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The Top Five SEO Tips to Avoid

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

I’ll admit it…I’m kind of a dunce when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  I know the basics, but there are a lot of aspects of SEO that simply confuse the hell out of me.  That’s why I’m happy to include this guest post, from Joe out of the University of San Francisco that gives a bunch of quality tips on the subject…

Promises, promises. You’ve probably seen those flashy ads promising to drive hoards of traffic to your website. But without the proper internet marketing training, who can tell which ad is legitimate and which isn’t? Free advice on search engine optimization, page ranking and keyword phrase strategies isn’t always current — most free help is outdated and is based on a system that’s been overhauled since major search engines like Google, Bing and others took over.

Because an abundance of search engine listing tips, tricks and services are completely misleading and can harm your online business, you’ll need to be aware of what advice to follow and what to ignore. To properly drive traffic to your website, take heed of this sound SEO advice:

5 SEO Tips to Avoid

#1. Hiding and Disguising Links - Don’t do it. Here’s how SEO works: a search engine looks for keywords in specific areas (within the title and elsewhere within the content). If you list keywords outside the content or in a way that it is hidden by users, you could get penalized and this just won’t help achieve your goal.  Web crawlers are designed to decipher which pages match specific queries, so if your content it isn’t formatted properly, then it could be missed.

#2. Stuffing Meta Tags Gets Better Rankings- False. This method is obsolete. You can’t tell search engines what your webpage is about, which is what many meta tags attempt to do. Search engines don’t use meta tags to determine page ranking. However, if you prefer a more standard description for search engines, use the description meta tag and Google will pick it up to be displayed.

#3. Using Link Exchanges with Unrelated Content- This won’t work. While it is true that using inbound links from other websites could help position you higher in the search listings, this only works if they’re from related content. Web crawlers are very good at cross-referencing content, so using this method is ineffective and wastes time.

#4. Hiring Someone to Submit your Site to ‘Hundreds’ of Search Engines and Directories- This is a scam. With only a small handful of search engines available, you can bypass this offer completely. Most search engines are probably already controlled by Google, Yahoo!, Bing, or Ask, with the first three performing almost 100% of all internet searches. If you’re already linked in to the Internet and made your pages accessible to visitors, your website will get indexed for free. There’s no need to pay anyone to help you get listed.

#5. Hiring Someone Who Promises a #1 Search Engine Ranking- There is no guarantee that you’ll be #1. While you can control certain variables to help you get ranked, such as keywords, some inbound links and optimizing your website for crawlers, there’s a lot you cannot control. For instance, inbound links of competing websites and pages, and the strength and popularity of a competitor’s site are just a few variables that you (or anyone you hire) cannot manipulate. There are countless variables used to determine page rankings that we just don’t know about, so no one can guarantee or promise high rankings.

3 SEO Tips to Follow

Now that we’ve covered what not to do with your SEO strategy, here are some valuable tips to further guide you in the right direction.

#1. Quality Not Quantity- When it comes to SEO, the single most important rule to follow is to provide quality links. If you offer numerous links that don’t give the user what they’re seeking, it’s a waste of time and can be detrimental to your business.

#2. Create Great Content- Do you want a sticky site? Create great content, including using links and calls-to-action with your keywords vs. a “click here” or “read more” link.

#3. Get Links from Authoritative & Related Sites- Make sure your links are from authority sites and not blogs or outdated websites (think MSNBC vs. your friend’s travel blog). Plus, using links from related sites are far better than those from unrelated sites.

When it comes to your business, knowing exactly how to effectively market through SEO is absolutely imperative. With the right internet marketing training, you’ll successfully drive traffic, create awareness and increase your bottom line!

Steve’s Note: This is a guest post by the University of San Francisco who offers online Internet marketing courses.  The views expressed here are the sole responsibility of University of San Francisco and do not necessarily reflect the views of SteveScottSite.com

In addition, you should also check out this site which provides SEO Services.

Take Action. Get Results.




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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Biddulph

Hi Steve and Joe,

Thanks for sharing the SEO insight.

Like you Steve I’m not as fluent in SEO terminology. I know the basics so this post helps me quite a bit. I never stuffed metatags myself but heard in the past how this can boost SEO. As usual when you try to hard your efforts are negated.

It makes sense to create compelling content persistently. Link up to the Big Dawgs with outstanding comments, the Big Dawgs link up to you, google sees you as an authority, great for Page Rank.

Have a powerful day!

RB

Reply

Brett

Good strategies here. You mentioned as an example getting a link on MSNBC versus a blog–what exactly do you mean? Leaving a comment on one versus the other? Or getting a mention in an actual article? Sorry for the inane question! I’m new at this stuff :)

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Steve Scott

The value of links vary from their “source” so link from “car and Driver” magazine will have more value than a link from some random blog about “cars” if you are linking it to “YOUR” blog about cars.

The reason for this is that Google views some sites as being more “expert” and what they have to say on the subjuct matters more. That is Authority.

But there is also relevance, if you have that link from “car and driver” but it links to a website on “pottery” It will have no authority or relevance to those pages and be of decreased value.

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Murlu

It’s surprising to see so many companies still pitching meta tags and search engine submissions – they simply don’t work and can actually hurt (when you spam the hell out of directories). Best just to avoid it and focus on the content and trying to get others within your niche to share (via building authority and networking).

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Steve Scott

Some people learn something and assume that it always works I guess. The way I see it any infomation you learn online that is lder than 1 year old is HIGHLY suspect.

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Joe

Hey Ryan – Not a problem. If you have any questions related to SEO just let me know @schemjo on Twitter. I’ll admit that I won’t have all the answers but I can most likely get it for you.

Murlu – Meta stuff can definitely hurt so people shouldn’t waste their time. You nailed it on the head with networking – it’ll get you places both online and offline.

–Joe–

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Fan Aslam

Hi Steve:

SEO is still clear to me because of writing too many aticles, but I do not understand the primary concept of META TAGS. This is confusing to me, everytime I read I get to know something different and all does not add up.

And Murray is right, write technically, and then don’t worry about other things. This post is a good read. Thanks for getting an expert writer or us.

fran A

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Steve Youngs

Hi Joe!

I’m a little confused about your first tip to avoid: Hiding and disguising links. Are you talking about links as in a href, or about keywords?

Also, about meta tag keywords… Should I not use them at all? Or should I just not stuff them full of keywords that don’t appear in the user-visible content?

Kind regards,
Steve

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Joe

Hi Steve – an old trick years back was to write keywords on your page and make the text the same color as your background so they wouldn’t be visible (unless you highlighted the whole page). This was usually done at the bottom of the page or even between paragraphs and most didn’t even realize it. The goal was to show the search engines all of these keywords and make them think your page was highly relevant. Doing this ‘trick’ these days will surely get your site dropped fast!

As far as meta keywords, there are two schools of thought on this one. One side says to put them in and if your site is tied with another site these could be the tipping point in getting your site higher.

The other school says to not put them in because this just lets others know the keywords you’re trying to rank for.

Personally, I don’t think they’re a big deal. You *should* be able to tell the keywords you’re trying to rank for anyway if you look at a page (ex. title, bold words, repeated words, etc).

Wow that was a long response – sorry! Keep the questions coming though!

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Steve Youngs

Thanks very much for the explanations and clarifications, Joe. As to the length of your response… I’d say it was just about the right length needed to get your point across. :-)

Kind regards,
Steve

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Adam

Hello Steve & Joe, to be honest I am not very good in SEO. I know all those basics, how to build backlinks, how to not build them, how valuable are one-way links to your blog. But I think these are quite usually things. But I know one thing there is no SEO magic.

It is truth there are many SEO scammers, who are trying to persuade naive people that they are able to bring them huge traffic, only think they are really able to bring are huge bills I think.

If you want to rely on “professionals” than you should do a proper research, to read what other people are saying to find a real feedbacks.

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Peter J

Lucky I’m not doing the 5 bad tips you said, i still suck at seo though xD

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Adam Paudyal

Hey Joe and Steve,

Great refreshment on SEO tips.

Talk about hiding links and keyword stuffing!! haha..I did that on the first website I created and got banned from google..Hey, that was two and a half years ago. After that I learned my lesson. Nowadays I just focus on building authority and networking.

Later..

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Dia

Hi Joe,

Nice post on SEO. I agree with you that meta tags are obsolete now. In regards to number 5, I see this all the time online. Websites promising to get you to be number 1 on google for exchange of some money. Unfortunately, many novice people fall for this. I believe once we do our keyword research, use headers 1-3, bold, and name the post as the title, we are on the right track. Thanks for sharing

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Steve Scott

Yeah, you have a pretty basic seo idea, the thing is…those basic idea account for 90% of what is good. There is more you can do…but how effective is it?

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JimiJones@PersonalDevelopment

Thanks for the valuable insight Joe and Steve.

SEO is one of the things I’ve decided to dive into and become more knowledgeable about, so I’ve been reading a good deal on it. I don’t know very much about it at all, hence the need to learn more.

I’ve heard of that old trick described above (text same color as background) but I don’t practice any of that Black Hat stuff. Doing things the proper way is always best.

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Patricia@lavenderuses

Hi Steve

As always, excellent article. I have read so much on SEO lately. I have decided early on to write quality content for my readers and it seems to be working. Google seem happy with what I am doing and that keeps me happy too :-)

Being in a small niche has its advantages in that there is less competition so maybe that’s why my ranking wasn’t too difficult to get and maintain.

Patricia Perth Australia

Reply

John McNally

White hat or Black hat? Well it’s always been white hat for me, and I’m glad that Google now rewards us ‘goodies’ with higher page rankings. I don’t think you need to know much about SEO anymore, as long as everything you do is QUALITY, then Google recognises this. 8) It’s the reason I keep coming here Steve. ;-)

John

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Joe

“I don’t think you need to know much about SEO anymore”

While I agree that quality content will drive your site higher I also believe SEO is still very important. Because I love examples here’s one.

You have a blog post titled Nutritious Foods for Weight Loss. As you’re writing this post you may ask yourself what words should I use that people may be looking for. Should I include the phrase weight loss food or weight loss foods? The difference may not seem like a big deal at first but the term ‘weight loss foods’ gets almost double the traffic than ‘weight loss food’ so including that will be more beneficial.

By including that keyword in the title will help as well. Making small changes to your keywords and page can go a long way.

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John McNally

Good point Joe, and thanks for the example. Keyword research is my next project. I have had Market Samurai for over a year, but haven’t used it yet. :o I need to be aware of high traffic keywords, but on the other hand I don’t want the quality of my post to suffer, by using words I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen. I suppose it’s a bit of a balancing act.

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Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach

I’ve been doing SEO now since 1998 and you forgot my favorite idjut tip – plaster your page with your keywords in white font on white background! :)

I don’t really focus on SEO nowadays…I’m gearing up more for the social search.

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Joe

Talk about perfect timing! Here’s a video from Matt Cutts who is part of Google’s Web spam team. In this video he talks about Meta keywords and how they have no affect on rankings.

http://goo.gl/oNJ6O

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Alex@Jocuri

Having unrelated inbound link doesn’t help much, but it doesn’t hurt either. It’s true that Google values the most links that are in content and are surrounded by terms (synonyms) related to your links niche/domain. That is why article directory links are so valued.
Also, many people are still obsessed by PR (as in Pagerank). DON’T! This is something that has long ago stopped to matter, all that matters is SERPS, PR is just something you get to bragged to your friends.

“sole responsibility of University of San Francisco and do not necessarily reflect the views of SteveScottSite.com” :))

Reply

Steve Scott

Good point. I have started to wonder if Google has dumped PR entirely. (or at least the public updateing of it.

The last public update was 2apr2010 they *were* updating ever 2-3 months but now it has been 7 months

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John from CD Duplication Services London

Hi Steve, you had a best shot here. I now understand the things don’ts and do’s in SEO. I totally agree, providing quality links and contents you can build your site’s stand alone. No need to spam or scam.

Reply

Andreas

Another important SEO tip for webmasters is to make sure that you link out to clean sites as per google’s definition. Clean sites are sites that are not penalized or blacklisted by google.

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Ralph

I’ve stopped paying much attention to SEO because I don’t see any results when I do. I’m with you Steve. It is a mystery to me. And Joe thanks for the encouragement to continue not paying attention.

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Joe

I won’t lie – SEO is tough because the rules are constantly changing. Just like with many other things though the core rules will never change. From these tips we know that creating quality, unique content and trying to get links from high authority sites is the key to success.

Spending a minute on keyword research won’t hurt either.

If there are any specific questions ask and I’ll do my best to answer every single one. If you know someone who may have a question direct them here and the same offer applies :)

Joe

University of San Francisco – 100% online
Internet Marketing Training Program

Reply

Ryan Renfrew

What uuuuup Joe?

Super cool post man.

I too am an SEO dunce, whats SEO? ….. im only kidding.

Thats great to know that most search engines are owned by the big three, you have saved me a lot of time. I probably woudlve spent many hours submitting to different search engines and directories. Thanks for the heads up.

bLAZE yOUR tRAIL

Ryan

Reply

Joe

Ryan – glad you enjoyed it! Leave the low hanging directories alone and go after the bigger and juicier fruit!

Reply

Tristan

Nice post, Joe!

I too am definitely NOT an SEO whiz. I know the basics, but hate all of the conflicting information out there! “Don’t link out, you’ll lose link juice!” vs. “Be sure to link out, Google doesn’t care!” Bah.

It seems like there are a handful of basic principles and everything else is negligible.

Anyway, again, thanks for posting!

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Steve Scott

I think the real asmwer could possibly be that on some topics everything IS a guess. there are many things that people know in black and white, but a lot of things are reverese engineered by people, so it is often an idea of learning what NOT to do mixed in with a some, “this has worked for me in the past” stuff.

I Think sacrificing a chicken to the google gods as you launch a site may be the way to go.

I just have to decide if it should be a live chicken or a virtual one.

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Bryan

Hmm…

Tip #4. Hiring Someone to Submit your Site to ‘Hundreds’ of Search Engines and Directories- This is a scam.

I see quite a few websites with ads showing how you can get tons of backlinks in no time. I’ve always believe that getting tons of links all of a sudden can raise red flags. Obviously it doesn’t look natural to bots. For this fact, I will never endorse these kinds of ads on my website.

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Steve Scott

You nailed it, not only is it a scam, but if they really do it your site could get postenially flagged and sent to the google sandbox.

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Steve Scott

Sorry for the tardiness of getting a few replying in on this thread (and tomorrows) I have been moving into my new Apartment for the last two days.

I want to thank Joe for a great post and awesome replies to comments! :)

Reply

Kimi

I have heard that many SEO companies will work but not long, they will first bring the site to #1 in Google, and then banned because they build links unnaturally and blackhat some said.

However i still believe that good content will bring the most benefits, i notice i am now not too active in many forums to promote my site, because they link to my site themselves, quite handy.

Good luck with the new place (I HATE moving LOL).

Reply

Mark of Success

Joe,

You would be aware that meta tags were really hot once upon a time. And then the search engines made announcements that those were obsolete. And everyone all around echoed the news until almost everyone accepted it.

But then, if you think about it, search engines also state that they do not reveal the parameters for evaluation. Algorithms are getting more complex than ever. So if you look at it from that point, meta tags could very well be used by the search engines even today to decide on the value. Of course, if you try to make wrong use of them and try to stuff them with keywords that are not at all related to the content that is hosted on the page, you’re bound to have it!

My point is that you cannot rule out the possibility of meta tags still having value. But that said, spending too much time on it will not help in a big way.

Cheers,
Mark

Reply

Joe

Hi Mark,

Just to clarify for everyone and not cause any confusion. Meta tags as a whole are very important and should be used however my take was meant for certain tags such as These have been abused and now have no weight in determining your sites ranking.

I always try to keep Google’s motto in the back of my head “Don’t Be Evil” Running a clean site free from any type of deception will always prevail in the long run.

Thanks!
Joe

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Shane Ryans

Steve, thanks for this post. Too many sites promising great results are scams, and I hate seeing so many sucked in and wasting their money.

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Steve Scott

Glad you like it Shane. I too hate scams and scammers. I will alsways try to only put forward things that I believe are honest and good options. There is enough out there that people can do the “right” way without having to try and fleece people.

Reply

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