You want to be found on the web. The Google Webmasters want to help you achieve that goal.
That’s why the team behind the search engine offers tools and advice so you can make the most of your web presence.
One of those tools is a series of videos (posted to YouTube, natch) in which Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, answers questions from users. In a great video posted earlier this week, Matt compiled some of the most common SEO mistakes he sees.
Whether you maintain your own website or have someone else do it for you, check out the video and then make sure you’re not doing any of these things.
If you’d rather read than watch the video, here are Matt’s top-five most common SEO mistakes:
1. You don’t have a website, or the website you do have isn’t crawlable.
Matt says this is the biggest mistake he sees. If you want to be found, you need to have something to find. That means not just a Facebook Page, but a website that you own and maintain. Include plenty of links from one page of the site to the others so people can always find the information they need, and so Google and other search engines can “crawl,” index, and rank your content. Try it for yourself: Click around your website to see if you can find the information and pages your customers need.
2. You’re not including the right words on your website.
Do you know what keywords are directing people to your website? These are the words Google (and Bing and Yahoo!) is looking for, so make sure you’re including them in your blog posts, headlines, and sales copy, and in other places. And as Matt suggests, you don’t want to just write, “Mt. Everest elevation,” you want to write, “How high is Mt. Everest?” because that is how people search. Some bonus tips: If you’re a restaurant, include the menu on your website — in plain text, not just as a PDF. And be sure to include other important information that people will be searching for, like your hours of operation.
3. You focus too much on link building, and not enough on creating compelling content.
As Matt says, focusing only on building links for search engines gives you tunnel vision and limits your perspective on how you’re creating content. Instead, think about creating compelling content that will help your customers and expand your business’ reach, and make your business more well known. After all, if people come to know your site as a reliable source of information, then that will generate links as more and more people share your content with others.
4. You’re ignoring the title and description of your most important pages.
Pay attention to high-traffic pages of your website, like your home page: What do you call it? When people bookmark it or it comes up in a search result, will they know what page they are clicking on? Something called “Untitled” is not good. Much better is something that tells a prospective browser that he or she will find the answers and information they seek.
5. You’re not using webmaster resources to learn about how the search engines work and what SEO is all about.
As noted, Google provides a plethora of resources if you want to learn about SEO and search-engine marketing. So do Bing and Yahoo!. And there are a ton of other reputable sites out there, like Search Engine Land and SEOmoz (and ConnectedView, of course) that offer tips and advice you can use.
What are your biggest questions about SEO? Ask them in the comments section below and we’ll provide answers in a future blog post.