This morning, I presented at the Direct Marketing Association’s ACCM conference (for catalog retailers.) I always enjoy these specialized conferences because we can talk specifically about selling products online and how SEO can increase business, simply from changes in how one approaches the website.

This presentation was inspired from a question asked from a prior conference. The question asked what is the top 3 things that businesses do wrong? It took me a while to distill it to three things, but I think I can summarize that most problems come from these problems in large companies.

Top Three Mistakes:

1. Branding comes before marketing tactics. Many times, a company’s branding policies will conflict with the necessary elements of an optimization campaign. I see this many times when a company name is the only information that can be placed in the page title. Of course, the page title is one of the most critical elements of on-page optimization, so the conflict is obvious. Unfortunately, some companies think this is a debatable issue, but it is not.

2. Call things what they are. Related to this, many companies try to define their markets by creating fancy branded product names, rather than simply calling stuff what it is. This is one of the primary problems I see, and the simplest of keyword research will show that customers do not search for these branded terms, they search for what they know and they use their words to define products, not the company’s terms.

3. The basis of optimization is the customer experience. (Yes, I know that isn’t a mistake, but to think otherwise might get you in trouble.) The search engines are trying to evaluate web pages on the basis of what a human would think is the most relevant, so optimizing your content and your presentation for users, using basic SEO principles, will help you rank well in the search engines. This is one of those phenomena that have been part of search since the early days. Do what is best for your users, and the search engine success will follow.

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