When starting to learn about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) you will find the internet has a lot of differing views about what is best to do and what you should not do to optimise your site.
People often get frustrated at how long it can take to achieve a decent ranking in the search engines and this can lead to taking shortcuts or following the wrong advice.
Below is a list of common mistakes that are made by those new to SEO. You should definately avoid all of the following.
Thankfully the days of Flash only websites are long gone, but as a web developer it is surprising how often I am still asked to create large areas of a website using that technology. Content in Flash files is not readable by the search engines so you should definatelty avoid using Flash to build your website. Have a Flash banner, slideshow or feature box but build the rest of your site in HTML so that the search engines will be able to read your important content.
As with Flash, images are not read by the search engines so having important text in an image will be pointless. An even worse sin would be to have your site navigation or buttons made from images as the search engines will not be able to identify them. You should always use text-based navigation for your website and add some CSS styling to make the navigation look nice.
Duplicating text content from another website is a huge sin as far as the search engines are concerned and this will prevent your site from being ranked. You may well face legal trouble with the website owner you copied the text from too. Make sure to write all text content yourself or hire somebody else to do it for you.
Overdoing the quantity of keywords in your page text will have a negative effect on ranking. The number of keywords in your page text needs to finely balanced to achieve the maximum search engine position. Definately include your keyword or phrase, but do it so it appears naturally to the reader. You should write your content for humans then tweek it once you know how well you rank.
Although it may seem like a nice easy shortcut to getting your website found by the search engines and directories, don't be tempted to use any of the many automated submission software and sites that are available.
You will end up with hundreds of duplicate Titles and Descriptions about your website and the serach engines will soon see you as a cheater and drop your rankings accordingly.
Submít by hand to well-established directories and use unique Titles and Descriptions for each submission. Focusing on local and niche directories will be more fruitful than national and international directories.
You have probably seen websites with a 'Links' page containing a long list of links. Quite often these links will have no relevance to the actual content of the site and have been reciprocated on a similar links page on the corresponding site.
Bear in mind that reciprocal (two way) links are far less valuable than one way links, and links from pages containing over 50 other links will have no value at all. Not only that but your ranking may also be penalised for trying to cheat the search engines and looks unprofessional to visitors of those pages who find unrelated links.
Reciprocal links are a good idea if kept to a sensible amount, but you should try to only swap links with sites that are relevant to your own. Getting a from inside a paragraph of related text will be seen as the most relevant.
By having duplicate Titles and Descriptions you are basically telling the search engines that all your web pages are the same. Bearing this in mind you should have a unique and accurate Page Title and Meta Description for each individual page that is relevant to the content of that page. Include your keywords or phrase in the Page Title but be carefull not to overdo things with the Meta Description.
It is common for those new to SEO to think they can rank highly on the search engines for a short, high competition keyword or phrase. For example a swimming pool company might want to rank for the term 'swimming pools.'
Unfortunately it doesn't work that way and will take a while for a website to get off the ground with SEO. You should research which keywords and phrases return the least results and target these to give your self more of a chance against the established competition. It is important to focus on longer key phrases which can be achieved by adding to the original phrase. For example by targeting 'sussex swimming pool shop' or 'wooden swimming pools' would be far easier to acheive good results.
Focusing on the less competitive key phrases will require your SEO to become effective much quicker. You can set your goals to compete for more competitive phrases in the future but be prepared for a lot of hard work to gain good ranking for the most competetive keywords.
A Search Engine Friendly URL is one that contains actual words and not a list of numbers and symbols.
Be carefull if you use PHP or automated site design software as these will often generate URLs for your pages wich include ?, =, or a string of numbers within them. These are much harder to follow for a search engine spider or bot and will result in less chance of ranking highly.
A search engine friendly URL would appear something like
An automatically generated URL for the same page could look more like this and bear no reference to the page conent: