7 Huge, Yet Common SEO Mistakes
It is easy to make mistakes when doing the SEO for a website. I've even caught myself making stupid mistakes here and there. That being said, it's important for web developers to know what some of the bad things to do are when it comes to SEO.
Sites with no mistakes stand a better chance against the big guys. Sites that have many backlinks, but have some problems in the markup can quickly climb in the search results when the SEO boo-boos are fixed. Luckily for webmasters, most of these mistakes are extremely easy to fix and can be completely fixed within minutes.
For those with search engines regularly crawling their sites, the changes can be made search engine-side almost instantly. Those with slightly lower crawl rates, will naturally have to wait longer, but the changes will have their benefits in time. I want to add that I have significantly edited this hub to reflect changes in SEO in recent years as metadata is definitely not as important as it once was.
Here are the most common SEO mistakes and how to solve them:
Mistake #1 Nothing to Read
You have either filled an entire page up with nothing but images OR you are using development methods that aren't crawler friendly, for example a site that uses nothing but flash. The search engine has no text (or anything) to read.
You may have a well-written and keyword rich article that may be beautifully displayed in flash, but the search engines may not be able to read it. Therefore, you won't rank very well for your keyword rich article.
Use more plain text on your website. Just because it is called plain text doesn't mean it has to look plain. There are some very beautifully designed sites that are easily readable by search engines. You don't have to sacrifice beauty so that the search engines can crawl your site.
Mistake #2 Nondescript URLs
You might have a great webpage on your website with a keyword rich description on let's say strawberry cheesecake. You go in depth on your article about how wonderful and deliciously moist your cheesecake recipe is. Your URL, however just says www.somesortofsite.com/node61. Search engines place importance not only on the url, which should describe your site in some way, but also on the slug which, in this case, I've called node61.
Get a url that describes your site. If you have a website on wedding music, try to get something like http://weddingmusic.com. If you write an article about Canon in D on your website, make sure the slug represents that somehow so that the url for the article will be something like http://weddingmusic.com/Canon_in_D. There are many ways to do this depending on the content management system you use. You can configure WordPress to automatically give you a descriptive slug based on the title of your article or you can also input your own slug.
Mistake #3 Meta Data Obsession
You are spending too much time researching and finding the BEST information to use in your meta tags.
Don't spend too much time doing this. While there are still a few search engines who rely on metadata, it is definitely not as important as it was in the past. It was so important in the past, that I even still have an article on nothing but meta data! Now, however, meta data means much less than it did in the past. I must confess that I DO still input information into those cute little metadata fields, but I do not spend nearly as much time on that as I used to. You shouldn't either. Get some quick tags and a nice little description in there and call it a day. Basically just set it and forget it.
Mistake #4 Missing Alt Tags
No "alt tags" on your images.
Add alt tags to each of your images. By doing this, you're giving search engines information about what's in the photo. You don't have to describe the entire picture, but at least put something descriptive there!
Everyone likes to know what's in a photo, even if they can't see it. Many people do not have the time to input alt tags for every single little icon or part of the design. It isn't really necessary to have alt tags on ALL images, just the important ones. The alt tag argument is becoming more and more controversial, but it doesn't hurt to add them and personally, I've noticed a difference since adding them.
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Mistake #5 Using HTML Instead of CSS
Everything on your site is HTML. You love HTML and can't get enough of it.
If your site design is in HTML, you're committing a cardinal development sin. What year is this - 1997? Site design should be written in CSS. Why is this a problem? Search engines can have difficulty differentiating what is design and what is content if your site is written strictly in HTML.
Another difficulty faced by those whose sites aren't in CSS is painstaking process of making changes to a layout.
Mistake #6 No Backlinks
Your site has no back links.
A site's on-page SEO really helps, but off-page SEO is what's going to bring it to the top. Web sites need back links. In fact, the most important part of SEO is back links. It's important to also put your keywords in your backlinks. It's important for backlinks to be natural... or at least appear natural, so webmasters must take care in not creating too many backlinks right away.
Too many backlinks in a short span of time looks fishy and sites have been penalized for this. Take it slow. Add a new backlink here and there. Taking it slow allows you a lot of space to dabble a little - to see what works and what doesn't without a major investment of time or money.
Mistake #7 Bad Keywords
You've picked a great keyword, but you have 50,387 back links and still don't rank for the keyword.
You've picked some bad keywords. If you've already got a ton of backlinks and you wish to stay in your niche, you'll probably bring a lot more traffic in with *ahem* slightly less competitive keywords.
Every niche has those extremely competitive keywords, but those with a little creativity and research, you can come up with some good keywords - ones that people search for often, but is something for which your website can rank.
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