business misc search marketing

The Top Ten Search Marketing Mistakes

Are you thinking of marketing your website in the search engines?  Perhaps you’ve already started.  These are the top ten ways people mess up the marketing of their site in the search engines and 10 things you need to be sure to avoid.

10. No landing pages
A landing page is a page setup specifically addressing the keywords/topic being targeted.  If you have a business site, this may be a page devoted to a specific product.  If you have an information site, this may be a page with information about a specific topic.  Whether you are using pay-per-click ads or search engine optimization (SEO), the keywords being targeted by either the ads or SEO need to be dealt with directly on the page the people will “land” or arrive on.  Too many sites direct people to their homepage, but homepages are by default general.  When people are searching for something, they want to find pages dealing directly what they are looking for.  They just used the search engines to find your site and they don’t want to have to now search through your site as well to find it.  We all love our homepages, but as nice as they are, they are usually bad landing pages.

9. Cheating
There are a lot of “creative” ideas out there for instant success in the search engines.  Most of these ideas try to trick the search engines into giving you great rankings.  The problem is, search engines don’t like being tricked, and, for the most part, the major search engines have some pretty smart people working for them.  They refer to these tricks as “blackhat” SEO and they aren’t afraid to punish or even ban websites that use these techniques.  You may get away with it for a while and may even see great results, but the major search engines do have ways of detecting these blackhat methods and, in the end, usually find the blackhat websites.  So, stick to the legit SEO practices.  Optimize pages, add great content, and build links.  It may take longer, but are you willing to risk your site being banned?

8. No title tag or the same title tag on every page
The Title tag is one of most important SEO elements and one of the simplest to implement.  I can’t tell you how many sites I’ve seen that either have one generic Title tag for their entire site or don’t have a Title tag at all.  It takes just a few minutes to come up with and setup a decent Title tag for a page, but that little bit of work can have a huge impact on your search rankings and thus the traffic to your website.  Also, remember each page you have is an opportunity to target more keywords.  They also probably deal with unique subjects.  So, don’t create just one Title tag for your site and leave it at that.  Every page can have and should have its own Title tag unique to the content of the page and keywords that page is targeting.

7. No Link Building
Links are one of the key ways search engines determine how valuable your site is.  Your site is like a political campaign.  Every link is like a vote.  Do presidential candidates sit back in their living rooms just waiting for Election Day?  No, they go out and present their platform, give speeches, hold press conferences, put up signs, shake hands, and kiss babies.  They do this because they know if they don’t, no one will vote for them.  So, what are you doing to get people to “vote” for your website?  Yeah, it takes some work, but if you want your site to compete for the top keywords, you need a lot of votes and in the end, it’s worth it.  So, get out there, create great content, write articles, send out press releases, register in directories, email other webmasters, and kiss babies (I couldn’t think of an online equivalent for that one).

6. Only optimizing the homepage
When you see an ad in the Sunday paper, do those ads just have the name of the store and a general description of what the store offers?  “Best Buy – Electronics and Computers”.  Or do they also show you a multitude of products and services.  People don’t search for stores, companies, or information sites as much as they search for products, services, and topics.  If I want info about how to rebuild the engine of my car, I’m not going to search for “general automotive repair”, I’ll search for “how to rebuild the engine of a ‘78 Pinto”.  Your site probably has lots of pages.  Each of those pages is an opportunity to target keywords.  Each of those pages probably also has its own unique topic.  That’s something someone is probably searching for, but if you don’t optimize that page, the people searching for that topic won’t find your page or your website.  Optimize your whole site.  If you’ve optimized your homepage, that’s great.  But if you have 100 pages on your site and the homepage is the only page you’ve optimized, you’ve missed 99% of the opportunities to get more visitors.

5. Targeting impossible keywords
Alright, you realize you need to optimize your site for the search engines, but what keywords do you optimize for?  Too many people with new or weak sites (not many links to them or much traffic) just go for what they think are the most popular keywords.  The problem is there are thousands of other sites going for the same keywords.  It’s kind of like a high school kid deciding to take on Kobe Bryant in one-on-one basketball.  The kid doesn’t stand a chance.  Instead he should start by playing other high school kids.  As he gets better and better he can compete against more skilled players.  Eventually, he may be able to compete with Kobe, but it may take years to get to that point.  It’s the same with websites.  That’s why keyword research is sooo important.  Start with keywords your site can compete for.  As time goes on and your site becomes more competitive (because you getting links) you can compete for more competitive keywords.  If you have a new or week site and you optimize for extremely competitive keywords, you’re just wasting your time and it won’t bring in any additional traffic.

4. Poor content/Poor design
No one wants to visit a site with poor content.  Whether it’s because the information is boring and unoriginal, there’s a poor product selection, or there’s just nothing of value on the site, visitors aren’t going to stay long, they won’t return, and they certainly won’t link to your site.  Good content is the cornerstone of every decent site.  Great, original content is the cornerstone of the superstar websites.  Having good content on your site will not only give visitors a good experience and entice them to come back, but people will naturally link to your site because they like it and/or find it a valuable resource.

Getting someone to return to your site is always easier than getting them to visit in the first place.  So, give them a reason to return.  Good content isn’t stagnant.  You must keep added/changing content to keep your site relevant, up-to-date, and keep repeat visitors from getting bored.  . 

In addition to interesting, original, regularly updated content, the content should also be visually appealing.  Like king in tattered rags, good content can be completely missed if the visitor is turned off by the appearance of the site or their ability to navigate the site easily.  Good site design plays an important role of getting the visitor to even bother to look at the content regardless of whether the content is good.  So, make sure your site is designed well.

3. Not getting contact info from visitors or allowing visitors to contact you
This is probably one of the most common mistakes websites make.  It takes a lot to get someone to your website.  If all you do is present your website to them, then you have one shot at getting them to read your information, buy your product, come to your church, etc.  However, if you can get their contact information, just a name and email address, you then have a way of staying in contact with the visitor and getting them to return to your site.  No longer do you only have one chance with the visitor.  Many conversions are not instant decisions, whether it is sales, getting people to come to your church, or whatever you want the visitor to do.  People shop around.  By getting contact information you can stay in touch with the visitor, send newsletters, and keep them informed.  That can be the difference between a visitor and customer or a visitor and a member.

Along with getting the contact information from visitors, you need to give them the ability to contact you.  Some people don’t want to give out contact info, but they will send you a message, give you a call, or even visit you in person.  So, why make that hard on them.  The more contact you have with the visitor, the more likely they will convert into a customer or member.  So, make sure you have ways to contact you or your organization which are easily found on your website.

2. No call to action
Don’t just assume people will know what to do or what you want them to do.  Tell them!   Not only can a call to action inform the visitor, but it can convince the visitor.  If you invite a friend to come to church with you, do you just tell them when the services are or do you say, “Come with me to church this week.”  That’s a call to action.  A call to action can take a visitor from thinking about something to acting on it.  In sales they say you should always be closing the deal.  On a website that is done with calls to action.   Don’t be afraid to tell visitors what you’d like them to do, and don’t be afraid to tell them multiple times.

1. No marketing whatsoever
The most common mistake and the reason most sites fail is they do nothing to market their site.  No one knows the site exists and eventually the website owner just abandons the site wondering why their great idea went no where.  There are many ways to do it, but you have to tell people about your site and let them know why they should visit.  Search engines are a great way to do that because the visitors you get are already looking for what you’re offering.  You don’t have to convince them they want what you’re offering because they already want it.  That’s why their searching for it.  So, all you have to do is show them why you are what they are looking for.  So, get out there.  Optimize your site, build links, create great content and make your site a success!!

Do you have additional marketing mistakes to add?  Leave a comment below.


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About the author

Kurt Steinbrueck

Kurt Steinbrueck is the Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com. He also serves on the leadership of Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL. You can find him on Google+ as .


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