Here at Pure SEO, we know better than most how fast search engine optimization is changing. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the game – the rules are constantly shifting, and no-one can stay on top of them forever.
SEO mistakes are a pretty well-covered subject, but it’s always worth it to re-examine the most common pitfalls. Today, we’ve put together a short list of things to keep in mind when it comes to staying ahead of the SEO curve.
1. Track Every Change You Make
This is a classic problem – either someone in your team, or someone in your client’s team updates the site you’re working on. When content changes or moves, it’s important to know about it, and adapt for it. Too often do SEO agencies watch rankings wither because someone somewhere has altered the site without telling anyone.
But despite the importance of the issue, it’s unreasonable to expect the client to remember they need to tell you before they do anything. It is their site, after all. Luckily, there’s an easy fix: change alerts. Using SEOradar or VisualPing are your best bet for staying up to date with site changes.
Keeping a change-log is also best practice. Keeping changes on file is a great way to help you roll back to prior versions if something doesn’t pan out like you thought it would. A well organized, analytics-annotated change-log has the power to save you from worst-case scenarios – if a site complete crashes, it’s vital to know how it was working, what the last changes were, etc.
2. Use the Right Data from the Start
No one wants to spend hours on a report, only to find out you need to take out a certain stream of traffic. It’s far too common for collaborating groups to use different data points on the same project, or for a client to reveal afterwards that they want data points removed.
Taking the time to synchronize all your teams with the data points your client needs is important, and it gives you the chance to synchronize a wide range of other variables too. If you’ve been in SEO for any stretch of time you’ll know how difficult it can be to translate value – we need the analytics data to be right.
3. Know Your Audience
Despite SEO’s fast growth, or maybe even because of it, the wider public often struggles to understand how it works, or what it is. It’s unrealistic to expect that those who don’t interface with search engine optimization on a daily basis will take the time to educate themselves, so we have to be willing to communicate and teach.
Good communication is a vital part of keeping up with SEO because to be successful you need a team, and to keep a team along with you for the ride, you need to convince them it’s worth it. Adapting how you talk about SEO to different groups is important – you need to know their role, their goals, and their experience.
Having the ability to educate others is great, but you also need to know when to educate others, and how much they want to be educated. If they don’t want to know how indexing works, don’t tell them! It can be easy to forget that more information isn’t always better for clients – it’s respectful of their time to tell them everything they need to know, and nothing more. Even if their site is a perfect example of a fascinating case of indexing, it might not matter.
After all, when you’re inside the SEO world, rankings can seem like everything, but to a client, that may not be the case. The drive to build rankings and climb to the top position can be so intense we can forget why we’re doing it at all: to convert sales.
4. Know That There’s Not One Right Answer
Truly good SEO work is about getting great results out of compromises. You won’t always be able to convince a client’s developers that you’re right about tag length, but to be ahead of the SEO curve is to be able to adapt.
There’s always going to be new curve balls to deal with SEO. As the field continues to develop rapidly, you’re likely to make more mistakes, but that’s okay. It’s about learning from them, and becoming better.
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Sam Mannell has been a writer for the Pure SEO content team since August '18, and is now Lead Editor. He quickly found his place in the company as resident Dungeon Master and coffee expert. Sam holds a BA from University of Auckland, where he double-majored in Linguistics and English.