Are you making any of these Common SEO Mistakes?
Here are what I consider the top mistakes companies make when trying to optimize their websites for search engine visibility:
1. Not doing the right research before you optimize your website. Many people believe they know the keywords and phrases people are using to find their products or services online, but often they are wrong. Without the proper research, you may find that you have optimized your website for a set of keywords in which no one is searching. It does you no good to earn a rank of #1 on Google for that term if people are not using that term in their searches. Let’s say that you own a floral shop in Indianapolis and you’d like to optimize your website to attract Valentine’s Day shoppers. But do you optimize your website for the keyword phrases ‘red roses Indianapolis ,’ ‘florist Indianapolis ’ or ‘floral shop Indianapolis ?’ Without the proper research, you have no way of knowing.
2. Trying to ‘trick’ the search engines. Many people think that search engine optimization is all about repeating the keywords as many times as possible on the website page, and even resorting to using white text or other tactics to ‘trick’ the search engines into deeming your site the most relevant. Search engines have caught on to such tactics and if you resort to them, you may actually hurt, not help, your chances of a high ranking.
3. Thinking that SEO is all about the meta-tags or code. Good search engine optimization is much more than the meta-tags, or the source code at the top of a web page that indicates a page’s title, description and keyword list. SEO involves many factors, including the popularity of your website among other related websites in the same industry category; the number of links from other websites to yours, as well as the quality and relevance of your website content for the given keyword phrase. So focus on the copy, not the code, to see results from your SEO efforts.
4. Ignoring your website’s navigation in your SEO efforts. Your website’s link structure, or navigation, plays a big part in your search engine optimization results. If your navigation consists of vague phrases such, as ‘about us’ or ‘our products,’ you will have a hard time getting ranked for your product or service keyword terms. Additionally, if you build your website’s navigational structure as graphic or image-based buttons, you may also struggle with SEO because the search engines are crawling for words, not the pictures.
5. Forgetting a site map for your website. Many people omit this part of their website and don’t realize its significance in search engine optimization. Just adding a site map can do wonders for your SEO results. Search engines such as Google often use a site map to determine a site’s content and relevance, so don’t forget to include one in your next website design.
6. Using too many graphics on your website. I touched on this topic in #4, above, but it bears repeating that using too many photos, graphics, excessive Flash or other animation on your website can be detrimental to your search engine optimization efforts. This is because if your graphics tend to take up a majority of the ‘space’ on the page, they tend to dominate the words on the page, and thus force the words further down the page.
7. Thinking SEO is just about website submission tactics. Many people mistake site submission tools as search engine optimization. While it’s true that once you launch a website, sometimes those site submission tools where you submit a website as new can help a new website appear on search engines, this is not search engine optimization. The art and science of SEO is much more than that. As you know, the phrase, “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply to websites. Not only do you need to market your website in order to attract visitors, you also need to optimize it correctly. The phrase should be rewritten for websites to read, “if you build it right, they will come.”
8. Being afraid to redesign your website from scratch. You may have developed a beautiful website, and maybe even spent thousands of dollars on the design. But if your website has crucial components missing, or if it was not designed from an SEO standpoint, it may be harder to correct without starting from scratch. My advice to you: Don’t hold on to a website that is not giving you the SEO results you need! You are better off redesigning the website for results than having a beautiful website that no one can find.
9. Thinking of starting SEO after you have developed the website. On that note, it’s much easier to search-engine-optimize a website before the content, navigation and design, not after. So involve an SEO professional before you nail down any of the above elements and you’ll save a lot of rework down the road, while enjoying better results too.
10. Afraid to invest in quality SEO services. Many businesses will invest tens of thousands of dollars on a website design and back-end system, only to skimp on SEO. Many of these same businesses then have no problem shelling out more marketing dollars for pay-per-click advertising. But what they’re forgetting is that SEO will pay for itself in the long run. Wouldn’t you rather show up first in the natural search results than have to pay $1 or $2 to appear first in the paid results? Think about what your average cost of sale or lead might be within your organization. If just one person finds you online through your natural search results, it may cover the cost of optimizing your entire site. Weigh this against the cost of other marketing investments and you’ll probably find that SEO is very cost-effective because you only pay for a bulk of your SEO efforts once, rather than many times for impression-based marketing (advertisements).
11. Not monitoring your SEO results regularly. Generally, it’s a good idea to track your website’s search engine rankings regularly to determine if you need to make changes to your website to improve your results. I recommend doing this at least quarterly, and ideally, on a monthly basis. If you have dropped significantly in rankings, it could be due to a number of factors, including the freshness of your content or an increase in competition.