Thursday, 1 March 2012

Stop making these 10 SEO mistakes!!!

So it’s still fresh into the New Year and you want more organic traffic now! Not yesterday, not next week and certainly not in three months. You have been reading for weeks on how best to implement SEO into your strategy so that you can spend less on paid advertising. It all seems so easy and clear in mind! You just can’t wait to get started!

Now fast forward four weeks...Really, it all seemed so easy and clear in mind. You would follow some SEO strategies and viola! you would jump to the top of Google and Bing for your selected keywords. But in reality, you have increased your ranking, but you are still on page 2 or maybe on the bottom of page 1.

As you are reading this, do this simple thing: stop for a moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath and repeat after me “every person before me doing SEO has been in this same situation and the answer to my problems is in this blog post”.

Seriously, we’ve all been where you are right at this moment. And because of that, we’ve made all the mistakes so we can easily fix SEO woes. Below are the 10 most common SEO mistakes I regularly see as well the best ways to fix them.

1. Are you tracking which phrases are really converting?

Would you rather have 100 visitors converting at 100% or 10,000 visitors converting at 0.5%? It’s not always the amount of traffic that is important, but the conversion of your traffic.

Often you are wasting your time going for the super-competitive, high traffic keywords. You simply don’t have the time and resources to out-SEO established websites in competitive keywords. Therefore, search for keyword phrases with much lower competition that you can indeed rank 1, 2 or 3 for and are known to convert.

2.    Are you optimizing locally or globally?

If you are trying to optimize your website for local traffic in your city or region, did you know that Google and most other search engines handle those searches differently than global searches?

The best approach is to include region or city specific keywords in your content, page titles and meta-tag descriptions. As well as in the image file name and alt-text. Don’t keyword stuff your website, but make it clear that your site is located in city X.

In addition, on each page in either your header or footer you have your address and local phone number. It is important that this address and local phone number exactly match the address and number you have on your Google Places page. If you have not already set up accounts at local based sites and review networks, I recommend at least signing up at Yelp, Merchant Circle and FourSquare with this same exact address and local phone number.

3.    Are you optimizing for the correct keywords?

This is one of the most common and serious blunders SEOs make. They let their imagination and dreams get ahead of them. Thus they try to optimize for:

• Global keywords, when you only offer services to local customers
• Generic keywords that attract visitors who have no interest in what you’re offering
• Keywords that only bring in visitors looking for free information, not prospective customers who are interested in buying something
• Broad keywords that have lots of competition, maybe with several SEO experts working full-time to defend the first page ranking

At this stage in the game for you, it is best to be as specific as possible and start with a very specific target niche or location. Don’t try to conquer the whole world at once. Did you see the Social Network movie about Facebook? Facebook didnt conquer the world overnight. They started with Harvard, then moved to surrounding colleges and then even colleges further out. While they have indeed had fast growth, they did start with one very specific target group.
You should be doing the same thing. Start to optimize for a very specific niche and it’s related keywords or your local city. Once you start ranking well, you can expand. This will directly increase your conversions because you will be giving the correct people the exact information they want.

4.    Are you using unique Title Tags and Meta Descriptions?
Often SEO rookies (and even intermediates) will use the same title tags and meta description on each page; such as their companies name and no other information. This is such a damaging technical mistake.
Every page should have a unique title with a focus on the keyword phrase that page is targeting. And this is not just for SEO purposes; this is the era of tweets and sharing pages on Facebook. Hence you need correct descriptive info in your title tag and meta description because this is what people will read when your page is shared via social networks.
For example, lets imagine the portfolio of a web designer in Miami, Florida. Their main homepage keyword phrase is “Miami web design”. Then other pages in their portfolio could focus on more specific services that are popular queries.

•    Homepage title: XYZ Web Design Studio | Miami, Florida
•    Second page: WordPress Customization | XYZ Web Design Studio
•    Third page: Custom Template Design | XYZ Web Design Studio
•    Fourth page: eCommerce Website Design | XYZ Web Design Studio

As you can see, you can carry your company name throughout your pages while focusing on specific keywords that are specific to each page. Just put it at the end. General rule of thumb is Keyword Phrase | Company | Location but keep in the mind the limit of characters in a browser.
Meta descriptions are also important. They are a 160 character sales pitch for your page within search results.

So, make each one as unique and persuasive as possible. Your homepage and each page throughout your site should include a custom meta description that will make people want to click on your listing in search results, as well as include relevant keywords. For example:

•    Homepage description: XYZ Web Design Studio offers web design services for small businesses, including WordPress customization, custom template design, eCommerce in Miami, FL.
•    WordPress customization page: XYZ Web Design Studio offers WordPress customizations, including custom WordPress template design, Thesis theme customization, and more in Miami, FL.

5.    Are you using Anchor Text for Internal Links?

How do you think the search engines know what a link is about? In large part, it has to do with the anchor text for that link. So when you are creating internal links around your website, be sure to include specific keyword anchor text instead of uber-vague words like “click here” or “read now” and things like that.

For example, when you write your next blog post, and you want to link to your e-commerce services page, make the anchor text “ecommerce website design services” or something along those lines. If you absolutely must have a call to action, try to at least include some relevant keywords in the link. For example, “click here to read more about our ecommerce services in Miami.”
6.    Are you improperly using the same anchor text for all your backlinks?

Google and the rest of search engines have rapidly gotten much smarter over the last few years. While you definitely want keywords related to your website in your anchor text, you do not want the same keywords for all your anchor text.
This not only looks goofy to readers, but the search engines will definitely think you are trying to “juice” they system.
Mix it up with a variety of keywords, your URL and maybe even a common misspelling sometimes. You want it to look as natural as possible. A good rule of thumb is to not use the same keyword more than 50% of the time.

7.    Are you focusing on backlink quantity at the expense of quality?

Like I said in number 6, the search engines have gotten insanely smarter that last few years. One link from popular blog in your niche or local area will do more for your website than tons of low quality links from unrelated websites. Yes these niche or local links are a little harder to get, but the benefits are exponentially better.
In summary, focus on getting links that are:

•    Relevant to your website by niche and/or location
•    Are not on websites which predominately only have lots of other outbound links
•    And definitely do not contain links to adult, pharmacy or gambling sites.
We recommend using quality links from a reputable source such as Linkvana or SEOLinkwheelers

8.    Are you using low quality content?

Listen up...this is 2012. Your viewers have an infinite amount of websites to get quality information on your topic. Thus you need to provide timely and relevant high quality content to your readers. There is simply too much competition to cut corners and skimp on quality content.

It is ok if you are not a good writer. Head on over to Elance or Odesk and find a quality writer. Don’t just take the cheapest writer. But do your research and find a good one. Ask for samples and ask what other websites they have written for; basically ask lots of questions. And once you find a quality writer, be sure to keep them and develop a relationship so they understand your goals and website better. There are plenty of quality writers available if you simply take a few minutes and search for them.

9.    Are you creating content people even want to link to?

The blunt reality of link building is sometimes the most well written content still doesn’t get links.

If you want people to link to it, you need to make it exceptionally valuable to your readers. The most popular types of content to receive links are top lists, video or text tutorials, and infographics.
For example, our fictitious web design company could publish blog posts on their site like:

•    Top 109 Best Designed eCommerce Websites
•    How to Quickly Setup Widgets in WordPress
•    A History of Web Design & Photoshop [Infographic]

10.    Are you using an old boring website design?

If you have a unique and interesting website design, there are hundreds of CSS and other design galleries what will link to your website simply because they like the design of your website. You can also look for blogs that do reviews of great designs in particular industries and ask if they will add your website to their list as well.

No, these visitors from these links won’t add to your conversion rate. But these quality links will help your organic ranking which will drive more quality traffic to your site, which will then increase your conversions.

In summary, I hope this list has opened up your eyes to a few things and eased any fears or SEO nightmares you might have been having. The fact that you are working on your SEO puts you ahead of quite a few other people. So with a little more work and tweaking, you should soon be ranking well in the appropriate keyword phrases.

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