From coffee shops and consultancy firms to freelance writers and accounting companies, it doesn't matter what type of business you run, you need to be concerned with search engine optimization (SEO). This is the case no matter what industry you operate in or whether it is a nationwide or global firm or you are a one-man band.

An effective SEO strategy is the only way you are going to ensure your brand is visible online. The trouble is, though, that SEO is not as straightforward as a lot of people assume. There are many different factors that come together to ensure your website is optimized for the main search engines. This includes everything from user experience and content to keywords and backlinks.

If you go wrong with your SEO campaign, it can be very damaging. You may find yourself languishing at the bottom of page four or five on Google, or even lower. Moreover, if you follow practices that are against the search engine’s T&Cs, i.e. black hat techniques, you will find yourself receiving a very harsh penalty, which can be difficult to come back from.

To ensure this does not happen to you, you need to make sure you are not committing any of the seven deadly SEO sins. Let’s take a look at them in further detail below…

1. Using Black Hat Techniques

There is only one place to begin, and this is with black hat techniques, which were touched upon briefly. Black hat techniques involve using approaches that manipulate the search engine to get to the top. You go against the terms and conditions that are in place to basically cheat the system. These approaches can be attractive because they can produce quick results. However, do not be fooled because your website will quickly get punished, and you will end up at a lower position than what you started at. It is important that you build your ranking organically and naturally. Do not use common black hat techniques like keyword stuffing, using white text to slyly incorporate keywords on a page, or cloaking.

2. Overlooking Website Speed

Today, the user experience your website provides is just as important as your content and use of keywords and links. If your website is slow to load, this can really hurt your business, increasing your bounce rate and sending signals to Google that your website does not deserve to be ranked highly.

Remember, the Internet is all about convenience, and this is why your website load speed is so important. There are a number of ways you can reduce your website speed. First, you need to choose a quality web host with solid uptime and quick speeds. Aside from this, you should delete any large media files that you do not need.

3. Having numerous versions of your site

A lot of company owners have purchased various domain names that are similar to their main domain. They do this for the purpose of trying to lower the competition to their main website. However, this can simply confuse Google. The best solution is to have redirects to the site you are utilizing.

4. Ignoring schema markups

In addition to the points that have already been mentioned, schema markups are critical because they make sure that all of the major search engines have background information on the data you are presenting through your website. In basic terms, you achieve a better organic ranking because the search engine bots actually understand what your website is about.

5. No mobile optimization

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to SEO in the current digital age. More and more people are using their smartphones to access the Internet than ever before. In fact, Google prioritizes the mobile versions of websites over the desktop versions. You need to make sure your website works well and looks great on smaller devices.

6. Keyword stuffing

This is a black hat technique, but it is such a massive problem it deserves its own section. Keyword stuffing may have been an effective SEO writing method around ten years ago. However, times have most certainly changed. Not only is this approach ineffective but it will result in your website being penalized. Today, it is all about quality content. Content must be original, informative, and engaging, and keywords need to be incorporated naturally so that no one can tell they are even woven into your content.

7. Selecting the wrong keywords

Last but not least, while we are on the subject of keywords, the seventh sin that you need to avoid is selecting the incorrect keywords. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make in this regards is overlooking search engine and user preference for long-tail keywords. When you type something into Google, you probably write something specific with numerous words, rather than a short and generic phrase right? Not only do you need to target long tail keywords but you need to conduct extensive keyword research too.

If you are committing one of the seven deadly sins that have been mentioned, you may be feeling worried right now. The good news is that these mistakes can be fixed. However, you do need to act quickly.

Every day that you waste with a poor search engine ranking is a day that you are falling further and further behind the competition. Plus, you could be at a serious risk of a penalty if you do not act quickly.