Lesson on how to fail at SEO

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Image courtesy of Rafael Hernandez at flickr.com

Hello class. Today we are going to try something different. The topic is still the same, SEO. Today’s lesson is not on how to succeed. It’s quite the opposite. Today, we are going to learn how to fail at SEO. Even though search engine optimization is an ever changing universe the mistakes you can make are still the same. Recognizing them is perhaps one of the fastest and most effective ways to improve. Pay attention and take notes.

Plagiarism is perhaps the worst mistake you can make. You would do a lot better putting a link to others’ articles than to copy your competitors’ content and post it on your site. Copyright infringement is not taken lightly in SEO. It’s a sure fire way for Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines to drop you to the bottom of the rankings if not completely out of them. And of course there’s the whole illegal thing about it.

Yes, keywords help search engines determine whether your articles, blogs, or websites are relevant for users and crawlers, but be careful. Going overboard on the words you consider will bring you traffic is punishable by SEO law. It could be the difference between page 1 and the dreaded page 2 of search results.

I get it. Sometimes you don’t have it in you or your mojo is gone. That’s when you opt to write for writing’s sakes. You include the appropriate keywords and you fulfill the word limit. Kudos. One thing though. It was incredibly boring. It would have put a kid on a sugar rush to sleep. Not caring about the quality of what you post is arguably the first thing you can do to disengage your readers. The Googles and Bings of the search world won’t punish you. The people who follow you? That’s a different story. They want to read something interesting and entertaining. It’s up to you to keep them happy and always wanting more.

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Image courtesy of Steve Koukoulas at flickr.com

Generic. Uninspiring. Bland. Ambiguous. Confusing. Misleading. Those are six types of titles which lead to losing traffic, rankings, and getting off search engines’ nice list. The title that you assign serves some important functions when it comes to SEO. They are what allow Google to know how to classify your website correctly and they tell a reader what he or she will find once they’ve made the decision to click on your link. An ill chosen title could lead to a search engine indexing your website where it shouldn’t or it could encourage someone to avoid your site altogether.

Smartphones and mobile searches are taking over. People want information at a drop of a dime and this means that desktop computers or laptops are no longer the go to medium. Having a website that is beautiful, but not optimized to run smoothly on a handheld device is a big blunder. I’m sure you’ve heard about Google’s encouragement of mobile friendly sites by now. You have and you still don’t think it’s important. That’s peachy. Enjoy page two my friend.

You think the user is on your site for the content and not the experience. How wrong you are my friend. Readers are in it for all of it. They want a website which is easy to get around. They want something that draws their attention. And they are seeking websites full of great content. Being selfish and ignoring how your audience is going to feel and how to navigate while browsing your site is a great tactic if you want the traffic to stop.

Not getting your posts referenced elsewhere or not sending links other people’s way is another way to make sure search engines forget about you. Effective link building, internally and externally, creates traffic and credibility. Failure to do so has the opposite effect. It’s a pretty straightforward theory.

So you have the latest analytic tool installed and running but you have no idea how to use it? How are you going to know what’s working and what’s not? Improvisation will not end well in SEO land. Analytics give you a lot of the information you need to know what’s going wrong with your website and why traffic is going down the toilet. Ignore the information and meet me at the bottom of the rankings.

That’s today’s lesson. Study what you’ve learned and check to see if your SEO campaign falls into any one or several of the errors. If it does, then it’s time to make some changes to your campaign. Mistakes don’t lead to failure. Being passive and not doing anything about it does. It’s up to you. Class dismissed.

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