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We’ve all got old habits that die hard. If the online world is the crux or breathe of your business, then paying attention to SEO habits is crucial to staying relevant and seen. Sometimes it’s small things like changing post titles, and sometimes it’s a much larger issue like using old and outdated SEO habits that can keep a company from growing and thriving in the online world.

Stop Posting without a Strategy

Posting great content is useless without a strategy behind it. Putting it out into the ether and hoping somebody will find it doesn’t work. Just because you think what you have to say is invaluable doesn’t mean thousands of people are seeking it out. Marketing without a strategy just doesn’t work, and it’s also why your website and article content won’t either.

Marketing strategy is more than just knowing who your target audience is. It’s also about where you post, when you post, and how you are strategically driving traffic back to your website. If it doesn’t work the first time, give it up. Keep trying new strategies until you find one that does work. Half the time it’s about trial and error, but you’ve just got to keep at it.

Stop Creating Non-Targeted Content

Do you know who you’re writing for? If not, figure it out. You should not be writing for search engines, but rather for people. You’re looking for shares and engagement to build your audience. This isn’t going to happen overnight, but it really won’t happen if you’re content is watered down, and isn’t written well, you’re wasting online space.

If you out-source your writing, make sure it’s in line with your customer base. If you include great links within your article, don’t expect Google to pick them up on its own. That practice must be thrown out. Put in relevant links to your targeted audience when you really have something that’s worth sharing. Make sure the links aren’t in there just to be in there. It’s got to make sense, and add value.

Stop Listening to Everyone Except Your Customer

If you’re in the communication business, you’ve got to do exactly that. It isn’t a one-way street, and if you want to be heard, you should also be listening. Are you hearing what your target customer wants and needs? A perfect case is key word research. Are you really paying attention to what people are searching for, or are you writing about what you think they should be searching for?

Just recently, Google announced that it was moving to Secure Search. While this may have the blogging community in an uproar, it doesn’t mean that other search engines are following suite. According to Thom Craver from Search Engine Watch, this also affects searching through Firefox as well. Search engines like Bing, Yahoo! And a host of others will still allow you to do key word search to find out what you potential client is actually searching for so you can stop guessing.

Stop Ignoring Social Signals

Here’s a news flash: Google isn’t the only thing that matters. Sure, it’s important, but your social shares are also helping drive traffic. In fact, social shares are vitally important to help drive traffic back to your site. A great way to think of social sharing is by listening to your audience. Each time a customer shares your content, they’re raising their hand in interest.

Social sharing is an extremely important way to grow your audience beyond your site. Implement social sharing widgets on your site and for each article you post. Pay attention to the social stats. Just because you post an article once from your site, doesn’t mean you can’t re-title and post some great nugget of information from that article again at a later time. Keep driving them back to your site through your social streams.

Easily one of the most popular blogosphere sites is Mashable. For each post, there is a rainbow squiggle in each corner that’s measuring their social signals. Hover your mouse over each, and you can see how each post is doing. Don’t think Mashable isn’t paying attention to it, either. Social sharing is easily one of the cornerstones to their overall marketing strategy.

Stop Losing Your Voice

Your blog and your social media sites should be your voice. If you want to stand out, you’ve got to cultivate and craft that voice to best represent you as a company. Build a relationship with your audience, and listen to them. Know who you and your company are, and who you want to be. Are you going to be the leader in social media marketing techniques? If so, what are you doing to get there?

Things You Should Be Doing

1) Get referrals from industry partners! This is easily one of the most important things you can do to get better traction on your website and articles. Other established partners can bring a much-needed and sought after customer base. Guest blogging on a content producer’s site is also a stamp of approval. You wouldn’t be there if they didn’t think what you had to say was important.

2) Invite guest bloggers to your site, or interview them for your own blog. If your content is well written, you’ll stand out among all the online chatter of badly written articles.

3) Use call to actions. Make your audience feel like they must do something, or they must STOP doing something. Information is great, but you have to explain why readers should pay attention to the content. Most call to actions are immediate in nature, because you’ve got to make your customer feel like they are doing something NOW.

SEO best-practices are always changing, and what might have worked two years ago just isn’t working anymore. Prioritize your efforts, and know what your end goal is before you start. You’ve got to know where you want to go before you can really work on getting there.