The SEO Mistakes I've Made and Learned From

Published On

June 29, 2024


Skyla Valade



I was first introduced to SEO in 2016, when I got my first online job as a content writer. Back then, my assignments included 2000+ word clickbait and thought pieces on garage doors with no other instructions than to include "garage door installation New Jersey" at least 20 times.

When I started questioning the guidelines I was given, my Search Engine Obsession began. I spent my time honing my writing skills, Googling everything I could about SEO, figuring out how ranking worked, and discovering an industry I had no idea even existed. This ultimately led to a career in Search, and my skills from this job have followed me to where I am today (Trust me, if you can write a 5000-word article about a celebrity's hair colour, you can write anything).

But throughout this journey, I've made and learned from a lot of mistakes, which is what I'll be talking about today. Hopefully some of the lessons I learned throughout the years can save you some time, money, and headaches.

Mistake #1: Not RTFM (Reading the F*cking Manual)

I recently heard this acronym, touted by Mark Cuban as one of his most important frameworks, and it rang so true. Early in my career, I was certainly reading and learning a lot. But there's one thing that I (and a lot of others) tended to avoid: instruction manuals.

Let's do an experiment. If you're an SEO, writer, or content marketer— have you read this? I'm willing to bet that a lot of you haven't, because I didn't until a few years into my career.

I've linked Google's documentation on SEO to so many people, because they're constantly asking questions that are clearly answered in this thing. It's kind of crazy when you think about it, because it's an instruction manual, from the source, on exactly how it works and exactly what to do— and so many "experts" don't even prioritize reading it.

The instruction manual is not the end-all be-all, of course. You will need to be creative, experiment, and make your own deductions. But, I've learned so much just from building the habit of RTFM. Because there's almost always a manual somewhere, and a lot of your competitors aren't willing to read it.

Mistake #2: Looking At The Wrong Data

I started using SEMRush for my clients, which is an amazing tool that I still love. But a mistake I made early on was taking their data too seriously. At the end of the day, all SEO tools are based on estimations. I was making decisions and evaluating progress based on… guesses. Nowadays, I try to look at multiple sources of data, always look at data from the source (your website) when you can, and take the numbers with a grain of salt.

For example, during keyword research, I would encounter terms with 0 or low volume. This happens a lot, especially in niche businesses. Even if I intuitively felt that the keyword made sense, and would've been used by our target market, I may have skipped it. Now, I remember that these numbers are estimations, and even the small numbers or 0s aren't 100% accurate.

A low volume keyword that's well thought-out can still represent valuable traffic and customers, but you might be skipping it solely because your SEO tool says so!

These 2 mistakes have changed the way I approach SEO and marketing as a whole. Have you been trapped in any of these thought patterns, or another mistake that you eventually figured out? Let me know - my inbox is always open at

Want to find out how SEO can actually help your business?

Want to find out how SEO can actually help your business?

Want to find out how SEO can actually help your business?

Want to find out how SEO can actually help your business?

Want to find out how SEO can actually help your business?