Five Common SEO Mistakes You Might Be Making

Using Duplicate Content

There’s no question, human-readable text on a web page is one of the best ways to let search engines know what your site is all about.  Understandably, most creative-types want very little text on their home pages; they want only images of their work (photographs, illustrations, products, etc.) to appear.  The issue is that the engines can’t “see” what that image is all about, so text is absolutely necessary in order to achieve high rankings.  Don’t be tempted to make your text the same, or even very close to, the color of the page’s background.  That tactic will get you penalized.  Very simply, write well-written copy and get it on your home page.

Over-Optimizing Your Web Pages

This is one that gets a lot of SEO beginners in trouble.  They’ve read some of what needs to be done and go at it full force, but all the while not knowing when enough is enough.  The search engines regard an over optimized page quite negatively.  Even experienced SEO professionals encounter this; it mostly happens when search algorithms change and what used to be an acceptable level of optimization is suddenly deemed too much.

Having No Internal Link Strategy

Many people don’t realize that an important search signal the engines use to determine how your site will rank is what’s commonly called “visitor bounce rate.”  Think of the search engine having a stopwatch that starts when someone leaves the Search Engine’s Result Page (SERP).  That ‘stopwatch’ keeps track of how much time the visitor spends visiting your site and how many pages they’ve visited.  One effective way to increase “time spent on site” and decrease your site’s “bounce rate”, is to “funnel” the visitor to an internal page of your site with strategically placed links to perhaps offers for free information (a call to action) or some other information residing on an internal page of your site.

Not Building External Incoming Links

Almost everyone has heard that Google’s Panda update was primarily aimed at spammy incoming links some sites were utilizing in order to manipulate their ranking.  Panda hit hard and spooked many into thinking that all incoming links are bad.  The fact is this:  links from credible, relevant, and informational external sites are still permissible and won’t get you in SEO trouble.  The key is to build your links slowly and legitimately.

Here are several criteria that will help you to gauge what might make a site safe to link to your site from.  First, the credibility check:  is the content on the site well written, informative, and non-spammy?  Next, the relevance check: does the site cover information that is related to the content on my site?  And finally, the site’s informational quotient:  is someone likely to visit the site, read what’s there, and click a link to my site?  There is no solid rule for what makes a good incoming link, but we pretty much know that a page of solid links to many, many websites is obviously a link farm and can cause you trouble.  Approach directories with caution, some are extremely dangerous, especially ones that are overly broad in covering many industries, professions, or topics.

Last, Thinking You Can Set it Once and Forget It

SEO is ever evolving.  What worked just six short months ago likely includes at least some methodology that is changed today.  This is one reason my many reputable SEO consultants offer monthly maintenance (we at GO-SEO call it monitoring) as an option after they’ve completed the optimization of your site.  If you’re doing your own SEO, keep track of how your site is ranking and if it starts to drop you’ll need to dig in and find out what’s changed.

To conclude

These are just five of the most common mistakes people have shared with me at my SEO seminars and during my discussions with potential SEO clients.  Hopefully they’ll help you avoid some pitfalls in your SEO efforts, good luck!

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