Common Mistakes Big Brands Make in SEO

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  • June 24, 2010
Rishi Lakhani

Rishi Lakhani

1. Using a Non-SEO to Manage the Campaign

Kind of obvious really right? Maybe, maybe not. Although “hard” SEO skills may not be necessary, but an understanding of “basic” SEO definitely is for any serious brand. Doesn’t matter if the actual SEO is being carried out by an external agency – in order to align the brand and it’s strategies you need someone who understands both – an SEO Manager needs to understand both. Lack of understanding, or even lack of interest in knowing can not only slow the businesses SEO strategy, it can have negative effects.

An intuitive or intelligent individual can go a long way in improving your campaign – and be able to tell all the bullshit apart from real advice – as Rae so decently pointed out.

2. Assuming That They Can Do All SEO in-House – on Budget

SEO isn’t not a fixed skill, which once you have done it for a couple of years, then you know it all. It is an ever changing, ever moving set of goal posts. In house teams that are tiny, or haven’t been built organically based on skill, seldom have the time to research or play with unrelated categories. At the same time, unless you are a pure online player, the access to resources and broad skill bases may be limited.

If you are a big brand, and want to do real SEO in house on a budget, I wouldn’t advise it – you could hire a full time SEO agency for the cost of 2-3 staff – and have access to advanced skills and the benefit of their experience day to day with other campaigns. Not saying that it is impossible to have a full in-house SEO team – all I am saying is if you have never done it – plan this strategy with care.

Back in 2007 High Rankings Interviewed Danny Sullivan on the subject – many of the responses still hold true in my opinion.  If you are intent on running an inhouse team – at least set up some decent processes for SEO .

3. Not Treating SEO Like a Real Revenue Channel

Sounds surprising right? In my experience, 7 out of the 10 Big Brands I have worked with didn’t have SEO KPIs, Strategies or Plans in place. It was something delegated to an in house tech, or to an agency, often with dismal results. This happens when you don’t give the channel the respect it deserves.

SEO is actually more than a series of link builders and content writers, it is a full blown Marketing Discipline, that needs strategy, thought, research and focus on.

4. Not Separating Brand Traffic and Sales from Generic Keyword Sets

To me this is the biggest failure. Looking at “SEO” revenue as a whole and then assuming that the channel is healthy is quite myopic. Brand traffic in most cases is a given including those sales as part of the ROI is not the best way to judge the return on investment. A clued up Big Brand would value the revenue gained from Generic Keywords.

Some brands (especially those in highly competitive industries) do this really well – while more traditional Big Brands don’t in my experience.

5. Not Involving The SEO Team

This a massive process issue in many businesses. From full marketing plans to press releases, from product release to PR disaster, the SEO team should be involved or kept aware of at every stage. There are often first mover advantages in SEO, especially PR. Not giving your own team the edge means you are actually working in detriment of the brand in the long run. For example, one brand I worked with had a policy of distributing their Press Releases before they were published on the site “PR” Section. The result? A third party site that auto publishes press releases got into Google News first and made it next to impossible for this brand to get in that space.

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