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SEO and Keyword Selection - Six Common Mistakes Made by Small Businesses Part 2

SEO results Most small business owners make the same mistakes when it comes to keyword selection and website optimization. In a previous article we discussed the first three of these common mistakes. Now let’s examine the next three of these six most common mistakes.

4. Many small business owners make the common mistake of treating online marketing just like any other form of advertising. The aim of all advertising of course is to capture the attention of an audience. Compelling advertising creates a call to action and hopefully a sales conversion. Online advertising has special considerations however, especially for organic search results. You not only have to capture the attention of the visitor but also of the search engine for your best keywords.

Tip: Not only must you arrange your content to catch the fleeting glance of your surfing audience, you also have to write your content to gain favor with the search engines for a particular keyword phrase. And don't forget, you have approximately 10 seconds to capture the attention of the average web surfer. Take a page from seasoned newspaper journalists – write a headline that catches the eye and says it all in very few words.

Take away: Writing for the web is unlike writing for other media. Both your keywords and your headline should "say it all."

5. Another common mistake is to use keywords in the meta tags for branding.

Tip: Unless your business is already a household name and people are searching for it in large numbers, don't waste your best web real estate on it. Search engines only give value to the first few words of the Meta tags and the Meta title is especially important. They insist that you tell them what you are all about up front. On average, beyond the first 60-75 characters of the Meta title, a search engine gives little or no value to the keywords, so it is important to place your best keywords at the beginning. For example, if you are the ACME Coffee Import Company of America and your target keywords are "fair trade coffee in Fresno" then don't insist on putting your company name first. Search engines will interpret this to mean that the keyword phrase you wish to compete for has little to do with fair trade coffee in Fresno and that you actually would rather compete for your company name – which, by the way, no one is searching for.

Take away: In the Meta title, concentrate on promoting your best keyword efforts rather than on branding. Although branding is an important aspect of marketing, save your branding for your web page content.

6. One last common mistake is to ignore or skip over SEO when planning a website. It is common to concentrate on the "bells and whistles" of web site design, which often turns out to be anything but search engine friendly. Web designers know website design and good design incorporates usability features as they apply to end users. Very often however, without a thorough understanding of how search engines work, all too often your target audience will never get to see these useable sites. Macromedia Flash is a great tool for creating visually stunning websites, but did you know that search engines cannot "read" flash files and "see" a flash built site as having no content? You are not alone – many web designers are also unaware of this.

Tip: Save yourself time, headaches and money by doing your SEO homework right at the beginning of the web site building process. Hire an SEO. If you already have an online presence but have not had much success in terms of search engine rankings, hire an SEO to reevaluate your web site. In either case you'll be glad you did.

Take away: Make sure that your web site is "search engine friendly." Also, do your keyword research before you build your web site. When good, targeted keywords drive content, results are often surprising and lead to real, targeted traffic, the kind of traffic you have been striving to attract.