knocking down your virtual door.


Cindy is the founding President at 17blue Digital Marketing. She's passionate about helping businesses reach their goals and impact their communities.