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How to Avoid SEO Pitfalls
  • By Volusion
  • 13 Sep 2012

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is an integral part of any business’ online marketing strategy. Doing SEO on your own, however, can be difficult – so you may be tempted to find the quickest, easiest way to the top.

Unfortunately, as many people have discovered, these quick fixes are much more likely to banish your business to the bottom of search rankings. But don’t despair; you can learn mistakes of your Internet ancestors. Here are the top four SEO pitfalls – and how to dodge them.

1. Trying to trick search engines

Though deceiving searchbots may have worked in the early days of the Internet, search engines are much smarter now and don’t take kindly to being deceived. So definitely don’t:
- Fill your content with keywords at the cost of readable content
- Hide paragraphs of keywords by making them very small or in the same color as the background
- Stuff as many keywords as possible in your meta tags, image alt tags, etc.

2. Duplicating content

Copying your own content and putting it up on several pages does you more harm than good. For example, if you sell golf clubs, you don’t need the same three paragraphs about your golf clubs on every single page – it’s just read as spam. Search engines also disregard duplicate content because it doesn’t improve the user experience – once a reader has seen it, they don’t need to see it 20 more times.

But what if someone else is copying your content? Unfortunately, this is quite possible since content piracy is a growing problem online. Thankfully, Google is aware of this, and you can fight back by taking note of where the copied content is and letting Google know it’s a duplicate.

3. Making your site uncrawlable

To read a website and determine its ranking, search engines use search engine spiders and searchbots, to index all important words on the page. If these spiders and searchbots can’t read your website, they can’t tell if you have quality content or not. So don’t use too much Flash and JavaScript - spiders and search bots can’t read these types of code, then they can’t index your site and direct searchers to it. If you have a website that’s built entirely in Flash, you should offer an HTML version. Likewise, if you have to use JavaScript, try creating an external JavaScript file instead of writing it directly into your code.

4. Targeting overly general keywords

Since there’s so much content out there, you want to optimize your website for more specific keywords because they’ll have significantly less competition. For example, if you have a bookstore should avoid general keywords, such as “used books” as Amazon will already flood the rankings. Instead, try being a big fish in a small pond by finding a longer, more specific version of your keyword (which you can find using Google AdWords’ free Keyword Tool).

Volusion is an industry-leading ecommerce software that powers online businesses for over 40,000 clients. For more ecommerce news and advice, follow @volusion on Twiter and Facebook.

  • How to Avoid SEO Pitfalls

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