5 Most Common SEO Mistakes
The 5 Most Common SEO Mistakes
I thought there would be sense in providing a consolidated list
of things you most definitely DO NOT want to be doing if you want
a high ranking in the search engines. There are 5 main things that
literally hundreds of thousands of webmasters err on regularly.
With a few little changes they could make a big difference in their
rankings. Below are the 5 most common errors and their solutions
in no particular order.
1. Keyword flooding
Trying to optimize a home page for all possible keywords. Often
you will see Title tags for example loaded with 12+ keywords, where
a webmaster is attempting to squeeze in all his/her keywords on
the home page. A classic example of a little know-how being a dangerous
What generally happens is not one of the 12+ words ever reach a
high ranking for the reason that individually they can never get
the keyword density or repetitions needed in order to rank highly.
This is especially the case for popular terms. I laugh when I see
spammers hiding loads of keywords in long lists, knowing that rather
than improving their ranking they just make it worse!
Less, can mean a lot more when it comes to SEO in this respect.
Focus your home page for a MAXIMUM of three of your top keywords.
If you have a particularly competitive field then make that just
one or two keywords.
Concentrate on just those keywords on your home page and of course
in your title tags. Eg. The ABAKUS home page (root) concentrates
on 3 keyword phrases where it does very well in German searches.
‘Internet Marketing’, ‘Webpromotion’, and
‘Suchmaschinenoptimierung’ (search engine optimization).
A newbie at SEO would also have added ‘Suchmaschinen eintrag’,
‘Suchmaschinenranking’, ‘Suchmaschinen platzierung’
and possibly more keywords to the title tag, and would have tried
to optimize the home page for all the terms rather than spreading
them throughout the site as I have done.
Focus on your top three keywords (hopefully researched properly)for
your home page, keep them to a maximum of three, however if you
are really in a niche market with little competition, it is ok to
go for up to 4 or 5. Try and keep your title tag to less than 7
words and make sure your text copy uses the three terms at least
3 times each. Don’t forget EVERY page is a potential entry
page from search engines so there is no need to cram everything
in on your home page.
2. Header area duplication
It is human nature to be a bit lazy when developing a website.
One of the most common, yet devastating for search engine traffic,
mistakes is when a webmaster uses ‘save as’ to work
on a new content page but forgets to change the non-visible header
area of a page in Dreamweaver or whatever.
I think we’ve all seen these sites. A whole site has something
like ‘widgets-for-sale.com’ in the title on EVERY page.
The meta tags are identical on every page. Only the visible content
is different. Rarely however do separate pages have exactly the
same theme or content. Every page can be optimized for different
keywords whether major or minor and can of course be an entry point
to your site from a search engine. It is such a waste and almost
makes me cry when I see great sites using mydomain.com for a title
on every page.
When developing a site, stick to a pattern. I will normally do
the content first but I always make sure the last thing I do before
moving on to a new content page is to make sure I have not only
the content optimized, but the area as well. You will not find an
identical title tag on my whole website, or meta description for
that matter. Never forget that each page is an entry page and optimize
each to the best of your ability.
Never repeat titles or meta descriptions in a website. Treat each
page as if it were the most important and optimize it thoroughly.
Don’t be tempted to leave the head area without optimization.
3. Unnecessary Framesets
It is now rare that I will see a framed website and believe that
the use of frames in anyway enhances the site, or that it is a practical
necessity for a webmaster. It isn’t so much that framed sites
generally rank lower, it is that few webmasters know how to correctly
optimize them. This might give you an idea of the scale of the problem.
The majority of those 697,000 websites require search engine optimization
as to be honest, their current optimization stinks. Not many of
those sites are going to rank in the top 10 of anywhere. Just to
have in your noframe tag "...browser does not support frames"
Is a great way to never get your website found on a search engine.
Treat the noframe tag content as if it was a text version of your
home page and optimize it as you would a normal website. Very important
also is to link to your framed pages from your noframe area. Also
set should it be found orphaned in a search engine. Normally framed
pages without the frameset, mean no navigation and not displayed
as was initially intended. The following code placed in all framed
pages is one solution and works on the majority of browsers…
<BODY onLoad="if (parent.frames.length==0) top.location='http://www.yoursite.com/frameset.html';">
There are more complex / better solutions which really wouldn’t
for a more complete solution.
Also be aware that you can achieve what a frameset does through
the use of CSS layer positioning, iframes and other methods. Only
use frames if you really, really have to.
If you must use frames, make sure you optimize them properly. Use
the noframe tag properly and thoroughly link to framed pages. On
4. Splash / Flash sites
I often see poorly ranked sites that visually contain a lot of
text… but the text itself is not of the font variety but graphic.
Great eye candy, but forget a high ranking and search engine traffic
if that is the only text on a page. I would say at least half my
clients used to suffer from overdoing graphic text. The main webmaster
culprits for this are (surprise, surprise) adult sites, and also
those targeting young markets where it is believed lots of graphics
and eye candy is what impresses and sells (handy shops, games console
websites, games software sites etc.)
Of course the worst of all has to be the Flash websites that offer
no pure html alternative and the source code looks like the example
I give in my SEO for flash tutorial page… http://www.abakus-internet-marketing.de/en/seo-tutorial/flash.htm
Integrate normal text where you can. You can make text and text
links look great with a bit of css formatting know-how. You do not
need graphic text to make text look attractive nowadays. At least
do not make your pages all graphic text. Leave something for the
search engine spiders to find and index. This also applies to Flash
sites. Rarely does everything have to be a flash object. You can
quite often have text surrounding a Flash object without any negative
Web pages that contain no normal text, or very little text, simply
will not rank highly unless there is a VERY strong link campaign
running. Mix graphics and objects with text. It is really this simple,
No text = No ranking.
5. Keywords not researched
Unfortunately too many webmasters do not really bother using any
of several keyword research tools. There are about 4 or 5 of them.
Most, like the overture keyword research tool, are free. Many webmasters
don’t think they need to use them as they know what their
site is about and don’t need to research the top keywords.
This is a big mistake. Another big mistake is either optimizing
for too niche or too obscure a search term, or going the other way
and going for a very broad term with millions of competing pages
on a new site with a only a handful of incoming links. Both are
common errors and can result in all on page optimisation and off-page
optimisation criteria, through requesting links with the wrong link
text for example, to be a complete waste of time. You either get
too little traffic as you optimized for terms that are rarely searched
for, or you go for the terms with millions of competing pages but
you simply do not have the experience or Pagerank to be able to
The balance is normally achieved through two or three word
phrases in competitive areas and yet don’t have millions of
competing pages. These are found best by cross referencing the several
keyword research databases to be found on the ABAKUS online tools
and through a fair bit of lateral thinking.
Don’t guess your best keywords, know them through
taking the time to use the free tools out there.
Finally one for the road...
When Things Start Getting complicated
If you have a large dynamic online shop, have a large website which
uses a content management system, a website that uses session ids
for guests, or you are not that hot with html/css, then the contents
of any online tutorial or what is on the web, as far as SEO goes,
is unlikely to be enough to help you. In short you need professional
help. My SEO tutorial is fine for static html pages, and albeit
a little short on some of the more propriety methods every real
SEO has and would never reveal, it can and regularly does get high
rankings for those that follow it closely.
However, when you are having to get into mod_rewrites, php path
arguments to flatten urls and other technical measures to optimize
a website there is plenty of room to screw things up. There are
also identical content implications, optimal internal linkage planning
and all kinds of other advanced concepts that someone new or even
experienced in SEO webmasters should outsource.
Of course you may say I’m going to say that anyway as I offer
professional services, but you haven’t had to be the one that
has had to sort out a mess which one client made trying to optimize
their own .asp pages. The whole online shop went down for 3 days
whilst professional .asp programmers came in to sort out the mess.
This is a true story and happened because a beginner wanted to dynamically
create the meta tags for each page himself for the search engines
as he knew a little .asp programming. I kid you not.
Hire me :-)
Well, at least don’t try to do it yourself if you really
are not sure what you are doing and the domain is of high value
to you. You may also risk going over spam thresholds. For the price
of less than your average small banner campaign you could get it
done by a professional.
If a domain is not your standard static html page, is dynamic,
uses session ids, cms etc. save yourself some possible heartache
and get a professional in. At least go for a telephone consultation
before you wade into the code.
About the Author
Alan Webb is CEO of
ABAKUS Internet Marketing, a professional search engine marketing