My Seven Deadly Sins Of Search Engine Optimization

by mihgasper

Search engine optimization (SEO) is not a rocket science, but due its complexity offers numerous ways for making fatal mistakes. Here is my personal experience.

I bought my first site back in 2010 and I had no idea how search engines work. I had a lot of articles already written from my days at magazines and newspapers, so I expected content would be no problem.

It wasn’t.

But everything else was. So I decided summarize my mistakes for all newcomers to make their life little easier. Read on!

1. Wrong domain name.

I named my site the same my company is named, what is logical and it is even suggested because the name is brandable. Unfortunately it doesn’t make any sense to search engines. So if I would start all over again, I would take name with right keywords (something people actually look for).

The name itself is irrelevant now, but as a curiosity I can add my main idea was to build a portal with tips from fashion, culinary and similar lifestyle related articles.

To make it more attractive, I added a widget, which randomly displayed inspirational quotes. One of them was a proverb where raising a kid is compared with breaking stones.

None of my articles ranked for any of chosen topics, but for some reason my site earned a number one spot for stone cutting!

Site should be designed in simple and logic way
Site should be designed in simple and logic way
2. Bad site design.

Site looked great, but search engines didn’t like it. It had large photos and slide shows what caused slowness. It had some nice additions (jokes, weather widget and similar stuff) and all that made site even slower. Search engines were pretty confused by all the fancy stuff and they couldn’t figure what is site really about for more than half a year.

It took me several months to find acceptable compromise - I arranged articles in few logical topics and search engines slowly started to realize what I wanted to display and what kind of visitors would be interested in my content.

3. No keyword research.

I published articles only based on my opinion what is interesting and never checked if anybody ever looks for the information I provided. So after first half year I had about 50 articles and between 10 and 20 visitors a day who came to the site purely by coincidence. Statistics showed most of them stayed on the site less than a minute.

Keyword research is crucial part of SEO
Keyword research is crucial part of SEO

Then I started to use Keyword Planner and found the cold truth - some of my articles competed with too authoritative articles on other sites, some were about non popular topics and some were just not written clear enough to be understood by search engines.

My main lesson from first steps in the world of keyword research was simple. If I want to write about potato, word potato should be used in the title of the article and also few times in the article itself. Web content is not the right place for wordplay and web spiders have no sense of humor.

4. Too long articles.

It seems on web nobody really reads. Folk only skim the text in search for particular information. They like to check some nice photos too, but names of my photos were not related to proper keywords. Most of them had only numbers and name related to photo service, where they come from, what made to another confusion.

Search engine bots started to relate my site to photo services.

In recent years longer articles became more popular then before. There are several reasons for that:

- Spammers prefer short articles, because their main goal is making fast and easy cash. Satisfaction of their visitors is not on the list of their intentions.

- Longer articles became more popular among search engine bots. They offer more so called long tail keywords from which more than 70 percent of web searches consist.

Photos should be properly named and organized
Photos should be properly named and o...

- They also have better semantic structure and are easier to relate to the topic, what gives them better chance to be offered to right kind of audience.

- Longer articles in general incorporate more multimedia material, which constantly gain popularity among web users.

But proper names of photos and other elements in each article are still a must!

5. No linking strategy.

I sure did submission of the URL of my site to some web directories, but only later I found out most of them are useless, so have I spent hours and hours just to write some info which nobody will ever read. Then I opened couple of blogs, posted some so called supporting articles just to find out I have to support blogs too!

I tried to read as much information about getting traffic as I could, but among all the noise in the internet only one thing was for sure: I need backlinks pointing to my site.

Ultimate Guide to Link Building: How to Build Backlinks, Authority and Credibility for Your Websi...

The web today is comprised of trillions of links: links between websites, links within social media venues like Facebook and Twitter, and even links in email inboxes. Who links ...

View on Amazon

But these links were useless if there were no other backlinks pointing to the articles with links.

Building links required a lot of time and energy and results were not nearly as good as I hoped.

After a while I became more efficient and my site got some traffic. It was a slow start, yet much better than nothing.

These two blogs are probably best resources for web site owners:

These blogs were my best resources of knowledge. They are both written in Slovenian language.



6. Wrong internal linking.

Or may I say: no internal linking? I was too lazy to check if somebody looks for information I offer, so how could I expect search engines would ever found out connections between my articles? I organized them by general themes and that was that! With some proper text linking I could do wonders!

Well, not wonders, but traffic slowly started to build up.

From several (random) visitors per day I started to get about one hundred visitors per day and according to statistics most of them got what they were looking for. Visitors who looked for stone cutters were replaced by visitors who wee looking for articles about fashion, culinary and education - exactly themes I offered.

Internal linking greatly improved positions of my pages in the web rankings and best of all I have all the controls over this kind of links. I have also tried to use some plug-ins for linking related articles, but manual settings proved to much better.

Sometimes all you need for success on the web is some additional time
Sometimes all you need for success on the web is some additional time
7. I wasn’t patient.

I tried to learn and implement all what I picked about SEO at the moment I found out and didn’t take time to check if my information was accurate and up to date. So I have lost compass in changing URL addresses on the site, linking from outside, meta descriptions and finally the main database fell apart ...

After about one year of trial and error I slowly learned what worked for me and what not. I learned about Penguin and Panda and other updates and what is probably most important of all, I learned to pick right fights. This means I stopped writing articles according to my current mood and implied proper keyword research. My knowledge about keywords is still far from perfection but it gets better day after day.

And here I am - with more than a dozen working sites, thousands of visitors and priceless experience in the field of search engine optimization.

Updated: 05/19/2016, mihgasper
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What are your SEO sins?

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Jo_Murphy on 12/05/2023

Thank you - I’ll go back and look at what I have done.

mihgasper on 12/05/2023

It's not necessary. Wizzley is respectable site in Googles eyes and articles are indexed promptly. It's your job to use keywords in right places (title, subtitle, picture, link) but not exaggarate. Many authors also don't use their sidebars for promoting similar articles. That's about all.

Jo_Murphy on 12/05/2023

Should we be entering keywords somewhere here on Wizzley? I have been looking for this but can't find it.

mihgasper on 06/19/2023

Nope, such a mechanical approach worked decades ago and it may be still useful in less competitive areas, but being natural as possible is the way to go. This and having an authority that is measured with backlinks.

DerdriuMarriner on 06/17/2023

The second paragraph to the first subheading, Wrong domain name, notes the importance of a site "name with right keywords (something people actually look for)." It observes that your site occasioned "tips from fashion, culinary and similar lifestyle related articles. tips from fashion, culinary and similar lifestyle related articles."

What -- and I ask this just to understand keyword-picking, not to launch such a site, since my natural and social sciences-related site may include food and recipes but not in any way culinary- or lifestyle-inspiring or linked -- would be an example of a "right" keyword that people would look for and find such a portal?

DerdriuMarriner on 12/21/2022

Somewhere I saw that keywords should appear in the title, the summary statement, the first sentence and the last sentence and at least three times in-between the former and the latter sentences.

Would that be what your practice tends to be with keywords?

Cake on 11/02/2016

Good morning, your article is very helpful and full of insights. Thanks for this. Good job. Keep it up.

Kebe on 11/02/2016

This article is very helpful to us, the beginners. Thanks for this. Good job. Keep it up.

mihgasper on 01/12/2016

You are right, happynutritionist. We should never forget the basics and never stop learning. After all adjustment and fine tuning is inevitable in other areas of life too. Just think about any sport - important rules are always changing, but the general ideas remains the same.

happynutritionist on 01/08/2016

The rules seem to change constantly in what in a site makes a search engine looks like you have some good tips for all here. As you posted in a comment below, the basics remain the same.

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