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Summary of Most Common SEO Mistakes to Cut from Matt Cutts

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The sultan of webspam, Google's Matt Cutts, recently released a video listing the top five most common mistakes in SEO. If that video didn't convince you that you're making one of these mistakes, or if you want more ideas for how to fix them, read on.

Mistake #1 - An un-crawlable website or no website at all
Websites are a mark of real world validity. My first boss said he hired me over the other candidates because he could find me online, and that it must have meant I was a real person.
There is a website for almost everything these days; but if you're a business, you should definitely have an online presence with at least a phone number, links to products, and services. If you do have a site, its important to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the website user friendly?
  • Can search crawlers scan and categorize all of the information you're hosting?
  • Are there any orphaned pages that can't be reached naturally by clicking through the site?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then its likely that you need to add an XML sitemap.

Mistake #2 - Words and phrases that don’t reflect the way people search
You may have heard that query styled keyword phrases are a big no-no. For example, you'd want to bid on "facial masks" but not "how do I know if this facial mask works?"

This is because the second phrase could be the mark of a browser or researcher rather than a converter.

Be that as it may, organic search optimization is a slightly different, longer term process that should appeal to consumers in times of action and dormancy. Creating consultative content on your website that mimics the way people search can help boost organic rankings and it will also ensure that the content on your site is engaging and elicits action.

How would you, a friend or relative find the services or products you offer? If you're a medical professional, you may want to consider symptoms and concerns people may search for. This content can be hosted on a FAQ page or dedicated symptom-related content pages throughout the site. The same theme may apply to other subject matters as well: beauty, clothing, gardening etc.

Mistake #3 - Stale Linkbuilding
If you create content for the sake of keywords alone, you might find a place to publish it if you ask, and keep asking, and ....you catch the drift. If you think of dynamic content pieces that people want to read, you'll have an easier time distributing it.

Links don't have to come from articles alone. Additionally, the outreach that has been traditionally executed using a linkbuilding-only strategy can move outside the box. Images, infographics, videos, whitepapers, and podcasts are all dynamic and effective ways to reach out to your audience and amplify brand awareness.

Mistake #4 - Page Titles & Descriptions
All pages on your site should have a title. Titles should reference page content, a category (if necessary), and the company name. Even if you have a 404 page with PacMan on it, it should have a title.
For example, Blue Fountain Media's 404 page's title tag appears as such: Pacman 404 Page|Blue Fountain Media

In addition to properly titled pages, the meta-description should explain what is on the page. The meta-description is not visible on the site, but appears in searches for relevant keywords. It helps build confidence and intrigue. For example, if you Google "shoes," you might see this:
Google search zappos
And you might think "Free shipping on shoes? Heck yes. I'm clicking!" If the page description instead read "We're gonna zap you with shoes, shoes are going to go Zap, OH ZAP we have shoes!" the site would probably experience a drop in click through rates.

Mistake #5 - Webmaster Resources
This isn't really a fault, but more of a call to action for online marketers. Always be curious. Use Google Webmaster Tools, blogs, and forums to learn about new rules and trends in SEO. Don't be afraid to network, find webinars and conferences where you'll gain valuable insight and make friends who know how to pronounce WYSIWYG and believe that "spammy" is an appropriate adjective to describe bad site content.

Do you know of other common SEO mistakes that Matt Cutts may have missed or didn't address? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @BFMweb !

Search Engine Optimization Whitepaper

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Comments on this post

  1. Online Specialists said:

    Thanks for this clearly written article on what to avoid and what to use for a search friendly site. Come to think of it, Google actually helps us to make our sites better by using content that’s friendly to our customers. So next time you think of a meta description, think like a searcher (read: a customer). Great summary!

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