The Pitfalls of Do It Yourself SEO

Charles Daniels - Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pitfalls of DIY SEOAs a web design firm that specializes in local search engine optimization we run across a lot of sites where someone has taken a shot at 'optimizing' their page.  Most times when someone has intentionally tried to fortify their on-page content it's done incorrectly.  Not executing your optimization  properly can lead to search engines placing a penalty on your site.  Your attempt at improving your ranking will actually bury your site in the SERPS (search engine results page).  Here are the top three mistakes we run across when doing SEO site reviews:

#1 - Duplicate Content

This is #1 with a bullet.  Of all the SEO mistakes we see this is the most common and the most costly.  Writing content does not always come easy.  A lot of new site builders are overwhelmed by the process and instead of doing it the right way will just find descriptions or blocks of text on other websites that fit what they need.  They will change a word here or there to fit with their geographic region and presto - all done! The issue being that when you are copy/pasting from other websites you are running into two problems:  A - You're stealing, and B - You're creating duplicate content.  Search engines see duplicate content as spam.  If something is on your website and is also repeated word-for-word on another site then you're setting yourself up for a penalty.  Why would a search engine send someone to your site when the exact same information is available on dozens, if not hundreds of other pages? We most often find duplicate content on sites where someone has used a template.  The next biggest offender is where someone is attempting to describe one of their services and has taken content from another site.  Avoid this at all cost!  It will destroy your search results.

#2 - Keyword Stuffing

You've gone on-line and researched SEO and you've found how important keywords are.  So you start packing them into the home page.  Michigan frisbees, best Michigan frisbees, awesome frisbees, frisbees frisbees frisbees.  That's your keyword, the more a search engine sees it the better the result!  Right? Dead wrong.  It's called keyword stuffing and it's another search engine no-no.  One of the many checks search engines run are keyword density levels.  If your site comes back with too high of a level it's going to be flagged and penalized. The most common keyword stuffing we see usually is in the footer/bottom area of their website.  They will put a large chunk of text in there with keywords, areas, et cetera.  It's going to hurt your rankings, don't do it.  You have to naturally work keywords into your text. If you can't do it yourself, find a professional.

#3 - Falling in love with Flash and images

I know it's pretty.  That giant Flash website that you've been dreaming about.  Where beautiful images swirl around and you can click to create animations.  People are going to love it!  The problem is search engines don't.  They can't see the Flash, understand the Flash, or crawl the Flash.  To a search engine your site looks like nothing but a title and some meta information.  This may change in the future, but for now we highly advise against using large amounts of it on your site if you're looking to rank well in organic search results. Strictly using images can also be problematic.  We talked about keyword stuffing earlier, and while it's a problem to have too high of a density it is important to have your keywords worked into the site properly.  Just using images is going to hinder a search engine from fully understanding your site.  You can, and should, use ALT tags for your images to tell them what they are.  But those ALT tags are not going to help much with semantic search and if used alone tend to not give you the best results.  The state of search engines right now it's easier for them to crawl and understand text. This does not mean that you shouldn't use visual elements.  Done the right way using images with proper tagging will improve your search results.  Just make sure that the text and images are well integrated with one another.  You want to make it as easy as possible for a search spider to understand what your site is about.  If they can understand it, they will assume someone searching for what your site is offering will understand it as well.

In Closing

Search engines want to send their users to the best possible sites to answer their queries.  When it comes to SEO, think like a search engine.  Duplicate content, spam, keyword density levels that make a site unreadable, and content they can't understand is going to make them not rank your site highly. If you would like a free search engine report on your site send us an e-mail to - make sure to include your website information.  We will examine your content and send you a report back on what we find and what our suggestions would be to improve your rankings.  100% Free! Drop us a line below if you have any questions or if you'd like to engage us on-line visit our Facebook fan page.  We look forward to talking SEO with you. By Charles Daniels