SEO: Avoid Common Mistakes

I want to share with you some search engine optimization tips for avoiding many of the common mistakes made when trying to optimize a site. It is surprising to me how many professionals make these mistakes when they are working for a client. The truth is, they are easily avoided when you pay close attention to the basics. My goal is to share with you four basic errors made when trying to optimize for a front page ranking. They are, of course, easy to correct.

Keyword Research Errors

When a person goes to Google, Yahoo or Bing and enters a word or phrase to search for what they are doing is searching on a keyword. In good SEO you want to match the search words with the keywords on your page so that when someone searches for a particular word or phrase your page is likely to show up on top. There is a method to choosing keywords that is proven time and time again to work. The best keywords or phrases are those that are relevant to your website, to your product or service, that have a high search volume, anything over 7,000 monthly searches is okay, and shows little competition for that keyword or phrase.

Relevancy is obvious. If you sell purple widgets then a keyword like silver earrings is not relevant while violet widgets may be one that works well for you. To understand the relationship between popularity (p) or global monthly search volume and competition (c), I use the Keyword Effectiveness Index or KEI. It is computed as follows:

The KEI will return a number, a ratio (n:1) that gives you an indication of how easy it will be to rank for any given keyword or phrase. The higher the number the easier it should be to rank for that keyword or phrase.

Many people, however, make the mistake of choosing keywords that look cute or appeal to them without doing the hard work of ranking those keywords against a particular standard. That is an error.

Keyword Stuffing

Another significant keyword error is keyword stuffing. This error manifests itself in two forms.

Too Many Keywords in The Keyword Meta-Tag: Many people put every possible keyword in their meta-tag for keywords. That is a mistake. By stuffing the meta-tag with too many choices, the search engine spider has no clue which keyword you want to rank for so it discounts them all. The solution is simple. Include two, and only two, keywords or phrases in your keyword meta-tag. First list the keyword you want to rank for on that page and then list the site core keyword. Say, for example, I sell purple widgets and I have a page on widget uses. Widget use has a KEI of 345.32, pretty good. My page keywords for my page on widget uses will be “widget use, purple widgets” and that’s it. No more. Now when the search engine robot sees the page it will know that I want to emphasize widget use and the site is all about purple widgets. No need to try to fool the robot, it doesn’t work anyway.

Too Many Keywords in the Content: The second instance of keyword stuffing is to place the keyword you wish to rank for in the body of your content more than 3% of the total content. My basic rule of thumb is to include the keyword I want to rank for three-times in the content of any page. I place it in the first 50 words in as natural a position as possible, in the last 50 words again worked in naturally and one time in the body of the page. Any more than that and Google especially will penalize you big time.

Quality Content

In real estate the three most important things are location, location and location. In SEO the three most important things are content, content, and content. Yes, content is king. Presenting poorly written, irrelevant content is useless to your reader and the current level of sophistication of the search engine spiders is such that they can sniff out poor and irrelevant content better than any human can. So the key here is to write quality content and present it in a straightforward manner. Anything else is a grave mistake.


Search engine robots detect text and skip over graphics. The only exception to this general statement is that when they see a code for an image, the spider looks for the “alt” tag, a textual description of the graphic. If it is missing then your site is penalized.

So graphics have a negative effect on your site if they are overused, there are more graphics than text on a page or if they are missing an “alt” tag or the tag is empty.

Follow these few search engine optimization tips and you’ll increase your chances to rank high, perhaps even on the front page of Google.