SEO is like a complex machine. When all the gears are greased and everything is in place, all is well with the world (and your search engine rankings). But sometimes all it takes is one little snafu to bring your entire SEO campaign crashing down around you. There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning to find that Google has forgotten who you are and kicked you to the curb like a drunken date the morning after.

Since 13 is your lucky number, I've compiled a list of 13 ways that (yes!) even you can screw up your SEO campaign! I think the correct term for this is: FUBAR!

  1. Overwrite your SEO's changes by making edits to an outdated copy of your website and publishing it live. Don't forget to keep your your SEO provider out of the loop on these changes.
  2. Upload a robots.txt file that "disallows" the search engines from spidering and indexing your entire site.

  3. Re-develop your CMS, which causes well-ranked URLs to change. And don't make time to put 301 redirects in place for six months.

  4. Change all your URLs to be "keyword friendly" even when you're already ranking well for your keywords. Because, really, there is a spot above #1!

  5. Use your really important keywords really often so your really important visitors are really able to see what's really important on the page and the search engines really know what your really important page is about. Don't be shy because this is really important. Really.

  6. Ignore critical recommendations from your SEO for months or, better yet, years! But, feel free to continue to complain that your competitors are gaining.

  7. Hire someone to redesign your site but make sure you use the cheapest person you can find. That way they won't have the time or budget to check for broken links. It's helpful when half of your new navigation links don't work.

  8. Demand that your SEO not go after lucrative phrases in favor of your pet, high-traffic, low-conversion phrases. Better yet, ignore their keyword recommendations altogether. Who needs conversions, anyway?

  9. Hide your optimized content behind a password-protect firewall, or require visitors to "sign up" to see it.

  10. Don't link build on a brand new site. You can't afford that nonsense!

  11. Call or email your SEO daily to check on progress. That time they spend reporting to you would otherwise be wasted. Clearly they wouldn't spend it on SEO or anything like that.

  12. Have your site designed and developed without any input from the SEO, then make sure to tell your SEO that you don't want to pay for any more changes. This works best when the developers create massive code bloat, place text in images and don't use any search-engine friendly design practices.

  13. Stop taking your SEO's calls or return their emails. That information they requested can wait until you're good and ready to complain about something!

But wait... there's more. Not only can you screw up your SEO campaign, here are 5 easy ways you can lose ROI at the same time!

  1. Make sure your contact forms gather as much information as possible. You never know when you might need their date of birth; annual household income; names and ages of their children; their home, business and cell phone numbers; MySpace page and instant messenger handle(s).

  2. Add a few (oh, go ahead and add a LOT) of extra steps into your checkout process. Don't let your visitors know how many steps there are, just keep them clicking from one step to the next. It's like a whodunit mystery. The real question will be "whocheckedout"? Could be one! Maybe even two, if you're lucky!

  3. Place Google ads on your product pages. Those few cents you get for each click really add up and you don't have to worry about shipping!

  4. Don't implement any analytics analysis into your SEO or PPC campaigns. You're either getting sales or you're not. End of story!

  5. Don't hire Pole Position Marketing as your online marketing strategy consultants! (OK, this one is a joke.) (Sorta.)

Follow me at @StoneyD and @PolePositionMkg.

July 13, 2011

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


I don't sense any bitterness or sarcasm here at all.


That said, yeah, I feel you. If you wanted to disregard an SEO's advice, why hire them in the first place?

No bitterness, just experience. The sarcasm is optional. :)

Reminds me of the episode of SpongeBob, "opposite day". I have kids, I would never watch that without them :-)

Great advice, so I do the opposite right?

Number 5 has to be a winner! After all, you've got to really let everyone (mostly the search engines) know what a page is about. When every link simply says "click here". :(

Number 6 is the bane of every consultants life. You ask a question, we provide an answer... you ignore the answer then waste said consultants time later by asking the same question again.

I can totally relate to #1. I had this sweet lady client of mine who used to do this regularly. Never bothered to first download files & worked with whatever file she had on her pc.

Turning your SEO into a train wreck is easy to do. It's been a while since I've made some of these mistakes but I'll never forget the time that I accidentally uploaded a robots.txt file. Never again!

Some of these points are all too common in the SEO industry. I have a number of clients that just don't understand SEO is a two-way street. No matter how many times you ask for things to happen nothing gets done. And of course it's all your fault when rankings don't improve. Sigh...

Hi, Great Post which I will RT! My favourite is 12 - and is our recurring nightmare. And we have started to walk away from clients in the 7 category!

Thanks for sharing - Matt

Number 3 kills me! Nothing is worse than finding out too late that a client decided to change their platform entirely on their website.

Regarding 2: "...but if I allow the search engines access to my entire site, my competition might find my site and learn all of my secrets!"

Yes. I've really heard that argument before.

Unfortunately, #6 is seen all too often during a campaign. The first months are critical, since most of the on-site recommendations are made, and the rest of the campaign hinges on those changes being implemented. If you forget to approve the keywords, how can we build links?

I don't think many people truly understand how many things can go wrong from an seo standpoint while a site redesign is taking place. Everything gets moved around as links change and suddenly you can't find anything. A forum I routinely frequented a few years ago decided that they wanted an all flash homepage and removed the html articles in favor of pdf files. Never 301'd any links or created deeplinks from the homepage footer or anything. Thats not the worst though. The hundred thousand thread forum switched from phpbb to vbulletin and all the links were broken afterwards. This site had hundreds of high quality .edu academic links from science journals and everything gone to waste.

I like how this was written. It didn't say "don't". Haha, that made me chuckle.

Anyway, just wanted to mention how much #9 is used by forums. It kind of ticks me off when I go to a result found on a forum only to find I am bombarded with popups, and the site tops it off by telling me to "sign up" to see the content and not see the ads.

I really enjoyed this post, the timing couldn't have been more perfect for me to read this. Been going through this most of this with a client the last month or so.

Thanks for the laugh and truthful insight


Never 301'd any links or created deeplinks from the homepage footer or anything. Thats not the worst though. The hundred thousand thread forum switched from phpbb to vbulletin and all the links were broken afterwards.Thanks for the laugh and truthful insight

Being lazy and outsourcing junk link-building, I've seen some companies just get flat lazy about it and end up getting hurt from Panda. Utilize smart content syndication and contextual link building, don't be lazy hah.

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