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Search Engine Optimization – 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Every website, large small and in between needs traffic. There is absolutely no point in having the best looking, most interesting website in the world if nobody ever visits it. Your aim is to get a steady stream of visitors to your website and transform them into customers. To get the steady stream of visitors to your website, you need to make sure the website is visible to the search engines. This process is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Failure to attend to search engine optimization is the equivalent of opening an amazingly decorated, well-stocked shop and keeping the blinds down and the door locked.

Search Engine Optimization sounds as if it should be a task best reserved for a specialist. It is, however, something all webmasters should tackle as a matter of course. The first time webmaster will probably not have a natural ability to send his website to the top of the search engine lists in a matter of days. He should, however, do sufficient optimization to ensure that nothing on his website is actually working against his success with search engines.

As a first step in the search engine optimization of your website, check to make sure you are not making any of these common mistakes.

1. Failing to use the right keywords. Take advantage of the tools available online to research the right keywords for your website. You need to have keywords real visitors will be searching for. An example of good keyword/bad keyword is an airline using the keyword phrase “low cost tickets” when its visitors would be searching for their product using the words “cheap flights”.

2. Keyword Spamming. If you use the same keyword too many times, there is a danger the search engines will consider this to be spam and will penalize your website accordingly. Keyword spamming can relate to phrases used in your website meta tags as well as to the anchor text on your website.

3. Keyword Stuffing. This is similar to keyword spamming. The offence is frequently found in “alt” tags where the website owner places keywords in the tags instead of an accurate description of the graphic.

4. Using Keywords Unrelated To Your Website. Inserting popular keyword search phrases that have nothing to do with your website content into your meta tags is a sure way of getting dumped by the search engines.

5. Using Hidden Text. Unscrupulous webmasters have been known to repeat keywords on backgrounds the same color as the text so that the words are invisible to visitors but will be read by the search engines. Newsflash: search engines are not stupid enough to fall for this trick.

6. Using minute text. This is a variation of using invisible text. Instead of making the text and the background the same color, the text is reduced to a size too small to be read by human visitors. Adding a string of tiny keywords does not work, the search engines can recognise when keywords are being used naturally and not just placed on a web page in a list.

7. Having broken links. Make sure you regularly check all links on your web pages. A bad link is a sure way of upsetting the search engine bots when they come to visit. If you are marketing affiliate products, keep an eye on the links to the vendors’ sites. When you delete of move things on your website, remember that one small change can have all sorts of repercussions if your housekeeping results in a broken link on another page.

8. Not Using Alt Tags. The search engines cannot see graphics, they rely on text. Therefore, you should use an “alt” tag for every image. The tag should accurately describe the image. The “alt” tags are also beneficial to blind or partially sighted visitors who rely on audio assistance to “see” your web pages.

9. Not Using All The Meta Tags Correctly. Make sure you use each and every recognised meta tag and use them correctly. Search engine fashions are subject to change: at one time the “keywords” meta tag was vital, then the experts told us Google no longer relied upon it. Have all your tags properly completed in readiness for them coming back into fashion. Also remember that what one search engine ignores, might be vital for listing by other search engines.

10. Using Free Hosting. Free website hosting might be perfectly adequate for a hobby website but it will not impress the search engines. The search engines look at where your site is hosted. They also take note of the length of time for which your domain is registered. A professionally hosted site with a domain name which is registered for two years or more will be given greater importance than a site hosted free with a domain name registered for only one year.

These mistakes can all be rectified very simply. Don’t be afraid, search engine optimization is much easier than rocket science and assistance is readily available. There are plenty of resources online to help you understand what is required and there are also resources to help you check that your optimization efforts are taking you in the right direction. Many of these resources are free.

About Emma G.

Working in the marketing industry since 2002. This blog is one of my hobbies.