I made a crap load of mistakes since I picked up the book 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris and I decided on being an entrepreneur.
With the advent of the make money online, travel the world, and live out your passions trend, it’s hard not to think digital marketing is the cure of cancer. I became a freelance web designer and SEO consultant as it’s low cost and I wanted to be able to work location independently However, things are not as rosy as simple as it seems.
There is a steep learning curve in digital marketing.
The Wrong Mentors: Get Your Marketing Strategy Right from the Get Go
Firstly, I learned from the wrong mentors. You could blame me for choosing the wrong mentors. However, I’d like to state my case. The first mentor I paid for an SEO course for was frequently published in the press. He had a best selling book and had multiple success testimonials from students. He was also seen as an authority amongst the Singapore digital marketing community.
What was his SEO strategy?
It was to create 200 pages around short tail keywords with slip shod content. What!?!
Anyone with a proficient SEO knowledge knows that, that is an outdated tactic. Quality content takes up 33% of SEO ranking factors. When you’re outsourcing an article for $10 per article, you are going to get slipshod content, that isn’t going to get ranked.
During the SEO course, we were also encouraged to pay for backlinks from bloggers. In his direct words: ‘Forget about the upfront cost, it’ll pay off in the long run’. It’s completely a mental face palm.
Firstly, Google heavily frowns upon paid links, and secondly the link you’re getting from that random blogger isn’t going have much of an impact on your rankings as it’s NOT RELEVANT!
Throughout the years investing in education courses, here’s a takeaway: if you’re looking to learn digital marketing skillsets, don’t learn from someone who’s marketing you the digital marketing lifestyle, learn from someone who has a track record for himself, who has Googl-eble results.
Forget the testimonials, forget the success stories and most importantly, forget the press coverage.
The Wrong Mindset: SEO Rankings isn’t Enough
When you got the wrong knowledge, wrong mindsets will ensue.
Obviously, the 200 pages’ strategy didn’t work. The increase in the number of pages or posts does not increase your domain authority. It will NOT help with your SEO rankings. SEO authority is determined by the number and relevant links point to your website.
So, I spent another year understanding the concept of page rank. This helped a lot, I outrank my competitors. I had high SEO rankings for commercial keywords. However, it was done out of slipshod content, yes, I did have leads, yes, people did visit my website. However, most of them weren’t persuaded by what I wrote on the website, and I wasn’t converting on the back end.
When you come from a pure SEO rankings standpoint, you’re going to ignore branding, trust and content. These are what your readers and visitors are going to look for.
The correct mindset is to think about user experience, trust and brand. Instead of obsessing over rankings and conversations. The rankings and conversions will come naturally when you put out useful content.
Not Understanding the language of Your Audience
Nobody likes reading technical terms. Nobody says: I want to be financial literate. Everybody says: I want to get rich.
Imagine if I wrote a technical guide on SEO. The ones who will understand are only going to be people that already knows about SEO.
Here’s a good question to ask: Who are my potential customers? SEO geeks or SME owners in Singapore?
There has to be balance between relativity and technical knowledge.
Copywriting helps with this aspect. This was a mistake I made early on. I ignored copywriting and focused purely on SEO rankings.
Not Focusing on Great Content
I started out by outsourcing my content to writers that charged $4 per article. Needless to say, I had poor content on my site that nobody gave a fuck about.
In addition to that, Google has introduced an algorithm that devalues thin content.
In the information economy, how are you going to stand out? How are you going to create content that is so good that you’ll differentiate yourself from all the other guides out there?
MOZ, an SEO authority also chimed in that great and unique content has to die.
If you want to rank, you’ll require amazing, 10X content.
Forget about outsourcing your website content to Upwork writers that are willing to do work for $10 per article.
You’ll need to create content that’s both authoritative and sharable.
Not Building Relationships with other Sites/ Publishing Outlets
When I was playing around with rank within my website, I was so afraid of linking out and ‘losing page rank’. I wanted to keep all of that ‘link juice’ within my website.
Needless to say, I also thought that other site owners did not want to link out on their website. Hence, I never bothered reaching out to other sites.
That’s a huge mistake. Backlinks determine 33% of SEO ranking factor. You can have the best piece of content in the world, but if nobody links to it, it’ll stay in the hidden recesses of Google search results.
The only way to get relevant links is to build relationships with other site owners through strategies such as guest blogging, expert round ups and ethical link building strategies.
Here, MOZ did a study on whether to link out or not, and the right way to do it.
Not Focusing on User Experience
Think of an Apple product, when you purchase it, you know it’s going to work beautifully. You know it even before you open it. That is why Apple is known to be the most valuable brand in the world! They focus on user experience.
This should be so for your web design. It should work flawlessly.
There’s are a ton of websites out there that provide similar advice or content, why should someone choose your website over others? User experience could be a differentiating factor.
What does user experience mean?
Basically, user experience means doing something that you yourself don’t want to experience when you’re visiting a website.
Imagine going to a website and having a bright yellow banner pop up while you’re reading a guide. You’re going to pissed off. You’re also likely going to X that page if the annoying pop up stays there.
That’s bad user experience.
This includes banner ads. When a website site is using banners ads, I’m guessing they have problems monetizing, hence they are attempting to monetize that little traffic they have with those ugly ads that further hurts their brand.
Google is obsessed over user experience. It has made mobile friendliness, page speeds and Https official ranking factors over the years. They want to provide users with the best web browsing experience, and so should you, if you want to do well on search engines.
Lastly, don’t making every single post or page about SELLING. Firstly, it dilutes your brand, and it nobody likes to be constantly sold. You should also share useful and helpful information that your audience finds helpful.
Not Tracking Data
I hated tracking data since I was 12. I never tracked my school grades, I never tracked my calories and I never tracked my stock returns.
However, I had to learn this the hard way. How can you tell the success of an SEO campaign? How can you tell if your article writing efforts are paying off? That is to look at data.
Data is one of the highest importance when it comes to digital marketing, from simple metrics such as SEO rankings to bounce rates to user behavior.
It’s not about creating 200 pages around keywords, publishing them and hoping for the best. It’s not about publishing and praying. It’s about tracking, optimizing, re-publishing to see where you went wrong in that particular post or page.
For Eg. If your post or page has a high bounce rate, it’s a sign that the content you’re putting out does not match the search query that you’re optimizing for. Instead of creating another 200 pages, you can optimize that one page by re-writing that content.
If you want something done, get it measured.
Tactics and strategies change, however, principle stay the same. Great content is going to stand the test of time, just like great movies, great books and etc. If you want to get results in SEO, start right and learn from the right sources.
The whole point of investing in SEO is to stay ranked in search engines, so, why not create kick butt content that’s going to be relevant and authoritative in years to come?