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SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is always of the highest importance for most businesses with a presence on the web, and rightly so; good search engine visibility and Google rankings are the backbone to success on the Internet. Sometimes however, people tend to go that step too far, either through bad advice from specialist SEO companies, or just by becoming so caught up with optimization that they neglect the core principles of web usability. Here’s five of my own SEO pet hates, that inhibit the general performance of your site more than they benefit your precious Google ranking.
Stuffing your title with keywords
<title> element is the SEO’ers most cherished tool, as it’s the item Google takes the most notice of when crawling a web page. Including important keywords in the page title is a good move for bumping up your website rankings for your desired keywords but don’t forget what the title element is actually for – describing the page content. Some people stuff in every keyword and phrase they can think of, which ends up looking more like a Thesaurus entry than actually providing any useful information.
Remember that the title element is seen by the user when viewed in the search engine results page, so make it short, concise and enticing.
Littering your body text with keywords
It’s common SEO knowledge that if you want to rank highly for a particular search term, this term should appear as keywords in and around your page copy. This usually this happens naturally with good copy, but you can always give a helping hand and insert an extra keywords in here and there. Unfortunately many people take this way too far and drop in keywords between every other sentence. The result is page copy that either makes you sound like a robot when reading out loud, or a sufferer of some kind of obscure tourettes syndrome.
Remember to read your copy out loud, if there’s a littering of keywords and phrases in there just for SEO purposes have a tidy up to make your pages naturally easier to read.
Not using your real name on comments
Generating as many links back to your website is another crucial aspect of gaining good search engine rankings. Many people seem to think this is pretty easy, after all there’s hundreds of high pagerank blogs out there openly allowing users to submit a comment that links to your own website. All you need to do is enter your most treasured keywords instead of your real name, then you’ve got an extra backlink for the Googlebots to tally up against your website, right? Wrong. What many people don’t realise is that blog comments by default include the
rel="nofollow" attribute on anchor elements, which means the bots don’t follow the link, and the pagerank isn’t passed on, meaning there’s very little SEO related benefits.
Remember to use your real name on comment forms, it will make you much more personable than ‘Cheap squirrel repellent’. Unless that is your real name of course…
Excessive interlinking of words and phrases
We’ve talked about links from other websites, but what about the all important same-site links? These is your chance to get those keyword rich links to your pages without pesky nofollow attributes getting in the way. Providing a descriptive link to another page of your site or an old article where appropriate boosts the usability of your site, making it easy for users to find information. Sometimes people go that little too far and link to every page in their sitemap whenever those words appear in the content. Any scenerio where you have almost as many colourful linked words as plain body text is never good!
Remember to provide same-site links in your content where appropriate, but don’t go overboard. You don’t need to link the words every time they appear.
Sending link exchange request emails
There’s only so many directories a person can submit to before going insane, and we’ve now learnt that comment spam doesn’t get us anywhere. How else can we get those all important back links? Why not just email the owners of other websites and ask them to link to your site, you could even reciprocate with a link in return, or offer a cash incentive. Start this email with “Dear Webmaster” for best results. As friendly website owners we all enjoy linking to our friends and sites that we frequently visit ourselves, but when 30 link request emails a day land in your inbox from sites we’ve never heard of it can get a little tedious. Accepting these requests would put you on the fast track to link farm status.
Remember to spend your time on posting quality and sought after information on your site, rather than wasting it emailing the same old link request message. You’ll see major improvements in your traffic in no time.