Top 10 SEO Mistakes

by Peter Voynov on September 21, 2011

Top 10 SEO MistakesTop 10 SEO Mistakes

Site owners and webmasters often become so overwhelmed with site maintenance and constant updates that they ignore a number of important factors to ensure the end product ranks at the top of search engine results. Here is a list of the most common—and critical—optimization mistakes to avoid:

1.       Poor Keyword Research

Site owners tend to select terms that describe targeted pages, but the average user may not search them. For example, you may realize that “bariatric services” doesn’t attract any traffic to your hospital site, even though it has the “bariatric” keyword; meanwhile, “bariatric surgery” works perfectly. Choosing just the right keyphrase plays a vital role in the success of your SEO campaign. Google Keyword Suggestion tool can help you find popular keywords for your site.

2.       Short or Missing Page Titles

Many site owners forget to fill out the <title> tag, make it irrelevant or leave it well short of the 70- character limit. It is essential to have keyword-rich page titles because they not only help in ranking, but the text appears in the first line of search results. Page titles can list primary offerings or specialties, facility name and location(s) and/or regional information.

3.       JavaScript or Flash Navigation

In order for your site to rank high in search results, search engines must be able to crawl your site. Using Flash or JavaScript for navigation can hurt your site’s SEO because engines cannot fully crawl those programs. Use rich media only where needed, while sticking with engine-friendly HTML for navigation.

4.       Overusing Flash for Content

Google can crawl and index Flash content and discover and follow URLs in SWF files, but doesn’t guarantee that it will crawl or index all content. Older search engines cannot read, crawl or index flash at all. So, for body content (like navigation), use Flash only to supplement the HTML engines love.

5.       Obsession with Meta Tags

Many webmasters tend to think that SEO is about meta keywords and descriptions. In fact, meta keyword tags are completely ignored by Google and Bing, while meta description tags are becoming things of the past. Meta descriptions do show up in search engine results as snippets, so always fill them out—just don’t count on them for high rankings.

6.       Ignoring Page Headers

Page heading tags <h1> – <h6> are used to structure the page for site visitors. Since heading tags make text contained in them slightly larger, many webmasters tend to choose normal text (non H1-H6) to present headers or images as an alternative for page headers. Page heading tags are important markers for search engines and should never be left out or replaced with images.

 7.       Ignoring Search Engine Friendly URLs

Google can crawl all types of URLs, but making yours as simple as possible can improve your search engine rankings and click through rates, because URLs are displayed as part of a search result in Google. Dynamic URLs are very common, and it is possible to rank high even without keywords in the URLs, but complex dynamic URLs may cause crawling and duplicate content issues. Example:

 

Complex Dynamic URL:

http://www.domainexample.com/page-body.cfm?id=55&oTopID=1119&colorID=50

 

Search Engine Friendly URL:

http://www.domainexample.com/cancer-care

 8.       Ignoring Image Names and ALT tags

Search engine crawlers don’t recognize content contained in images, so it is important to use keyphrase-friendly file names and ALT tags to describe your images. For example, heart-surgery.jpg is much more informative than IMG97531.JPG. The HTML code would look something like:

<img src=”images/heart-surgery.jpg” alt=”Open Heart Surgery Procedure”>

 

Following these recommendations can improve your site’s SEO relevance and bring additional traffic from Google image search.

9.       Lack of Textual Content

Too many pictures, videos and not enough body copy are not good for a site’s SEO health, because text is the main component of rankings. Excessive images and rich media make for a more dynamic user experience, but are useless for SEO because search engines can’t crawl it, and hence, can’t rank it. Balance the ‘fun stuff’ with at least 250 words of solid content per page.

 10.   Lack of maintenance

Many webmasters think that once they optimize their sites, their work is done forever. Not true. Search engines specifically look for fresh content and frequent updates. Updating your site on a weekly basis can keep their attention.  Also keep an eye on competition and changes in search engine ranking algorithms and act accordingly.

 

About Peter Voynov


Technical SEO & Web Analytics Specialist @ Medseek.com Peter Voynov LinkedIn

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