SEO has meant a lot of things in the past tens years as search engines have continually gained prominence. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it refers to the practice of optimizing your company website so that it ranks better on the results pages of search engines like Google and is thus more visible and easy to find for your customers. However, while the importance of SEO is better understood overall, many companies are still making major SEO mistakes that may be hurting their sites or at least preventing them from fully capitalizing on SEO’s potential. Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes for SEO and how they can be avoided.
Not Knowing and Researching Keywords
Knowing your company’s keywords is one of the most basic and fundamental aspects of SEO. It is obviously impossible to optimize your site for your keywords and key search terms if you do not know what they are in the first place. Your keywords are the words customers and other site visitors are most likely to use to find your site. Typically your keywords will be words and phrases that relate to the products or services that you offer.
You will want to optimize your site for your main keywords so that you will rank higher for them and attract more site visitors. It is also helpful to focus on keywords that are most likely to bring you a sale, contract, or other action that you are looking for. For instance users may be more likely to type certain keywords when they are conducting research or just idly surfing the web versus when they are serious about making a purchase or business decision. Obviously it is more advantageous for you to rank better on the more lucrative keywords.
Having a good understanding of your site’s keywords and the most profitable keywords will allow you to focus your SEO efforts in ways that will be most beneficial and efficient for your site. This all begins with good keyword research.
Using the Same or Similar Titles for Multiple Pages
It can be tempting to name all of your pages the same thing or give them all very similar names. After all while you are working on them, you are probably more concerned with the content itself and you may just want to get a name down so that you can go on with other things. However, this can be a big mistake in terms of SEO.
The title of the pages is supposed to let readers and visitors quickly and easily understand what that particular page is about. Not only is this a very real and tangible issue from a user experience point of view, but since most search engines, especially Google, focus on user experience they too assign a lot of weight and value to the title of the page. If your page titles are the same or too similar you run the risk of having them falsely assumed to be the same.
Instead take the extra time to give each page a unique and relevant page title. Make sure that it reflects the content of the actual page itself rather than just a generic title that applies to your entire website.
Mishandling Text for Images
One of the most important pieces of information to know when doing SEO is that images by themselves without any text added to the tag cannot be indexed by the search engine spiders. What that means is that you could have a whole gallery of fantastic pictures that would be extremely useful and popular with your site visitors; however, if you don’t include text tags, or include vague or irrelevant text tags, then from an SEO perspective it’s like they do not even exist.
Instead make sure that you add relevant, appropriate text to each image. This will also enhance user experience and help you earn the favor of your site visitors. Remember that this practice is just as important in all types of images, even images that are themselves text or include text. That means that the image could be of your company logo, but if it is not properly labelled it will not be counted by the search engines.
Over Focusing on Meta keyword Tags
This can be a problem because it distracts from more important SEO practices. The major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo do not use the meta keyword deta. That means that focusing too much time and effort on optimizing this field will not do any good. Even worse in some instances it might reveal useful information to competitors.
There are a number of linking problems which can seriously derail your SEO efforts. Let’s take a look at some of the most common problems to avoid.
-Bad or Broken Links – This one is certainly very logical. The last thing you want on your site is to direct your visitors to a page which no longer exists or has moved. It can be a daunting task to keep up with all of your links and make sure that they are still good, but there are webmaster tools which can help.
-Over Linking – Including links on blog pages and other content pages is a good practice and can add to the value and usefulness of the page. However, if it is overdone it can crowd the page and get annoying to users. This in turn is frowned on by search engines. Instead use a normal, natural amount of links and don’t overdo it.
-Poor or No Interlinking – Interlinking is the process of connecting your pages internally so that one page will link to another page. This not only makes it easier for visitors to navigate your pages, it can also improve your indexing with the search engines.
-Low Value Backlinks – Low value backlinks are links from other sites which are considered spammy or poor quality. In the early days of SEO one of the main focuses for many companies was simply getting as many links as possible. As a result some of these links were from content farms, or spam directories. The search engines have wised up and realized that these low quality links aren’t reflective of any true value. As a result many sites are being penalized for poor quality backlinks.
-Unnatural Anchor Text on Links – Another common practice in the early days of SEO was to get your main keywords as anchor text on any and all links that you could. When done smartly and naturally this could be beneficial; however, when it is done in ways that are unnatural and wouldn’t make sense to the average site visitor this could result in further penalties.
Building Sites That Cannot Be Indexed
This problem is similar to the issue that arises with images. Search engines are unable to index certain types of sites such as Flash for instance. Many of these sites are very well designed and very interactive. They often feature some really cool technology that is popular with users. Unfortunately though they are just as incapable of being indexed as images without text. That means that to the search engines these sites do not exist at all. To avoid this problem web designers must build sites that feature a combination of traditional text and these other formats such as Flash, or of course they could sacrifice the Flash and media altogether.
Keyword stuffing is the process of essentially over optimizing your pages so that they include tons of your keywords. Unfortunately this makes the pages themselves unpleasant for people to read, or downright useless. With Google’s focus on user experience they have begun targeting these types of pages and penalizing sites that use them. Once again that means that it is better to only use keywords in a natural way that truly makes sense to the page and adds value to the user.
There you have it, several of the biggest mistakes to avoid when it comes to effective SEO. The good news is that these are all practices that also result in a better overall user experience. That means that by avoiding these mistakes you will not only get in the good graces of the search engines, you will also win favor with your site visitors! Definitely a win-win situation!