Whether you run a blog, website or build websites for your customers, Google is hard to ignore. Of course writing for search engines is not a good idea and we should focus on writing content for people, but we can’t ignore Google. That is if you run a blog, because if you run a more “static” website, SEO is probably and should be a big part of your strategy.
I want to talk about the worst mistake you can make when it comes to SEO and Google traffic: assuming Google is dumb. There are some very common mistakes I see on a all sort of websites, including “professional business” websites and these mistakes are mostly due to thinking Google is dumb and can’t detect basic patterns like keyword stuffing. Thinking you are smarter than Google will probably hurt your website more than help it.
Writing with the search engines in mind at first is a bad idea. The best technique in my opinion is to write in a natural way AND THEN optimize what you wrote for search engines if you have to. Here are some common patterns I often see that won’t help your rankings:
- Overusing the target keywords (too much repetition)
- Overusing bold text
- Keywords stuffing
- Text with same color as background to hide keywords
- Not using h1, h2, hx tags
- Gazillion HTML errors (Not XHTML compliant)
- Page title too long with 100 keywords
Assuming Google is dumb
Why most of these mistakes also mean assuming Google is dumb? Well, let’s take “overusing the target keywords” for example: some people think that by making the target keywords appear on the page very often, it will improve their website’s ranking. While not entirely false, it is not entirely true. It is true that you have to make your keywords standout, but don’t assume Google can’t detect non-natural text. The Google algorithm is not as simple as “This keyword represent 25% of the total text, let’s rank the site higher for this keyword”. Look, there are thousands of engineers and PhDs behind the Google algorithm, I’m sure they thought of that.
It’s the same story for keyword stuffing. Don’t you think Google can’t detect simple keywords repetition patterns like “Internet Marketing, Marketing, Internet, Search Engine Optimisation, …, …” all cleanly separated by a comma? Please.
The same goes with using a hundred keywords in your website’s title and H tags. By doing that, you dilute the keywords and simply make it harder for Google to determine what your website is about. It’s not because “Web 2.0″ is one of the 50 keywords in your title that you will rank for “Web 2.0″, you have to prove to Google it’s a relevant keyword.
This goes on and on. My advice is: if you think you found a new “clever” way to rank higher and that it is kind of obvious, probably someone at Google thought about it too.
My top SEO basic tips
Here are my key advices for good website ranking:
- XHTML compliant website (hard with blogs), use http://validator.w3.org/ to validate
- Using H1, H2, H3 tags (only one H1 tag per page)
- Natural writing, still with an emphasis on your keywords
- Make your text and titles relevant
- Get decent “dofollow” backlinks
- Relevant anchor text for backlinks
There are a lot more of course, but if you do this, you’re good to go. And you know what? SEO is all about common sense, it’s when you try to be clever that you will most likely fail.
Share with us
Have you made some of these mistakes in the past and what are your top tips for a good ranking? Share with us your knowledge and what you think!