For many reasons, the last decade has been both very difficult to me and also very kind to me in a variety of conflicting ways.
I’ve had personal tragedies in my life that have brought me to my knees, while at the same time (and in some cases because of those tragedies) I’ve stumbled upon one opportunity after another.
One of those opportunities was entering the Search Engine Optimization industry almost half a decade ago.
I initially stumbled upon the industry while I was struggling to win contract bids at freelance project bidding sites in order to earn extra income for my family.
I took on a very underpaid role with the owner of a small interior design business who wanted to use a blog attached to his business website in order to draw in potential customers. He wanted what just about every blog owner out there today wants – highly optimized content that would draw in crowds from the search engines.
Here’s the first thing that I learned the moment I jumped into the SEO pool – the industry is full of sharks and “gurus.”
Often, I would find advice from someone who seemed to know what they were talking about, but it turned out the advice was 1990’s-era SEO, filled with common SEO mistakes and no longer an effective technique in today’s Web 2.0 world. And the sharks, – there are some SEO experts so fed up with the bad advice and the SEO scam artists that there are now entire blogs devoted to exposing bad SEO and revealing those common SEO mistakes – such as the aptly-named .
I pity the folks that make the hit list of a blog like that! With that said, blogs like this serve an important purpose – they educate businesses and blog owners about the serious dangers of hiring an SEO “expert” who either (a) doesn’t really know what they’re doing, and/or (b) makes use of “black hat SEO” techniques that can gather significant immediate traffic, but will ultimately destroy your long term ranking with Google.
In the process studying SEO techniques over the years, I learned that many of the older techniques and myths from the 1990’s are not only ineffective anymore, but in some cases they can seriously hurt your website or blog search engine ranking.
So I would like to share a few of those SEO mistakes and help you avoid driving your blog or website straight off of the information superhighway and into the ditch.
SEO Mistakes #1: Packing Meta-Tags Full Of Keywords Will NOT Optimize Your Page
During the 90’s, the extent of “SEO optimizing” for many webmasters was simply to insert relevant keyword phrases into the meta-tags for a page. Here’s an example of a site that’s heavily focused on the meta-keywords:
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with adding keywords into this field that represents valid information on the page itself, but placing a long list of similar phrases with duplicate words (reaching 10 or 12 phrases) is a major SEO faux pas.
And as of this year, September 2009 to be exact, due to many years of webmasters constantly using meta-keywords to spam keywords, Google no longer even looks at the meta-keywords in order to rank your website.
This doesn’t mean the meta-keywords are not useful for aligning the page with particular valuable search phrases – but it certainly is nowhere near as valuable as it used to be, and overusing it can put your site at risk for a lower ranking.
SEO Mistakes #2 & #3: Not Using The Keywords In Your Title & Permalinks
When you visit MakeUseOf, you’ll notice that not only are the titles descriptive and relevant to what the article is actually about, but the URL link (otherwise known as the permalink) is as well. Every SEO guru worth his salt knows that the two most effective areas of a webpage that you can get the most bang for your efforts is the title and permalink.
They don’t always necessarily have to the be same, but they do need to focus on the a primary keyword phrase that you’re trying to target with your article.
If you don’t target that phrase in your title and permalink, you’re wasting your time and you’ll only reach a small fraction of your intended online audience. In WordPress, you can set up your permalink to be descriptive like this.
As you can see, I’ve set up my blog TopSecret Writers to use the month/name and post title. Never set it up to use some nonsense numbering system.
I would never suggest that a web designer shouldn’t make use of the latest and greatest website scripting languages that offer a more interactive online experience, but to use scripting to serve up all or a majority of your website content is SEO suicide.
Take the website of fashion entrepreneur Marc Ecko for example.
The site is completely written in Flash. It is actually touted by most web design experts as one of the best-designed Flash websites on the net.
Flash and AJAX websites are aesthetically superior to most traditional websites, however they struggle when it comes to search engine ranking because there’s virtually nothing for search engines to crawl.
The creator of Marc’s website tried to make up for this by listing about half a page of keywords in the Meta-Keyword tag – but how much will this help now that Google no longer looks at meta-keywords to rank websites?
These sort of sites are excellent, but there should always be hand-coded primary HTML content that you can optimize even though there’s Flash on the page.
The fact is that SEO optimizing should begin from the moment you lay down the first stone of your website’s foundation.
That’s not to say that an existing site can’t be “fixed,” but you’ll see far more success if you get your website off on the right foot from day one. The tips above focus on how your website is built, and the elements that identify each web page to the world.
In part two, I’ll discuss the actual content of your page and how you can optimize your site without ruining the quality of your content.