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Building Your Online Presence

7 Common Ways that Entrepreneurs Mess Up SEO

The marketing experts on Entrepreneur's Team Digital provide answers to your common questions about building an online presence. Got a question? Ask it in our comment section below or on Twitter using the hashtag #TeamDigital. Each week, we'll spotlight a different topic, and twice a month we'll host Google Hangouts (our next is Aug. 21) where Team Digital members will chat about best strategies for managing an online reputation, marketing through social media and using mobile techniques to attract customers.

In this week's column, our Team Digital answers: When it comes to SEO, what are most business owners doing wrong?

Jayson DeMers
Thinking that SEO only involves behind-the-scenes elements like meta descriptions, title tags, keywords, and other buzzwords they've heard. In reality, these elements (which, collectively, are referred to as "onsite SEO") only comprise a minor portion of the total algorithmic score. More important is a unification of onsite SEO, frequent and amazing content production and publication (i.e., content marketing), link building and social-media engagement. I call the unification of all of these elements the "three pillars of SEO" which I have fully described in my article here. For a successful SEO campaign, all three pillars must be understood and executed upon.

Jayson DeMers, AudienceBloom
Brian Honigman
Focusing extensively on getting inbound links. Many businesses are still commenting on other blogs for the sake of the link, utilizing free directories and swapping links with relevant websites. Instead, they should be focusing on creating valuable content that educates their audience and building an extensive guest-blogging strategy.

Brian Honigman, BrianHonigman.com
Eric Siu
Taking shortcuts in SEO. It's a losing bet because you're going head to head with the smartest engineers in the world. In the early days of search engines, it used to be very easy to game the system by spamming links repeatedly or littering a page with the keyword you're trying to rank for. I call this "tunnel vision SEO" because people tend to lock in on ranking for a small set of keywords and ignore everything else. If you can break out of this and look at things from a more strategic point of view, where you're aiming to create as much value as possible instead of trying to play games, you'll be on your way to SEO success. Let me just emphasize it again -- don't play games with search engines (and this is coming from someone that used to) -- it's just not worth it.

Eric Siu, EricOSiu.com
Jason Falls
Worrying too much about charts and graphs and stats and metrics and forgetting to just write great content. You can keyword and optimize until the cows come home (and I'm not advocating you don't spend time doing that to a degree) but if your content sucks, it won't rank well, at least not for long. Remember that there is wisdom in writing and optimizing for the search spiders, but ultimately people have to read and react to your content for SEO to actually pay off. Write good stuff. My guess is the fact that you're not is about 75 percent of your problem.

Jason Falls, CafePress
Adam Kleinberg
Ignoring video. YouTube is the world's second largest search engine and people are consuming video at an astonishing rate, yet video is often an afterthought in most SEO strategies. Even when it has a place, most marketers don't invest in best practices for optimizing their video assets for SEO. Consider that good news and an opportunity to get a step ahead of your competitors.

Adam Kleinberg, Traction
Jim Joseph
Trying to do too much SEO. Good, effective SEO is about focus. Pick a couple areas you want to "own" and concentrate on building content in those areas, so they pop up consistently in search. This will increase your search success.

Jim Joseph, Cohn & Wolfe

Peter Shankman
Looking for the latest tricks. White hat will always beat black hat, and time and consistency will always win. Always. Put in the time, be consistent, focus on a few specific things you know best, and rewards will come.

Peter Shankman, Shankman|Honig
Colleen DeBaise is special projects director at Entrepreneur.com.
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