There’s a lot of buzz about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and many businesses are looking at ways to increase their website visibility with the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing). Whether you’ve outsourced your business’s SEO responsibilities or are handling things in-house, you need to make sure your SEO program isn’t riding off the rails due to a lack of knowledge or resources. Don’t assume that all is well as is, or else you’ll get a big surprise as you review your traffic statistics each month.

If you have made the investment in an SEO program for your business, you’ll want to make certain that you’re not making any of these common mistakes:

1. No clear strategy. How will you know you’re reaching your SEO goals if there’s no plan in place? SEO can easily become a waste of time and money when there is no action plan. A solid strategy helps ensure that all your online efforts work together to drive traffic to your website.

2. Lack of social media attention. You need to post helpful, useful, and relevant content on a regular basis to keep your fans and followers coming back to your page. They will quickly lose interest in your Facebook or Twitter accounts if postings are randomly and infrequently posted, or are filled with sales pitches.

3. Keyword stuffing. Google penalizes websites that load their pages and meta tags with keywords or numbers. According to Google, this includes cities, zip codes, and phone numbers. Not only will it not boost your SEO, it will lower it.

4. Inadequate keyword research. You don’t want to try to generate keywords on your own; you cannot predict how all users search for the products or services you provide. There are a number of keyword research tools available; use them to your advantage.

5. Using poor quality or broken links (includes spammy links). Low quality and broken links don’t serve any useful purpose to search engine users, and this flies in the face of the user experience Google wants for them. It’s viewed by Google as manipulation of search results and negatively impacts SEO. In addition, buying or selling links is a direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

6. Lack of fresh site content. People will return to your site when it provides updated and fresh information. The search engine algorithms like this, too. An ongoing blog or set of articles will help to accomplish this.

7. Nothing on your website to convert visitors. Even if your other efforts have delivered traffic to your website, what are you doing to convert them? Providing a query form to request more information or a price quote is effective in getting the website visitor to take action and providing you with a lead to build your prospect list for drip marketing. A free download for a white paper or other offer to encourage the visitor to provide their contact information will stimulate conversions. Quality content, a message that speaks to your audience, and a compelling call to action will accomplish the most important part of all of this: converting a lead to a sale.

Running an effective SEO program is a coordinated effort, which requires a commitment to spending the time and resources necessary for success. The results you will reap from such effort will boost your online presence and increase website traffic, drawing more visitors you can then convert to customers.