SEO is simple, right? That’s what we SEO professionals would like you to think – so you do it wrong. And we win.
Lots of people move to that “advanced beginner” stage – where they think they know what they’re doing, but in reality, have no clue what they’re doing at all. It’s impossible to avoid until someone would point out gaffes in your SEO strategy. I’m not trying to be egotistical or anything here: definitely, I made these same mistakes at the beginning, and I’m only pointing them out so you don’t.
Looking at your own site at a high level – but not others’ sites: Many people are capable of deeply analyzing their own website for things like crawl errors, indexation, and the like, but when they see a link target, they completely throw it to the side. In my early days, I would find link directories and blindly submit because the homepage was a PR4 (PageRank) – without thinking that maybe, my listing page, six clicks from the homepage, would be worth nothing.
Not looking at the long-term: When I entered my first in-house SEO job, I didn’t think about the long-term. Which is certainly an important consideration if you’re trying to build a brand and sustain your optimization efforts over a long period of time. How does my plan create a two-year schedule? Will what I do hurt us later? Will I exhaust our best links at the beginning? Is this a long-term SEO strategy? The biggest SEO returns come late in a campaign – so even though a PR7 link might be impressive, is it really worthwhile if the act of getting it costs us our entire site 10 months later?
Thinking link directories are the saving grace – then thinking they’re worth nothing: I took this rollercoaster, first thinking that link directories were going to instantly rank local websites. I thought I was right, and then the websites dipped. That’s when I found out that link directories weren’t actually helping that much, so I settled more rationally at a spot where “directories are worth something”. You just have to figure out how to analyze these using able directory issues.
Believing the web is black and white: White hat and black hat isn’t just paid links vs. non-paid links. Google can’t see all the paid links on the Internet, because they can’t see money change hands. That means that sometimes, paid links are completely invisible – and other times, links that weren’t paid for are more manipulative than the paid links themselves. This is a very important concept to understand as an SEO.
Surely, there’s lots more little mistakes, but on the high, over-arching view of things, these are the things that stand out as the errors Mr. Inexperienced SEO might think of in the beginning.