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Top SEO Mistakes Part I of II

SEOYou might be wondering why after all the talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), we’re writing yet another best practices-type article about SEO.  It’s because we still see so many common SEO mistakes and want to take the opportunity to remind developers and marketers that sometimes the most simple things are the most overlooked, and you might be surprised that these same mistakes are still being made, perhaps by you.  Here are the first 5 of our top 10 SEO mistakes.  Our next newsletter will cover the other 5.

(Note: This list is only about organic SEO, not paid or sponsored SEO).

1.  Not having a SEO strategy – the most important part of SEO is having a good strategy in place. A strategy or plan should be drawn up before too much time and resources are invested into SEO, in other words, in the beginning.  Identify your goals and lay out the SEO pieces you want to spend time and money on, giving descriptions and the steps of each in as much detail as possible.  Make sure time, budget, and human resource allocation is included in your strategy, as well as an ongoing maintenance plan.

2.  Not using keywords (or the right keywords) in the text - believe it or not, words are still not given the credibility they deserve.  People get so caught up in design and functionality (which are obviously important!), and seem to run out of steam when it comes time to populate the site with relevant verbiage.  BUT search engines still find out the most valuable information about you based on your words, so please give them their due and avoid these mistakes in the process:

- Not doing proper keyword research – use keyword finding tools like Google Keyword Tool to help you select the proper keywords.

- Keyword stuffing/overusing keywords – this mistake can cause you to get blacklisted by search engines.  Do not overload your content or meta tags with too many keywords and of every variation.  Keywords should be used in a coherent context, i.e. within sentence structure or in short titles.  Hint: if your human visitors love your content, so will search engines.

- Neglecting branded search terms – don’t forget that people may find you by searching for a particular brand or branded terminology relevant to what you offer, so make sure you include those products or brands in your content rather than just the generic name.

- Not using keywords in your URLs – make sure your URLs contain keyword rich content.

3. Forgetting or using the wrong title tags – page titles or title tags, are the first things search engines see as they crawl through your website.  This valuable SEO real estate should tell what the page is about.  Using a generic word like “Home” on your home page title tag doesn’t tell search engines anything about what you offer.  Use keywords in your title and make title tags unique to each page (do not use the same title tags for every page throughout the site).  For example, if you sell sunglasses and have a page specific to a type or brand, the title tag should call that out.  You may have a page for polarized sunglasses; therefore you would want to include the keywords “polarized” and “sunglasses” in your title tag.

4. Choosing images over text to get the message across – as you know by now, search engines glean information about you from your text, and generally not graphics.  Find the balance between the use of Flash and content and make sure optimal keyword locales, like titles are not images.  Use images where you NEED to, text when you can, and if you have to use a lot of Flash, make sure you have an HTML version of your website so that it’s not excluded by search engines.

5. Ignoring social networking – SEO isn’t just website exclusive, there should be an SEO element in everything your company does online, including social media.  Search engines are content driven, so anywhere you promote your brand, products and services (using keywords) on the internet count for you and can also provide good inbound links to your website, but be sure to make regular updates.

There are a lot of pieces that can go into SEO; there is no magic bullet, so try different things together.  Start with a good strategy and once you’ve implemented some SEO tactics, give it time and be patient – don’t switch tactics every 3 days, though after a while, obvious adjustments/changes will need to be made.  Good, effective SEO is well thought out, takes time, is methodical, and may require some trial and error.  SEO is ongoing, always needs maintenance and should be given the resources and investment to keep it up and keep it relevant.  Check out Part II of Top SEO Mistakes.

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