Back to Basics: How to Avoid the Five Most Common SEO Mistakes
A little over a year ago, Google’s video on the top five most common SEO mistakes was greeted with derision by a large number of marketers who dismissed the advice as trite and obvious. In a nutshell, Google’s Head of Spam Search, Matt Cutts, said that the top five mistakes were:
To not have a crawlable website.
To write text using different vocabulary to the words that users enter when making a search.
To pay too much attention to building links, and not enough attention to creating good content.
To not focus enough on strong titles and page titles.
To not use take the time to learn about how Google works, or fully understand the point of SEO, or make the most of webmaster resources.
Reading this you may yourself be dismissing this piece as nothing more than “catchy title, empty content”. But in fact, SEO is much like yoga – sometimes it is good to go right back to basics to take a good hard look at your current (messy?) practices and find out where you can tighten up your technique.
The SEO Commandments for 2014
Keep it simple! Your website must have crawlable content. Even if you have the most original, keyword rich text in the world it is not much good if it isn’t readily accessible to readers and search engine ‘spiders’ alike. Keep your layout logical and smooth flowing – this makes it easier for both people and search engine spiders to read. If you have too much going on and users easily lose sight of where they are in your site, the chances are that spiders are getting confused too, and may even be missing pages, leading to a lower SERP ranking overall.
Aim for high quality, readable, relevant, keyword rich content. You want other websites to link back to your pages as clear and authoritative. The more external links from other relevant websites that your site has, the better your SERP ranking will be . Keep refreshing your content too. Get rid of obsolete pages or information that is just plain out of date and replace it with more topical text. Update your blog at least once a month. Remember Wisdek’s copywriters can help you out here – contact us at [email protected] for more information. And don’t forget to publish content on social media too. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and others are becoming increasingly popular ways of searching for information online and search engines are increasingly factoring this into their algorithm.
Optimize page titles and sub-headings so that they accurately reflect page content, rather than the name of the website itself. Use your words wisely, originally, and include keywords where you can since page titles and subtitles affect the SERPs ranking. Think about what a user really wants to know. Think about the words a user will type into the search box. This is the kind of vocabulary you need to include in your page titles and sub-headings.
Links that are embedded in drop down menus and forms also often escape the notice of the search engine ‘spiders’ that automatically crawl the pages. Include the drop down menus by all means, but also make sure that there is another link elsewhere on the page that is written as plain old HTML hyperlink text.
Make sure all your links actually connect to real pages that still exist and actually have content. Search engines do not like empty hyperlinks.
Make sure that all your external links are always to highly professional third party sites. Keep them relevant. The more popular, higher ranked and relevant the third party site is, the better this will reflect on your own site.
Frequently monitor your external links! Although you want to encourage external links as a demonstration of your site’s popularity, poor quality, inbound third party links can damage your credibility ratings. Wisdek’s SEO Detox service will clean your site of those harmful links that are holding you down so that you once again rate high in Google SERPs. But you will need to keep monitoring on an ongoing basis to identify any new bad links and get rid of them before they damage your rankings again.
Including photos or other images and tables will improve the look of your site but may do very little to improve its SERP ranking. Be sure to write captions about your visuals which include hyperlinks that refer back to your anchor text. Search engines can only read text, not images, so you need to explain the context of all of your non-text visuals in captions that are keyword rich, written in HTML hyperlink text, so that the information get picked up by the spiders and the artwork “adds” to the SERP ranking. In this way too, even if the images take a long time to load, the user can read the words and have some idea about what content is coming…
Do your homework! Make the most of all those online resources out there – including Google Webmaster Tools. The more you know about how Google goes about crawling and ranking a site, the better able you will be to improve that site’s rankings. To find out more, go to: www.google.com/webmasters/tools/.
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Tony and Bruna Cooper