Visibility is Key for your business. Search engine visibility brings more visitors and more revenue.

Top Ten List of Silly SEO Mistakes, Stumbles & Blunders

Copyright © June 29, 2006 Mike Banks Valentine

Web business owners commit some SEO & ranking gaffes, sometimes without even knowing what they’ve done. In the manner of a Letterman top ten list, I’d like to offer the worst in the hope that I can prevent you making the same mistakes. The laughtrack is provided by SEO’s who understand the humor in these mistakes and see slapstick silliness in similar client mistakes every day.

Silly SEO Mistake #10)
Removing a page from your site which gets 20,000 search engine referred visitors a day because, “It’s time to change focus and concentrate on our core specialty.” < laughtrack >

Capture those visitors with a “301 permanently moved” redirect and SEND them to your core specialty pages. Answer their questions about that missing page and sell them on a better solution. Removing any, even moderately trafficked page, is bad practice. You do KNOW that page gets 20,000 visitors a day because you saw it in your WebTrends report, right?

Silly SEO Mistake #9)
Not paying attention to web traffic analytics data because, “I forgot my login and password” < laughtrack >

Worse, you don’t have an analytics program or service because traffic data takes too long to analyze or isn’t easy to understand. If you are a one man band – LEARN and USE a web traffic analytics program, as it is essential to web business success. If you have employees, make it the job of one person to study that data and understand where traffic is coming from and how it converts to business. Analytics software price is not an issue – Google Analytics is free and it integrates and tracks all PPC conversion and ROI data.

Silly SEO Mistake #8)
Never searching for your own stuff in search engines for the most important generic keyword phrases representing your product or services because “We’re number one in the pay-per-click-ads.”

We have the top position in PPC – so there’s no reason to rank in organic listings. Your searches are intended to find out how you are ranking against your competitors in organic listings – which are FREE after you’ve paid an SEO to gain top positions. The PPC ads stop sending traffic as soon as you stop paying. Once the SEO specialist has gained top ranking for your site, you needn’t pay them ongoing high fees – you are done and the traffic is now FREE. PPC can continue in areas you can’t gain organic listings in or to supplement those top ranking phrases.

Silly SEO Mistake #7)
Using embedded text links that read, “Click Here” and link to your most important products information or sales pages because you think people won’t understand that those underlined product names are links to the products. < laughtrack >

If your site commits this silly mistake, invest the time to correct it immediately site-wide because that internal linking structure can have a significant impact on ranking for your most profitable products or services. Keywords in embedded hyperlinks are a crucial factor for ranking for your targeted keyword phrases. The same is true of external links from partners, press releases, articles and shared content linking to your site. Get those hyperlinks fixed. You aren’t trying to rank well for “Click Here.” Resist the temptation to use cutesy trademarked names like “x-pense trakker” instead of proper spellings unless you’ve committed millions to major media branding campaigns.

Silly SEO Mistake #6)
Using gorgeous stylized text on image gif links as your site navigation. Heck, even ugly stylized image based text as site navigation. < laughtrack >

Gif images, especially javascript image swap navigation or flash navigation is one of the worst things you can do for your site ranking over the long term. Taking a hint from SEO stumble #7 above, use text based hyperlinks for your site navigation. The words appear on every page of your site and the embedded links lead to your most important pages, telling the search engines precisely what is on those pages you link to. Try to be more creative with text descriptions than “Products” or “Solutions” and use product descriptions or service names.

Silly SEO Mistake #5)
Tweaking your site to rank well on MSN search (between 1% to 15% of referred search traffic) or Yahoo search (between 5% & 20% of referred search traffic) without regard to Google referred traffic numbers (between 50% & 80% of referred search traffic) because “MSN is my favorite search engine.” < laughtrack >

If you are in business to make money, you shouldn’t be making business decisions based on your preferences over what your largest customer base chooses. Right now Google gets about 60% of all searches performed and if you are checking that web traffic analytics software from SEO blunder #9 above, you are very likely to see the pie chart for referral traffic at about 50% (most sites see 70% or higher) from Google searches.

Silly SEO Mistake #4)
Having the secretary (who hates her job) provide headlines through the content management system because, “That’s why I paid so much for the CMS software – so it would be dimwit-secretary-easy to manage the content.” < laughtrack >

You are the dimwit if you don’t have an important employee, trained in SEO basics, input new articles, white papers and product descriptions. That task will determine your search engine ranking for the life of your web site on every topic that Sally (I-hate-this-company) Secretary adds to the site. Train your content manager in SEO basics of keyword density, position on page, headline writing, internal linking structure and word order issues.

Silly SEO Mistake #3)
Not having a sitemap because, “it’s too much trouble to add every new page manually” or because Sally (I-Hate-My-Job) Secretary fails to tick the little “Sitemap” box in the CMS software as she adds the page with a bad title to the site. < laughtrack >

Sitemaps are not often used by visitors to most web sites, but are critical to indexing crawlers and search engine ranking of new pages. Is it possible to make a sitemap visitor friendly? Take a look at:

Silly SEO Mistake #2)
Using the same title and description meta tags for every one of your 50,000 pages, because your company name and tag line “ACME Products are the Best of the Rest” is snazzy and you like seeing that across the top of the browser window from every page. < laughtrack >

Title and description meta tags are the most valuable real estate on any web page and should address the content of specifically what is on THAT single page. Web sites are NOT about branding, but about selling or gathering leads after someone has come to your site. Your tag line will not bring search engine traffic looking for product or service details.

Silly SEO Mistake #1)
The number one SEO stumble and blunder is … Having your website redesigned by a top web development company for a “fresh new professional look,” (that slick web development sales person), changing all the filenames and site directory structure! < uproarious laughtrack > < wild applause >

Either keep old filenames and site directory folder structure in place or use “301 permanently moved” redirects to new pages from all previous pages. I did this for a small client who quickly went from reasonably well placed in the search results – to the very top of the charts for all his important search phrases. Of course, we consulted on file and directory naming conventions and SEO friendly page design options during the redesign process. One smart client.

Mike Banks Valentine operates SEOptimism, Offering SEO training of in-house content managers as well as contract SE
O for advertising agencies, web development companies and
marketing firms
. Content aggregation, article and press release optimization & distribution for linking campaigns.

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  • kameir November 29, 2006, 6:34 pm

    Well done list 🙂