Too many people focus on the wrong things to achieve Search Engine Optimization (SEO) success. They end up wasting precious time. Here's how to get the maximum ROI on your time invested in learning SEO.

1. Avoid Reading SEO Rants

Tracking rants and fights in SEO has never helped me get better rankings. Knowing the back-and-forth between two search engine optimizers is useless to my only goal, which is helping my clients get better rankings. I read a huge number of blog posts in a given year, but the minute something gets into the rant zone, I'm out. Plowing through comments about who is right and wrong on some issue won't help you grow your business. Don't waste your time.

2. Don't Follow the "Big New Thing"

Every minute you spend reading about the "big new thing" at Google or Wolfram Alpha, you're wasting time that won't help you actually rank better. It may be more exciting to read about the Twitter integration and how it might impact SEO, but because most searches don't bring back Twitter results -- except for celebrity bloggers -- why should you care?

However, there are some important changes. Track these!

Local Search Maps. Maps that spot the location of businesses now show up for many searches. Try these for example:

In my region of the country, I see local results even when I am not using my location as part of the query, since search engines determine my location automatically.

If Google decides to show local results above your listing, this can be a problem. If so, spend some time trying to figure out what causes sites to rank well in local search.