1. No Title or Bad Title
People make this mistake all the time. They make a great looking site but don’t include a proper title. The title tag (<title></title>) is one of the most important factors for on-page SEO, and there are several mistakes that can be made here.
- No Title at all
- A vague title like “Untitled1″ or “New Page”
- Title never changes. For example, a company uses the exact same title “AceCo.com – Food Service Supply” for the title of every page. So even though a page on that site may be about paper plates, the title still says “AceCo.com – Food Service Supply”, which is confusing to people, and actually hurts your ranking in the search engines because it never mentions “paper plates”.
Solution: Titles should be short, descriptive, and contain your main keyword/s. A good example is the Apple MacBook Pro page. The title “Apple – MacBook Pro” is short, concise and contains the keyword “MacBook Pro”. This works well for people and search engines.
2. Representing Text with Images or Flash
Images and Flash are very useful for making pages look attractive, and they are also okay for some text elements, but you should never use them to display the majority of text on a page.
For example, People can read it just fine, but search engines can’t.
Don’t use images or flash to represent all of the text on a page. Use as much static body text as you can.
3. Choosing keywords that are too difficult
Lets say you want to start a new website where you will list a lot of useful travel tips. The first thing you want to do is decide what keywords you are going to try to optimize the site for. These will be the words that you include in the title tags, meta tags, and body text of the document (see guide to on-page SEO for more)
Choosing the word “Travel” would seem like a sensible thing to do, but in reality, it would be next to impossible to get to the top 10 (or even top 100) for a keyword that is as popular as “Travel”. Your best bet is to choose a much more specific keyword like “camping tools” or “Samsonite 4500 suitcase review”
Check out the keyword difficulty tool to research keywords and find out exactly how hard it will be to rank in the search engines for specific keywords.
4. KW stuffing & Hidden Text
I always assume that everyone knows how bad it is to use keyword stuffing (the practice of using too many instances of a keyword without any context to increase keyword density). A few years ago, you could actually get away with keyword stuffing, but these days you are bound to get caught, resulting in getting your website completely banned from the search engines.
Using hidden text (done by making text color the same or very similar to the color of the background) is just as bad and usually goes along with KW stuffing.
Don’t do it!
5. No alt attribute in <img> tags.
The alt attribute is important because it allows visually disabled users to use your website. Allowing more people to view your website is good, but including keywords in the alt attribute can also help a page rank in the search engines.
Always include the alt attribute in every image. Use keywords if they are appropriate, but don’t stuff them with keywords (see keyword stuffingabove)
Example: <img alt=”image description using keywords if appropriate” src=….>
6. Generic anchor text
Anchor text is the text that is used inside of the <a></a>(anchor) tags. Anchor text is important because it tells the search engines what the page being linked to is about, and it actually has a lot of weight in ranking pages. Anchor text like “Page1″, “Next”, or “click here” don’t really help because they aren’t descriptive and don’t contain any keywords.
Include keywords in anchor text that describe the page the link points to. So instead of just “click here”, say something like “camping advice”.
7. Generic file names (make sure to read #8)
The file name is what you name your files, like “name.html” or “name.jpg”. File names do help with ranking for search terms, so a generic file name like “page1.html” or “11.jpg” don’t help at all.
Like anchor text, you should include keywords in your file names that contain the main keyword/s for the page. So instead of naming files “page1.html” and “11.jpg”, you should name the files “car-racks.html” and “yakima-car-racks.jpg”.
Important: Never use an underscore ( _ ) or a space ( ) to separate words in a file name. Always use a hyphen ( – ) to separate 2 or more words in a filename. So you would use “car-racks.html” and not “car_racks.html” or “car racks.html”. The reason for this is that search engines can best interpret two or more words when you use a hyphen.
8. Changing file names after they are established
Though this mistake is listed as number 8, it can be a devastating mistake to make. Once you name a file and upload it to your web server, that page is visited by search engine web crawlers, also known as spiders or bots , which store and index all of the information about that page under that initial file name. This process usually takes time, and it takes even more time for that page to start getting traffic from search engines. Changing the name of an established file is like erasing all of the information that the search engine crawlers initially collected, which means that the whole process has to start over. Changing file names on an established site can be devastating because it can totally wipe out all search engine traffic. It also causes problems for people that had bookmarks to that file.
Don’t do it! It is better to just leave it. Focus on other on-page optimization techniques for that page, and only optimize file names for any new pages that you add to the site. If you simply must change the name of an existing file name, you will need to use a 301(301 is an http status code that means ‘file permanently moved’) redirect, which will redirect visitors that follow links to the old file name to the new file. It is also supposed to inform the search engines that they should point all of the information for the old file name to the new file name, but I don’t think that the search engines have figured out a failsafe way to do this yet.
10. Linking to bad neighborhoods
Simply put, a bad neighborhood is any site or group of sites that don’t follow the webmaster guidelines at Google . Think spammy porn, gambling, or viagra sites. You don’t even want to be less than 4 or so clicks away from these sites.
Don’t do it!
If you absolutely must link to a questionable site or a site that is within close linking distance to a questionable site, use the nofollow attribute in your anchor tag.