Search Engine Optimization (SEO) “Do’s and Don’ts”

As you upgrade your website to improve its demand generation power, it is helpful to know some of the ever changing guidelines that can make your work more effective. We have collected the following Do’s and Don’ts to help Partners avoid common Search Engine Optimization (SEO) mistakes and embed sound technical and human content to increase their website visibility.

You should be aware that these guidelines have a tendency to shift over short periods of time, so make sure you come back occasionally to look for the latest updates.

DESIGN

  • DO design your website using modern design best practices like XHTML & CSS. This improves visibility dramatically to the spider as it crawls your site looking for relevant text, reduces the time your website takes to load, and decreases your costs to maintain your website.
  • DO follow the World-Wide-Web Convention (W3C) Standards. You can sift through the dozens of standards (http://www.w3.org/TR/) or take this simple test and review the results for any major impediments to your sites visibility (http://validator.w3.org/).
  • DO test your website in all of the major browsers (Internet Explorer 6+7+8, Firefox 2+3, Safari 3, Chrome) across PC & Apple operating systems. Internet Explorer 6 is *still* used by many enterprises and is well known to produce design horrors. Not testing your site across all these browsers could reduce your potential for lead generation by as much as 30%.
  • DO design your website for the lowest common denominator of screen resolution; 960-1000px wide is currently considered optimal.
  • DON’T design your website entirely with Flash or Silverlight technology. Although the search engines are getting better at recognizing text within these types of sites it will severely limit your search engine ranking ability.
  • DON’T design your website entirely with imagery. Text on images can’t be read by search engines so your website may appear “blank” to the search engines or visitors browsing on mobile devices.
  • DON’T build your website in frames. It’s bad for visitor usability and a nightmare for SEO..
  • DON’T ignore your site’s usability. Remember to consider all elements like proper site structure, logical navigation, descriptive link text, etc., that are good for BOTH users and search engine spiders.
  • DON’T make your web site “uncrawlable” with incorrect robots.txt files, session IDs, too many variables in your URLs, convoluted navigation menus that spiders can’t (or won’t) follow, or developing an all-Flash, all-graphic, or all-AJAX site.

KEYWORDS

  • DO evaluate your competition thoroughly. What keyword statements are they targeting, how well are they ranking?
  • DO create a thorough keyword strategy that has been well researched for your market position, domain expertise and target audience. Include in your keyword strategy long-tail keyword phrases that can be used in the various website tags as well as website copy.
  • DO take your decision to hire an Online Marketing company who knows what they are doing seriously. Hiring a company to do your SEO work for you is like your clients trying to find a reliable and trusted Partner. Online marketing can make or break your company, so choosing the right fit for you is crucial for your business.
  • DON’T target overly general keywords. A VAR in Albuquerque has no shot ranking for the phrase “Microsoft Dynamics”, a Manufacturer has no shot ranking for a keyword like “manufacturing”. Optimize your site for relevant, specific keywords to bring targeted traffic which will more likely convert into a Suspect, Prospect or Lead.
  • DON’T stuff your content with too many keywords in an effort to trick the spider into increasing your ranking. It can get you penalized and removed entirely from the search engines for ever!
  • DON’T focus on the keywords you associate with your business. Consult with an expert or speak with your customers. What keywords would *they* search for if they were looking for a solution to their businesses problems?

CONTENT

  • DON’T rip off and duplicate someone else’s content! The search engines keep a history of website content and if they see another websites copy turn up on your website they will dismiss your webpage with their “duplicate content filter” preventing it from ranking.
  • DON’T try to squeeze your entire website onto a handful of pages. The more pages on your website, the more opportunity for your to keyword optimize and rank.
  • DON’T over-optimize your content rending your website into mucky keyword spam. This will increase your bounce rate and reduce your lead generation capability.
  • DON’T spread your content over several domains. While there are circumstances which validate the use of sub-domains or additional domains (attempting to get multiple sites listed in the SERPs is NOT a valid circumstance), you need to consider the good and bad of doing so before implementing the strategies involved.
  • DO write professional copy with the goal of converting website visitors into prospects.
  • DO create incentives for visitors to submit their contact details to you in exchange for valuable information like Whitepapers, Case Studies, Videos and Tests.
  • DO take the time to create great copy and content for your site. Website pages like a glossary, FAQ, Testimonials, how to articles, manuals etc. are all necessary content components for your site. Making the mistake of thinking your visitors don’t need or want them, is like thinking your product or service is not important enough to write about or sell itself with great content. Engage your visitors with great content and they quickly become potential and valuable Leads for your business.

ON-PAGE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

  • DO write a professional, keyword rich META-DESCRIPTION for each of your pages.
  • DO use your keyword statements in the header tags on each webpage. (H1,H2,H3,H4,H5 and H6)
  • DO add image “ALT” attributes to all of your images. Write out what the picture is about and be sure to include a keyword or two.
  • DO use keywords in the ANCHOR TEXT of links within your website.
  • DON’T waste the precious Title Tag space by including your company name in every page!
  • DON’T use the same Title Tag twice, ever!
  • DON’T write out a list of keywords separated by coma’s in your Title Tag; this is considered spammy.

OFF-PAGE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

  • DO submit your website to industry specific, quality directories.
  • DO submit your blog & RSS feed to blog directories.
  • DO write articles for authoritative websites within your industry in exchange for a link back to your website.
  • DO submit your press releases to PRWEB
  • DO make use of the viral effects from Social News & Networking sites by submitting and voting for your content.
  • DO submit your sitemap.xml.gz to Google Webmaster Tools
  • DON’T signup for link farm strategies where a group of people all inter-link their websites in hopes of boosting their rank. This strategy can get your penalized.
  • DON’T “buy” links from websites that sell links. This has recently been outlawed by Google and will get you penalized.
  • DON’T point all of your links to your homepage. Request that they point to particular pages & sections within your website to boost the ranking ability of those particular pages as well as increase your “deep link ratio”.
  • DON’T succumb to the “too good to be true” offers you might receive about getting 5,000 links overnight or 10,000 visitors for $1. These strategies could put you at risk of being banned from the search engines.

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Insight written by Leokadia Rucinski

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