The 5 worst SEO mistakes

by Gary on August 20, 2007 · 8 comments

in SEO

Seemingly innocuous SEO mistakes can sometimes give rise to disastrous results. Here I’m listing the 5 worst SEO mistakes the webmasters commit.

1] Not having a unique title for every page

This mistake occurs at lots of websites, and even big companies commit this SEO blunder. A web page title is a great way of telling your human visitors and the search engine crawlers what information/content your page contains. It’s a great opportunity to use your keywords to convey the main idea of your web page. It makes no sense to have the same title — your company’s name, or the list of services you provide — throughout your website. If every page of your website is unique, so should be its title.

2] Having An Intricate, Complex Navigation System

If you use JavaScript, image maps or Flash to create your navigation then you can forget about leveraging its SEO benefits. Your navigation is like a guide map when the search engines come crawling. Through your navigation the search engines find your various pages, and if the navigation is inaccessible to them, even if you have thousands of pages, unless they have been specifically linked from your home page or from some external page, they are never going to be indexed by the search engines.

3] Not Targeting The Right Keywords

People spend tons of money on SEO to find they are not getting the right traffic or people simply don’t want to do business with them. They don’t realise that they are not attracting those who would like to do business with them, until it’s too late. Be sure what keywords you want to target. Do proper research and use the right tools to zero in on the precise keywords your website requires.

4] Not Using Keywords In The Anchor Text

It’s strange that people still use “Click here” and “Go to this page” to send visitors to their important web pages. Instead of having Click here to know more about my web designing services you should have “read more about my web designing services“. This way the search engines know where the link goes to. It’s very important to have your main keywords in your anchor text.

5] Not Having a Sitemap

Although very few human visitors use the sitemap to find pages on your website (I look for a sitemap sometimes when I don’t find the appropriate page/pages), the search engine crawlers really love them. Through your sitemap they can crawl every important page of your website with no fuss. You should have a sitemap and then you should link to it from practically every page of your website. In fact, have it at the top of every page so that the search engine crawlers can find it as soon as they enter your website. Maintain a sitemap manually or use your content management system to regenerate your sitemap whenever you add new content to your website.

6] Randomly Changing Your File Names

Do you think I’ve forgotten my counting? No. Actually, I didn’t feel like leaving this important mistake just because I had mentioned above that I’m listing the 5 worst SEO mistakes. Don’t just change your older URLs as they might be enjoying good rankings on various search engines. Or people might already be linking to them from their websites. If you change the URLs, all those clicks will go waste.

Even if you HAVE to change the URLs, don’t forget to use the “301 permanently moved” redirects in your .htaccess file so that the old URLs lead to the new ones.

Re-check your website and make sure you are not committing these SEO errors.

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  • Matt Cook

    Nice solid post. I think about every person new to SEO or old has some of these problems on there site, and could help there site in a couple of hours. One other one I often see, is using a cheap host and your site being done hours a day. Log into google webmaster tools, if you have 404 errors for pages you know exsist it is most likely your host.

  • SEO Carly

    Really good tips once again Gary, and i’d have to say i agree with your list totally. All just add a bit more for people.

    1) Duplicate Titles – Also ensure your Meta Descriptions are also unique. This is what Google displays in it’s index when you view the search listings, so having “Welcome to our Company etc etc” description for a Contact Us or Products page isn’t ideal. You want catchy unique descriptions that reflect the pages content, and reflect the Titles keywords.

    2) Flash/Javascript Navigation – If you “must” have, or allready have this navigation definately have a plain text link version in the footer. This way it’s Search Engine friendly, as well as human friendly for non Flash or Script enabled browsers.

    5) Sitemap – It’s also a good idea to create a custom 404 error page and use a HTML version of your sitemap for the 404 page. If a person gets lost, they can find what they were looking for, and if a Spider hits a 404 it has a wealth of links to keep following and indexing.

    • Gary

      Excellent addittions, thanks Carly!!

  • Marc Levy

    Another good tip that I don’t think anyone has mentioned is: Always optimize your alt-tags with keyword friendly text. No need to over use your keywords, make the alt-tags useful for humans also! If you page is optimized correctly your should easily be able to edit them for both users and the SERPS.

    • Gary

      Hi Marc, yep your right that has been overlooked – thanks. Gary.

  • Robyn

    Unfortunately, this advice came too late for me. My website was enjoying top rankings on the big 4, then I did a redesign and dummy me renamed/deleted old pages. I do have a backup – could I go back and re-create/rename back to the old pages and regain any standing?

    • Gary

      Hi Robyn,

      Depending on how long ago you did this, it would probably be worth setting up permanent .htaccess redirects from the old pages to the new.

      Cheers, Gary.

  • mariam

    Hi Gary,
    Nice post about SEO… Here I got many useful informations about SEO. So many people are there doing these types of mistakes, I could be one of them… thanks