You want visitors. Visitors mean leads! Why aren’t you getting them? There are lots of answers. The lack of an audience is not one of them. Do you like ray guns? Dinosaur jokes? If the Web has demonstrated one thing, it’s that there’s pretty much no topic that doesn’t have its share of devotees.
If your site’s about a competitive topic (as it is for most businesses), it’s more challenging to rise above the pack, but more rewarding, too. That’s why you have to be extra careful to avoid these seven common mistakes:
Bad Coding: Your site uses outdated HTML or generally wacky code. Examples include using <bold> instead of <strong>, visible HTML tabling, frames and anything else that makes the site look bad. Half the problem comes from search bots failing to properly index your site, since they’re guided by your coding. The other half comes from the fact that bad coding makes your site ugly and slow to load, so people won’t want to stick around.
Bad Titles: Search engines display your titles as links back to your site. If the title says “Index,” that doesn’t tell anyone a thing. Why should they click through? Search engines also give titles a great deal of weight when judging keyword relevance. Don’t stuff your titles with keywords but don’t avoid using them, either.
Black Hat SEO Nonsense:Invisible links and keywords! Keyword stuffing! Auto-generated doorway pages! They all suck; Google likes to kick offenders several hundred positions back, if not ban them entirely. Nowadays, major search engines have very smart bots, capable of identifying human-generated content and appropriate keyword density. Don’t annoy them.
No Web 2.0: If your site doesn’t have any social media tools or connections, it’s automatically at a disadvantage. Get a blog, at least. Add buttons that let your visitors report interesting content to social aggregators like Technorati and Digg.
Too Much Flash: Bots can’t read Flash. Maybe they’ll be able to some day, but for now Flash is programming code (as opposed to simple markup) that doesn’t display its content (what you see) in any bot-readable fashion. For SEO purposes, using Flash on a page is like tossing it in the trash — most of the time. This article shows you a workaround that adds readable content to a flash page. (Hint: The solution is basically, “Put HTML on the same page.”)
Your Content’s Boring: You can have the most technically search-optimized site in the world, but if real people don’t want to read any of it, it will never improve by much. Search engines want sites that people want to visit. Ethical SEO is as much about increasing this “organic” appeal as good coding.
You Copied Your Content: Search engines prefer original content. If bots see virtually identical blocks of text they credit whatever page they think was the original and downgrade the rest. The black hat technique known as “scraping” steals other site’s content, but it never works like the original. You don’t have to be a scraper to make this mistake though. If you bought most of your content from a prefab source or through an affiliate scheme you’ll suffer the same problems. This isn’t just for text, either. Copied design elements aren’t rated as highly either.