11 Aug 2015

15 Experts Share Their Top SEO Pet Peeves

Whether you’re new to SEO or been in the industry for years, there’s surely something about SEO that bugs you, those types of things that make your skin crawl when you hear someone talk about it. Does the word “keyword density” sound like nails on a chalkboard to you? Or how about having a client ask you again when they will be #1 for that keyword?

We asked 15 of today’s industry experts what their biggest SEO pet peeves.

Eric EnkeEric Enge, CEO at Stone Temple Consulting Corporation

“#1. SEO consultants that take money from their clients and then put in little effort to add value. A related flavor of this are the consultants who have a ton of good ideas that they dig up in the first few weeks, who then parcel out their advice slowly over time to make their contract last longer.

#2. People that pretend that they know SEO when they don’t. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who do this. Reading a few articles does not make you an SEO expert. It takes years of hands on experience.

#3. Consultants that use risky strategies with their clients without properly informing them about the risks. Personally, I don’t like to recommend risky strategies, but if you are going to do it, make sure your clients know what you are getting them into.”

Thomas BallentyneThomas Ballantyne, Director of Marketing at Bulwark Pest Control

“Seeing another company using old, out-dated bad practices and get away with it. That’s right, practices that have been banned and shouldn’t work anymore, but somehow still do. Most of these guys do fall off eventually, but even seeing them take a good ranking for a few months is still annoying. And along those same lines is hearing someone use that company as an example of how old practices still work.”

Ann SmartyAnn Smarty, Founder at MyBlogU.com and Community & Brand Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas

“I actually can’t stand it when SEOs start interpreting what Googlers said, reading between the lines and then turning it into ‘Official Google Guidelines…’

We need to understand that Googlers are not Gods. Sometimes they just don’t know the answer (but may be unwilling to show that). Sometimes they just didn’t mean what we wanted to hear. In most cases, it just doesn’t matter.

Google has changed their official recommendations many times (remember the ever-changing nofollow attribute advice?) – what remained constant: You need to provide quality, so that’s what any SEO campaign should focus on. Stop seeing the signs!”

Ben HollandBen Holland, Associate Director of SEO at Zion & Zion

“My biggest pet peeve is when people want to rank for a specific term and have tunnel vision on it. This is annoying because people should focus on the site as a whole and all organic traffic to it, not just a single terms ranking.

Think about sets or groups of related terms and building pages to address that is a much more favorable strategy than going all in for one term. It is important to have a site rank well for many terms and not just one. This tunnel vision can avert people from what is really important.”

Greg ShueyGreg Shuey, COO of Stryde

“I’m going to throw two out there that are really bothering me lately… First, marketers are still optimizing for search engines first and either ignoring users or thinking about them way too far into the process. Second, ignoring the technical side of SEO. There are huge gains by paying attention to and fixing technical issues.”

Kelsey JonesKelsey Jones, Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal and SEO/SMM at MoxieDot

“It’s always frustrating to me to see people in SEO and marketing talk in absolutes: ‘That will never work’ or ‘That always works.’ Of course, black hat is almost always a bad idea (especially if you can get penalized), but one thing I love about our industry is that we are directly involved in its evolution. Thinking outside the box when it comes to SEO is exactly how it started in the first place. Don’t rule out something without trying it first. Conversely, don’t get too comfortable. Things that worked in the past may fall by the wayside in the next few months or years. When it comes to SEO, you should ABT (always be testing).”

Kristi hinesKristi Hines, Freelance Writer at KristiHines.com

“My biggest pet peeve is the idea that creating content to help you rank in search engines is too difficult. There are many, many ways of getting content for your website that don’t require you to be a writer. You can invite guest writers, hire freelance writers, create roundup posts like this one, interview experts in your industry, curate the best content from around your industry, record your thoughts and have them transcribed, create videos and have them transcribed, so on and so forth. The more content you create and optimize for search, the more you will increase your search visibility.”

Art EnkeArt Enke, Director of SEO at Vertical Measures

“My biggest pet peeve is how Google Webmaster Tools (now Search Console) sends mixed signals via partial or incomplete data, which leads people to make hasty decisions that can permanently impact their business for the worse or give a false sense of security.

For example, I often see in the HTML Improvements section of Search Console ‘duplicate title tags’ or ‘duplicate meta descriptions’ and there is a corresponding number listed with links to the URLs in question. The problem with this is that most business owners assume these are the only URLs with duplicate titles when in reality, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The number of URLs with duplicate titles or other meta data is actually much bigger 90% of the time.

If you have a sizable site, be sure to peek in URL Parameters tab in the Crawl section of Google Search Console. And ignore the message ‘currently Googlebot isn’t experiencing problems with coverage of your site’ message if it is displayed. View each parameter and look for corresponding ‘URLs Monitored.’ Click on ‘Edit’ and view sample URLs provided. This will often lead you to the largest source of duplicate titles that need to be addressed.”

Brynna BaldaufBrynna Baldauf, SEO Strategist at Vertical Measures

“My biggest SEO pet peeves are sloppy link building and careless link building management. It bothers me immensely when companies contract out link building without knowledge of what should be done and don’t check up on the links they are getting. You are essentially putting the future of your site into someone else’s hands. I also cannot stand when companies use less than savory link building techniques without being honest about the risks associated.  Companies who seek a quick reward through cheap exact match anchor text content placing links, obvious forum placements and cheap blog commenting processes have to know their success will not last long and can easily be exposed. Honesty is the best policy!”

Christina HechtChristina Hecht, SEO Strategist at Vertical Measures

“My SEO Pet Peeve is non mobile-friendly websites. It astounds me how many brands – large and small – still have not embraced responsive design or at least a mobile-friendly version of their websites.

One example is a well-known blogger that I love – Kristen Howerton from Rage Against the Minivan. She writes and curates phenomenal content on everything from families and women’s issues to reality TV, humor and style. I regularly click on her posts from Facebook to read more, and every time I get this:

mobile friendly website rage against the minvan

Dallas McLaughlinDallas McLaughlin, Digital Marketing Specialist at The James Agency

“My biggest SEO Pet Peeve comes from my experience working with branding and marketing agencies who also develop websites for clients. Far too often SEO is viewed as an add-on or final checklist type item before deploying new website developments. Instead, SEO should be in the discussion from the start of any new website development to help build a solid foundation to meet future traffic goals.

SEO has become such a technical skill that a web developer can’t be expected to take into consideration all of the SEO aspects while simultaneously developing the site a client demands within the agreed upon budget and time frame. Because SEO has become so technical, the web design team needs to work hand-in-hand with the SEO team from the start to ensure SEO best practice is in place from the get-go.

After all, it will help you avoid this uncomfortable conversation…

Client: Our Organic Search traffic has dropped month-over-month since we launched our new site.

Agency: We can go back and perform some on-site SEO work.

Client: We just paid for a new site, and now we need to pay more?

Agency: It wasn’t within the original scope…

This happens all too frequently…”

Brian LaFranceBrian LaFrance, Lead SEO Analyst at CBS Interactive

“Too many people think that there’s some kind of magic pill that’s going to help them show up better in search. They act as though there should be a single change that all of a sudden flips a switch and traffic will just flow right in. It’s hard for those people to grasp that it’s a combination of a lot of things that won’t affect visibility on their own but when orchestrated properly, can make a huge difference. Changes that seem insignificant on their own are never implemented because people don’t want to put in the effort toward improving their site a little bit at a time.”

Ryan ElandRyan Eland, Infusionsoft

“My primary SEO pet peeve is the common refrain that SEO is dead and it is basically nothing more than good content marketing. Content alone is not enough to make your SEO successful. Consider two friends on a fishing trip in the mountains. The first friend picked a random lure, pole, and bait, and has no idea what type of fish are in the lakes. The second friend studied the lakes, hottest spots, the type of fish and selected the lure and bait that the specific fish like. Which friend is going to be more successful?

Saying SEO is dead and all you need is good content is like the first friend. Yes, he may catch a fish on occasion but he won’t be consistently successful, which defeats the very purpose of SEO – consistent, reliable and convertible traffic.

SEO starts with good content, you can’t be successful without it. But, and it’s a big ‘but,’ this is only the start.”

Chase GranberryChase Granberry, Authority Labs

“As someone who runs and SEO software company, my pet peeves are probably a bit different, but we all have clients I guess.  My biggest thing is RTFM (Read the Fucking Manual). Obviously I’m not talking about Vertical Measures, you guys are great :)

Basically, just about everything you ever could need to know is on the Internet somewhere. This includes anything regarding internet marketing. The majority of things you’ll ever need to know are already documented somewhere online and a quick Google search would reveal them. People don’t even bother to do that. I’m not asking for much, just make a little effort. If you are a client and barrage people with dumb questions, they’re going to lose respect for you. If your client shows a little thought and effort behind the question or problem they’re approaching you with, then that issue can be solved much quicker and in a much more straightforward fashion.

This also leads me into simply getting the basics right. Please, if you’re building a website and you plan on it being an important part of your business… please RTFM (and when I say manual, I mean Internet). Read. The. Fucking. Internet. Do a little research on what you’re doing and how to do it correctly before you just jump in and throw something up there and then ask blindly why it’s not working.”

Tony NewtonTony Newton, LinkTub.com

“1. Lack of transparency. Agencies all too often are limited in their responses to thorough questions. If we are engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship, would it be harmful to gather a bit more of yourself to answer a question more thoroughly?

2. Lack of knowledge. I find it astounding how far behind people are. For example: How much information needs to be produced that Page Rank is dead? Clearly it still lives in Google somewhere, but if they don’t ever publicly update it; how could you ever know what the real number is? People don’t even know about SEMRush. Like really?

3. This one is about clients. Google, and other large traffic repositories (the Big 4 social) are now dynamically changing. Google is changing probably 2 to 3 times a week now. If not daily. Volatility continues to run very high. But clients all too often hear of maybe 10% of the changes and think ‘this one thing’ is the key. Then, of course, they cling onto that one thing like it was a pallet of Gold locked away in the Federal Reserve. They completely get in the way of themselves, obstructing what positive benefits might be extruded in a ‘time versus money’ equation. They don’t realize the foundational aspects of dollars being spent now for more lasting results later. We’ve done posts on huge sites. Some with 5000, then a week later, 1500 shares. But that link is forever. You are investing in the future. This isn’t PR.

4. Last one is a culmination of all these combined. All these things lead up to one big thing for me. The internet, or at least marketing on the internet has become pretty much just as ‘slow’ as any other major industry. While certainly innovation is celebrated, it happens far less these days than you would think. It takes just as much work, if not MORE work, to succeed on the internet as it would mining for that Gold you adore so much in the first place.”

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9 Comments

  • Thomas Ballantyne Aug 11, 2015

    So what are your biggest SEO pet peeves?

  • Kaila Strong Aug 11, 2015

    @Thomas haha great question! I had a hard time answering this question myself after seeing so many amazing responses!!! To be honest, every single one mentioned gets on my last nerves. If I had to narrow it down to just one I’d probably say: my biggest pet peeve is when business owners stand in their own way of success because “they’ve always done it that way”. Thinking critically, strategically and being innovative are the best ways to see success in the digital space. Having to do something one way because a client “likes” it that way is frustrating beyond words when the data says otherwise.

  • George Aug 11, 2015

    It’s interesting to read this stuff, not because it is anything new, but exactly because of what I have experienced as a client of 3 SEO companies who cost me a lot and delivered very little. As a website owner and someone who makes a living solely from the income generated by my website I wish I could find a “partner” rather than someone offering an SEO service. My skin crawls every time I get a call or e-mail from someone saying “hey, we checked out your website and you are not doing well in the SERP’s, we can get you to the top of Google……. Just give us your money and we’ll show you”. After $40 000 I am just going at it on my own, the results are slow, too slow, but at least there are results and no money wasted. The day a REAL SEO company can come forward with a plan that takes away the fear of paying and seeing no or little results, that is the day I will use their services again. But as at this moment, the risk on all on the website owner, meaning pay and blindly trust there will be an ROI.

  • Thomas Ballantyne Aug 12, 2015

    @George… Yeah those calls offering SEO services are a HUGE pet peeve as well. Should have added that to this list, except I don’t really consider those guys SEOs. And I feel your pain, as a pest control guy that has hired outside SEO.

  • Thomas Ballantyne Aug 12, 2015

    @Kaila Haha… I don’t get that perspective too often anymore, but when I started for Bulwark and they had ZERO website, the owner’s response was “Why do I need a website? I am pest control guy. My customers don’t care if I have a website.”

  • Lawrie Aug 12, 2015

    @Chase Everything is on the Internet? Yes and that is the problem. There is so much outdated shit, conflicting advice and downright inaccuracies, how do you know what to embrace and what to jetison?

  • Kaila Strong Aug 13, 2015

    @George Feel for you with the bad experiences, no doubt!

    @Thomas Its amazing that you started with no website, and look where you’re at now. I’d love to hear that story sometime from beginning to end! If you’re ever in our neck of the woods we should do lunch with my SEO team. :)

    @Lawrie Outdated, subjective and personal opinion pieces are aplenty. I think regardless of the industry, today finding information online involves a heavy dose of critical thinking and gut checks – asking myself, does this even seem logical? I feel for you too, it’s rough out there finding our answers can be like searching for a needle in a haystack.

  • Ann Smarty Aug 13, 2015

    Honored to be included! Great roundup!

  • Hany Aug 14, 2015

    @Kaila i hope i can find some new info about SEO and how to understand how google algorithm work
    kind regards