Mayday! Mayday! Avoid These 5 Common SEO Blunders

Written by: Drew Lyon   Austin, Texas

Posted on: May 15, 2013

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Bad SEO is worse than no SEO at all. A few critical mistakes can torpedo your whole effort. That said, we’re happy you’ve shown a sudden interest in your search engine health, but let’s be smart about it. Just as crash dieting doesn’t work, and can have serious longterm consequences, binge optimizing isn’t wise either. Google will definitely notice that fat pile of links you farmed or the new keyword-stuffed content you posted, but that’s not always a good thing…

Here’s what NOT to do…

1.) Buy a ton of links real cheap (don’t buy expensive ones either)

The jig is up. Google doesn’t appreciate people buying links for the sole purpose of boosting their search standing, so they put a stop to it. Or rather, Google won’t stop you from throwing money away on bulk link packages, but they will make sure you don’t get rewarded for it. In fact, if you have any legitimate link cred already built up, adding paid links to the mix will only dilute your site’s overall link juice. Links are still an important part of SEO, but the number of links doesn’t matter nearly as much as quality and relevance.

Alternative: Put good content on your site and make it easy for people to share (‘tweet,’ ‘like’ and ‘+1’ buttons). Contribute to industry forums. Be active on social networks. Etcetera.

2.) Forget to give your website a title

You wouldn’t forget to name your child, would you? A website without a title is like a lost puppy without tags. The title we’re referring to is not the name of your business or the header of your content. No, we’re talking about your official declaration of name and purpose to search engines. We’re talking about a title tag. You can usually find the title tag listed at the top of your internet browser.

Here’s ours:

Alternative: Name it. Your title tag should include your company name along with a few of your most important search terms. This is your single most valuable piece of SEO real estate, so don’t waste it. As always, don’t go overboard. Best practice is to have between 70 and 100 characters in a title tag.

3.) Be clueless about what people search for

Nobody knows what a Mark5 flashpan hotswap dongle is (not even us, and we made it up). Proprietary messaging can be important for selling products but not necessarily for helping people find them. The main goal of SEO is to help new customers find you. These people know what they want, and you have what they want, but they don’t care what you call it. Not yet.

Alternative: Make sure you describe your products and services in plain language on your website. Ask yourself, in laymen’s terms, what is it I sell or do? Or, better yet, how do you describe your business to your parents? Everyone uses Google, so that’s the audience you’re optimizing for.

*Use Google’s search volume tool to get keyword ideas.

4.) Steal content, spam content, hide content

One of the best things you can do on your own to boost website rankings is to regularly refresh page content and/or update your blog. You can go a step further by placing keywords in your content, but be careful—this is where things often get fouled up. For every hundred words of text, you should only mention ONE or TWO keywords. That’s it. Furthermore, they need to be weaved into the text naturally, not obviously tacked on. One of the easiest ways to do this is by putting a headline above each paragraph of text.

Like so:

— — —

Austin SEO Company – Get Yo’ Rank On

What does it take to get you found? FindMyCompany is an Website Marketing company based in Austin, Texas…yada, yada, yada…

— — —

In regards to stealing and hiding content, just don’t do it. If someone else wrote your content or built your website, use Copyscape to verify it’s 100% unique. Hiding content includes using a font size that’s drastically smaller than the rest of your site to save space, or more archaic tactics (which are also frowned upon) such as making your font color the same as your background. Google no like.

5.) Your homepage is all pretty pictures and no meaty text

Minimal design is all the rage these days. A lot of people say they don’t want to “clutter up” their homepage with lines of boring text. Unfortunately, that boring text (along with your title tag) is your best way to tell Google what you’re all about. Sure, Google will index your pictures and videos, but don’t expect to get much search traffic from that alone.

Alternative: Write not boring text. Make your website copy stand out as much as your pictures. Give it spunk. Use keywords, but not too many. The minimum amount of text recommended for a homepage is 250 words.

If only there were a set of tools that would monitor my site for me…

And they should be free…and endorsed by the gatekeepers themselves..and…Hi there, meet Google’s Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools is Google’s free utility for monitoring the health of your domain. It will ping you if Google is having trouble crawling your site and will alert you if your site is infected with malware. It can also guide you through some basic optimizations, such as adding a sitemap and stopping certain URLs from being crawled. Although that’s about it from a practical standpoint.

To be clear, Webmaster Tools is a valuable resource for any site owner, but is by no means a replacement for full on search engine marketing. As we know, successful SEO still takes a boatload of hard work.

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