Top Ten Search Engine Optimization Pitfalls To Avoid

In the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), if you pose the question “How do I get listed on the first page of a search engine?” to several different web professionals, you will get several different answers. Some are correct (for the time being, at least) and many more are wrong. (You will also notice I used the term web “professional” and not web “designer”. Most web “designers” lack any kind of SEO knowledge or practice any sort SEO at all)

High page ranking is NOT an overnight event. Like anything else worth doing, it takes a lot time and effort. The following are some tips we have learned, researched and compiled over the years to help with your web site’s overall ranking. The following are the top ten things to AVOID if you wish to have your website to rank higher.

1. Create All Your “Wording” within Graphics

When you create your navigational bar and web page content within graphics, you are severely limiting how the search engines can index your site. Search engines do not recognize textual content within images. You should really use text-based navigation whenever possible.

2. Design a “Flash Only” web site

At Bower Web Solutions, we get asked all the time to create Flash web sites by our clients and we are certainly more than capable of doing just that. But as we try to educate all our web customers, search engines do not read informational content that is embedded within Flash .swf files so you one should not use Adobe Flash exclusively to build a web site. However it’s okay to have a small Flash animation box or slideshow with a web page of your site providing the rest of the site is programmed using standard HTML code. One should also bear in mind that Flash does NOT display AT ALL when viewed on an Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

3. “Hidden” Text

In the past, one “trick” in producing higher rankings but leave the visual elements of a web site untouched, was to create “hidden” text (i.e. white text on a white background). These days, Google is smart enough to see through this ploy. It is not a matter of “if” but “when” they call you on it, even if it takes a year or two. And Google WILL threaten to blacklist your site if you do not correct the situation.

4. Use Too Many “Keywords”

Using the same “keyword phrase” within the Page’s Title Tag, the page’s Heading, multiple times within the body of the page itself, bolded and underlined, etc. are all examples of “keyword stuffing”. The trick is to make use of “keyword phrases” but to use them sparingly. This is also something that needs to be tweaked and refined over time. “Keyword Stuffing” may result in penalized rankings.

5. Use Too Much JavaScript Coding

Search Engines do not work great with advanced programming such as JavaScript or Ajax. If you use too much of these languages (especially within your nav bar), you may be preventing your text from being indexed by search engines. We try to incorporate text-based HTML along with CSS (Cascading STyle Sheets) within the navigational elements we program whenever possible.

6. Copy and Paste Someone Else’s Text As Your Own

Duplicate content is one of the biggest no-no’s on the web, if you are worried about search engine ranking. This practice will also negatively affect your ranking (and in some cases with you open for legal action). It is always better to create all your text content yourself or use the copywriting services of Bower Web Solutions to do it for you. And since we are aware of what search engines are typically looking for, we can usually do a better job of writing search engine friendly content for you.

7. Link Exchanges

Many times you see a ‘Links’ or ‘Resources’ page on a web site with dozens and dozens of hyperlinks to third-party web sites. Many times these external links have nothing whatsoever to do with the site and probably have been reciprocated on a similar page on the other web site.

Here are the problems:

  • “One Way” links are much more important to your ranking than “Reciprocal Links”
  • Links from web pages containing hundreds of hyperlinks have no value in terms of SEO
  • Search engines think you are trying to pull a fast one on these and beat the system
  • They generally wind up looking unprofessional and just plain ugly to your visitors.

Reciprocal links are okay, just don’t overdo it. Try to limit your link exchanges with relevant organizations and remember, it is MUCH more important who links to YOUR SITE rather than who you link to.

8. Paying Too Much Attention to the “Wrong” Keywords

Often own customers hire Bower Web Solutions to perform SEO work for them, they will tell us they wish to rank #1 in Google for what is known as a ‘short-tail’ keyword phase, which is usually highly competitive. For example, a lawyer may wish to be number when searching for “lawyer”. Do You have ANY idea how many lawyers there are in the state of New Jersey, let alone in the United States?

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it the real word of the web, it’s not that simple. It takes many months (if not years in certain highly competitive sectors)  for any given web site get on the map in terms of SEO. Plus very rarely would most internet surfers search for such a braid term. This is why it is important to pay more attention to “long-tail” phrases, by adding modifiers to the original search terms like “NJ divorce lawyer” or “Family law attorney Paramus NJ”. By focusing on less competitive search terms you can get instant traffic while setting yourself up to compete for more competitive terms in the future.

9. Use The Same Meta Tags Across Your Entire Web Site

When you do this, you are saying to search engines that all your webpages are basically the same so don’t waste your time indexing them. Search engines catalog individual web “pages” and not web “sites”. This is the reason why it is important to have uniquePage Title and Meta Description for each web page of our site.

10. Using Non-Search Engine Friendly Addresses

A Search Engine Friendly (SEF) address or “URL” is a web address a normal human being can understand, meaning that it contains actual words or phrases not a bunch of nonsensical numbers and symbols.

Search Engine Friendly Address:
http://www.bowerwebsolutions/services/design/logo-design/logo-price-packages-nj.php

NOT a Search Engine Friendly Address:
http://somesite.com/?article_id=595

The first example contains words that relate to the content of the page as well as what category the page is in. The next example contains the article id which is of little use to the average reader.