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How Lousy SEO Smothers Good Practices

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From keyword spamming and bloated page density issues, over-the-top search engine optimization practices can ruin good META and content techniques.

Online marketers may have the best of intentions with their natural search engine optimization programs. Yet, they drop the ball with their impatience and eagerness to try the latest tricks and fads.

For example, you may know that choosing the right keywords and blending them with the visible text is a critical step. Even if you do this well you may still squelch your effort by going overboard in other ways. Here are five areas where you should tread lightly with SEO:

1. Long Page Titles

Stick with one, two or three search terms with 70 or so characters as your cap. Don’t make the mistake of cramming in a ton of words here.

2. META Descriptions

Strive for 12-15 words. If you go over, it won’t hurt. You will counteract your other optimization efforts by creating a META description monstrosity loaded with too many keywords.

3. Image Alt Tags

Don’t have a field day with alt tags. Often, a web site has many graphics and each could feature an alt tag. Stay away from the temptation to keep repeating your keywords and search phrases in the image source code.

4. Link Title Attribute

Desperate for any edge they can get, some online marketers have discovered ways to pack too many keywords in the source code. Yes, you can identify a link (the words appear when you hover over the link), but what can you really expect to achieve by filling up the link title attribute tag?

5. Domain, Folder and Page Names

Yes, including a keyword in a domain, folder name and page name can help. But it can also look like spam to the search engines and leave the wrong impression on visitors. Do you really want a hideous URL with three hyphens in the domain name, several more in the folder name and three others in the page name?

Your best bet is to stick with the basics – effective page titles and META descriptions (and maybe a few keywords in the keyword META tag). Besides that, focus on good content with search terms spread throughout the page (with some keywords linked to related content on the site). Finally, support these efforts with a robust link building program (getting links to your site from quality web sites).

Slow down. Pace yourself. And be careful what you read in the forums and hear from your friends. Before you do anything off the normal SEO path, you need to be very confident about your choices and their implications.

If you go at a steady pace and test your rankings as you try proven techniques, you’ll increase your odds of success.

Michael Murray is vice president of Fathom SEO, a Cleveland, Ohio-based search engine optimization firm. A member of SEMPO, he authored the U.S. Manufacturers Resist Natural Search Engine Optimization and Online Sales Leads study and a white paper, “Is Search Engine Optimization Worth It? SEO and the ROI Debacle.” mmurray@fathomseo.com

How Lousy SEO Smothers Good Practices
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About Michael Murray
Michael Murray is the Web Strategy Thought Leader for World Synergy, a Cleveland, Ohio-based online marketing firm. He frequently writes about the industry and speaks at regional and national conferences. mmurray@worldsynergy.com WebProNews Writer
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