Today, we're wrapping up our series on rookie mistakes in social networking, blogging, and now search engine optimization (SEO). Shortly after becoming active online, either in social networking or blogging, most people realize they need to attract traffic from the search engines. Unfortunately, most of the advice available online about this is either hype, spam, or out-dated.
Unless you're trying to make a living from people clicking ads on your blog (good luck with that), your SEO needs are pretty simple. If you're a small local business, when people search for your brand on the search engines, you want positive or neutral information on the first two search engine results pages (SERPs), and ideally, you want to attract more and more traffic over time when people search for the key words associate with your site (e.g. "good fried chicken in Poteau, OK" or "rental properties in Mount Pleasant, TX"). You don't want to attract a lot of people who are Googling odd stuff that has nothing to do with your business, and you want them clicking around to the links within your blog - not out to the advertisers' sites.
So, here are some rookie SEO mistakes to avoid.
Spend too much time worrying about the search engines. If your online presence is more about establishing and protecting your online reputation, and developing a relationship with your local customers, your primary focus does not need to be on attracting search engine traffic.
Underestimate the importantce of SEO. While it's important not to obsess about search engine traffic, it is important to make sure that people looking for you online can find you, and they'll usually do this by Googling your name or the name of your business, so you want to make sure to have a profile on sites that rank high in the search engines, like Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-IN, as well as any networks within your market niche.
Assume that entering your "keywords" in your website header is enough. Actually, this is a very outdated technique that really makes no difference in the search engines in their newer algorithms, so if you haven't done it yet, I wouldn't worry about it. A good sitemap is important, as is using categories and tags appropriately.
Fail to understand the importance of inbound and outbound links. We've written extensively here at WebRev about how to maximize your page rank and links, and within those archives, you'll find some great info about strategically using linkage. In a nutshell, you need to link to reputable sites wihin your industry, and you need to get them to link to you.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.