Search engine optimization is considered both an art and a science. You can learn it and fine-tune your processes to allow for your own set of SEO best practices. But as a beginner in SEO, you should expect to make a lot of mistakes. But that’s okay: it’s a good way for you to learn.
However, you could also learn from the mistakes of others. Here are the top five mistakes that most SEO beginners commit:
1. Not focusing on content.
Most site owners and webmasters tend to rely on tricks and so-called SEO techniques to get a better ranking on search engines. Because of that, they neglect the content of the site. This is probably the biggest mistake that anybody doing SEO could commit.
Over the years, webmasters have gained artificially high ranking from getting links from link farms, or getting reciprocal links, or spamming DMOZ. There were other black hat and grey hat techniques. But over time, these tactics were found out and their effects on search ranking were downgraded. The latest Panda update brought about changes that should have made it clear to everybody who is into SEO: focus on content.
With great content, there is very little left to do. Great content builds the foundation of higher search engine ranking: relevance.
2. Thinking that all links are the same.
Now that you have great content, it’s time to think about building authority. And the best way to do this is through incoming links.
However, a lot of people think that all links are the same: that a link that comes from another site, no matter where it is, serves to increase your rankings. But sometimes links can hurt your site, too.
Remember that links are the basis for how Google sees your page’s authority and relevance to a certain search term. Get only links from relevant and reputable sites if you want to boost your authority. Links from link farms can hurt your rankings, while reciprocal links have little to almost no value.
It is also important to have a varied link profile. Your links should come from a variety of sites: industry-related pages, discussion forums, other websites, blog comments and more. And then there is the issue of do-follow and no-follow links. Most link builders tell you to concentrate on do-follow links, but having all do-follow links might give you an unnatural link profile.
3. Thinking that SEO is a one-time process.
Most companies get into SEO and think that they only have to do it once and get their high rankings forever. For this reason, they are not willing or ready to make a commitment to their SEO efforts. They do not conduct the proper research, set up initial benchmarks, or even measure their efforts. Some go into piecemeal SEO services, paying for forum links here and directory submissions there, without formulating a sound SEO strategy.
Keep in mind that SEO should be an on-going process for all businesses. Month after month, you should have your own metrics and evaluation criteria to see if you are improving your rankings and see what else needs to be done. Over time, you will get an idea of what works for your company and what does not.
4. Not getting the right keywords.
Keywords are the foundation of any SEO effort, so if you do not target the right keywords from the start, then you are sure to fail.
When determining your keywords, try to put yourself in your customers’ place. What keywords are they going to use in order to find the products and services that you offer?
5. Not paying attention to title tags.
There have been a lot of arguments that basically announce that meta-tags are dead. But the title tag is the best place to insert your keyword as it tells search engines your page title.
BONUS: Specific things to avoid in SEO
a. Over-optimizing your pages. For instance, writing content for search engines, keyword stuffing, and other similar practices.
b. Not investing on a good CMS. Your content management system should be SEO-friendly, meaning it should make it easier for you to do SEO. A lot of CMSes do not allow you to input meta-tags, choose and specify your keywords, or even allow for headings and anchor text! (Editor’s note: our recommended CMS is WordPress, which has a great set of SEO features plus awesome customization possibilities.)
c. Using Flash. It’s true that Google has been able to improve its ability to read Flash, but plain text is much better to use when it comes to indexable content and ease in updating!
d. Having duplicate content. Duplicate content can actually lower your rankings.
e. Not using canonical redirects. By not using a 301 redirect to reconcile two versions of your site (i.e. www.yoursite.com and yoursite.com), you run into a duplicate content problem.
About the author: SEO Inc. is a Search Engine Optimization Company who stays on top of all trends pertaining to Search Engine Marketing, and how it impacts businesses of all sizes. The SEO learning curve can be steep and all of us have made mistakes. Creating the right foundation by learning basic SEO best practices is crucial to avoiding these pitfalls. Connect with Search Engine Optimization, Inc. on Facebook