Top 5 Mistakes from the SEO Clinic

SEO

by Kenny Hyder

mistakeNext week I’ll be atten­ding and spea­king at Affi­liate Sum­mit. Once again I will be a pane­list for the SEO Cli­nic along­side Rae Hoffman-Dolan, Michael Gray.

SEO cli­nics are always one of my favo­rite panels to speak on. Not just because I don’t have to write a power­point pre­sen­ta­tion, but because site cli­nics are a great way for site owners to get spe­ci­fic help with their current problems.

If you’re not fami­liar or have never been to an SEO Cli­nic — it’s basi­cally a big Q&A where audience mem­bers get to ask the pane­lists for spe­ci­fic advice on their web­si­tes. Pane­lists review and give recom­men­da­tions to site owners live in front of everyone.

Site cli­nics are great because atten­dees are able to go home with real to-do’s and advice from pro­fes­sio­nals on how to improve their site. The pro­blem is, every time I’m on a site cli­nic I see the same pro­blems over and over. It’s espe­cially counter-productive when mul­ti­ple sites in a row have the same pro­blems in the same session!

Rather than soun­ding like a bro­ken record, I’ve come up with a chec­klist of the most com­mon pro­blems seen in SEO cli­nics. So before you sub­mit your site for review make sure you fix these 5 com­mon mistakes!

Domain Cano­ni­ca­li­za­tion

While this is defi­ni­tely the most dif­fi­cult pro­blem to pro­nounce, it’s an easy one to fix.

Domain cano­ni­ca­li­za­tion is a fancy way of saying that both http://www.yoursite.com and http://yoursite.com resolve. They shouldn’t. Redi­rect your favo­rite one to the other if you have this problem.

Ove­ruse of Inline CSS & JavaScript

This is a pretty com­mon pro­blem espe­cially among fra­me­work sites that rely on plu­gins, such as wordpress.

What I mean by “inline” is CSS and/or JavaSc­ript that appears in the HTML of a page rather than being refe­ren­ced by an exter­nal file. Inline scripts make your pages heavy, and slow down site load times.

If your site uses a lot of CSS or JavaSc­ript, put it in exter­nal files to dec­rease page size and load times.

Exam­ple: <script type=‘text/javascript’ src=‘http://yoursite.com/location-of-javascript-or-css-file.js’></script>

Lack of XML Sitemap

This seems to be the most com­mon pro­blem. If you have a web­site, an XML Site­map is a must.

Don’t worry, they sound more com­pli­ca­ted than they are! In fact there are many tools out there that will auto­mate the entire pro­cess. (check out the tool I use)

XML site­maps are used by search engi­nes to dis­co­ver pages on your web­site. You can also use them to tell search engi­nes which pages on your site are more and less impor­tant. If you’re having trou­ble get­ting pages inde­xed in search, make sure you have an XML site­map first.

Poorly For­mat­ted Title Tags

Although it seems more and more sites are get­ting their title tag game together, you would be sur­pri­sed how many peo­ple are still doing it wrong!

Title tags appear bet­ween the <title></title> ele­ments in the hea­der of your page. In a brow­ser they are the text that appears at the top of the brow­ser, or on the tabs depen­ding on which brow­ser you use.

What a lot of peo­ple don’t rea­lize is, the title tag is also the clic­ka­ble text that appears in orga­nic search. Title tags are impor­tant for seve­ral rea­sons. First, they are a known ran­king fac­tor for orga­nic search. Mea­ning: what you put in your title tags has an affect on where you rank for search terms. Also, because they are the clic­ka­ble text in search they can affect your click through rates. 

Title Tag

Rules of Thumb:

  • Keep title tags under 70 cha­rac­ters, inc­lu­ding spaces
  • Don’t “stuff” or use too many keywords
  • Inc­lude impor­tant key­words for the page at the begin­ning of your title tag

Lac­king or Dupli­cate Desc­rip­tion Tags

Desc­rip­tion tags in my expe­rience are hit and miss. It seems to me that most sites either don’t have any pro­blems with their desc­rip­tion tags, or they have every pro­blem. Don’t be the latter.

Desc­rip­tion tags, like title tags, also show up in search results. They are the snip­pet you see for a lis­ting under the clic­ka­ble text. When you don’t have desc­rip­tion tags all together — search engi­nes will create them for you, taking snip­pets of text from the page that they deem rele­vant. My phi­lo­sophy is: I’d rather decide what poten­tial visi­tors see about my site than let Goo­gle decide.

Another com­mon mis­take among desc­rip­tion tags is for site owners to copy and paste the same text across mul­ti­ple, some­ti­mes even hun­dreds of pages. DON’T DO THIS! This is espe­cially com­mon among newly launched sites. While it may be easier to copy and paste desc­rip­tions for pages, it’s bet­ter to leave them blank.

Rules of Thumb:

  • Keep desc­rip­tion tags under 150 cha­rac­ters, inc­lu­ding spaces
  • Write uni­que tags for pages
  • Sup­port the key­words from title tags in desc­rip­tion tags

Make Sure to Say Hi!

partyIf you’re atten­ding Affi­late Sum­mit West this year, come say hi at the Tip Off Party on Sun­day spon­so­red by Dou­ble Play Media - or Mon­day at mid­night for Strike Out Breast Can­cer!

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