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.
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.
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 RÃona 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.
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.
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.
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!