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Ten Search Engine Optimisation Mistakes

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not something performed as a blanket approach to website development, it is an individual set of actions performed page by page to suit that page’s particular goals and SEO needs. I like to break up a clients website into specific and important pages based on the keyword terms we have identified through research and then write the first few pages to suit those terms. We associate page titles, page file names (buy-blue-widgets.html), H1 tags, description and keyword Meta tags and in page content to tell the story that match those identified keywords. It is also important to ensure your pages are W3 compliant and have no errors.

I have compiled a list of some of some common Search Engine Optimization (SEO) mistakes.

1. Bad Titles. Titles are the most important thing about a webpage. Search engines spiders see the title on your page first and they make a general assessment about it based upon this. They scan the page and make sure the content of the page matches the title and then assign rankings based upon these matches and how they best fit. The title tag is the best way to inform the search engine what your page is about, and they play an important part in ranking if used properly. Placing your main identified keywords in the title and ensuring to obey the rule of leftward and stemming is vital – leftward rule, the closer the word to the left of the sentence the more important it is, stemming is where words can be associated but with words in-between i.e.: Great Blue Widgets when stemmed would allow Great Widgets. It is important to ensure your title matches your page content, description and Meta keywords and in unique for your website. Every page title and content should be unique otherwise is will be ranked supplemental.

2. Filename of the page. It is important if you are using dynamic websites like Joomla or other content management systems that a search engine friendly URL translator is installed. Because I use Joomla every day I will describe what I mean relating to Joomla. In Joomla (and most other dynamic websites) URL’s like the normal Joomla URL “index.php?option=com_mtree&task=listcats&cat_id=1766&Itemid=35” drive the website. The problem with these URL’s is that they are unintelligible by humans and also by search engines. Installing a search engine friendly URL component will change these pages to something more meaningful and also including your keywords in these page names can help with SEO. The newly transformed search engine friendly URL would look like this “buy-blue-widgets.html”. If you do not have a dynamic website then ensuring your page name is short, to the point and contains your main keywords for that page maybe with a call to action like “buy” and “blue widgets”.

3. Duplicate or Bad Content. Ensuring your content is unique and relevant is vital in SEO success. Often websites just duplicate content or bring in plagiarized content from other websites. It is my experience that these websites fail dismally in search engine rankings. Write some decent and unique content or maybe search online and find someone who can actually write you decent unique content for a fee. Make it good, friendly and unique content that people will want to link to. If you are listed in the supplemental index of Google then making sure you titles, descriptions, Meta keywords and on page content is unique is the only way to drag them out of the supplemental index.

4. No Links. Having covered off a few of the on page most important SEO tips we now look at links, which are an off page SEO concept. For each person or website that links to your website it is a vote for your site. If the website that links to yours has a high pagerank itself then it carries more weight. Simply having good keywords, titles and text on your page is only part of SEO. Just because you created a unique and perfectly optimized webpage does not mean you will automatically gain a decent pagerank for that page. In order to ensure SEO success you have to create incoming links – this is probably the hardest part of search engine optimization because you are effectively selling your pages all over the Internet. One way to gain instant (within a few weeks) links is to pay for text advertising – A search on Google will uncover some of the best text linking services. Link exchanges are bad because for every vote you get you are giving one away and if you happen to link to a “black listed” site then Google will penalize you significantly. One way links are the ultimate in SEO link campaigns so seek out directories (either paid or free, you need to evaluate), post in forums, write articles and submit them and ask other friendly webmasters if they can help you out with a link. The best way to gain links is to have unique content that other people actually want to link to.

5. Incoming link anchor text. Having pointed out how important it is to gain incoming links it is now important to also point out that the text those links are anchored to is important also. The text should be targeted at your main keywords and the page they point to should have those keywords as relevant and prominent also. The website you link from should be relevant to your website. So, as an example I own a web design company in Melbourne, Australia so I gain links from web hosting providers and/or open source Joomla sites in or around my region. Getting 1000 links from a casino related website will serve no benefit to my website and will not make it rank higher for “web design” keyword search terms. Use professional common sense when gaining links.

6. Bad Internal Page Links. We return to on page factors that you can work on within your website. It is important to make sure that the anchor text linking to pages within your own website is relevant to the target page. Make sure the title tag is filled in also for each link. You have the greatest control over links from within your own web site so make sure they are relevant and that link title and the on page copy match the main keywords of the target page.

7. Live links. Using some external tools like the link checker that W3 Org offer is good. I suggest harnessing as many tools as you can to ensure all of the links on your website are live, working and not sending people to 404 error pages. It is also important to check and make sure your page markup, or html, xhtml, is valid so W3 also offer a tool to check this. Make use of both of these freely available tools.

8. Impatience. Search Engine Optimization is not a short term task. It is one of an ongoing refinement after refinement and hour after hour of working on your website. Producing unique content, checking it, validating, listing and checking the search engines and making sure they have it listed correctly. Do not think for one second that you can optimize your site thoroughly ever and do not ever think that just because you are number one for a search term that it will indefinitely stay that way. Search Engine Companies are always changing their ranking and rating systems and coupled with this there are always other people out there gunning for your top spot. Keep looking to improve and learn more and don’t sit back and wait for others to take your top spot, be proactive, seek out new content, links and keep ahead of the curve.

9. Keyword selection. This is proving to be a very common mistake among beginners to SEO. Often people base their own keyword selection on what they *think* is right but is this what people actually search for when they are looking for your product or service? Often the answer to this questions is no. It is an important step to do the correct keyword research and ensure you have the right keyword list before you optimize any pages with them. Using Overture, Google Adwords and some other paid keyword tools like WordTracker (the default standard in Keyword Finding) are vital to success in finding good keywords. It is important to localize your target market and figure out what they are actually searching on when they are looking for products or services that you offer. Do the research and be as specific as possible while still being broad enough to capture some high keyword traffic.

10. Keyword Spamming and Stuffing. If you sell “Blue Widgets” then every page of your site does not need to have “Blue Widgets” in the title, description and Meta tags. Try and be objective and analyze you website. Focus pages on a specific group of keywords you have identified from the keyword list. Sometimes finding niche markets locally first can be best. So, as an example, “Buy Blue Widgets Australia” or “Buy Blue Widgets Melbourne”. These would be examples of good second or even third tier search keyword phrases but you can make some good sales with these niche terms because the searcher is targeting buying these items.

These are not the be-all and end-all of Search Engine Optimization mistakes but I have found these to be the main mistakes made by my clients prior to being involved. Good luck and I wish you all the best with your SEO efforts.

How to Use SEO for Your Web Site…

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Several business owners and web site owners now understand the power of having high rankings in search engines. You get to be visible to millions of potential visitors online which can ultimately lead to increased sales and income. You can use SEO wisely to become highly successful in the industry you have chosen. Find out more about the techniques and benefits to determine the best ways to market your web site. Here are some guidelines.

How the Engines Work

SEO or search engine optimization aims to make web sites more visible, according to their relevance to any given search. Search engines contain programs referred to as spiders, which go to several web pages or URLs to identify the content of the site, as well as look for other links to scan later on. Spiders are also called web crawlers and scan the content of different web sites and pages.

These send the results of the scan back to the algorithm, which will eventually be broken down further to be analyzed. If the spiders go through a link to a new page or site, the links are stored. Other spiders over time will continue to crawl to linked-to pages. More links from other sites and pages will lead to frequent crawls and visits, thereby boosting reputation and potential sales.

Analyzing the Data

Search engines generally view a combination of more than 200 factors to identify the right pages that must rank for certain queries. Factors include information contained in the web pages or on-page factors like title heading and page content. Off-site factors may also be included. The factors include the words used to link back to you, the reputation of the page linking to you and the duration of time the link has been present. Both off-site and on-site factors determine the search engine rankings.

On Site Architecture

When you create a web site, try to aim for easy-to-understand site architecture and simplicity. Both search engines and human visitors will find it easier to locate you. You should try to organize the web site into clean sections, called siloing and theming. Good site architecture will organize the domain name according to the exact description of your chosen topic. For example, if your web site is about basketball shoes, you can use the site architecture as such: “shoes.com/basketball/” or “shoes.com/basketball/midcut/”.

Having good site architecture will provide you with many advantages like easy expansion, since the site can be divided into manageable sections, easy navigation, since the site can easily be viewed and the URL manipulated by users and easy maintenance, since the web site can be divided into sections that are easy to control.

Keyword Relevance

Always invest in good and useful keywords that pertain to your chosen topic. Users can easily find you through the title and content if you include the right keywords and secondary terms that pertain to your chosen topic. Use keyword generating tools and other online programs that will aid you in improving the web site as a whole.

There are plenty of things to understand when using keywords, like the use of plural or singular terms, order of words and head keywords. The words should appear in the vital parts of the article or content, but avoid overstuffing the site with these or you will lose credibility.