Three of the Costliest SEO Mistakes DIY Webmasters Make

by mjtaylor on October 10, 2013

How To Avoid Costly SEO Mistakes

As a moderator for V7N and WebProWorld‘s forums, I spend a lot of time reading advice given to and by DIY webmasters. Despite a wealth of information about best SEO practices and the strides Google has made in combatting spam, lots of forum comments still advise people to comment on blogs, build up forum links and market articles. Of course, more than a few of those comments come from folks in places such as India or the Philippines where so much link building is outsourced.  Their job is to comment on blogs and fill the forum with any advice so long as it carries a signature link. It isn’t in their best interest to learn – let alone share – that forum signature links aren’t the boon they once were.  That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are a lot of DIY webmasters out there who want to know what they can do to optimize their sites for the search engines.

Here are 3 of the costliest mistakes DIY webmasters make:

1. Fail to Stay Informed about Changes in Effective SEO Practices

Caution Sign says oops! against a blue skyIn the past two years webmasters have seen huge changes in Google’s ability to determine quality content and to weed out low quality links.  Yet, many folks are paying “link builders” to submit their sites to directories, to comment on blogs and to acquire forum links – not to mention building “tiered” links and other schemes. For the most part, “self service” link building is a waste of time and money.  That doesn’t mean getting a link from a quality, niche directory doesn’t have value – it does.  But paying for a submission to 5k directories can be an expensive choice. Google has always taken a dim view of rapid link acquisition, but the Penguin updates allow Google to assess when those are low quality links, and a site can be penalized either manually or algorithmically for links from low quality websites.

How to Avoid the Problem:

  • Before you “buy” another link building program read Google’s guidelines thoroughly paying particular attention to Link Schemes.
  • Stop relying on self service links and instead turn your focus to creating content that inspires others to share and link to it.
  • Stay informed: follow at least one of the major SEO news websites and read the top stories every day.  Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal. also offers a wealth of current research and news and some terrific SEO tools for members.

2. Ignore On -Site Optimization

More than ever your content needs to be targeted and tweaked for search – and it needs to be high quality. Google has stripped a lot of low quality sites of their PageRank (link to my page) and filtered sites out of the organic listings because of thin content and other quality signals. It’s critical to provide both worthwhile content and to optimize that content to be sure Google can easily index your pages.  It’s not just about providing fresh content on a regular basis – though that is highly important, too – it’s increasingly important to present it in a semantically correct way.  It absolutely floors me how many websites are out there with bad title tags.

How to Avoid the Problem:

  • Make sure your title tag is well written. This one problem alone can cost websites a lot in lost revenue.
  •  Use an h1 tag for your headline and h2 tags where appropriate; these are relevance factors for Google; i.e, they help Google figure out the topic of your page. I used h3s in this post, as well, to help break up the text and make the sections more obvious.
  • Be sure you have “quality” signals in place: at least 550 words, for example and at least one graphic. It’s really tough to offer any information of value with less text than that. And graphics break up text and make it easier to read. Heading tags also help with readability and keep the user engaged because they can scan the article and quickly see that there is more that interests them. Make sure your grammar is correct and that you don’t have typos.
  • Learn about Semantic SEO mark up and incorporate that where logical. At the very least, mark up your location semantically – I did this to a client site last year that had no listing in Google Maps and a few days later Google had created a Place for the  business.   The jury is out on whether semantic markup is a ranking factor, but we know it can contribute to click-throughs and traffic is what we’re looking for, isn’t it? Five Questions About Semantic SEO.

3. Don’t Add Content Regularly

More than ever, Content is King. Google rewards websites that are regularly updated with fresh, unique content. And so do other webmasters – with links. Since Google has denigrated the value of self-service links, websites are more and more dependent on creating link worthy content. Not every article you post will attract links, but having a blog and publishing user-centric information will attract targeted traffic.

How to Avoid the Problem:

  • This answer is pretty self-evident.  Add content. Add a blog if you don’t already have one and create a content schedule to plan and publish worthwhile information and resources.
  • Think about the user. For example, how can you expand your FAQ to give readers more in-depth information?
  • If you don’t have the time to write content allowing others to add guest posts can be an excellent way to augment your content. I wouldn’t know what to without my guest bloggers from But keep an eye on quality and make sure your guest bloggers are writing for your audience.
  • Go Viral! Yeah, well that’s everyone’s dream. Here’s a great article on how to find the magic idea: Want a Viral Hit? Here Is an Inside Look at Our Ideation Process.

Here’s hoping you can learn from the mistakes of others or instead of having to learn from your own. Of course, there are many other mistakes I haven’t covered. I’d love to hear about how you learned from any of your own – I know that takes a big person to admit an error, but you can always say, “A webmaster I know … ”

ThereThere are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.

May You Start; May You Go All The Way




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