Or are the “search engine optimizers” responsible?
Search engines are dumb, you might think. But Google, the company pulling all the strings, isn’t quite as stupid as you think. And it’s not Google’s fault if your website is languishing at the bottom of the search results pages. You just need to help the search engine out, because it can’t do everything itself. And if you don’t help Google out, you can’t blame it!
Matt Cutts, one of the search engine optimization gurus at Google, recently made some very important points that you should definitely take to heart. He listed the five most common SEO mistakes that he knows of (you’ll be amazed by some of them, but the man has seen it all!).
1. The biggest mistake is not having a website, or having a site that can’t be read by the Google crawlers.
“Haha,” you say, “the biggest mistake is not having a website… that’s kind of obvious!” But just think about it for a second: having a website that can’t be indexed by Google’s robots due to a lack of readable content is exactly the same as having no website at all. All texts as graphics and everything looking attractive in Flash – amazingly, this is still all too common. It may look nice, but Google can’t do anything with it, making your website virtually non-existent. Period.
2. The wrong words on the right page
Thanks to the clever people who develop the search algorithms, Google is becoming more and more like a human user. Try to imagine what people might search for – and how they would formulate their question. For example, you sell the world’s widest bicycle tires. Somewhere on your site you write, “The width of a bicycle tire is determined by the distance between the two edges…” and you then list the different widths somewhere in the text (or in the online shop). Great. As Matt Cutts quite rightly says, “People enter basic search queries. Their search terms should therefore appear on your website.” Along with an answer to their question of course! So, instead of searching for edge distances, people are more likely to ask, “What are the widest bicycle tires in the world?” You’ll now be able to answer them. And tell them how much they cost.
3. Don’t waste time thinking about “link building”. Instead, focus on convincing content and marketing.
What?! But everyone keeps preaching that Google counts backlinks and hardly takes any other factors into account in its rankings list! Tough luck…
Google does indeed take backlinks into account, but quality is much more important than quantity. In other words, links from pages with the same subject matter as yours and which are seen as important and relevant. But with the new algorithms, it’s all about the content. And if you write the copy in a way that appeals to your customers, conveying relevant content in flawless language, then you’re sure to find yourself in Google’s good books.
4. Don’t forget: your important pages need a title and a description.
The title tag and description tag are not just necessary on the home page. They are also essential on all pages that have something important to communicate. “Okay, that’s nothing new,” you say. “I already pay attention to the page titles.” But is the title really relevant? Does it relate to the page content? And is it written in an interesting and attractive way? If not, you should put more thought into it. The same applies to the description, which is needed for ALL important pages, not just for the home page. Think carefully about how you can summarize the content in 144 characters, while also incorporating some of your important keywords. A little bit of effort is definitely worthwhile!
5. If you don’t use Google’s webmaster resources or learn about how Google works or what modern SEO is all about, then it’s your own fault.
Google offers loads of great material and important tools, such as its simple introduction to search engine optimization, visitor analysis tools like Google Analytics, and heaps of useful tips and aids in the webmaster nerve center. And so on and so forth. “But they’re just trying to manipulate me, so that they can sell me loads of colorful AdWords campaigns!” Of course they are. Even so, it’s still worth checking out what Google has to offer. Because one thing is certain: there are zillions of people who claim to know how Google can be outsmarted. But why not just go directly to Google? After all, they know better than anyone how their search engine works, even if they don’t reveal the exact ins and outs. Do some research – it will help you and your website tremendously. Have fun!