While researching common search engine mistakes, I was struck by something odd; many sites that profess to present the "Top 5" or "Top 10" search engine mistakes do not agree with each other on what those mistakes really are.
I believe a significant quantity of the search engine information, which is presented as fact, is actually opinion. I can hear you ask the question: Why do you say this? Well, firstly the ranking algorithms are living, dynamic things that change frequently. Secondly, not only do they change, they are also a well kept secret. Thirdly, search algorithms are not simple to reverse engineer.
So my conclusion is that unless the article that proclaims the "Top x mistakes" is written by a Google engineer, I would have to say that it is the author's opinion and would be difficult to substantiate.
Having said that, there are many common pitfalls to avoid, based on solid logical deduction. Try to think like a search engine, your objective being to serve your visitors with relevant and meaningful content. When visiting any site you want to quickly determine what the core purpose of the site and its content is. To do this accurately you need help from the site creators.
So here are some of the things to avoid, in no particular order:
- Avoid making your site too graphic intensive, with too little text content - search engines struggle with graphics. If you do have a large quantity of graphics, do not forget the ALT tags as these not only aid the visually impaired, but the search engines do pay attention to them.
- Keywords are important, but avoid "spamming" your document with keywords. If your text reads awkwardly you can bet your bottom dollar that the engines will pick that up.
- Certain HTML TAGS take precedent and omitting good quality content in these tags is a capital crime in terms of search engines. Make sure you have good, targeted content in the top TAGS. In my view the most important tags are the TITLE tag, the H1, H2 and H3 tags. Also pay attention to what you put in the BOLD tags.
- Be careful in how you use Tables. Tables can be easy to use to get neat looking layout. I far prefer to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to achieve correct formatting. It keeps your content clean and easy to crawl.
- Be careful when using dynamic content or dynamic urls. I have come across sites that dynamically create urls for each visitor. This will only lead to Search confusion.
- Do not believe the hype around search submission tools. Just as is true in life so the adage holds for SEO, "If it seems too good to be true, it usually is!" Take care and submit your site by hand to the major engines or web directories.
- I have on occasion had to use IFRAMES to include very graphic heavy content. A mistake not to make is to put no content outside the IFRAME. Use the NOFRAMES tag and stick all your search friendly content in there. The chances are that 99% of consumers who view your page will not see this content, but it will give context to the Search Engines.
So the next time you come across an article proclaiming to offer the "Top x" information on search engine mistakes, take a closer look and see if the author offers you any clues as to how they arrived at their findings.