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Three Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid

Most companies, both large and small, invest a large amount of time and money into improving and maintaining their natural search engine visibility and rankings. After all of this effort and investment, it would be a shame to see a company harm their SEO efforts, results and successes. Below are three common mistakes companies make that work against and sabotage their investment in search engine optimization.

Redesigning a website or switching a CMS (Content Management System) without taking SEO into consideration .

Most web redesign projects emphasize front end design, user experience, back end content management and administration features. Most redesigns do not take into consideration some very important factors. These include: how the search engines will interact with the site and how a redesign will affect the current, organic search engine visibility of the site. This visibility has most likely cost the company a decent amount of time and money to achieve.

Not paying attention to these issues can be a disaster. It is important to remember that changes to a site can affect numerous things including: overall content organization, past content optimization, syntax of file naming, site navigation and other web page elements.

When crawling your website, a search engine has indexed webpages and links. Changing the links and pages of a site without using correct redirects can confuse the search engines and greatly hurt your natural rankings. If file names have been changed, the search engine will not find these pages. This signals that the content doesn't exist. These "non-existant" pages can be removed from the search engine's index and will no longer be available to web users looking for your products, services or information. If the majority of your web site is not available, this can mean a drop in visits and sales. And this is not a good situation for any company.

If a solid SEO plan is put in place during a website redesign, this can help reduce the negative effects of a major change. If a website has been around for a good amount of time, it has certainly built up equity in terms of its content and incoming links. Drastically changing content and breaking inbound links can result in a huge drop in search visibility. That is why it is important to make SEO a priority during any website redesign project. The Top Rank Blog has a great list of 10 things to keep in mind during a website redesign.

Focusing on keyword phrases based on internal marketing materials, product data and employees.

Keywords are essential to search engine optimization and any search marketing efforts. Keywords and keyword phrases are what consumers search for and use to find content, products and services. Keywords also help search engines understand a site's content for indexing, sorting and showing search results. 

A very common practice is for companies to focus their keyword research on phrases derived from within the company's own four walls. This includes reliance on internal staff, product data sheets and marketing materials for keyword development and site optimization. Why is this practice detrimental in search engine optimization? It is actually quite simple- just because you and your staff provide keywords that accurately describe your company's products and services, doesn't mean that potential customers/users are using these same phrases when searching online. Internal keyword research is a great place to start but it is essential for a company to use keyword research tools to determine the searches and queries people actually make when they use search engines. Keyword research is an invaluable process during search engine optimization. This process can provide phrases that are important to your customers for use in optimization. Extensive keyword research can uncover keywords that are higher in demand and more relevant to what your company offers. 

For example, "inexpensive airfare" may be what your company provides to consumers. However, after in-depth keyword research, it may be determined that most online users search for "cheap flights". This is a smarter keyword to use during optimization. 

Keyword research is an ongoing process- keyword glossaries and strategies should be developed as part of content creation and marketing strategies. It is important that a site is optimized for phrases that are important to your target market. Optimize for the keywords that your potential customers search for online- don't optimize your website for keywords that are used when discussing business with your co-workers.

Approaching SEO solely as a job for web development with no emphasis on marketing.

Search engine optimization is not a simple web development "fix". Conducting code and server side optimization along with on-page optimization is only a starting point in improving a site's performance in the natural search results. In today's SEO world, it is important to publish new content and acquire new incoming links on a regular basis. This very important process is done by people- more specifically web marketers.

A website needs attention, and people, to give customers and search bots a reason to keep coming back. Promoting new content, social web tactics, forum participation, etc. are all ways to attract valuable inbound links. All of these efforts are based on activities performed by a company's online marketing department.

During initial build out of the site, it is important to ensure that the site is built search engine friendly technically and with keyword rich content. But in order to maintain results and improve a site's competitive advantage, a site needs to grow and be maintained. New content and links are imperative to maintaining "healthy" visibility in the natural listings.

The key is to make sure all the basic essentials are in place for building a search friendly site then develop a plan for new content creation, promotion and optimization. Using web analytics to measure performance is also imperative for continuous improvement. This will also help determine what is working for your site and what is not. 

Don't damage your search engine optimization and overall search marketing performance by only focusing on the web design and development portions of optimization. SEO is so much more than that! This is the reason that companies need a website marketing team. Having a truly optimized and successful website requires ongoing involvement and analysis. Your competition is staying involved and paying attention to their site, therefore it is essential that you do the same to remain competitive online!