SEO Don'ts...First Count the Cost

by Christopher P. Baird

Being fully aware of the cost of any action, or inaction, will serve your overall Internet marketing strategy.


I have recently asked myself how often I have seen a book, video or even a seminar about what NOT to do on any particular subject. I know they are out there, but I couldn’t think of any that stuck out in my mind lately except, of course, the commercials that tell you don’t smoke, don’t drink and drive, don’t abuse animals or take the tag off your mattress.

I, and others, spend quite a bit of time telling people what they should do, but I thought the “what not to do” topic would be helpful to website owners simply because, sometimes you can be doing all the right things, but if you do just one thing wrong, you negate all your efforts and hard work. Related to websites, there are quite a few things that you should not do, and some of them are very subtle, but have significant long-term impacts. Even though there isn’t really a “never” or “always” rule for anything, it is my opinion that you, the website owner, should be fully aware of the cost of any action, or inaction, regarding the success of your website.

There are really two major don’ts I have seen over the last couple of years. I can say without a doubt, the website owner committing these errors was not aware of the long-term effects of actions.

Count the Cost

Do NOT link from your website to other websites unless you first count the cost. Does this sound stupid or just not important? It is subtle, I will give you that, but most people don’t put much value on their website links. Why should they? If we think of your website as your Internet equity, adding an external link passes at least a little bit of your equity to the beneficiary of that link. This isn’t a perfect analogy, but if you think of your website equity as a bucket, now think of links as straws carrying your equity in and out of the bucket. You guessed it, the links to your site are putting equity in and the links from your site are draining it out. A link to your website is, in simplistic form, a peer vote for the quality of your site, and a link out is the same from you to the site you link to.

I have been asked, by some of our clients in the past, to put a link from their website to another in a visible location as compensation. My question to them is, have you considered the potential cost other than displaying some underlined words on your website? Usually that question is followed by awkward silence and then by, “What do you mean?” I then explain that if you put a link on your website to another site where your potential customer can go to check out your competition, how many rentals do you think you may lose in a year? Even if it is just one or two in a year, the cost over a five-year period is substantial. Let me now ask, is there a gadget, review or peer relationship that you would consider worth giving $10,000? If so, good, put the link on your website, but at least now you know what it actually costs.

This is not to say, don’t ever link, but the simple strategy is to get links from good complimentary businesses with quality websites, and give links to the same type of websites. If you simply link to another site selling storage in your neighborhood, you could be losing rentals and that means losing money.

Look into Listings

Do NOT let other people claim your places, maps or other internet listings! This is another huge mistake many facility owners make. It sounds great, having someone manage a prominently placed listing to make sure you get everything you are entitled to from it. Sounds great, right? Well, let me put it to you another way. Let’s say that you have a great high-traffic advertisement which was given to you, and I came along and convinced you that I could do a better job managing that ad, then sent potential customers from your ad to my website instead of yours, and built my site’s equity instead of yours, and then sold potential leads from your ad back to you in some form or another. How does that sound? Crappy, right?

Well, for all practical purposes, that is exactly what happens to a great number of Google listings. There are also many similar listings you are entitled to as a business owner. You probably have Yelp, Merchant Circle, CitySearch, and another 30 or so maps, or directory listings that may not be pointing to your website. What if just one person a day sees your listing and goes somewhere other than your website to look for storage? Maybe it takes 500 people looking for storage to get one tenant but at 35 per day, you may be losing one rental every two weeks—that’s 104 rentals per year. How much is that worth?

I can tell you it is worth paying attention to. If I am 80% wrong on my stats and you only get 20 rentals in a year, isn’t it still worth paying attention to? I say a resounding YES! Now don’t get me wrong, if you have no intention of claiming the listing and keeping it updated yourself, having someone else do it and charge a fee seems reasonable to me. This is just another example of counting the cost. If you are fully aware of all costs and you are still willing to pay, I say go for it.

Well, there you have it, a couple of very important things you should NOT do to help continue to build equity in the Internet part of your business. Remember, in the Internet marketing strategy of today, there are no more silver bullet programs that get you what you want in the blink of an eye for a few dollars. I recommend you take inventory of what you are entitled to, claim it, optimize it, and use it to the best of your ability. If you don’t use what belongs to you, someone else will.

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