Being ineffective at any job is a bad thing.
Being an ineffective SEO professional is an especially bad thing.
Because our work can make or break a client.
We’re capable of getting a site banned in Google.
And we’re capable of tripling online sales.
We can also sometimes skate by on not actively improving rankings/traffic/conversions as long as we don’t lose them.
1. They Put Too Much of a Focus on Certain Metrics Without Looking at Anything Else
No matter what metrics you’re interested in, there can be explanations for why one might be lower than you’d like.
This seems to especially be an issue with link builders.
Maybe the site is new, for example.
Let’s say you are building links and you happen upon a site that has an Ahrefs DR 15, but it’s relevant to your client.
The content is good, the traffic on the site is building, and overall, outside of the lower DR, you’d want a link here.
Do you walk away from the chance to get a link there just because of that one metric?
Alternatively, some link builders would go for a totally irrelevant link that’s a bad fit for the client if the site had a higher DR.
To me, there is no one metric that can tell me that this site is the perfect fit for my client.
I’d go so far as to say that multiple metrics alone also don’t give you as much information as you need.
You have to look at the site and ask yourself if you’d click on a link where you want to put it.
2. They Don’t Like Testing or Trying Something New
So it’s important to be open to trying to see if one way of doing something works a bit better.
If you don’t do A/B testing you could lose a lot of money and lose customers, for example.
Recently I went through a list of link building tools and tried some out that I hadn’t tried before.
Just doing something new is fun to me, even if it’s not going to change how I work.
If I can confirm that my way works better for me then that’s still worth it.
3. They Don’t Try to Understand What Their Clients Actually Do
I’ve got a confession to make:
This has been one of my team’s biggest bad habits…
Not paying enough attention to what the site content is about and what the client offers is a big mistake.
This is definitely a big issue with teams that don’t work in-house as we don’t always get the full picture.
If you don’t fully understand what your client does and you’re building links, you put your client at risk if you have misleading content.
You risk alienating users who visit the sites and then click on the link to your client.
It’s an overall bad experience.
4. They Don’t Speak up When They’re Confused or See Something That Could Be Improved
I know that some people do not want their employees to speak up.
Personally I love it because there is a good chance that my employees see things in a different way and we could do a better job.
If you’re building links to a page and webmasters aren’t responsive, take a look at the content and see if there’s an obvious reason.
If you’re being given an outreach template and the response rate is low, ask if you can make changes and test it.
5. They Don’t Want to Learn or Know Anything Outside of Their Niche Area
I chose not to teach my link builders more about SEO in general.
I did that specifically because I didn’t want them getting caught up in metrics.
I wanted them to look at potential link opportunities as a user, not an SEO.
The good news?
Almost all of the good ones asked questions about why we did something a certain way, or asked me to explain SEO terms they’d run across.
While I do think many niche areas of SEO can exist just fine inside of their own bubbles, there’s a lot to be said for maintaining a continual interest in furthering your SEO knowledge.
Last year, I did a training on basic SEO for a group of people who knew absolutely nothing about it, and beforehand some of them asked me some questions about WordPress plugins that I knew very little about.
Just researching something new was a lot of fun for me.
6. They Try to Hide When They’ve Made a Mistake
We all make mistakes but it’s hard to get better if you don’t own up to them.
I once blew up a server (nice infinite loop code) when I was a programmer.
I was absolutely terrified but I had to run to the server admin and tell him what had happened.
I also got a site banned in Google due to cloaking.
My team has made every possible mistake you can think of when it comes to building links.
We’ve really seen it all.
It’s definitely embarrassing when you screw up.
It really helps if you have a nice boss or client who won’t scream at you.
7. They Rely on Other People to Keep Them Informed About What’s Going on in the SEO World
As an SEO, you need to keep yourself informed about what’s changing, what’s happening, what’s working, and what’s not working so well.
There are major Google algorithm updates.
Tactics get added to the list of link schemes.
Google’s John Mueller answers a question on Twitter.
The beauty of SEO is that it’s never boring.
I usually rely on Twitter for a lot of my information in real time, but I also read the major SEO sites and talk to a lot of industry peers every day.
When my workday was more structured years ago, I always made sure to block out half an hour each morning to check and see if anything major was happening.
You can’t wait for your client to email you about something or your coworker to tell you days later.
All in all, you need to remember that SEO is a truly fascinating industry to be a part of, so why not make the most of it?