To the average internet user the acronym SEO is just yet another bit of gobbledegook internet jargon tossed around by web geeks and nerds. To some of us web geeks and nerds SEO is the be all and end all of internet promotion. The holy grail of appearing at number one spot on Google is a dream many of us aspire to bring in to reality…but often fall dismally short in Supplemental Hell.
So often the different between getting a good ranking and a bad ranking is down to how you approach the optimization of your site. As with most things in life there’s a right way and a wrong way. Do it the wrong way and you’re looking at a life in Supplementalville, do it right and you get to live on the converted home page bringing in so many visitors you won’t know what to do.
Sidenote: Google’s Supplemental Index are results that it gives when it can’t find anything definite that you are searching for. Web pages in the supplemental index are pages that don’t have enough inbound links for Google to ‘trust’ the page enough to serve it up as a main result.
If you want to get good rankings, then make sure you avoid these top 5 SEO mistakes:
5. Purchasing 5,000 ‘Instant’ Backlinks
More and more webmasters are realising that back links are crucial to search engine domination. The problem with this is that it takes time and effort to generate backlinks, you have to submit to directories, write articles, provide good content, approach link partners…it’s a full time job. Since it’s human nature to find the easy route, the path of least resistance, when we see an advert promising thousands of instant backlinks it’s very tempting to jack in the hard stuff and pay the $100 fee to get all these links.
The problem with purchasing ‘instant’ backlinks is that often you are getting links from unrelated sites that might have dozens – maybe hundreds of other links on the same page. To a search engine, for a new site to get thousands of backlinks overnight is very unnatural and raises a big red flag. They may even suppress the rankings because of this anomaly.
4. Purchasing Submission to 5,000,000 Search Engines & Directories
Following on from purchasing thousands of back links, there are many sites online that promise to automatically submit your site to millions of search engines and directories and even the big three; Google, Yahoo & MSN. The problem here is that 99% of the sites they will submit to are link farms and FFA sites which may have worked 6 years ago, but no longer work with the big search engines.
Not only that, but actually submitting your site to the big three search engines is considered by many SEO experts to be an unwise decision. The general consensus is that it is much better for a search engine to ‘discover’ your site from other sites linking to you rather than submitting your site which has no back links.
3. Linking to Bad Neighbourhoods
The search engines understand that you can’t control who links to you so will not penalize you if a banned site or unrelated site is linking to your site. If they did penalize you then your competitors would set up dozens of bad sites all linking to you to destroy your SEO dreams. However, what the search engines do penalize you for is for links on your site that link into bad neighbourhoods.
For example, you may get a link exchange request from an adult website that has a page rank of 6. Although this would be very tempting if your site is about Golf then the adult site has zero connection with your site. Topics to absolutely avoid linking to are: gambling, adult, pharmacy, warez or anything else illegal or shady.
Sometimes you might get a link exchange request from a site that is on the same topic as your site but their site has been banned from the search engines. If you link to that site, the search engines see it as a ‘vote’ for that site and will penalize your site for it.
2. Keyword Stuffing Your Homepage Using The Tags & Hidden Text
Keyword stuffing used to be a favourite trick of the webmasters back in the late 90’s along with hidden text. Some bright spark realized that you could use the white background and white font colour and stuff your site full of keywords that only the search engine will see. Needless to say this practice was soon made redundant by the search engines. Today some people feel you can do a similar thing but use external CSS to control the font colour. Needless to say the search engines are wise to this too 😉
Webmasters have also cottoned on to the fact that there are many ‘legitimate’ ways they can stuff keywords such as in the alt tag of an image or the title tag of links and header tags. Repetitive use of keywords in these tags will set off alarm bells to a search engine robot and your site will get penalized for it.
1. Writing For Search Engines Instead of Humans
Far too often webmasters are obsessing over keyword densities, the optimum number of words per page, ensuring all their keywords are entered into the text. All too often this can result in text that is disjointed and unreadable for humans – it just doesn’ flow naturally. By writing for the search engine robots you are missing the entire point of your site. If a visitor comes to your site and gets frustrated that your content isn’t making much sense, are they likely to come back? No.
There is a new and growing school of thought that centers around VO, or visitor optimization. The theory goes that if you give the visitor what they want, the search engine rankings will soon follow as your visitors start linking to your ‘excellent’ content naturally from their sites and blogs.