11 Common SEO Mistakes

[tweetmeme]Do you lie awake nights wondering why your website isn’t generating more sales of your awesome green product? It can’t be your widget or whatchamacallit! You know it’s the next best thing to sliced bread. And you’re sure it’s not the website either. It’s got great graphics, great copy and a call to action. So, why aren’t more people buying?

It may be that your target audience can’t find your green business site online. And that could be because your web designer made a few of these common SEO mistakes:

#1 – Optimizing for common, popular words

It may be tempting to optimize your website for the most common, popular words. But the problem with this strategy is that you’ll be competing with millions of other websites for these same words. For instance, if you search the phrase “green products” on Google, you’ll turn up 104,000,000 results! A better strategy will be to focus on long-tail keyphrases, such as “green cleaning products for your business,” so that you won’t be competing with as many sites and you’ll have a better chance of ranking on page one of Google.

#2 – Every title tag has the same keyword phrase: your company name

You’re doing your green business a disservice if the title tags on your website don’t include keywords people use to find your product or service. Even if your company name includes a keyword that reflects what your business is, the title tag gives you the opportunity to customize each page with additional, relevant keywords.

Your website visitors don’t have to land on your home page the first time they visit either. A product description page with keywords in the title tag and the page content could rank higher than your home page, for instance. If your customer clicks the link to that page from Google, you’ve just saved him a step, and moved him closer to buying your green product.

#3 – URL of your website has no keywords

This “mistake” isn’t as bad as some of the others. But if you can put keywords into your URL, it will enhance your optimization efforts.

#4 – Your website’s heading is an image – no text

Search engine spiders can’t “read” images. But there are a couple of ways you can get around this. The first way is to add a keyword to the name of the image file. Let’s say you sell laundry detergent, and the file name of your product is called image_1.jpg. You can help the search engine spiders “see” the image by changing the file name to laundry_detergent.jpg.

The second way to get your image read is to add an “alt tag” with keywords. Seventh Generation, the green cleaning product company, follows this strategy. Here is the HTML code for a picture of the company’s liquid laundry detergent:

<img src="http://www.seventhgeneration.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/prod_cat_landing/product-imgs/laundry-liquid2_50oz_citrus.jpg” alt=”Laundry Detergent Liquid” title=”” class=”imagecache imagecache-prod_cat_landing imagecache-default imagecache-prod_cat_landing_default” width=”140″ height=”154″ />

As you can see above, the file name includes the keywords “laundry, liquid, citrus” and the “alt tag” has the keyword phrase “laundry detergent liquid.”

#5 – Your design/SEO firm “did” SEO and you are #1 on Google

This is probably the most common SEO myth. If you are ranking #1 on Google, congratulations! Just don’t get comfortable. Unless you’re paying for Pay-per-click ads, it’s highly unlikely that you will remain number one for long. Every day, new websites come onto the Internet, gunning for your #1 ranking. SEO is an ongoing process. Search engines want to see new content added to your site on a regular basis. That’s one reason why companies now add blogs to their websites.

#6 – Your SEO firm promised you’d be in thousands of search engines

If an SEO firm promises to submit your green business website to thousands of search engines, run, don’t walk away! There is no reason to waste your money on this process. As long as your website can be found on Google, you’re already way ahead of the game.

#7 – You did SEO after your website was built

This one just puzzles me. Many companies concentrate on getting a website built and then start thinking about SEO. That’s like going on a trip before packing. Do you keyword research first, then write the content. It’s a lot harder to fit those keywords into the content after it’s already been written.

#8 – Your website was built entirely in flash

When you have a flash website, it’s like having an invisible shield between your site and the search engines. Why? Search engines can’t read flash since it’s essentially one big picture. (See Common SEO Mistake #4) This doesn’t mean you can’t use any flash on your site. Flash is useful for adding animation, video and interactivity. Just make sure you have text on your website too, and include headers with keywords in them as well.

#9 – Poor use of internal anchor text

A surprising number of web sites still use “click here” or “more” as the anchor text on many links. If your green business website does this, you’ve lost a golden opportunity to help search engines understand what the page being linked to is all about.

#10 – No internal links

On the other hand, I see many websites that don’t use anchor text at all. These sites rely on the page tabs to move website visitors from one web page to another. But that’s not a good strategy. Search engines will reward your site when you have internal links. And remember point #9 above. The copy in the link should include a keyword leading the visitor from the page they’re viewing to a different page.

#11 – Light content pages

Finally, don’t rely on images alone to do the work on your website. Copy is important – especially if you’re trying to sell that wonderful green product! A good rule of thumb is to have about 200-300 words on a web page. If you’re trying to optimize for a certain keyword phrase, work that into your content two or three times. The trick is writing the copy in a way that will not only attract the search engines, but entice your web visitor to take action. That’s where a good SEO copywriter comes in handy. If you’d like to know whether your site is optimized as well as it can be, contact me today for a free website analysis.