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SEO mistakes

Here we take a light hearted look at the mistakes some companies have made in the past when they came to do their SEO. None were our clients but for all of them there were serious consequence, not least in terms of cost and time.

We include them here because "One man's mistake is another man's success" and we can all learn a little bit from others.

The tale of the wrong keyword

There was once a company that made laptop bags. But they were no ordinary laptop bags. They were original and exciting designs that broke the mould.

But nobody knew about these laptop bags so one day the company hired an SEO firm so they would be found on the internet. "We want to be number one for the search term 'laptop bags' they said.

The SEO company was very happy with this as they knew it would take a long time so they would be able to charge alot. The laptop bag company thought the expense would be worth it because they would sell lots and lots of laptop bags.

And so the SEO company got to work. And they worked and worked. Every month they showed the laptop bag company that their site was going higher and higher in the ranks and the laptop bag company was very happy.

Finally the day came when their website appeared in the top 10 of the search engines and their visitor numbers went up and up.

They were very happy with the SEO company and all the money they had paid them for now they were going to be rich.

But the days passed and they did not sell many more laptop bags even though they could see all the visitors coming into their site.

They scratched their heads and waited. A week later their site disappeared from the search engines which made them very angry.

They called the SEO company who looked into it and they said, "Your visitors came in, looked and then pressed the back button so the search engines concluded you should not really be in the first results when people are looking for 'laptop bags'".

The laptop bag company was suspicous and called another SEO company. The other SEO company looked at the data and agreed with the first SEO company.

"The problem", they announced "is that people looking for laptop bags want laptop bags. What you have are 'designer laptop bags' and this is the keyword phrase you should have used. The SEO would have cost you less, it would have taken less time and you would have got the right visitors.

And no one lived happily ever after (except the SEO company who should have known better but got paid anyway).

The tale of the worthless keyword

There was once a company that made great and original floors and all who saw them, loved them and bought them. The company was clever so they thought, "If more people saw our floors we would make even more money".

The flooring company went to an SEO firm and said they wanted to be higher in the search engine results. The SEO company thought for a while and did some research.

A week later the SEO company said, "You sell very funky floors so why don't we make you popular for people who search 'funky floors'". The flooring company agreed that they did indeed make funky floors and so this would be a very good plan.

In what seemed like no time at all the SEO company returned and announced that the flooring company was now in the top 10 of search engine results for 'funky floors'. The flooring company checked, and gasped. It was all true.

They paid the SEO company what they had promised and heaped well deserved praise on them that they could display to future clients. They had indeed done what they had promised.

But the weeks passed and there were few extra orders. When nearly half a year had gone they went to another SEO company and asked, "Why do we have no extra orders when we are so well ranked for 'funky floors'?".

The other SEO company went away and did some research.

"The problem", they announced "is that hardly anybody searches the internet for 'funky floors' You should always check how many people search a term before trying to optimising for it. Funky floors was an easy term to optimise because few other companies were competing for it. They were not competing because nobody was searching for it"

And no one lived happily ever after (except the SEO company who should have known better but got paid anyway).

The tale of the very large website

There was once a man named Jack who had a fantastic idea. He would create a news site that would take the RSS feeds from all the other news sites and make the world's biggest news site.

He had read a little about SEO and knew that larger sites do better in search engine rankings and his would be the largest news site of them all.

Jack found a website design company who worked hard. They took feeds from the BBC, from CNN, from The Times, from The Washington Post. Soon they had feeds from the 20 largest news sites in the world.

In no time at all Jacks site was filling up with stories without him having to lift a finger and he was very happy. "Soon", he thought. "I shall have the most popular news site in the world and then I will be able to make money from selling advertising space".

Jack dreamt about quitting his job and what he would do with his wealth. He paid the website company even though it had cost him most of his savings. They had done what they had promised.

After three months his site was huge with tens of thousands of stories. Now it was time to employ an SEO company who would take it to the top of the search engines.

He took what was left of his savings to a SEO company and asked them to make his site number one for 'news', 'business news', 'sports news' and a few other news related words.

The SEO company shook their heads and said they could not do it. "But why?" asked Jack. "Soon it will be larger than the all other news sites. It will be the biggest in the world!"

"The problem", the SEO company announced "is that all your content is copied and the search engines know it. There is nothing original on your site and even if you added some content, the majority would be copied so your site would still be discounted."

The the SEO company showed Jack all the other people on the internet who were trying to do the same thing. There were hundreds of sites all trying to be the biggest in the world.

"When the search engines find duplicate content," said the SEO company. "They will only show the site that produced the original. And when they find that most of a site is duplicate content they will simply discard the entire domain."

And no one lived happily ever after (except the website design company who should have known better but got paid anyway).

The tale of the many domains

There was once a man who wanted his real estate business to be number one on Google. But he wanted to be number one for many things. He wanted to be number one for "niceville real estate" and he wanted to be number one for "niceville homes for sale" and he wanted to be number one for "niceville condos for sale".

When he had finished thinking he realised he wanted to be number one for fifteen different phrases but there were hundreds of real estate firms online in niceville, how was it to be done?

So he went to the internet to find out.

He did not need to read for long and found the answer was in the domain name and in having links. Suddenly he realised the answer.

He should simply buy www.niceville-real-estate.com and www.niceville-homes-for-sale.com and all the other domains for all the other phrases.

Then he would link all the websites to each other so each would have fourteen links and he would dominate the phrases so easily.

At once he searched for a website design company and found many who were very happy to help. He knew this meant he must be doing the right thing and he rubbed his hands with glee.

In no time at all the websites were ready and he waited impatiently to become number one but the weeks passed and most of his domain names were not even indexed by Google.

He marched to the website design company and demanded an explanation. "We know nothing about search engine optimisation," they said. "We are a design company and we did as you asked."

He stroked his chin, thought about this and then went to see an SEO specialist. The SEO specialist said, "The problem is, most of your domains have very little content and some are just copies of the others in a slightly different order so Google only sees a need to index one or two. They all link to each other but nobody links to them so Google is suspicious, especially as Google knows all the domains belong to you through the whois system".

But the bad news was not over yet. The SEO specialist had more to say, "Now the websites in Google's top 10 for 'niceville real estate' are older than yours, have many links and were built to a higher quality and although your domain name is important it is only one of many factors".

And so the man with the real estate business had nothing and nobody lived happily ever after except the website design company.

I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.

If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.

Find me on Google+ or get a quote if you need help.

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