As new and even experienced web site owners we have all committed our share of blunders and stumbles along the way of making our sites rank higher on the major search engines. A lot of times we have gone against our gut feelings and listened to hearsay and unproven search engine optimization advice, or have jumped on the latest SEO bandwagon circulating the top SEO forums. But how many times have you made changes to your web site structure, content, or link popularity that cost you search engine ranking without being able to pinpoint the exact cause in the first place?
Well, ranking drops or the lack of ranking success initially can happen for many reasons, some of these reasons are within your control and others are not. For example, search engine algorithms updates and competitors moving on in your territory are completely out of your control. However, in this article I want to focus on factors and search engine optimization techniques that are in your control, but you may not be even aware of.
Do you like to give your web site a fresh new look every couple of years or even more frequently? Did you know that the number one reason for ranking drops is site redesigns without taking into consideration the SEO implications?
Perhaps you have changed the page titles on a few web pages, or renamed a couple of important directories and as a result your search engine rankings had dropped. How can you prevent unintentional ranking gaffs from happening in the future?
Ignorance is No Excuse When It Comes to Google, Yahoo and MSN
While no one can prevent you from committing every possible SEO mistake especially unknowingly, but these top 5 SEO blunders you should definitely want to avoid.
1.) Structure, Design and Usability: Images used to embed content and navigational link. Designing or redesigning the web site with content embedded in images. There is nothing wrong with designing your web site and navigation to be super sleek and stylish. However, going overboard with visual layouts and fancy graphics can reduce the amount of text you can squeeze in the content area and visible links, leaving nothing for the search engines to index. On average, each web page should contain a minimum of 200 to 300 words of text sprinkled with the target keywords. Also the navigation should contain mainly text links using well focused target keywords in those internal links.
2.) Web site Navigation: “Click Here” – “Click There”. Your website visitor will no doubt will understand and follow the “Click Here” instructions, but can the search engines figure out as easily what the target pages are about? Give the search engines and your visitors a clue about the destination page by “labeling” your hyperlinks with a simple 2-3 word keyword rich instruction instead of using “Click Here” over and over. For example, if you want your visitors to find out about your “blue widgets” products, use “blue widgets” in your hyper links like this Blue Widgets. The bottom line is, no one cares if you rank number 1 for “Click Here”.
3.) Usability and SEO: “Welcome to Our Home Page”. If every page title on your web site starts with this text you are on your way to be ranked number one for this phrase. This is clearly not what you want. It’s time to review every web page on your web site and give it a meaningful keyword rich title, and while you are working on the head section of the web page, pay some attention to the meta description, and meta keywords as well. Although optimizing meta tags are no longer considered a ranking factor on today’s search engines, having a unique page description and set of keywords will set your pages apart from the competition, not to mention the meta description is often used word for word to describe your website in the search results pages.
4.) Link Popularity: Cross linking your website and acquiring inbound links over saturated with the same keywords. If you own a number of domains, the temptation is always there to take the easy road to link building by linking your websites together regardless of content and keyword focus. It seems easy right? There are two problems with this approach. The first one is, you mostly likely host all the websites on the same server so your web sites are easily grouped into the same C IP class by the search engines and set of spam triggers. The second problem is linking web sites with a diverse keyword focus may diminishes any inbound linking gains due to thematically unrelated keywords. An unnaturally high number inbound links with the exact same anchor text links can also spell trouble. The web is a naturally growing ecosystem of sorts, everyone links to whom ever they want to, and how they want to. This results in inbound links with a wide variety of anchor text wordings. When you acquire inbound links through link exchanges, paid links or other sources you have to watch for links with an unnaturally high repetition of keywords in the anchor text to avoid the search engine spam radars.
5.) Structure, Design and Usability: Changing page and directory names and leaving orphaned pages on the engines. Changing web page names and directory names should be done with the outmost care. The older the web pages are the more harm you can do by not following some simple rules in removing or changing web page URLs. The search engines index new web pages within days if not hours on your website automatically thanks to their powerful crawler agents. Once the location of the new URL is registered with the search engines, it will remain in their database forever providing you don’t delete or rename the page. If you remove or rename the web page, the search engines will remove the page from their index including any link popularity or Google Page Rank data. This can have a negative influence on your web site’s ranking and your link popularity. The better approach would be to leave the page URL intact and simply write new content for the page. If you absolutely must remove or rename the web page, use what is called a “301 Permanent Redirect” to the new URL.