Most small business owner expect that their web site designer understands and applies the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). Unfortunately, this is not true. Many web site designers don’t understand even the fundamental principles of SEO. So, your site might be guilty of one or more of these Deadly Sins of SEO: 1) Same Title Tag on Every Page Out of a lack of knowledge, designers frequently use the same title tag for every page of your web site. This is the title you see on the search results pages as well as in the tab on your web browser. Title tags are critical for telling the search engines what each specific page is about. In addition to writing different ones for each page of your site, best practices for writing title tags include: a) 70 characters or less including spaces b) Include keywords that are also included on that specific page c) Put the most important keywords early in the description 2) Unappealing or Non-existent Description Tags Description tags do not show up anywhere on your site. However, they are often used by the search engines when displaying search results. Descriptions tags are not used for determining your web site rankings; however, it is your chance to entice searchers to click through to your site. Description tags should be informative and appealing. They also need to be 155 characters, including spaces, or less. And while Google tells us it is not used in search engine rankings, it does not hurt to include a few keywords for the other search engines. 3) Whole Site or Navigation in Flash In most cases, the search engines cannot see anything on your site that is in flash. So, if your whole site is in flash, they will not be able to see anything other than the description of the flash file. If your site navigation is in flash, the search engines will have trouble finding all of your pages. This can be overcome with navigation links in the footer of the page and with site maps. However, it is typically better to use html/css for navigation. Flash does have its place on the web. It is great for video or animation of specific aspects of your site. It just should not be the way your whole site is built. 4) No H1 Tags H1 tags are headline tags, and they help the search engines better understand the content of your page and what is most important on it. Because of a lack of SEO knowledge, some web site designers do not use them. Without H1 tags, search engines have a harder time figuring out what is most important on each web page. You can check to see if they are used by doing the following: using Firefox, go to your web site. Then from the top menu under View, choose Page Source. This shows you the source code. Now, you can search for “H1”. If it does not find anything, then they were not used. 5) Text as an Image Making things look the same across different browsers can be notoriously difficult. To combat this, some designers will create some or all text as an image. Unfortunately, that means that the search engines cannot read it. It is worth having some small variations between different browsers in order to have the search engines be able to read and index all of your content. I hope you found this information useful. Of course, there are many other things you can do to help your search engine rankings. However, if you are committing any of these Deadly Sins of SEO, it may not help you much or at all. Getting the basics right makes it much easier for the search engines to understand your site and rank you for the right keywords.
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