SEO seems relatively easy at first, but danger lurks around every corner. One false step and all of your SEO work vanishes into a de-indexing or the dreaded Google sandbox. Early Christians defined the Seven Deadly Sins that one should not commit lest they burn in the fiery pits of hell. In this article, we’ll explore the Seven Deadly Sins of Search Engine Optimization.
Last week, I wrote about SEO and Golf. In that article, we established that both SEO and Golf seem easy at first…until you try them. SEO seems easy because it is comprised of two basic principles:
1. Create a well-written page using a few select keywords and ensure that the page has solid on page SEO (OPSEO) with the use of proper titles and tagging.
2. Create inbound links to that page using the few select keywords as anchor text.
Thus, as we look at the Seven Deadly Sins of SEO today–the common SEO mistakes, we will break them into on-page sins (OPSEO Sins) and off-page SEO sins.
The Seven Deadly Sins of SEO | Common SEO Mistakes
The numerous sins that you can make performing SEO can all get you into trouble. One wrong move and you can go from the page one results on Google to an invisible page 10 or worse, a complete de-indexing of your site in Google.
Ironically, many of these sins are committed because of your level of commitment. In a desire to achieve a high-ranking, you work tirelessly performing the duties that you think will achieve high-ranking. And, in the end, your hard work gets you nothing, or in many cases, less than nothing.
These SEO mistakes are things that you may have overdone or not done at all. This list will help you focus your energies in the right direction, achieving that balance of neither over-performing or under-performing your SEO duties.
OPSEO Sins: On Page Search Engine Optimization Mistakes
#1: Heading Tags, Meta Tags, Images Tags, Titles, and Page Name
There is no excuse to make OPSEO mistakes! This is one area in which you have absolutely control. Every page should have proper Heading Tags (H1,H2,H3, etc.), Meta Tags (especially Meta Description), Alt Tags on Images, Titles, and file names. Each of these should include your keywords for the page. If you commit this sin, you will lose. These are basic OPSEO practices that your competition will implement.
#2: Effective Linking Within Your Site
You cannot always control how others link to you but you can have ABSOLUTE control on how you link to yourself. If you are in a non-competitive keyword arena, effective inter-linking within your site will bring you visitors.
There are many tools which can assist you with effective interlinking within your site. First and foremost, you need to use a sitemap. However, this alone is not sufficient. You should also have a sitemap page (consider the Dagon Design Sitemap Generator). Secondly, you should always have related posts beneath your articles. This will generate positive Latent Semantic Indexing for your pages. Thirdly, you should use a tool that will create automatic links within your posts and pages (read about WordPress Link Plugins for more). Finally, consider the amount of inlinks versus outlinks. Outlinks to quality, relevant sites are not bad. But remember, too many outbound links with few inbound links to a page are not a good thing.
#3: Keyword Usage
You should never write a page without keywords in mind. You may write a great article that nobody will ever find because nobody searches on the terms that you use. I use three tools for keyword research before I write any article that I wish to be popular for search engines: Wordtracker, Google Keyword Tool, and SEO Elite.
These tools will help you choose multiple keywords for your article (don’t go with just one keyword!). Once you obtain these keywords, your goal now is balance–don’t use the keywords too much or too little. If you use them too much, it will be considered keyword stuffing. If you use them too little, the search engines will not take notice. And remember: You want to place your keywords in the heading tags (refer to #1) to let the search engines know that these words are a priority.
Off-Page Sins: Off Page Search Engine Optimization Mistakes
#4: Too Many Links Too Quickly
When someone launches their new website, they are overcome with the energy and enthusiasm to make it great. They read that inbound links are what will get you to the top of the Google results. Thus, they embark on a mission to get lots of inbound links quickly. While they may achieve short term success, their site quickly disappears from the search engines and gets placed in the Google sandbox.
This situation happens all the time. Too many links too quickly is the most common SEO mistake. After putting in so much time, new website owners are left disillusioned and feel hopeless. Thus, they cease their inbound link campaign thinking that they are done for. The site will then die a slow death.
Every new website owner must be in for the long haul. If you’re not, march toward the door marked “Exit”. A website, unless it catches on like wildfire with links from authority sites, takes a long time to succeed. Your inbound links must occur naturally over a significant amount of time.
It requires patience, lots of patience.
#5: Anchor Text Mistakes
In all likliehood, the new website owner mentioned above also committed SEO Deadly Sin #5: All inbound links use the same anchor text.
Remember, Google is seeking patterns that look unnatural. One pattern that is highly unnatural is that everybody links to your site using the same anchor text. If there are no “click here for more information” type of links, then your inbound links will appear unnatural.
Recall from step #3 above, each of your pages should have multiple keywords. Use these varying keywords as anchor text while including some other variations. This will ensure that the anchor text used in your links is natural.
#6: Types of Inbound Links
Your inbound site links should come from a variety of sources with a varying degree of relevance and importance.
Many people create one-site, or multiple sites, to link in to their principle site. This will only achieve a modicum of success and may get you banned entirely on Google. For example, if all of your inbound links come from the same IP address or IP address block, Google will discover this. If all of your inbound links come from shady sources (like paid link farms), or all from page rank 0 sources, Google will also discover this.
Your site may achieve temporary success with sketchy strategies, but your treachery will be unearthed over time. And then you are left with…nothing.
#7: No More Inbound Links/Inconsistent Inbound Links
As mentioned in Step #5, the initial excitement of creating a website causes many to create inbound links to fast. After their site goes into the sandbox, they give up. In fact, this happens to most website owners.
When they give up in defeat, they are not creating any more inbound links. Thus, their place in the sandbox is assured. This is unnatural and inconsisent.
To avoid this fate, implement a consistent strategy for obtaining inbound links.
SEO: The Seven Deadly Sins | SEO Mistakes | Summary
SEO demands adherence to strict rules. It is a delicate balancing act between doing too much and not enough. You must work wisely, consistently, and never give up.
By avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins of SEO, you will avoid the most common SEO mistakes and your site(s) will be well on the way to the first page of Google.