Google Search Engine Optimization Pitfalls

By John Hill (c) 2006
Article Posted on this blog by Afzal Khan

On Page Factors - Is Your Website Search Engine Friendly?

So you have a website but where is it on Google? Have you fallen
foul of a penalty or have you overlooked one of the many common
search engine optimization pitfalls when designing your
site?

Understanding what works for the search engines and what doesn't
when it comes to the content on your website can have a crucial
impact on the relevance and/or page rank of your pages from a
SEO perspective.

Here we highlight common mistakes that could affect your ranking
on Google and other search engines.

Optimizing for the Correct Keywords

Basically 'Get real' about what keywords you feel your website
can be ranked for. If you have a ten page website in a highly
competitive market then ranking naturally for the major terms
will be close to impossible.

Use the Overture keyword tool together with the number of
results on Google to find out what keywords are searched for and
how many other websites are targeting them. If you are lucky
then you might even find a popular keyword that not many other
websites are optimized for. Alternatively a good tool for this
job is Wordtracker from Rivergold Associates Ltd.

Code Validation

If your html code is not valid, then this could make it very
difficult or even impossible for a search engine to separate
your page content from your code. If the search engine cannot
see your content, then your page will obviously have no
relevance.

Frames

Even though most, if not all, major search engines now index
frames and even with the use of the NOFRAMES tag, you run the
risk of your pages being displayed in the search engine results
out of context. As each individual page is indexed separately,
it is likely that your website visitors will not see your pages
within your frame and will effectively be stuck on the page they
arrive at.

If you must use frames then create a 'Home' link on each of your
individual content pages and point the link at your frameset
index page.

JavaScript Navigation

If you use JavaScript to control your website navigation, then
search engine spiders may have problems crawling your site. If
you must use JavaScript, then there are two options available to
you:

* Use the NOSCRIPT tag to replicate the JavaScript link in
standard HTML.

* Replicate your JavaScript links as standard HTML links in
the footer of your page.

Flash Content

Currently only Google can index Macromedia Flash files, how
much or how little content they see is open to debate. So until
search engine technology is able to handle your .swf as standard
it would be advisable to avoid the use of these.

Again if you must use Flash then offer a standard HTML
alternative within NOEMBED tags.

Dynamic URLs

Although Google and Yahoo are able to crawl complicated URLs it
is still advisable to keep your URLs simple and avoid the use of
long query strings. Do not include session IDs in the URL as
these can either create a 'spider trap' where the spider indexes
the page over and over again or, at worst, your pages will not
get indexed at all.

If you do need to include parameters in the URL, then limit them
to two and the number of characters per parameter to ten or
less.

The best SEO solution for dynamic URLs is to use Mod-rewrite or
Multiviews on Apache.

No Sitemap

A sitemap is the search engine optimization tool of choice to
ensure every page within your website is indexed by all search
engines. You should link to your site map from, at least, your
homepage but preferably from every page on your website.

If your website contains hundreds of pages then split the
sitemap into several categorized maps and link these all
together. Try and keep the number of links per page on a sitemap
to less than 100.

Excessive Links

Excessive links on a given page (Google recommends having no
more than 100) can lower its relevance and, although it does
not result in a ban, this does nothing for your search engine
optimization strategy.

Be Careful Who You Link To

As you have no control over who links to your website, incoming
links will not harm your rank. However, outbound links from your
website to 'bad neighbourhoods' like link farms will harm your
ranking.

As a rule ensure as many of your outbound links as possible link
to websites that are topical to your field of business.

Article Posted on this blog by Afzal Khan


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John Hill - Developer, Designer and SEO Professional with
E-Gain New Media (http://www.e-gain.co.uk) offering website
design (http://www.e-gain.co.uk/web-development/
website_development/web-site-design/), search engine optimization
(http://www.e-gain.co.uk/online_marketing/business_solutions/
search-engine-optimisation/) and PPC Management.
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