The 7 Deadly Sins that Hurt You as an SEO or SEM

By Daniel Tynski.

1.) Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your viewers.

It is not an uncommon mistake for many marketers, both on and offline, to inaccurately assess the intelligence of their target audience.  While it seems that bad estimations run in both directions,  it is a grave error to assume you know more about your visitors than you actually do — more than anything, you must not assume your visitors are stupid.  Its easy to clump your visitors into a large nameless blob, to think of them as cattle, susceptible to your clever gimmicks and likely to fall into the traps you’ve set.  The reality is that your readers are individuals.  If anything, they’re especially single minded on the net.  Many people feel empowered by the web, not only to be who they are, but also to assert themselves, their opinions, and their way of doing things.  To this end, your visitors are about as far from a herd of followers as you can get.  And while it may be prudent to make certain predictions about their behavior, it is a major mistake to assume too much about those you intend to draw to your website.  This is why analytics are so important to your efforts. The following sites can help you get an idea about what your visitors are actually doing on your site.

2.) Multitasking too much
Skipping from project to project too frequently can result in ending up with partially finished tasks or projects that are not well thought or clearly enough focused. It is essential to productivity to make sure you keep inefficient multitasking to a minimum. The tool I have found most useful in keeping myself on track with projects and time management is Basecamp. It has great features like to-do lists, milestones, and time tracking. Another great tool I use is http://www.timesnapper.com/ . This tool takes periodic screen shots throughout the day that you can play back later to have a great record of exactly what you did during the day. If you aren’t sure if you have a “multi-tasking problem” try this program for a week. Then decide.

3.) Obsessing
This is a common pitfall many SEO’s run into. It can be exciting to see how traffic is rising or falling, or how your rankings are changing, but “checking your stats” too often can serve as a huge time waster. So how does one overcome compulsive checking of rankings and analytics? Simple, limit yourself. One of the best tools I have found can be found at http://pageaddict.com/. This nifty tool allows you to see a summary of the time you’ve wasted on each web site.

4.) Not knowing when to move on (give up)
Sometimes we get involved in projects or tasks that take up large amounts of time but produce few results. Many times you may find yourself wasting hours on something trivial. This can be a particularly big problem for perfectionists who have trouble simply letting something be “good enough”. A great technique for determining time wasters goes like this: 

  1.  Make a list of all your tasks and estimations on time spent on each (this is where the time tracking/task management tools like Basecamp can come in handy) 
  2. Next to each task make a note of the amount of focus that must be devoted to the task. (is this something that requires a ton of brain power?)
  3. Now assign priority to each task. When are your deadlines? Organize by what must be done now, and what can be done later.
  4. Re-prioritize, Move high priority items to the tom and cut as many items as you can that use up a large amount of time and focus but have low priority.

5.) Not Seeing the Whole Puzzle ( or obsessing over a single piece)
It can be difficult to separate your goals as an Search Marketer from the ultimate goals of your clients or even yourself. Ultimately what matters are CONVERSIONS, not traffic, not page rank, not SERP spot, not creativity, not clean code, not page beauty. All of these may play a factor in conversions but each may also be holding you back. A good Search Marketer must consider how each piece fits into the larger puzzle. Always ask yourself: “will this lead to more conversions” for whatever you have defined as a conversion.

6.) Allowing good ideas to be forgotten or left by the wayside.
Ever had an idea that seemed like a winner at the time, but later forgot? Maybe it came right before falling asleep, or while you were driving, or maybe even while working on a separate project. It has happened to us all, a great idea left behind simply because we forgot about it. Here are some tools to help:

  1. http://www.wridea.com: a Simple web based tool for recording ideas quickly and easily.
  2. Mindjet: This tool really helps me to organize my ideas, flesh them out, and create the connections between ideas much more easily. Quite Simply: a Life Saver.
  3. A voice recorder (cell phones work great)

7.) Believing everything you read.
On the Internet anyone can be an “expert” but those who really are can sometimes be a bit difficult to find amongst all the fakers. Usually the top 5 or so in a field can be identified pretty quickly, from here it gets more difficult. Finding reputable niche’s withing your field, or hidden treasures can take a great deal of time. The absolute fastest and most productive way to find credible sources is to find out what those top 5 or so people in the industry read. Here are some suggestions

  1. Mybloglog.com – See what blogs the industry leaders read.
  2. Bloglines.com – Again, see what the industry is reading 
  3. Technorati.com – See how popular a blog might be

[This has been an entry for Marketing Pilgrim's SEM Scholarship contest. Keep up to date with all entries and other marketing news by subscribing to our rss feed.]