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20 SEO Cracks Sure to Break Your Website’s Back

December 7, 2012

20 SEO Mistakes To Avoid Step On A Crack Graphic

How SEO Can Ruin Your Day

Search Engine Optimization is many things– fair and kind aren’t among them (lol). I sat down to create a list of 5 things to NEVER do on your website or risk the wrath of Google Gods, and I ended up with 20 big SEO cracks your website should avoid stepping on.

If this sounds like SEO is live ammunition, you are getting the idea. Here is the other part, the hard part: Search Engine Optimization’s “rules” change all the time. If that sounds strange for a “rule”, you are starting to understand the difference between Internet marketing and everything else (lol).

Internet marketing is ALIVE. Every second of every day, something is moving, changing and rearranging itself in Internet marketing land. If you guessed that MONEY is the prime driver of the web’s insatiable appetite for arbitrage, you win a dollar. If you figured out that everything is for sale and there is more than one currency, you win $100 (US). If you figured out everything is in movement all the time so the only TRUE NORTH is what is happening NOW, you are good to go.

NOW means that the best guide for how to win top positions on keywords you care about is to watch who is winning them now. Watching who holds or loses top SEO positions with a tool like MIKE’S (FREE) or SEOmoz (not free). Tools help you see through Google’s float of their index to “absolute” values. Here are the 20 “cracks” sure to break your website’s back if you step on them (so don’t do that):

Published on Scoop.it first:

Martin (Marty) Smith‘s insight:

I’m a little like a top. Wind me up on a favorite topic such as Internet Marketing or SEO and I can twirl off into space (lol). I am self-reflective to KNOW THIS and old enough to laugh at myself, but it means I can be a LOUSY teacher (at times) because my mind is racing ahead.

Let’s slow SEO down and discuss some basic easy to understand survival rules:

1. NEVER subtract content from Google, OR ADD much more and then slowly subtract less than you added.

2. NEVER use a 302 redirect (marked by spammers and so BAD IDEA no matter what your IT guy says).

3. Inbound links are CURRENCY, think of them as Platinum and treat with care and appreciation.

4. MODELED means do anything OUTSIDE the model and your website is at risk of punishment.

5. GROWTH in pages, links and shares is expected and MODELED via a power distribution. Violate previously modeled expectations by more than 10% and risk punishment.

6. PROMOTE like crazy BEFORE a massive change (new site, new URLs) to blunt the drop off loss associated with such moves (as high as 30% of existing link support).

7. PageRank MATTERS and is normally a waterfall, so homepage PR6 has PR4 Category Top Pages and PR2 to PR4 product pages. ANY variation from this pattern should be fully investigated. Know your most important pages’ PR and watch it like a hawk. PR changes every 90 days.

8. Google expects a power distribution, an 80/20 rule where 20% of your pages get 80% of the traffic, 20% of your inbound links contribute 80% of the external link traffic and so on; violations of expected power distributions risk punishment as “over optimization” or “buying links” or worse (Spam).

9. Watch heuristic measures (time on site, pages viewed, return visitors and bounce rates) like hawks on wires searching for dinner. Any movement beyond 5 points of standard deviation UP or DOWN should be investigated immediately.

10. Do the right thing and TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT, then DO THE RIGHT THING AGAIN and others will tell their people about it, then listen to how your visitors share how to DO THE RIGHT THING and create a community around it.

11. If INBOUND LINKS are platinum, then your internal links are GOLD. Make sure your taxonomy is keyword dense and those links are properly architected. PR comes from your internal links too, so DO THOSE RIGHT.

12. If it feels like SPAM, it is!

13. Always calculate GAIN vs. LOSS, and only take action when G > L.

14. Mistakes HAPPEN, Stay Calm and Carry On and have an articulated “Disaster Recovery Plan” sitting in a well-known and secure place with “break in case of emergency” labels.

15. The ONLY nonrecoverable mistake in Internet marketing is to NOT PLAY. Everything else helps to some lesser or greater degree. Always ACT, then analyze and then ACT SOME MORE.

16. In “Disaster Recovery,” slow down a little since speed can be gasoline on the fire and isn’t calm, then get exponentially more specific than normal. Don’t judge or wonder why us, focus only on what matters – moving the conflict or disaster to properties you OWN and CHOOSE, LISTENING more carefully than you’ve ever listened and taking recognizable positive actions you credit back to the source (i.e. your listening).

17. When Google smacks you, and they will, don’t take it personally and recover by simultaneously and immediately creating 3x as much viral content as you normally do and do an analytics deep dive to find out what caused the rift. If you have good relationships with high PageRank sites, ask if you can create content together so they will support the content on your website with a link. Fresh inbound links = fastest disaster recovery plan, but DON’T BUY THEM, since doing so would put you in more trouble.

18. ANY DEEP DIVES into analytics should be limited to 3 days. If after three days of intense analysis you don’t know what you don’t know still, STOP and create a plan based on your best assumptions. More time spent on analysis pushes the answer past the point of diminishing returns.

19. Always HEDGE and DIVERSIFY your ideas, campaigns, content, links, traffic sources and everything. Never put too many revenue eggs in a single channel.

20. Prioritize the channels you control MORE now, such as MOBILE, SOCIAL and EMAIL. Find points of diminishing returns on PPC and traditional advertising and DO NOT EXCEED that point or you spend beyond your ROI.

If you are careful, as your website moves through time its value, traffic and ROI will grow. No website goes straight up all the time (except maybe Amazon), so expect bumps and bruises. Remember to trust but verify, know and live within your modeled power distributions and try to stay calm and carry on.

JAMMED? Remember I have Free Consulting Saturdays and Open Office Fridays now and would be glad to help: http://scenttrail.blogspot.com/2012/12/more-free-internet-marketing-consulting.html

My SEO Secret

Ever wonder how I came to know so much about SEO? Yes, I spent a week in Mill Valley with SEO Guru Bruce Clay, but that isn’t the biggest source of my knowledge. I managed a team running what became a $6M website, and ask any FOM (Friend of Martin), I can BLOW SOME STUFF UP (lol).

If you aren’t blowing some things apart online. you aren’t really an Internet marketer. We never wore black hats. Sometime we blow stuff up because we were stupid, and sometimes our IT guys stepped right on us. Nothing like blowing up a million dollar thing to LEARN FAST.

My Admission of Guilt for Being Able To BLOW Websites UP.

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