What is the biggest failure you’ve made as an SEO? Please share a specific example
@parallelpath We’ve failed before from a project management standpoint. Failing to effectively communicate w/clients early on led to setbacks
@upshallmatt One of my biggest set backs in increasing my personal SEO is that at times i am reluctant to share my finished content
@BruceClayInc Once we saw a client buy a domain without researching first, 301-redirect the domain and poision their whole site. Lesson learned: Always research before you buy a new domain and redirect! Even if it’s a domain you’ve been pining over for yrs. Rankings tanked and we went into troubleshooting mode. It was a mess. And the client was really excited about the new domain, so disappointment levels were high.
@LearnedKevin In this type of situation what is the first thing you look for to try and fix the problem?
@BruceClayInc Checking to see if any Google penalties have shown up on the site over night is a great place to start.
@robwhughes Failed to develop deep content in support of ecommerce site – was 84% up in organic (3rd yr!) until Google updates in 2012. Traffic hit a wall & dropped like a brick when the updates took effect. Other sites remained strong. I’m no longer there, certain it’s ongoing. Sales driven orgs have trouble prioritizing what some consider ‘fluff’.
@ConcerningChris Aggressively targeting KWphrases w/o considering industry context is an easy trap to fall into.
@caddisint When I started out, I used spun content to build up the content on sites. D’oh! Unique is where it’s at!
@caddisint We even built a pretty good set of posts on using personas for kwresearch and content http://www.caddis.co/blog/why-you-must-have-defined-marketing-personas
@BruceClayInc A lot of optimization has to do with knowing your target audience, their needs, and what resonates with. That said, sometimes you need a flatline here and there to know what DOES NOT resonate with them!
@Scripti_Ashley Direction is key to know where you are going. You don’t want to walk of a cliff and fail before you even start. Funds to allocate to marketing so that you can attract business.
@MattNeSmith I optimized the home page for a # of broad terms & competed with targeted landing pages on the site. None of the pages were ranking very well, except for the homepage for any given term this company targeted.
@thompsonpaul Completely missed that new client had 2 other versions of site fully indexed under alternate URLs. Yeesh.
@RHoberg We’ve seen a ton of that with our clients! at one point we had a client with duplicated versions across 3 domains.
@RHoberg Bad project management: had a client that re-architected and relaunched their entire site without telling us. This made us realize that we needed a better system for project management and communication. We were on a weekly call when they told us the new site was going live that coming weekend.
@Tony_DWM Took clients word as gospel. Found at later that work required was 3 x as much that originally thought. Big lesson learnt. Recovered with head-desk (and pain killers!) & not making same mistake again. Such a valuable lesson to learn.
Why did you fail?
@Scripti_Ashley Knowing when and who to hire is very important for growth. NEVER over promise/under deliver. Ensure you have the people to support your promises. Knowing when to allocate expenses on tools to stream line your work is very important as well.
@Scripti_Ashley Lack of knowledge and know how. Being a newbie to SEO… I still feel like I have a ton to learn.
@ConcerningChris We’re all new to SEO. What happened yesterday already changed!
@PatrickBaek I think it is fair to say that the search is becoming more conversational these days
@parallelpath Just doing what we thought was best for the client as SEOs, not giving full attention to their input and market expertise.
@caddisint I saw the challenge (creating content) and saw a solution (spinning) and didn’t know enough at the time to see it was a problem.
@BrockbankJames Too early on in my SEO career and following as others widely did back then! I guess simply following as others did and, what must be remembered is that back then, it worked!
@parallelpath Always important to stay keep one eye on the future, any specific tips for keeping up with all the changes?
@BrockbankJames Keep up with industry news and follow the likes of @mattcutts! Obv things a lot more widely discussed now! But also, simply ensure what you do adds value from a client point of view not just search engines!
@parallelpath It can be tricky to get clients to the spot where they aren’t just dialed in on keywords.
@ConcerningChris I targeted the term MINISTRY and did not consider the search market for that topic. The SERPs will filled with content about the band Ministry and the definition of ministry. We sold resources for ministry, so the term MINISTRY was too broad and not relevant to our offering. By targeting MINISTRY we were not able to connect with our target audience.
@Tony_DWM Failed due to believing what a non-SEO said. Now, due diligence is pre-req for working w/ clients & 90% of time paid via audits.
@parallelpath Curious, was the non-SEO client side or just someone random
@Tony_DWM Client-side, hence my frustration! Moral: be the sceptic until proven otherwise.
@robwhughes Timing & resources. I knew what was required to succeed, I should have prioritized a solution sooner. If you haven’t failed, you not trying hard enough.
@RHoberg Our project management process didn’t mesh with that of the client. I think this caused confusion about our ongoing efforts. Better communication upfront about our strategy and its tactics/activities would have helped. The client never would have gotten on the “what did you do for me this week?” kick, and not re-architected the site w/o us.
@MattNeSmith I tried to go after everything, but it caused confusion in the SERPs & self-cannibalization of pages=bounce rate up.
What did you learn from the failure?
@BrockbankJames That you must satisfy and add value for users before the search engines!
@amithpanchal First educate them and understand exact requirement !
@PatrickBaek The value you mentioned is all about setting a proper KPI, thus understanding their needs and wants.
@robwhughes Learning is ongoing, improving: content strategy, content dev, user needs analysis, deeper understanding of opps.
@parallelpath We may be the experts on SEO, by the client is their expert on their product & industry. We need to spend more time communicating with them (the client) and getting their input.
@BruceClayInc Things aren’t always as they seem. With SEO history and context play a huge role and need to be at the forefront of our decisions.
@caddisint It’s HARD to create unique content for a reason. If there’s no effort to it, then there’s no VALUE to it. People (and search engines) value creative, useful content and that isn’t going to come from a spinning program. The most valuable content is created when you put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What do they want to find?
@ConcerningChris Ensure that you understand the intent of every term and topic that you target.
@thompsonpaul Learned never to assume, never take someone else’s word without confirming for oneself. Not egotistical, necessary.
@RHoberg It seems simple but with each of my clients we work hard to ensure that the client knows of all of our planned activities. As well as us understanding each of their planned website activities.
@MattNeSmith One page cannot be used to target a volume of terms, especially if they are not aligned in theme.
@Scripti_Ashley Organization is key (as always, thanks needs to be given to @scripti_meg for keeping me in line. A curvy line, but a line). You need to be able to listen. Appreciate your team members, and what they think.
How have you applied those learnings to refine your process?
@robwhughes Like many, (high level) placing greater priority, time & emphasis on content marketing (deep, thoughtful, useful). Admittedly, I was one of those ppl. But I learned too, failures can teach us a great deal (practical & personal).
@PatrickBaek As there is a difference between knowing vs. doing, It refined my process of developing a better communication skill.
@MattNeSmith Focus on narrower themes and build authority round those, rather than trying to be sorta good at everything.
@RHoberg It seems simple but with each of my clients we work hard to ensure that the client knows of all of our planned activities.
@parallelpath Put in the work to allow for proper communication with the client. Make it easy to share information, ideas, & results. Make sure communication is a two way street.
@parallelpath Curious, would anyone say their SEO process has remained relatively the same after failure?
@caddisint Adapt or die.
@ConcerningChris All it takes is a meeting with an angry client or exec to change your process for good
@PatrickBaek I will rephrase it: Keep Adapting Or Die Failin’
@OldhamJared If you are not updating your process you are not growing. Change is essential to growth.
@ConcerningChris As part of the research process, I look to the SERPs to ensure relevance for each topic.
@BruceClayInc We always ask clients about their big plans, and ask them to refer to us before making any big changes. With open client communication like this it’s easier to prevent a problem, rather than scrambling to fix it after the fact.
@Tony_DWM Now process starts with client education. What do they know? What is their understanding? Are they willing to listen? Micromanaging takes time no one has, so you need AllStar SEOs you can rely on.
@caddisint Have a lengthy discussion with the client about their customers and Develop buyer personas.
@Scripti_Ashley What do you think are the top 3 elements/most important aspects of customer care for a business? http://bit.ly/14wg6UJ . Listening, Caring, and the ability to communicate! Listening, because you need to be able to hear needs even if they aren’t being directly said. Caring, because clients will walk away if they think that you don’t sincerely care. Communicate, because unclear expectations can lead you straight into a fire.
What advice would you give to new SEOs?
@BrockbankJames work on your own sites before letting yourself loose on a clients! You might fail, you might succeed but you’l learn!
@robwhughes Join Twitter! Follow authorities, read, research, never stop learning! #seo is a constantly changing priority.
@highlyrelevant If you hear of a technique that might be too good to be true…it probably is.
@PatrickBaek For SEOs, document the process of learning, e.g. blogging, and for an agency, become a learning (social) organization.
@amithpanchal Follow ethical way (white hat) + never give commitment for #1 on google + more focus on social media with SEO.
@MattNeSmith Focus on marketing and creating value first and optimize for humans – not the search engines. Find what is important 2 customers & cater to that, solve problems & answer their pain points not drown them in jargon.
@alexpeerenboom Be hungry. Always be learning, testing, exploring.
@RHoberg Don’t over-focus on any one aspect of SEO. Work to learn, apply, and iterate upon as many different tactics as you can.
@parallelpath Keep your eyes on what’s changing in SEO, but don’t lose sight on the task at hand. It’s easy to get overwhelmed otherwise.
@thompsonpaul Whenever “expert” says “you should do X” you should hear “I should test X for my specific situation”.
@BruceClayInc Know your audience and write content that contributes to your community. Start thinking (and writing) like humans again. Remember the industry & technology are always changing. “#1″ is based on personal context. Connecting with people is important.
@ConcerningChris Listen to your market and your audience to ensure relevance for your optimizations. Use social media and the SERPs to find out the words that people use to describe your offering. Then create content that aligns with that terminology.
@OldhamJared Build several of your own sites and do as much testing as possible. Let data drive decisions and don’t be afraid to be creative.
@Tony_DWM New SEOs must develop: Accountability, trust (in selves & others), responsibility, tenacity & mental toughness & always learn. New SEOs: Learn project / time management, study behaviour of people & search engines. And when you don’t know, ask your peers. It’s ok to fail. But get good at getting back up, learning & trying harder. Learn something new every day & week.
@caddisint Read SEO blogs like a maniac. Learn by doing. Meet with other SEOs in REAL life. Test, Test, Test. Fail, Improve. Oh yea, and PARTICIPATE! Don’t lurk. Hangout. Tweetchat. Attend events.
@Scripti_Ashley Research/Analysis to determine what yr audience is looking for, where they’re looking for it, & how they’re looking for it. Strategic planning – sets the foundation of the potential success of a marketing. Campaign by honing in on the elements that will best spark audience attention and engagement.