Editor’s Note: is a contributor to Practical eCommerce and the owner of BillHartzer.com, a Dallas-based online marketing firm. Hartzer wrote the article, below, which first appeared on his website, BillHartzer.com.
Are you using search engine optimization tactics that lead to overkill? You may not think so, but according to SEO experts at the Search Engine Strategies conference held recently in Chicago, Ill., you might be using what is called “SEO Overkill.”
Focus on What’s Important
According to Mike Murray of Fathom SEO, SEO is not a shopping spree. You need website traffic, but you need to pace yourself–even sound practices may fail if they’re rushed. When picking a domain name, short names are easy to read, but if you use multiple hyphens or forced capitalization, it looks like spam and visitors are immediately suspicious of your website. And when it comes to search engine optimization, you need to pick your priorities; don’t manage too many keywords at once.
Murray goes on to say that it’s easy to have folder and page name “excess.” Using too many keywords or repeated keywords in your domain name, folder name, and page name (or file name) can lead to disaster. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that they match the content, but don’t go overboard with it. Limit your repetition of keywords in the domain name, folder names, and page names. Although having those keywords in the URL can help rankings, don’t overdo it.
Title tags are important, according to Murray. It’s important to tame your title tag, especially because long title tags are useless. “It’s important to pick one or two search terms and call it a day when you’re writing title tags. Meta description tags are needed as well, but don’t have meta description overload,” says Murray. “The description tag still counts–but you need to avoid long descriptions.” The meta description tag still shows up in the search engine results, but some search engines downplay this tag due to past abuses. It’s good to limit your meta keywords tag to a few keywords.
Other issues that Murray talked about were issues such as overdone visible text. “Massive keyword repetition in a small space may annoy site visitors–it looks blatant.” Heading tags are commonly misused, as well. “Don’t overstuff and avoid misuse. Complement the design and don’t ignore the overall look and feel of your site.”
Simple Title Tags, Straightforward Page Text
According to Heather Lloyd-Martin from SearchEngineWriting.com, SEO overkill is where good content can go bad. Title tags can get overstuffed quickly. Remember that the SERPs (search engine results) page is the first opportunity for conversion. Your title should be hot and compelling. It’s important to make your title clickable and reflect the content on the page. Stuffed title tags are more than spammy–they provide a bad first impression and inhibit click-throughs. Think of your conversion and your customers first. Searchers won’t click on your search engine listing if they see a spammy or undesirable title. “It’s one thing to create headlines that grab attention–it’s another when it has nothing to do with the ad,” says Lloyd-Martin. “Titles and content can be creative, but please make the content relevant, and hit the pain points of your client.”
She goes on to say that you need to avoid what she calls “conversion confusion.” “Many pages include a lot of text on the page and have a lot of good content and talk about the product a lot. But there’s no conversion step or way for people to take action. People need to be told what to do. If you do not ask for the sale, they won’t take action.” What action do you want your customers to take? How easy is it to take that action? Don’t rely on a “contact us” button or “contact us” in the footer navigation. When you create landing pages, it’s important to give the visitor an action they can take as well as an incentive for taking that action.