Top Seven Mistakes Made During Search Engine Optimization

26Aug07

People make little mistakes all the time when it comes to trying to optimize their sites themselves.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen sites costing tens of thousands of dollars to create still with these errors.  With all the money being spent on search engine marketing over the past few years, it amazes me that people still make such easy to avoid mistakes.  So I put together the fallowing list of the top  7 mistakes made during search engine optimization.

Putting Hello or Welcome in the Title Tag

Back in the day meta tags had a large influence on a site’s standings in the search engines, but stuffing these tags with keywords became the source of a lot of spam against black hat search engine optimizers.  Over time the search engines gave less and less creditability to most meta tags, except for the title tag.  However most people don’t even think about putting keywords in their title tags, they mistakenly put things like “welcome to my company’s site” or put in lengthy brand names and slogans.  This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make to your site.  The title tags have a very large impact on the keywords your site will rank for, especially if the keywords are the first words in the title.  It’s important to give some thought to your title tag and to come up with one that not only makes sense for people visiting your site but to also include as many keywords in your title as possible.

Overstuffing Your Site With Too Many Keywords 

Knowing exactly what keywords your site needs to target is probably the most important part of a search engine optimization effort.  However, after selecting the right keywords it’s extremely crucial to not overstuff your site’s content with the keywords.  You want to make sure that your text is somewhat keyword heavy, but you want all of the appearances of your keywords to seem natural.  I’d say the best advice is to read over your content, and if the content doesn’t read smoothly then delete some of the keywords.  The search engines are getting more and more serious about punishing sites for overstuffing their text.  But there are no specific guidelines on how much is too much.  Your best bet is to search for your targeted keywords in Google and look at the sites that show up in the first page results.  Look at the keyword density of those sites and use that as a basis when writing your own content. 

Not Using A Search Engine Friendly Structure

When your creating your website you want to make sure that the search engines can easily get to every page of your website.  This is not to say that every page has to be linked to by the home page, but rather you want to make sure you assemble a site navigational structure with no pages more then three pages deep.  Although Flash sites and navigations can be beautiful, if you don’t have an html navigation some where else on your page, odds are the search engines aren’t finding all of your pages.  And that is a big mistake.  One time I did a proposal for a luxury photographer’s website and it was one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen.  But, the entire thing was flash.  Her site had galleries of pictures and quality text that search engines would love, but it was entirely in flash. There was not a single page besides the home page that was found by search engines.  She probably spent thousands of dollars on that website, but she wasn’t getting anything out of it.  Fortunately there’s an easy solution to that problem, building an alternate site

Not Cross Linking Between Related Pages

Google in particular is leading the search engines towards being able to determine exactly how much authority and relevance a link actually has.  Every one knows now days that you want to have links pointing to your site form sites that are authoritative in the eyes of the search engines for your target keywords.  But people often forget that pages hidden in their own sites already have authority and good link history.  Often time pages of your site will get tagged in a social bookmarking site or linked to from a blog.  So you should always have links to related pages from all of the pages in your site.  This will not only share the authority with other pages in your site, but it will also make it easier for your site to crawl and index.

Putting Important Text & Links In Images

Although you can do a lot of fun things with text in graphics, keep in mind that search engines don’t read that text whatsoever. Although you can give the images alt tags the search engines don’t value those alt tags as much as they would if it was natural text.  And make sure to never put links in alt tags on images, this can be a detrimental mistake.  Search engines do not crawl links in image maps, period.  So if you do have an image map, make sure to also have text links some where in your page.

Having Dead Links Or Links Leading No Where

Like I said in the previous paragraph many of the pages in your site can get tagged or linked to from all over the place.  One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to delete or change the address of pages that have inbound links pointing to your site.  Fortunately you can resolve this problem rather easily by creating custom 404 error pages, but be sure to link to important pages so that the search engines can crawl them.

Not Using <H> Tags In Your Content

Yes <H> tags are difficult to work with and don’t look good.  But the search engines still give authority to keywords found in <H> tags, and with CSS now days you can pretty much disguise <H> tags so they fit in with the rest of your text.

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