(Ping! Zine Issue 68) – I have been witness to many clients interested in SEO, but their mild interest in this field makes them a ticking time bomb for SEO implementation and website success. If we can further educate individuals on the SEO pitfalls, tips and techniques, we will be creating a more educated market base. My hopes here are to help deliver a general overview of SEO.
Picking incorrect keywords – Some people tell me, “How can I pick the wrong keywords if I am aiming for a specific target or product?” This is an oversight a number of individuals, even SEO companies take lightly. Individuals may try to create powerful and creative keywords and think that by doing so they are helping their website or webpage, but in this case the typical user that is searching, might never type their selected keywords, and thus never find their website. For example, let’s say that you have created a website where people can purchase used sports equipment. “Used Sports Equipment” might not be the best keyword phrase you should target, even though it contains what your site is all about. “Sports Equipment” or “Exercise Equipment” would be the better keyword targets to go after. Chasing after the best keywords is certainly a giant factor in determining if your SEO campaign is a success or failure. Having an inventive idea is the one thing, but using that idea to its full potential should be your primary objective. Don’t be afraid to use keyword tools like, Word Tracker (previous 60 days of information), Google Adwords: keyword selector, and MSN Adlabs. Remember when you do this though; some specific searches are seasonal like, electric heaters in winter time, barbeques for the summer, and so on. Remember to always perform a competitive analysis to stay with and above the competition.
The lack of an effective Title tag – The Title tag tells a browser what text to display in the browser’s title bar, and they are really crucial when wanting to please the search engines. This is one of the most important components from a search engines perspective because this pretty much tells them what your page is all about. There are a few common mistakes individuals make when it comes to Title tags.
One, they are all together missing. Some web pages plainly do not contain Title tags. If this is the case, they are not allowing the search engines to gather critical data to determine what the subject of your page really is about.
Two, they have a Title tag, but it is in the incorrect place. This tag should be placed directly beneath the <HEAD> tag and should have constructive keywords within it. There should be around 40 to 60 characters in the middle of the <TITLE> and </TITLE> tags (this should include spaces as well) and you might even duplicate your most important keyword more than once, but not too much to indicate spamming.
And Three, they have a Title tag, but it is simply weak. If the Title tag is not created with the right specific keywords, you are basically wasting your time because you will not receive the result you are truly looking for.
Tell the Flash to take a hike – If you are one of the many people that have a Flash intro to your website, I recommend that you tell Flash to take a hike. In other words, keep it off of your site. I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to about this and a majority of these individuals have said this does nothing, but irritate them when they arrive to a site with Flash. To me, it is sort of like watching fireworks, its fun and exciting, but after awhile of watching the same thing, it gets old and I want to leave. Don’t get me wrong, Flash animation at times makes sense, but for the most part it’s pointless. There are a lot of Web Designers that create elegant Flash animations within their homepages with the simple hopes of catching an eye or two. This hardly ever contains helpful text for indexing. So to those individuals, who insist on placing Flash within the most critical pages of your website, know that your page is practically insignificant from a search engine standpoint. And if you do not pay attention to what the search engines are looking for, your website will be practically invisible to them. If you are still in love with Flash, and you would like the search engines to acknowledge it, you should definitely offer an html edition. There is a reason why search engines are not in love with Flash sites and that reason is simple, the spiders can not interpret Flash and can’t take the information from your site back to be indexed. Don’t forget that you are dealing with constructed algorithms so you must work with them or you will not be able to help your site grow.
Do not forget about your site! – There are certain individuals that assume once you optimize a website, you don’t have to do anything to it ever again. That’s ok if you are not considering moving up within the search engines or if you just constructed your website to be a profile page or site. But if you are aiming for success and would like to see your website grow within the web and climb in the search engine rankings, you must constantly be optimizing your website. Be sure to watch your competitors and recognize what they are doing to their sites. If they do something that boosts their ranking, take note of what that was and build on it.
Do not use an Image for your Heading – A number of individuals assume that an icon or another image looks more presentable than well defined text for their headings and menus. I agree, an image has the potential of making your website appear unique, but remember, from an SEO and a search engines perspective, it is a huge fault for the simple fact that h1, h2, etc tags as well as menu links are imperative SEO items. If you’re not satisfied with how your h1, h2 tags look, maybe you should edit them within a style sheet or think about another option all together.
Don’t ignore your URL – Individuals undervalue the importance of a great URL string. Though it is likely to have your page rank well without placing your selected keywords within your URL, if you place your selected keywords within your URL, this will give your page a little extra lift over the competition. Placing your keywords within your URL’s is more imperative when you are optimizing for MSN or Yahoo!, but still a good idea when optimizing for Google as well, so be sure to place a keyword or two within your URL (if you can).
Fill your content with keywords – After you have established exactly which keywords you will be using, be sure to adjust the content of your page to relate accordingly to them. You will most likely want to place your keywords where it seems relevant. Your page should have a natural flow to it. Do not stuff your content so full of keywords that it is unreadable and might be considered as keyword stuffing (which is frowned upon by search engines). You should also try creating them in bold characters or even highlighting them to make them stand out to the naked eye.
Link a Go go – Links are important and possibly the most important feature of SEO. Stay away from free-for-all links pages, reciprocal links, links from spammy sites and as a general rule of thumb it is best to look at a inbound link strategy that is multi-fold. This means have an inbound link strategy that looks natural, includes many different types of links and again…. LOOKS natural.
Search engines are always changing. I like to constantly test the search engines, as do my employees. Google, Yahoo and MSN will never give us an outline on how to rank #1 within their search engines so as a professional search engine marketer we must test the engines, test theories and keep up on our industry daily. The tips listed above are a solid baseline for beginners and a great guideline for people looking for SEO services.
Writer’s Bio: John Satter is the Director of SEO at HybridSEM.com and is a pioneer in approaching SEO and online marketing with our signature Hybrid approach. At HybridSEM we forge old and new school SEO together to maximize our clients ROI. Check out our blog at www.hybridSEM.com/blog