Originally, SEO meant submitting websites to search engines to begin the process of having a bot crawl a page, extract links and index all the carefully written content. The concept of “Search Engine Optimization” as we know it today came into play once website owners began acknowledging the rising influence of search engines on consumer awareness and the value of having their site prominently listed in the results.
As a business-owner or a marketer, you probably have encountered more articles and differing opinions on the “MUST DO’S” of the SEO process than you’ll ever remember, but you probably haven’t found enough about the most common mistakes a site can do when optimizing for search engines.
With so many interpretations for on-site and off-site optimization, now’s a perfect time to revisit some core SEO mistakes and how to avoid them for a fresh start to your latest search engine optimization campaigns.
One of the worst mistakes marketers commit is limiting their optimization efforts to just Google’s algorithms. Needless to say, they’re the market leaders, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of the other 20% of search traffic that comes from Yahoo!, Bing and Ask among others. The first step you should take to avoid this is register and send your sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools to ensure that your websites continue to get high traffic from Bing and Yahoo!.
No proper keyword strategy
Keyword choices must be determined with regard to the audience, not whether the keyword is solely valuable from a search volume metrics standpoint; take into consideration whether your keywords match your business goals and the company’s message, then correlate them with target personas. Build content that matches their interests and always remember to optimize for people first and search engines second. From my experience, few actually conduct proper keyword research and targeting, and many leave this to a copywriter or PR to determine page content and meta tags.
Don’t target overly general keywords
Avoid using keywords that are too general like “house” or “lawyer,” for example. You should always optimize for relevant, specific keywords that will bring targeted traffic. There a few cool keyword research tools on the market to help you boost your desired list:
You can find a complete list of keyword tools here, including keyword suggestion tools, topical/categorical, engine suggestion tools, synonyms, keyword density, keyword monitors and other interesting stuff for online marketers.
Flash and Image-Based Content
Probably the biggest “DON’T” in modern web design, do not use flash and image-based content when building your website. Flash technology isn’t a good choice for most eCommerce websites because it breaks the majority of web standards and conventions. Flash websites may mean beautiful design and splash pages, but they fail to meet a number of minimum criteria for business-oriented websites. Despite the promises that search engines would eventually be able to crawl Flash content, it seems we still have to wait for these changes to happen while the development industry moves past Flash to HTML5.
Don’t ignore usability
Things like an appropriate site structure, intuitive website navigation, effective calls-to-action and more are important for both users and search engine spiders. Learn how to best build your website by following these important usability tips to maximize B2B website conversion.
Don’t ignore the “ALT” attribute
Images should always be given alternate text with the help of the ALT attribute. This is great for accessibility problems and it provides search engines further background about a page because it is displayed when the browser can’t load an image.
This is important for SEO because it allows search engines to “see” what the image is and how it relates to your site. At the same time, you can use your high-value, targeted keywords in the descriptive line of the images, increasing the relevancy of the page in the eyes of search engines. You can and should do the same with videos, logos and taglines!
Don’t give up on creating great content
No matter what type of business you’re in, you should create great content to please your audience. Search engines are designed to think like us, so when they see that your unique viewpoint comes through your content, they reward you for adding-value to the internet.
Publish content frequently, get active in external communities you are passionate about and connect with your business, communicate and connect to your customers and visitors, and keep being smart about what you do. There are many ways to generate rich content on your website don’t limit yourself. Make a how-to-article, create engaging product manuals, draft intelligent whitepapers, and use glossaries – a great way to create keyword-rich content.
These are the major DON’Ts you need to consider when starting the search engine optimization process for your online business. All of the above are deeply intertwined, so you should always remember that in SEO there is not one single factor that guarantees you top rankings.
Do you have any lessons you have learned after making some striking mistakes in SEO? If so, please share your comments with us. We’d love to hear about your experiences.