Sunday, August 20, 2006

**Updated** On Domain Search Engine Optimization Mistakes Hurt Your Company

By John Beagle
Businesses do silly things that actually hurt their business. The fixes are easy and the cost is small, but the penalty can be great if you violate Google's search engine rules.
If you own a business and have a website, make sure you read on or direct your web person to read this. In later blog posts, I will go into more detail on each of the 10 mistakes outlined here.

1. Lack of Keywords
This is probably one of the most critical area of site optimization for search engines.
In order to be found, you must have the keywords people will use to find you. Choose the right keywords and potential customers will find your site. Use the wrong ones and your site will see little, if any, traffic.

2. Spamming
Does your website spam? Here are 3 examples that Google's search engine spiders consider spam"

A. Word Spamming: When you use the same words over and over again (called word spamming) the search engines may downgrade or remove pages or ban the entire website.
B. Hidden Keywords: Do not try to hide your keywords or keyword phrases by making them invisible. For example, the keywords appear as the same color as the background of the web page. The text appears invisible to humans but not to search engine spiders. Do not try to hide your keywords or keyword phrases by making them tiny. Setting the text size of the keywords so small that it can barely be seen does this.
C. Bad Keywords: The keyword doesn't have anything to do with the page topic. However, since the keyword is popular, they think this will boost their visibility. This technique is considered spam by the search engines and may cause the page (or sometimes the whole site) to be removed from the search engine listing.
D. Excessive Advertising - popup ads, excessive syndicated advertising, excessive text link ads. You not only confuse the search engines, you also confuse your readers.

3. Slow loading home page
If your page is slow loading, search engine spiders may never see your links. Make sure your website loads quickly by keeping elements to a minimum.

4. No Keywords in Title or No Title at All
Each page on the website should have a unique title and the title should contain a keyword or keywords.
Review your website, make sure there is a title, check page for content, find best keywords used on the page and include in title tag.

5. No Keywords in ALT Tags, Meta Description or viewable text.
Each page should utilize meta description, meta keywords and alt tags on all images. Make sure you use your keywords throughout the site. Sites utilizing flash or all flash sites generally do not have viewable text available for search engines.

6. No Site Map
Sitemaps help search engine spiders crawl more of your site. Make sure you place a link to the sitemap in your footer or site navigation.

7. Dead Links, Broken links, Links to slow loading pages
Links that don't work or are slow loading affect how much a spider can crawl your website. Download Xenu and check your site for broken links:
Fix your broken links right away, before the next crawl of your website. Broken links can only hurt your website.

8. Poor Outbound to Inbound link Ratio
If you have too many links pointing outside your website domain and not enough pointing in your website search engine results will not improve. Increase inbound links and reduce outbound links.

9. Using "FREE" or "Deep Discounted" web hosting.
Cheap hosting can be disastrous if your hosting company's IP range is blacklisted. In some cases search engines spiders will completely avoid indexing content from free or deep discounted web hosts by skipping the hosts entire ip range. Make sure your website is being hosted by a US based, reliable hosting company that answers the phone. Cheap web hosting companies are fully automated and don't answer that phone. If you website is down can you get in touch with your hosting company? Find a site in the $250/yr range for hosting your business website anything cheaper is bulk. The savings are not worth the risk unless you are getting a special deal with a local firm. Custom hosting firms are a good option for US based companies.

10. Improper Website Navigation
Important pages need overt proof for search engine spiders. Navigation links help search engines find your most important pages. Always include your most important 'top' pages in your website navigation. Note: Navigation should appear on all pages on website.

This report will continue during the next week. Stop back for daily updates. Thanks Snafu for your excellent tool for fast broken link checking.

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