Common Search Engine Optimization Mistakes in 2012 You Should Avoid

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Your site has great content, it’s got a loyal readership, and your fans are sharing you like crazy, but it seems like you’ve hit a wall and you can’t take your blog to the next level. What’s the problem? Nobody can find you in the search results.

Bad SEO, or no SEO at all, limits the scope of your marketing efforts. Most people still turn to the search engines to find new information and new products. They primarily use social media to talk to their friends, so sharing can only carry you so far unless you manage to produce something viral.

So what can you do to improve your search engine rankings? You can start by avoiding these mistakes.
1. Chasing the Wrong Keyword – This is huge. All the links in the world combined with a perfectly optimized page will give you nothing if you’ve targeted the wrong keyword. What makes a keyword “wrong?” Either nobody’s searching for it, or the competition is unbeatable. Find realistic prospects with the potential to bring in a fair number of visitors.

2. Going too Narrow – It turns out there are only so many things you can say about gold plated dog collars. It’s a good idea to write each article about a narrow keyword, but keep your overall blog’s scope relatively broad. A blog about dogs is going to do better than a blog about gold plated dog collars.

3. Going too Broad – You aren’t MSN or the New York Times. You can’t be a resource on everything. Your site may gain a fair amount of authority, but you won’t be considered a very relevant resource for anything, so you won’t rank. Take the middle road and focus on a single industry or sub-industry.

4. Creating Uncrawlable Content – Interactive interfaces, videos, and images are great for audience engagement. Unfortunately, search engines are incapable of interpreting the content. Any time you create something that the search engines can’t read, you absolutely must create an alternative that they can.

Videos need transcripts. Images need captions and descriptive titles. If you use interactive Flash or JavaScript elements, make sure that there are text alternatives. Never put separate “pages” in a single Flash file or anything similar. Every page should have its own URL.

5. Not Optimizing for User Experience – It is a search engine’s job to optimize their results for the best possible experience. If your site isn’t optimized for the best user experience, it means that Google would rather you didn’t show up in their search results. Stay informed about the algorithms, but bear in mind that they are always changing and should never be your primary focus.

Pay close attention to user metrics like your bounce rate, time on site, number of pages visited, number of subscriptions, number of social shares, number of comments, and the quality of the conversations you spark. These are the metrics that Google wants to optimize their search results for.

6. Spamming – This is huge. Using spun content, leaving spammy comments, and other dirty tactics is a strategy that will always fail in the long run. You might be able to game the results for a shot period of time. But if you care at all about branding, and want to build investments rather than short term income, don’t spam. Period.

7. Not Using Nofollow – Google expects all paid links to be nofollowed, or they consider it manipulating their search results. Most site owners are good about not paying for links, but they may forget about the other side of the equation. Affiliate links, even big ones like the Amazon Affiliate program, still count as paid links. Believe it or not, your site can be penalized for affiliate links, even to big brands. Always nofollow these. If you’re using WordPress, you can use the Link Indication plugin to nofollow all links to a specific domain.

Jeff has been blogging since 2007 & contributing on many websites since that time. He is also a consultant and content contributor for condos around Queens community.

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