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April 9, 2009
Seven Deadly Mistakes That Can KILL Your Search Rankings
The Internet Marketing Center Team
Whether you're brand-new to Internet marketing, or you've been selling online for a while now, search engine optimization is the one strategy you can't AFFORD to ignore!
Earn high rankings in the search engines, and you'll be rewarded with endless streams of quality FREE traffic heading straight to your website.
But neglect your rankings, and you'll spend ALL of your time trying to convince even a few visitors to stop by your site (and chances are, they won't even be interested in what you're selling when they show up).
Fortunately, optimizing your website for the search engines is neither rocket science nor brain surgery!
Armed with just a few tried-and-tested techniques, you should have no problem getting those coveted high rankings for your site.
The challenge, though, is that the search engine industry changes more quickly than most, so something that used to be a sure-fire SEO strategy can suddenly become useless...
... and it might even get your listings demoted to the back pages!
So to make sure you don't get penalized by the search engines -- or just plain IGNORED -- watch out for these seven deadly search engine optimization mistakes:
Deadly Mistake #1: Improper Use Of Your "Title" Tag
Not only does your title tag tell the search engines what your webpage is about, the title also appears in the search results for your site, as well as at the top of your visitors' browsers while they're on your site.
So this is DEFINITELY where you should put your best keywords!
But we routinely see site owners making pretty basic errors with their title tags, costing them good rankings, and sometimes, even their credibility.
So avoid these common title tag mistakes:
a. Not including a title tag at all
If you leave your title tag blank, your visitors will see "untitled document" in the search results, and the top of the browser.
This makes you look careless and unprofessional. Besides, who searches for untitled documents? You're squandering an opportunity for better SEO, and you're missing out on sales!
b. Using your URL as the title
Some site owners use the URLs of individual pages as the titles.
But, while a title tag like "sallysbeautyshop/cosmetics/product123.html" does contain the business name, the product category, and the product name itself, it's not very helpful to your rankings.
Remember, your title tags are for keywords.
c. Using a friendly greeting instead of a keyword-rich title
There's nothing wrong with a friendly greeting... in person.
But your title tag is the wrong place to say hello to your audience. And again, who searches for welcome messages?
d. Stuffing the title tag with single words
Don't take the shotgun approach and fill your title tag with a list of words off the top of your head in the vain hope of attracting traffic.
Instead, use one or two of your TOP keyword phrases (but keep it under 70 characters so it fits on one line).
Your title tag is easy to find and easy to change in your HTML code. On most web pages, it's right at the top, below your "head" tag, and looks like this:
<title>Internet Marketing Course - Proven Internet Business Strategies</title>
Deadly Mistake #2: Misusing Your "Keywords" Meta Tag
Once upon a time, the search engines really cared about keyword meta tags, and would determine your site's relevance based on the content of this tag.
Well, those days are long gone, and a keyword meta tag -- even one that's well-written and contains just a couple of your best keywords -- will NOT help you get a higher ranking.
BUT... a poorly written meta tag CAN get your site penalized!
So our best advice is to use the meta keyword tag for what it was intended: to help you quickly and easily identify, in one line of HTML code, what keywords you've optimized that page for.
Meta tags only appear in your HTML code, not anywhere on your site. They're usually placed very close to the top of the page, near your title tag, and look like this:
<meta name="Keywords" content="Keywords and keyword phrases you're optimizing this page for, including applicable synonyms and misspellings, and keep this tag under 170 characters">
Deadly Mistake #3: Keyword Spamming Or Stuffing
The more keywords you have on your site -- and the more places you repeat them -- the better your search rankings will be, right?
That may be the way it worked in the "olden" days, when the web was in its infancy, but the practice helped websites get high rankings for topics they didn't even cover.
So these days, Google's algorithm (the formula it uses to figure out where to rank pages on the search results) is much more complex than that, thanks to years of dealing with people trying to fudge the results.
So don't even bother with these outdated tricks...
* Typing your keywords over and over again in very small font at the top and bottom of your page -- blocks of tiny text either in the copy or the header tags don't improve your relevance
* Increasing your keyword density above about 10% -- you end up with a page full of text that doesn't make sense to anyone reading it
* Using "invisible" keywords (white text on a white background). This one is SO frowned-upon that it can get you delisted from Google altogether!
The only foolproof strategy is still to find out what kind of quality, relevant information your customers are searching for, and then give it to them. In the long run, it's by far the best strategy.
Deadly Mistake #4: Using Irrelevant Keywords To Attract More Traffic
So, you found some great keywords with low competition and great traffic numbers... but not quite on target with your website?
For instance, when Sarah Palin broke big in 2008, she was one of the most searched-for terms in the country. But if you'd put an article about her on your website, it wouldn't have increased your sales!
If people come to your page or website in search of a keyword phrase, and find that your site has nothing to do with it, they'll just leave again...
... so all the traffic in the world won't help you if it's off target.
And you can even end up diluting the theme of your website and irritating people so much that they report your website as spam to the search engines. And that's not worth any number of extra visitors!
Deadly Mistake #5: Creating Useless Content
The Internet is swamped with low-quality articles and blog posts that are created for NO other reason than to get better rankings.
But consider this: It can take potential customers 6 - 8 visits to your website -- and significant exposure to your content -- before they feel comfortable enough to make a purchase from you.
If the only content you've posted is just a few keywords repeated without any real substance, why would anyone bother coming back to read more?
This tactic can harm your reputation and your credibility... and once those are gone, it's almost impossible to get them back!
Deadly Mistake #6: Using "Doorway" Pages
When was the last time Google or Yahoo purchased a product from you?
We're guessing NEVER, right? So why would you create pages on your website that are exclusively for them? But that's exactly what people do with "doorway" pages (pages with very little text, but very high keyword density).
For example, if your page only has four words on it, and two of them are "sailboat," that gives the page a keyword density of 50%, which is great for search results...
... but if someone actually searches on the term "sailboat" and lands on the doorway page, there's nothing there for them! They'll have to click further into your site (and for each unnecessary click you ask visitors to make, you lose a large percentage of them).
Doorway pages are really frowned upon by the search engines, because they clog up the index with junk. It's just too easy to produce thousands of these pages that have a very high keyword density, but no real purpose, other than trying to build links and direct traffic to a single site.
Before you put a doorway page up, remember to ask yourself if it's actually providing useful information to your potential customers. If so great. If not, don't do it!
Deadly Mistake #7: Bait and Switch - "Magic" Pages, Redirects, and Cloaking
Search engines want to make sure that once they've indexed a page, the visitors they send there see the same thing they did. However, this isn't always the case.
Some site builders build two versions of their sites. The one for the spiders is full of the kind of stuff the search engines like. The one that regular visitors see is full of the flashy, off-topic effects that look cool, but it isn't the relevant, content-rich site it's advertised as.
This is a strategy that will end up hurting your business!
Your customers end up at a website that may not contain the keywords they were searching for, and instead, get to one with animation and all the bells and whistles that may not be important to them.
More importantly, the search engines feel ripped off, too.
When customers start pointing this kind of fraud out to them, the search engines are pretty good at delisting the offending sites. Is a few weeks of increased traffic really worth the risk of getting booted off Google for good?!
Finally, don't use spammy redirects on your site. These redirects send visitors from a page they think they're going to (one that's been optimized for the search engines), to another one altogether.
This deceptive method has been overused, and the search engines no longer fall for it. It can get your site penalized or delisted.
How You Can Avoid Being Penalized -- Or Worse -- By The Search Engines
These are just seven of the MANY search engine optimization techniques that can have a harmful effect on your site's rankings, some of which can potentially get you into hot water with the search engines!
So why take a chance?
If you're going to save yourself a TON of money by doing your own search engine optimization, make sure you get ongoing advice from an SEO expert who can tell you which strategies are working right now...
... as well as show you the strategies that you should AVOID.
If you're interested, we have our own in-house SEO expert who can give you some advice (and we have TOP rankings for our websites out of MILLIONS of competitors, so you know we're doing something right ;-)
You can ask our expert as many questions as you want about improving your search engine rankings, and you'll get a personal, step-by-step action plan, within 24 hours.
PLUS, when you work with our expert, you'll ALSO get access to a special members-only website that's stuffed full of FREE tools you can use to improve your search engine rankings... enjoy a comprehensive learning center filled with videos and articles that will show you exactly how to optimize your site (even if you have NO experience)...
... and once a month, you'll receive a newsletter updating you on the latest techniques and strategies that are working right this minute!
If you'd like to see for yourself if we can help you improve your search rankings and traffic, we have a handful of 21-day trials that we're currently giving away.
For three full weeks, you can get UNLIMITED help for optimizing your website from our in-house experts, without risk or commitment.
But we're only offering these 21-day trials for the next few days, so if you'd like to try it out, we recommend that you activate your RISK-FREE trial right away.
To your success,
The Internet Marketing Center Team
The Long Tail Grows...
More and more, long-tail keyword phrases are the key to niche marketing success on the Internet.
You’ve got more chance of getting top position in the search results or sponsored listings for long-tail keyword phrases (e.g., “how to train a labrador to do tricks”).
That’s because fewer sites compete for them: a quick Google search for “dog training” shows more than 23 million results, and only 200,000 results for “how to train a labrador to do tricks.”
Okay, the long-tail keyword phrases certainly don’t get as many searches. But the traffic they bring in is much more targeted compared to what you’ll get if you rank for broad, general keyword phrases (e.g., “dog training”).
People who use long-tail keywords tend to know exactly what they want. Tell them that’s exactly what you’ve got, and you’re a lot closer to a sale.
That’s why all Internet marketers who target tightly-focused niche markets should be encouraged by recent figures from Hitwise, which show the number of long-tail keyword searches has increased over the past year.
In fact, searches using eight or more words have increased 20% year-on-year, while one- and two-word searches have decreased by 3% and 5% respectively.
Here are the Hitwise figures in detail:
Although searches using eight or more words still only make up less than 3.5% of all online searches, the trend is clear:
Internet users are increasingly searching the Web using more specific, long-tail keywords. (Just imagine if you had the top spot in Google for “how to train a labrador to do tricks” and the number of people searching for that term increased by 20% of the past 12 months!)
So never stop doing keyword research. There might be new long-tail keywords for your niche that you can rank for. You just haven’t yet discovered them yet.