Chris Faber: (02) 9716 9744 or 0418 224 784

Andy Griffiths: (02) 9876 8107 or 0407 226 472


Some mistakes that SEO professionals make

I don't normally comment on the sites of other organisations that offer SEO services. I have commented on a few "myths" that float around the industry. These comments can be found on SEO Myths 101, SEO Myths 102 and More SEO Myths. However, at the risk of calling down a range of criticisms on my own head and my own website, I think it is appropriate to point out some instances of "do as I say not as I do" or instances where they clearly don't understand the environment in which they operate.

Note: the inspiration for this page and information on which is based comes from only 2 pages on a website maintained by a company (much larger than ours) which has a presence in the web arena - rich pickings indeed. We have chosen not to comment on issues other than from these 2 pages.

Search engines: gateway to the Internet population

Great title? Here's the quote in one of the subsequent paragraphs "... Search engines that do not rely on 'spider crawling' - Yahoo and NineMSN among them." Pretty sure both of these big boys have been relying on robots / spiders for some time, especially given the scale of the internet. Yes the Yahoo directory requires submission (at a fee in some cases) and inclusion was subject to editorial control but search traffic does not come from that directory.

Here's another quote from later on the same page - " ... very little overlap exists in the indices of the major search engines. In general, sites that rank highly in one engine rank poorly in another." Wait a minute. How can this be? All the major engines publish their "how to" guide for webmasters and all outline very similar guidelines. There are variations but the basic philosophy is write something searchers are likely to want read and do it in a way that the engines can find and you will be listed. Of course, there are differences due to timing and variations in the sites found and their particular assessment of "value", but there is nothing that makes their indexing strategies diametrically opposed to the other search engines. In our experience, ranking well in one engine does not indicate a likely failure in another. In fact, it is more likely to indicate the potential for success in the other engines.

Meta tags: the solution to all your problems

"Are your meta descriptions relevant to the content on each page" - this is a serious question and definitely worth asking about your website. My problem is that this site doesn't seriously look after it's own meta tags. Some of the problems I detected on this site

  • meta keywords are static i.e. all pages have the same keyword list. Nothing "relevant" going on here.
  • meta classification tag has been stuffed with the same static list as the keyword meta. The only meta tags Google and company read (as best anyone can tell) are keyword, description, language and robots tags. At best they will ignore the rest, at worst consider it keyword stuffing and penalise the site. One source I found researching this item says that only Netscape ever used this tag and that it's format is undefined. Does this sound like something Google would seriously use?
  • revist-after - a real gem. Does anybody seriously think they can influence the rate at which Google and company will return to analyse a site? The only way I know to encourage a search engine to return is to give them a reason through the addition of new material at regular intervals. For mine, this meta tag is just a waste of space. Leave it out and reduce the bandwidth requirement.

"[SEM] involves a combination of submitting your website and using paid listings is search engines such as .." There's nothing wrong with the statement other than the use of "is" instead of "in". Poor spelling and poor grammar seriously undermine the credibility of the site particularly when they are attempting to position themselves as experts in a field.

I'll concede that rantings on this website are not always perfect. My partner Andy proofreads my stuff and I his. We are technical guys where English has become almost a second language to us. We mainly speak "Geek". However, whenever we spot a problem on the site we fix it at first opportunity. The posting with the "is" for "in" problem was posted in May 2008 and has not been fixed. If that was the only mistake on the site I wouldn't bother commenting but there is a challenge (or 2) on many of the pages, e.g. "We are constantly striving to be better than our competitions and provide ... " and "...not due to lack of information be an absolute abundance to ..." are other examples of the folksie style employed here.

Am I seriously trying to denigrate the opposition? NO! Unfortunately I think they are missing the point when striving to deliver a quality service to their customers. They are generating a large amount of material in the corporate blog. It is pushing all the right buttons by using lots of industry buzzwords; it may even encourage the search engines to visit regularly; and even raise the search position for some of these buzzwords. However, the material they have generated is not just missing a good editor to improve the spelling and grammar, it looks like an attempt to feed the search engines at the expense of the human visitors. Never a good recipe. Google monitor visitor activity and if they detect a high bounce rate they will devalue the page content and limit the value of the generated blog material.

All of this is before I seriously examine the actual message conveyed on these pages. That's a story for another day.

This discussion may have raised a few questions for you. Please feel free to contact MidBoh. However, don't expect me to name names. You'll have to do your own research to see if you can find them.

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