10 Common SEO Mistakes that can Destroy Your Website [Part II]

different   10 Common SEO Mistakes that can Destroy Your Website [Part II]As I mentioned in part one of this series, there are many techniques and “tricks” you can use to edge out the competition in search engine results. However, in the process of trying to be competitive, the last thing you want to do is shoot yourself in the foot with overzealous SEO tactics. In part one, I discussed a few of the top SEO mistakes and a little bit about making sure you use your primary keyword phrase in both your title and your permalink, and make sure that you build your site from the beginning in a way that’s search engine friendly. However, moving forward with your website or blog, you’ll also want to make sure that all new content is effectively optimized to attract the most traffic possible.

Now, when you have to make a living doing this, the only way to survive is by learning what actually creates positive traffic growth. When many people think about search engine optimization, they don’t consider the possibility that by attempting to optimize, you could actually be doing more damage than if you’d done nothing at all. This is because Google has had to deal with unscrupulous characters attempting to “outsmart” the Google algorithm, so now that algorithm is arranged to penalize anyone attempting to use those tactics – whether it’s intentional or not. If you happen to make one of those top SEO mistakes, your website rank will actually drop and you’ll see much less search engine traffic than normal. So how do you avoid those pitfalls?

The following tips will guide you through the process.

SEO Mistake #6 – The Cardinal Sin – Keyword Spamming

There is nothing that Google hates more than a website that attempts to hijack the crawler with an overabundance of particular keyword phrases. You can be certain that if you are targeting the phrase “make money online,” and plaster the phrase all over your article a dozen times (this is known as keyword “stuffing”), you may actually see an immediate short term spike in traffic to that page. However, you can also be certain that in time, not only will that traffic drop off quickly, but your entire domain will struggle to rank very highly (if at all) in Google search results under every keyword phrase you write about. An example of keyword spamming is shown here, from Team-Schuman.

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On this single page, I counted the occurrence of the keyword phrase “make money” a whopping total of 30 times. This approach may achieve temporary success, but don’t be fooled. Before long you’ll be wondering what happened when your site is nowhere to be found on Google. Don’t get me wrong, distributing high-value keyword phrases is essential to quality SEO, but it needs to be done in a measured and careful way.

SEO Mistake #7 – Spamming for Backlinks

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve always preached that you should post on forums and blogs in order to generate quality backlinks to your own site. This is what I described in my recent article on increasing blog traffic when I mentioned engaging the blogosphere every single day. However, simply posting for the sake of achieving a link back to your site is a major social networking no-no. A somewhat humorous example I saw take place was on a MakeUseOf article on how to remove false information about yourself online. It appeared that one of the folks posted repeated comments was trying to hijack the comment area into an area for self-advertising.

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Some folks even “stage” conversations within the comment areas of blogs to generate interest. If your only purpose for posting comments to a blog or forum is to generate a link to your site, don’t bother. It won’t win you any fans within the industry or niche that you’re trying to target, and secondly, the transparency of the effort will make most readers skim right past your comment, or even worse you could get banned.

SEO Mistake #8 – Not Optimizing Images

In 2007, on the Google Webmaster Central blog, Google’s own Ríona MacNamara provided a very important clue to SEO enthusiasts with the statement, “As the Googlebot does not see the images directly, we generally concentrate on the information provided in the ‘alt’ attribute.” So, what does this mean for your SEO efforts? It means that you better start taking advantage of your image alt-text tags if you want to have some advantage over your competition.

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In the example above, this is an upcoming article I’m writing for my blog, FreeWritingCenter. As you can see, the entire phrase that I’m targeting is “writing a research paper,” so I’ve inserted that as the alt-text for my first image. However, you’ll notice that the title is simply a description of the picture itself. You only need to target the alt-text picture tags for your keywords, and only add them to a few pictures, otherwise you’ll run the risk of getting labeled as a spammer. As always – distribute the keywords carefully and sparingly.

SEO Mistake #9 – Producing Stupid, Poorly-Written Content

One of the worst symptoms of black-hat SEO scammers trying to outsmart Googlebot’s crawl algorithm is the evolution of “content-mills.” Now, given just about every blog out there is a content mill to some extent, at least when there’s a certain level of investment and quality checks in place, you know that the articles you read are going to be written using proper grammar, offer a decent style of writing and provide useful content. However, there are countless blogs and writers out there who simply churn out 500 word blocks of text as fast as they can with the hopes of capturing search engine traffic. If you want to see an example, just review any of the major free article directories, such as EzineArticles.

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Now, I’m not knocking EzineArticles. I’m a registered author there, and whenever I need to publish something online quickly and there’s no other place to do it, I’ll publish it there. However, there are countless authors who just publish the first draft of whatever mindless drivel comes out of their heads. There’s no editing, no spell checking and in most cases I’m pretty sure there’s no writing background to speak of. This phenomenon is leading to an Internet that’s cluttered with some of the most atrocious writing imaginable.

What does this have to do with SEO? The SEO lesson to learn here is this: Yes, Google prefers websites and blogs that are fresh and constantly updated with new content, but that doesn’t mean you should ever overlook quality just to get your content published quickly. Focus on producing high-quality, valuable content that people will want to link to and return to again and again.

SEO Mistake #10 – Submitting Your Website

Do you remember the days when trying to get your website noticed online meant submitting your URL to as many search engines as possible? The fact is, these submission forms still exist on many of the major search engines even though they are completely outdated and unnecessary.

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In fact, if you look at Yahoo’s own submission page and read the text carefully, you’ll find that Yahoo makes the case that you’re really wasting your time. The page reads, “The Yahoo! Search index, which contains several billion web pages, is more than 99% populated through the free crawl process.” Now, with 99% chances that the Yahoo crawl process will discover your website (especially if you’ve properly optimized it), do you really think you need to fill out these silly submission forms?

SEO experts unite! What lessons have you learned during your own optimization efforts? Do you have any of your own tips for MUO readers? Share them in the comments section below!

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19 Comments -

Micke

Great articles! Have really helped a lot, have changed my permalinks and gotten some confirmation that I’ve done something right :)

Keep up the good work!

James

You only need to target the alt-text picture tags for your keywords, and only add them to a few pictures, otherwise you’ll run the risk of getting labeled as a spammer.

Fantastic point, that. Why don’t we all start labeling a “few” pictures only on our websites, make it all that much harder for disabled (blind) users to know what they show. ALL!, that’s right I said ALL, images on a web page should have an alt tag. Not only did you make that point showing a complete disregard for web accessibility, but you clearly showed how commited to scripts such as WordPress you are. Design your own website from the ground up, or spend a day in the shoes of someone like me who uses a screen reader because of disability, and you’ll see what a smack in the face it is when you see things like the comment above.

only add them to a few pictures

Ruined the article for me.

Ryan Dube

James, thanks for the comment and the excellent point. However, I’m afraid you misunderstood my point. When a person is using the alt-text field to optimize a site for SEO, they do the following:

(1) Choose a descriptive text for the image that is also a highly-searched for phrase.
(2) Utilize that particular phrase on only a *few* of the images, not every single image.

The point of number two is that if the person discovers that “SEO Tips” is a high-value keyword phrase they should NOT tag all 10 images in their article with the phrase “SEO Tips” – instead they should research additional high-value phrases that are just as descriptive for the images and utilize those for every group of 3 or 4 images.

I would imagine that the advice as I’ve described it above provides a perfect balance between SEO optimization *and* offering descriptive text for images.

I certainly was *not* implying that alt-text keywords should only be used on just a few pictures, and I don’t appreciate the quote being taken out of context.

Thanks.

Nigel

No you should not “alt tag” ALL images. If it is eye candy it should have a null alt attribute. Refer to WCAG 2 (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/#text-equiv) Guideline 1.1 exceptions.

Tony

Gawd, SEO is a head spinner. Once you think that you got the coding stuff down, a new issue arises.

Ryan Dube

I know right? It seems to change as often as Microsoft releases new operating systems. :)

hotdigg

Really impressed with the SEO tips. Better I bookmark this at my site.

Bill Allen

hah, I love #9 just for the title.

Ryan

The keyword spam pages are still so widely used it is amazing that Google does not hand out more Google Slaps on those sites

Jon

I agree with everyting except submitting your website. I think it costs you nothing submitting your website, just once, and it will not hurt your ratings.

GeekyClown

I remember the Yahoo submit your site and remember saying, “Wow! this is completely worthless!” Great article!

Chuck Cochran

Regarding #9. I suppose that I will never rank really high in SEO because of my infrequent posting history. When I prepare a blog post I spend a great deal of time trying to provide something that is very worthwhile at least from my point of view. I really feel like it is a waste of my time when I click on an article and then just get an incomplete general blurb that is not really helpfull to me. I do need to learn that everything that I write should not be a research project but it is difficult to get this mind set in order to help my SEO.

Sterex

@Chuck:
Its great that you do so much research before you post an article. However, SEO has got nothing to do with the frequency of updates to your website (as far as I believe so). I have my blog on wordpress.com. I’ve written about 5-6 articles the whole of this year. Yet, my blog gets about 20-30 visits a day – mainly from Google.

So, I don’t know how valid your argument is. Maybe someone who knows better can shed some light on this?

Ryan Dube

@Sterex – you are incorrect. Frequency/freshness of update is one critical factor of good SEO – but obviously not the only factor. You get 20-30 a day because of any other SEO you do – if you updated your blog more frequenly you’d get significantly more. Any SEO expert worth their salt knows the fresh content part of the algorithm, and frankly those who are unaware of it shouldn’t even be involved in SEO.

Here’s some reading to help get up to speed:

http://www.google-success.com/generating-unique-content-for-seo.htm

“However, only a few get really popular. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing rank sites higher in the SERPs (search engine result pages), if the site has fresh and unique content, apart from other factors such as link popularity.”

http://www.dailyseoblog.com/2009/06/how-does-google-detect-new-and-fresh-content/

“So as far as Google is concerned, fresh content always means first content. Or content that it sees first. And this is the importance of why your new website should be indexed on Google first before you even go ahead and start pumping your content to it”

http://www.cincinnatisearchengineoptimization.com/

Of his top 5 SEO tips:

“Fourth, keep your website’s content updated and fresh.”

I would suggest a class or two on optimization, btw…even local community colleges offer them these days. I would not suggest attacking the advice of an online SEO expert though, until you actually learn more about all items that are factored into Google’s SEO algorithm.

Thanks for your comment.

Sterex

I think you replied to the same comment of mine twice. :-)

Yep. I do understand freshness is one of the many factors. :-)

(P.S: Do answer my query in the comment below. I’d really like to know about targeting SEO for different search engines.)

Thanks!

Ryan Dube

That’s incorrect – if you happened to update your blog more frequently you’d notice your daily visits would increase significantly compared to what you’re getting now. Try it.

I’ve read blog entries from a few self-proclaimed SEO experts who are trying to claim that fresh content doesn’t improve SEO – they are blowing hot air because results prove that frequently updated blogs get better Google traffic by far, and those who say it doesn’t simply (1) don’t know what they’re talking about and (2) don’t understand Google’s algorithm very well.

SEO is more than one factor – as I’ve always told my clients, content is king. Static web pages become stagnant over time and if your competition covers the same niche as you and offers fresh content they’ll win out every time.

Kip

Nice article, with some interesting points. I was unaware of the use of the alt image information, which I will now be fixing on my site (www.evilmunky.com)

Sterex

@Ryan:
Very true. SEO needs content! :-) Thanks for the explanation. And yeah I agree – Competition with newer content definitely ranks higher up.

I have another query. All the SEO tricks mainly target Google’s search algorithm. Does this affect the site’s ‘ranking’ on other search engines? Has anyone done any quantifying research on this?

This raises another question – Should we be bothered about targeting SEO for other search engines at all?

Ryan Dube

Hey Sterex – sorry about the double post, my first one didn’t show up so I entered a new comment..and then the first popped up. lol

Great question btw…you’re right that most SEO folks target Google’s algorithm. Personally, I believe that’s true only because Google still maintains over 70% of the market share – so they have the lion’s share of the power when it comes to driving traffic.

With that said, as of the middle of 2009, Microsoft’s Bing “Decision Engine” shrunk Google’s market share by a little bit – not enough to make a huge difference, but enough to let SEO folks know that we *should* make sure to focus on all of the search engines, not just Google. I know I tend to focus on Google and have to keep reminding myself to freshen up on the other search engines…so you bring up a fantastic point!