Saturday, March 5, 2011

Google and Bing Love Anchor Text Link Spam

Google and Bing Love Anchor Text Link Spam
While many bloggers and the media are calling Google's search results out lately, most of the focus has been on the somewhat low-quality pages that show up for informational long-tail searches. My concern for Google's search results is different, however. As I touched upon in the last newsletter, I'm tired of Google (and Bing) returning sites that use anchor text link spam to get on the first page of results.

For those who don't know what anchor text is, here's a quick explanation:

Anchor text is the words in the clickable part of any link. For instance, when someone links to my site, they typically use either my name or my company name in the anchor text, which looks like this:

Jill Whalen is an SEO consultant.


Visit High Rankings for SEO consulting.

But those links are not all that valuable in SEO terms. What would be better (for search engines) is for the links to be more like these:

Jill Whalen is an SEO consultant.

Visit High Rankings for SEO consulting.

...with the keywords that people might type into Google (or Bing) as the clickable anchor text link.

Search engines assign a lot of weight to the words that are in that clickable link. It does make sense because you're telling both people and search engines what they'll get when they click the link.

The problem is that it's not a natural way for people to link unless they know a bit about how search engines work. It's more natural to link using the company name, even through links that just say "click here" or "more information."

Part of what I do as an SEO consultant is to train clients to think like a search engine. I teach clients to link more descriptively on their own sites via "internal" links as well as linking to other "external" sites. But to get honest-to-goodness natural links - that is, links from others just because they really like you or your company - it's unlikely that the link will have the best anchor text for search engines. And yet, natural links are exactly what Google claims to value. It's what their PageRank algorithm was originally based on.

But today, natural links and true citations are nearly useless in helping search engines show the best sites for the search query at hand.

For instance, this past Sunday I was quoted in a Washington Post story about Google's less-than-stellar search results.

I spoke with the reporter for quite some time and also emailed him numerous examples of how some companies easily manipulate Google. He was kind enough to mention me and my company (on page 2) in the article, which was great -- but there was no link. I don't know if it is the Washington Post's policy not to link, or if they just don't think about it, or if they have not ever been taught to link. It seems to me that a mention in the Washington Post in this context provides me and my company some credibility, because the WP is a mainstream news outlet. Yet any credibility I may have gained with the people reading the article is completely lost on Google because there's not only no descriptive anchor text link, there's no link at all!

Instead, the links that Google (and Bing) end up valuing the most are those where people control the anchor text. Unfortunately, when anchor text can be controlled, it often means that the link:

   * was purchased
   * was traded for
   * was added to a site that is controlled by the owner
   * was added to a site in a network controlled by multiple stakeholders (like a link farm)
   * was added into an article or bio of an article and posted to an article directory or similar site
   * was used in a blog comment
   * was part of a forum signature
   * was obtained naturally, but the linker had to be asked to edit the anchor text.
Only the last one of those is truly in line with what search engines want to value, and even that one is sketchy because it becomes somewhat unnatural by virtue of requesting different anchor text.

May the Biggest Spammer Win

Most reasonable people would agree that it doesn't make sense that the companies who own or take part in a network of interlinked websites should rank higher than those who don't. And why should the websites that have people "writing" boatloads of blog comments outrank their competitors who have no desire to spam others' blogs? If you're commenting because you'll possibly get some link value rather than because you feel the need to add to the conversation, it adds unnecessary clutter and should be counted as spam by the search engines (in my opinion). I wouldn't be surprised if 90% of blog and forum comments fall into that category, as do most articles submitted to article dírectories.

Here's the Rub

All of the above types of links still count very highly in Google (and Bing). While links and their anchor text are by no means the only ranking factor for how sites show up in the search engines, they are a very large one at the moment. And surprisingly, neither the relevance nor the quality of those links appears to play as big a role as search engines would like you to believe.

You can take any product search query (both highly competitive and somewhat competitive) and review the backlinks of the sites that show up in Google's (or Bing's) top 10 to 20 results and see what I'm talking about.

Random Example

Let's look at the search query "baby furniture," which I just randomly thought of as I was writing this. I'm not going to call out any of the sites by name, and your results may differ slightly from mine, but you should get the picture.

The first site to show up in Google is a big brand, which makes sense. In fact, I wasn't even going to check the backlinks because I figured they likely deserve to be there based on their brand. But then I noticed it's just a random catalog page from their site. So I looked at their backlinks, and sure enough, there are 357 links pointing to that one page, most from completely irrelevant sites. Some are even hacked sites. But they've got keyword-rich anchors that Google (and Bing) love. Many of the links are in blog comments and others in "pártner site" areas (paid links). Wonderful.

Let's check the #2 site that shows up in Google (which for me was the #1 site in Bing). Looks like there's a whole network of interlinked baby-related sites that use keyword-rich anchor text links to get all the various sites to rank well for those words. While it's possible that all those sites have different owners and they really just want to recommend (using juicy anchor text) all those other baby product sites, it sure smells fishy to me! At least in this case they seem to be on relevant sites, unlike the big-brand one above.

The #3 site that I see on Google is also a big brand, and it looks as if many of their links are purchased from mommy blogger-type sites, based on my random clickthroughs of their backlinks. While they at least seem relevant, most are anything but natural. I would consider them akin to ads, aka paid links. Nothing wrong with them purchasing ads on relevant sites, but it's Google's job not to count paid links, and yet they do.
READ MORE - Google and Bing Love Anchor Text Link Spam

Facebook Advertising Made Easy With SocialBoost

Facebook Advertising Made Easy With SocialBoost
Powerful and Effective Advertising on Facebook
SocialBoost Is As Easy As 1-2-3

1. You choose your target audience based on age, gender, location,
  hobbies, education and interests.
2. Customized advertisements are created from scratch to deliver the
  perfect message to your target audience.
3. Your advertisements are live on Facebook within 24 hours, and
  SocialBoost provides updated reporting that monitors how many
  users are reached each and everyday.
What is SocialBoost?
SocialBoost is the fastest, easiest and most cost-effective way to
market your company or brand through social media. It is a
one-of-a-kind service that carries no risk or long-term commitment.

With packages starting at only $149 per month, SocialBoost offers an
expertly designed and fully managed Facebook advertising campaign that
allows you to target your client base more effectively and increase
your sales substantially.
We will provide you with:
* Customized Facebook Ad(s)
* Demographic Targeting
* Impression & Visibility Reporting
* No Per-Click Charges
* Easy Online Account Management
* Dedicated Customer Support
* Ongoing Ad Optimization
* Enhanced Visibility
* Custom User Interest Targeting
READ MORE - Facebook Advertising Made Easy With SocialBoost

Top 5 Tips to Grow Your Social Media Tribe

2010, social media became an integral part of most businesses many of which committed to spend a significant portion of their marketing efforts on social media engagement. In 2011, this trend will only continue as businesses realize that it can naturally result in more buzz, leads and therefore, more sales!

You may have already established a social media presence for your business. However, you - like many others - may be facing the challenge of getting loyal followers and fans. You want to grow your authority and influence in the social networks. You want to earn the trust and interest of your blog visitors, but where do you begin? 
Okay, so now that the scene has been set, let's dive in. Listed below are 5 great tips that I have been using to grow my tribe of followers and fans. Pretty successful so far. My influence now extends beyond my blog and I am actively engaging my followers and fans on a myriad of social media platforms. How do I achieve that?

Provide Exclusive and Unique Content

The number 1 bait to attract visitors to your blog or website is to have compelling content. Personally, I spend around an hour a day to update my blog with fresh, great content. Every single day - without fail. That is the only way to satisfy my tribe which is always thirsty for knowledge. With a little creativity, you can even use premium content as a means of getting fans to "like" you on Facebook. I also use controversy to generate lots of buzz and interactions on my blog. Controversial blog posts usually get viral very rapidly. Controversy sparks emotions and makes it compelling to share that sparked emotion with others. If you can do it correctly, it will create a flood of new visitors and readers for your post. However, be mentally prepared for the backlash when people start to debate on the points you have made.

Engage the Tribe Through Interactive Sessions

This may sound overwhelming and requires a considerable amount of effort as compared to other methods, but the returns are good.  
Webinars, for example, are great. I was able to interact with my subscribers who asked me questions and got their answers on the fly. Such platforms are awesome in gathering valuable feedback and concerns from my tribe followers.

How about hosting a contest? People love to participate in contests. Contests with your blog audience can grow the amount of engagement you experience rather than having them simply reading, re-tweeting and sharing status updates. For example, I held a contest called "My Biggest Fan" where I had my fans tell me why they love my blog. The prize? A four hour private consultation with me. Not really that great, but it did help the contest wínner who went onto make a four figure income every month. My contest results? 2,937 comments, 5,846 re-tweets and an additional 1,547 subscribers on the day of the contest. Pretty incredible huh?
The Trust Factor

Trust is the most important element in any true relationship and it is something that you need to build with your tribe. No tricks or tactics here. There's only sincerity and honesty required. So how do I build the trust between me and my subscribers? I listen to them. I empathize with the problems that they face. I provide advice and resources to help them solve their problems. Well, even if I do not have an instant solution at hand, I am able to provide a listening ear, just like a friend will if his friend is in need. Create honest relationships with your tribe and you will reap the fruits of your labor!

Creating Value

This point re-emphasizes what I covered earlier. A blog reader or customer may ask, "What's in it for me?" Thinking from the perspective of my blog audience, I do constantly reflect on this - on whether I am creating value for my blog audience or not. If you are an Internet marketer, you need to create value for your subscribers first before they are willing to hand you the cash from their pockets. That rule hasn't ever changed since the start of civilization. But whether that value is tangible or not, it does not really matter. It has to be there however to propel people to take any action. Most of the time, I will do my best to solve my customers' problems, to satisfy their needs or just to answer their queries. That is unless the odd demanding customer's request really ticks me off when I am out of sorts. HA! Alright, I am just joking, but I am a nice guy generally. My subscribers have always said that I have over-delivered on most occasions so I guess I am!

Discipline, Patience and Your Road to Success

There is no way (other than using some automation tools which are pretty much useless from what I see) to amass tens of thousands of followers in the space of days. Patience does go a long way. Right from the start, I pushed myself to share at least a post a day on my blog. Well, not that I was really pushing myself hard since I enjoy blogging, but as the days went by, it was really gratifying to see my subscribers growing steadily from my consistent efforts.

Fans and followers do matter. They are the ones who will be interested in what you blog about and what you pitch. Remember that they are always right. They can choose whether or not to read your blog or your messages. My fans, my followers and my customers are my bread and butter. Without them, I would not be earning a six figure income every single month.

What tips do you have to get more fans - more followers - more subscribers? I may have missed some. How are you using social media to grow your tribe? Share your thoughts - the comments are yours. 
READ MORE - Top 5 Tips to Grow Your Social Media Tribe

How Social Media has Changed SEO

 How Social Media has Changed SEO
Social media websites have spread like wildfire over the past couple of years. Today, so many people spend more time on Facebook, Twitter or some other social network than any other website.

Aside from connecting people, social networks also provide advertising opportunities. Take Facebook, for example. What do you do when you come across a website with half a billion active users? Develop Facebook Web promotion strategies and use the website as a marketing tool, of course.

It's not surprising to find so many businesses utilizing Facebook Web promotion these days.

In fact, lots of businesses have an FB page as their second homepage. So, the challenge here is how to use social media SEO to your business' advantage.
Social Media SEO

It's not so hard to advertise via Facebook Web promotion. FB and other social networks allow you to post ads, updates, pictures and videos in a snap. When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), on the other hand, there is some doubt whether Facebook SEO is really effective. For one, this particular social media site uses the “nofollow” tag. This means that your backlinks from Facebook aren't given any value by search engine crawlers. Thus, those links aren't affecting your search engine rankings at all (but they will still give you traffic).

Facebook links may be nofollow, but this doesn't mean that the website completely doesn't have social media SEO opportunities. Here are a Facebook SEO tactics:

    * Post links to your website in less obtrusive areas. A good thing about Facebook Web promotion is that it presents ads and links in a rather subtle way. If you can notice, most of the ads on FB are at the right side. Although links can be found everywhere, they aren't slammed right in your face. By posting links only in your bio box, info tab, right side panel etc., you won't be turning off users by spammy messages. Thus, there are more chances of people checking out content in your site and linking to it.

    * Don't stop the posting. Many a time have companies felt excited about reaching fans via Facebook Web promotion, but find that the excitement dwindles after a month or two. Keep on posting --- send out daily posts, and write about interesting things regarding your business, services, and products. These posts can encourage conversation, likes, and comments. Besides, if all your status messages are all about your products and services, your page will lean more on spammy.

    * Give away free stuff. Almost everyone loves free stuff. Start a contest or coupon codes with enticing value to encourage fans to participate in your social media SEO campaign. If you get fans excited, they just might tell their family or friends and blog about it. This Facebook Web promotion tactic can result to more links pointing to your main site.

    * Don't hesitate to ask for a link. It never hurts to request, or even beg, for a link. Once you have a minimum of 25 fans, post an update and ask your fans to post a link pointing to your site on their blog. If they're truly your fans, chances are they'll help you out with this Facebook SEO strategy. To increase the chances of getting that link, give out coupon codes or other free items.
READ MORE - How Social Media has Changed SEO

Facebook SEO vs Regular SEO

Facebook SEO vs Regular SEO

Using Facebook SEO can get a bit tricky since the social media SEO benefits are indirect. On the one hand, Facebook also has lots of search potential. In fact, many Facebook users today are blurring the lines between social and search. External websites are being tied up to FB's internal systems, allowing the social media site to hop on the search market bandwagon.

With that said, seriously consider integrating Facebook Web promotion in your online marketing efforts now before you miss out on great online marketing opportunities.

Moreover, FB isn't exactly a search engine; or at least it's not an Internet search tool we're used to. Nonetheless, one other nagging issue is hitting the heads of SEO experts: Should Google worry about Facebook Web promotion's SEO potential?

Ever since the social network's search engine enhancements and open graph were announced, the SEO world increasingly heard about Facebook SEO. What's more is that Facebook and Microsoft has partnered, and that Bing will start integrating FB features in searches.

It may be too early to say that Facebook SEO has Google shaking at the knees. What this tells us is that social media has made a great impact on search engine optimization. While Facebook remains the most popular social network today, there are other social media sites can provide direct link building benefits. LinkedIn, for instance, allows you freely to embed valuable inbound links. There's also Digg, which has become a destination for social media SEO and even link spamming.

Social Media SEO has immensely evolved over the last ten years or so. It may take a while for you to build an account in each of the major social media sites, but it's definitely worth it. Moreover, Facebook web promotion and marketing via social media is a fun online marketing strategy. Make the most of this lucrative social media SEO to reap the rewards.
READ MORE - Facebook SEO vs Regular SEO

Title Tags Written for SEO instead of for Prospect

While you may argue that if you don't optimize your Title Tag you won't be able to rank at the top, I'd reply, "You're wrong." When is the last time you have actually studied the search results in Google? Often, results #2 - #4 do not have the keyword you searched for in the Title Tag.

It isn't a big secret that you can use incoming anchor text to get the top rankings, but making the Title Tag compelling means that you can get more clickthroughs than your competitors even though they outrank you. And that is the key: clickthroughs.

Due to "Off Page Factors" Google doesn't require the keyword phrase to be in the Title Tag to rank well. If you've been in SEO for the last few years, you're already aware of this. Let me share two examples: "job search" and "search engine".

Notice that Career Builder has the search term in the Title Tag while Monster does not. However, which is more compelling? Read both out loud. Hands-down, is more compelling. "Find Jobs. Build a Better Career. Find Your Calling." That's powerful, especially in this economy where jobs are a premium.

The next example shows the top two results for "search engine" and neither have the keyword in the Title Tag. Yahoo! is listed twice in the top ten, and in both occurrences it does NOT use the keyword in the Title Tag. But the main problem is neither of these results are compelling. And Dogpile has created the "ultimate SEO sin" in using "Home Page" as part of their Title Tag.

There are, of course, exceptions, such as the term "used cars" which has the keyword phrase present in all top ten results, but for the most part, about half of the top results do not have the keyword phrase in the Title.

So, does that mean you should no longer use the keyword phrase in the Title? No, of course not. This is to get you to think more "outside the box," as too many SEOs have the false belief that you throw a keyword phrase in the Title Tag and buy a couple of links with the phrase in the anchor text and they're done with SEO.

    Recommendation - Keep your Title Tag to eight (8) words or less (65-character limit) and make it compelling.

    Hint: Write your Title Tags on your web pages the same way you write your Headlines for AdWords. Be direct, to the point, and SELL the click!

Clickthroughs only happen when the searcher is compelled by what they have read, and that begins with the Title Tag. A top position is worthless if it isn't clicked. Master this art and you will always have an advantage over your competition. Always.

    Proof: When you search, do you just click the number one listing? Of course not. You scan the page and click on the result with a Title Tag that matches your needs. That is your key: "Give the user what they want and they will click."

Remember the three-step process to successful SEO: ranking, click-through and conversion. Ranking is worthless without a click-through, and the click-through is wasted without a conversion. Start your conversation with the Title Tag.

    Further Proof: Titles that are either keyword stuffed or boring have poor click-through rates because people scan the results looking for what they want. Another thing that my fellow faculty member David Bullock says is prospects think about what the solution should be and approximately what it should cost before they search.

Therefore, when the prospect starts their search, they scan the search results looking for what matches the internal pre-search conversation in their heads. Titles longer than eight words make scanning more difficult and are often bypassed by searchers, as they are not perceived to continue their conversation. Testing has proved Generic Titles are not what they're looking for.

Here is an example of a "keyword stuffed" Title. Even though this page ranks well for a highly competitive phrase, the click-thru will be low due to the "stuffing" of keywords. The Webmaster was just trying to get as many as they could in there. Read it out loud to gain the full effect.

    Hot Tip: While you know that your solution and price are perfect for the prospect, if your Title Tag does not match their conversation you won't earn the click. It doesn't matter how effective your landing page is; if few prospects see it, your sales will also be few.

What can you do to make your Title Tag stand out? You've heard advice to ensure the Title Tag is "READABLE and COMPELLING", but how? This task is not unique to SEO. A compelling Title tag is fundamental in any marketing campaign. You always need to break down your market into segments.

What I do is open my Business Journal and map out what I think the typical prospect needs. I then look at the Titles for the competing sites and look for possible inspiration.

Here are examples and results for a few tests which I have personally run:

    Plastic Surgery - Don't Trust Your Body to Just Anyone - This achieved a 4-1 clickthrough ratio over a listing above it in the SERPS, mainly due to the word "trust" being added.

    Looking for the Best Mortgage? - This achieved a 3-1 clickthrough ratio over a listing above it and the conversion ratios were very good as the landing page contained a graphic, "See Us for the Best Mortgage Offer for your Home." This is a strong call to action.

    Get Help Finding a New Job - The director reported since changing the Title their overall traffic has decreased, but the number of closes for their resume help service has gone up sevenfold. Visitors are not just more qualified, but they come in with an obviously better outlook and attitude. This can be referred to as "pre-selling" the visitor without them seeing a "pre-sales page".

    Health Insurance: Avoid the Traps, Get Expert Advice - This Title has boosted leads to the highest point in this firm's web history. They have their top keyword phrase "health insurance" but they also tell them why they should click: to avoid traps and also get expert advice. Notice they did not place their company name in the Title, which is often just a waste, because the prospect doesn't care.

Other examples from the SERPs:

Good Example:

Notice how the Title is concise and uses the power word "tips." While the Description is too long, it is also well focused.

Example of What Not to do:

Beyond "Traditional ..." what? This is why you want to limit the characters of your Title Tag. eHarmony should be smarter than this.

Exceptional Examples:

Notice the Venetian uses just four words ("the" isn't counted as it is a "stop word") and it does not mention the phrase "Las Vegas hotel" in the Title, yet it ranks #2 in the SERPs. Note the highly compelling description.

In the above example, Thrifty uses the keyword twice (car rental) in the Title and holds the #6 position.  The fact is, since other car rental places in that industry rank WITHOUT that keyword in the title tag, Thrifty should take a different tack. 

Right now, they are doing little to set themselves apart from their competition.  They could probably safely take "car rental" out of the title tag and should instead use that valuable real estate to help convert the searcher by selling the click (just like you would in a PPC ad headline).

Other Examples:

"Online computer store" gets 110k searches and only one page in the Top Ten contains the target phrase.

"Find a job" and "work from home" have three or fewer results with the keyword found in the Title Tag.

Bonus Examples - Nothing but Pure Comedy

All of these are actual Titles taken from the web. This is stuff you just can't make up ... even if you wanted to:

Untitled document: this is a great example of the "Lazy Webmaster" who hasn't taken the time to change the default text. I love the Meta Description ... "logo."

"The web pages uses frames, but your browser doesn't support them." Okay, if this is your Title, I am sorry, you are just an idiot Webmaster and you really need to outsource the work to someone else who "gets it."

Insert Keywords Here: Another example of being lazy, but also telling the world that you are, well, an idiot. At least the "Untitled Document" is descriptive ... "Insert Keywords Here" does not help your online image. It is the online version of a "Kick Me" sign on your back.

Home Page - That's your Title. "Home Page." Go ahead and cancel your hosting and see if you can get your old job back.
Title Tags Written for SEO instead of for Prospect
READ MORE - Title Tags Written for SEO instead of for Prospect

Effective Ways to Monetize Blog Traffic

Effective Ways to Monetize Blog Traffic
    You have heard the hype and read the stories on monetizing the traffic on your blog but what's the real story. It sounds easy and simple, but the truth is that simply getting traffic to your blog does not mean you will make money from those visitors. That is what it means to "monetize your blog traffic" and here are a few things to keep in mind.
Methods to consider:

Monetization of your blog traffic can be accomplished in several ways. Some are easy and some are a little more complex. The most straightforward way is to use a "pay to post" service where you get paid by a third party to post blog messages. Another is where people pay you to include links inside your blog posts to their products or service. These two both first require that you have an established blog with loyal readers but can generate income. The amount of income is going to be a direct result of your traffic levels.

The fact is that if you have traffic to your blog then there a number of ways you can generate income from each post. One of these is to include ads in your highest traffic areas of your posts. You would offer to place an ad into your blog's highest traffic areas for a fee…based on the amount of traffic that section of your blog will receive. This is very straightforward, very common and an extremely easy way to add a new revenue source to your blog.

An extension of this is to use a Cost Per Click (CPC) program (Adsense) or add affiliate links and earn when a visitor clicks a CPC ad or from each order generated through affiliate links. The best part of these methods is that these require very little effort or work to get started. These methods can be done quickly and can be expanded over time and has the potential to provide a good level of income each month.

By far, the most lucrative way to make money from your blog traffic is to offer something that people want and then charge them to access it. In other words, your visitors have to want to pay you for what your write about. If not, they will go away to another site on the same niche. There are many things that fit into this category like eBooks, video instruction courses or podcasts. All you need to do is find a niche that other people are already interested in and are already paying for content and focus your energies there.
Things you should know ahead of time:

Before you try to monetize the traffic to your blog, you need to know a few basic points to insure your success.

First, you need to know your niche. Say your blog is focused on dog training products. You do not want to place ads, links or products that are unrelated to that main category of dog training products. Keep it all focused on your niche. Remember, content is king but it needs to be quality and tightly focused content to keep the search engines and your visitors coming back for more.

Next, you need to know where your traffic is coming from and where it goes when they leave your blog. Most web hosting companies like Host Gator offer a suite of tracking tools to help you with this, so take advantage of what they offer. Reports are available that detail the time of day, what and how many pages your visitors viewed as well as what day of the week the visitor came and how long they stayed. You can even run a report that tells you what page is the starting point of every visit. This kind of information is golden….BUT only if you use it.

Why should you keep track of the click path for your visitors? With this information you could target your audience with ads, guest posted articles or through comments to articles on other sites that your visitors frequent.

Once you're up and running, you can build it from there or move into other niches and repeat the process
READ MORE - Effective Ways to Monetize Blog Traffic

12 Most Common SEO Mistakes

Have you ever embarked on some SEO work and got that sinking feeling that you might be doing something wrong? You're not alone. Our expert Mark Nunney gives us the dirty dozen top mistakes he sees being made in SEO, as well as tips on how to negotiate the pitfalls.
1. Missing the big picture

Most SEO advice is given for a single page, word or technique. But if a site is to be responsible for a profitable small business then in most situations it will need hundreds of pages targeting hundreds of thousands of keywords using a wide range of techniques.

All of these pages, keywords and techniques need to work together so you need a plan to coordinate that, including:

Keyword research looking for potential keywords with Wordtracker Keywords Toolß and existing traffic with Wordtacker Strategizer)

Strategy (your prioritized groups of target keywords)

Site structure (matching your target keywords) and navigation to distribute link power around your site

On page SEO

Link building with Wordtracker's new Link Builder tool and online PR.

To work at any scale beyond a micro-niche business, you must change your perspective from single (or exact match) keywords to keyword niches - groups of keywords sharing the same seed ...

... so right now I'm helping a site selling slippers and I might focus a lot of SEO and link building on the single keyword slippers but I'm really interested in tens of thousands of keywords containing slippers, including leather slippers, men's slippers, ladies slippers, etc.

I designed Wordtracker Strategizer to work with this shift in perspective from single keywords to keyword niches.
2. Not having a keyword or SEO strategy

What are you trying to achieve? Most importantly your SEO strategy should serve the company, marketing and brand strategies. A keyword strategy is a prioritized list of the company's target markets' niches, as defined by the keywords used in those niches - the words and phrases used in search engines.
3. Putting too much trust in an SEO company

You need to get whoever you have approached to prove what they've done, even when you have a personal reference for that company. You should take a step back and ask yourself, "what is being delivered?" Make sure you are getting your money's worth.

Often they (businesses) will see a company with a nice website and they may be inclined to trust them because of that. Here are a few simple questions to ask any agency you might be talking to:

Do you always give complete ownership of site analytics accounts to your clients? If not, why not? (The answer is they want to 'lock you in'.)

How do you build links other than paid, directories, press releases, article sites and using your own websites?

Can you list all the link building techniques you have planned for me, give the weighting you'll give to each and why?

Give examples of how your strategy and tactics might change with circumstances.

If their given link building techniques include the likes of comment spamming and buying links ask: I understand they can work now, but what happens when Google stops them working?

(Following up on the question above) Remember the Florida update? If the person you're speaking to doesn't remember 'Florida', ask to speak to an SEO who does.
4. Having a company structure or systems that are unable to accommodate change

Change is always difficult. But combine it with something completely new and you've got a problem. The new thing is SEO and online marketing - neither is particularly well understood or even trusted, and in some cases companies have never heard of it.

Change is never going to happen unless those with authority and responsibility absolutely insist it does. This slows down many large companies and allows the small, who do embrace SEO, to do well. Here's a nice example - do a search for hotels in London, Paris or New York. You would think you would see all the big names at the top, but you'll see plenty of companies you've never heard of.

5. Not coordinating SEO with your editorial, sales and marketing departments

New content without SEO to maximize the number of target visitors seeing that content is a waste.

SEO without marketing to convert those visitors is a waste.

Your content, SEO and marketing should work together as part of a process.
6. Not monitoring response or acting on results

You have to monitor response eg, the numbers buying your product or signing up to your newsletter.

You may find that the market niche you hoped would work ends up being lame. If so, move on.

Monitor traffic, rankings and response for relevant searches. If you are getting good or bad results you need to act appropriately. That might be moving on to the next target niche, or investing more resources into the same ones.
7. Poor content management systems

It's a cliche to say you need the right tools to do the job. One of SEO and online marketing's tools is a content management system (CMS) that gives you complete control over most of the content, on most of the pages, including site navigation, menus and all marketing. Not having that is like entering a car race on a scooter.
8. Letting developers control website content

Partly as a result of companies having no existing knowledge and systems to accommodate online marketing and SEO, those who build the website have by default often become in charge of its content.

But letting developers take control of online content is like letting the mechanic drive the racing car. Or buying a car from a Ford garage and letting the mechanics decide where you can drive.

Take control of your website.

The developer's job is to deliver the functions you want and keep the site working. What goes on the site and where and when is the responsibility of editorial and marketing, including SEO.
9. Not doing SEO now

Here's a simple point; every day you wait to start SEO means it will be more expensive to get the same results when you do start. If you can get to the top of Google for a collection of keywords this will give you momentum and help you stay at the top, and it becomes cheaper.

Serious search engine success allows for serious business success - put these things together and you've basically got a gold rush. If you don't do the work now it's going to cost you a fortune to do it in the future. There is a simple reason for this and it's inbound links.
10. Neglecting the importance of site structure and navigation

Most reasonable sites for reasonably sized businesses are going to need hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pages.

If you have hundreds of pages you need an optimized site structure and an accompanying site navigation. Even on a small site it's possible to get this wrong and waste all your work.

You might have wonderfully optimized pages and links but if you don't have your navigation right, or your structure isn't right then your success will be limited.

What should you do? It's hard to give a quick answer, but you should organize your site content into categories of related content. Let's say you had a site selling chocolate - you would have all your Belgian truffles in one place and chocolate cake recipes somewhere else, almost working as different sites with their own home page (category home pages.)

On larger sites, related categories can be grouped together into channels.

Make sure your home page links directly to your site's most important category pages. See Are your Superman Pages trapped in a basement full of kryptonite?
11. Neglecting your home page

Your home page is by far your most powerful page because most of your site's inbound links will come to there. Use that power with copy to both target your toughest keyword niches and help other niches with links to their category home pages.

You can test what works, trying keywords of varying degrees of difficulty and ambition.
12. Over-relying on your home page
This is just as problematic. There are only so many different keywords you can effectively target with one page. When success is achieved for a keyword niche with your home page - move that success to other pages using internal and external links.

12 Most Common SEO Mistakes
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