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Top 4 SEO Site Design Mistakes

Mistake #1: Poor site design
If you designed your site using FrontPage 97 and haven\'t updated it recently, you\'re definitely guilty of this first error. I\'m not saying that a less-than-optimal design can\'t sell a message or product. One of the best providers of information in the website usability field--Jacob Nielsen at useit.com--has a very basic site. But it\'s intentional. If your site, however, is poorly designed and not related to your industry, you need to reconsider what you\'re doing. Think about user experience, stickiness and conversions.

Mistake #2: Weak or disorganized content
You need to make a unique, competitive statement with web copy that sells your services. This means focusing on benefits, just not features. Use innovative ways to talk about how you\'re different from the competition. You can be a little edgy, but be professional and make it personal, if you can.

Organization is also important. Don\'t cram too much on one page; most visitors only scan web pages and look for strong headlines--a good attention grabber. If you have product pages, it\'s fine to include summary pages, but break them into independent product pages where possible. If you\'ve done your keyword research properly, make sure that one to two keywords or phrases match each content page and that the HTML structure on your page--such as title and description--supports it.

Mistake #3: Hidden contact information
Include your contact information and maps in an easy-to-find location. This may seem obvious, but many companies try to hide behind their sites. If you want to be bold, try posting your cell phone number. One guy I know puts his personal phone number directly on the home page. He doesn\'t get many calls, but it shows trust in the visitor when you include such information. Be sure to add your e-mail or an e-mail support form and make it easy to access.

Think about adding this contact information on the \"run of site.\" The footer is a good place, since many visitors tend to scroll up and down the page quickly. Adding a sitemap, contact us section, terms of service and privacy policy are all benefits for users and search engines.

Mistake #4: Missing SEO basics
One of the most important factors when using SEO for websites is good keyword research. A unique title that matches your keyword as well as web copy that supports your topic meet more than 50 percent of the requirements for most search engines. Adding related key terms in H1 tags also can be helpful. Many people seem to focus on keyword density, but \"term weighting\" is more important. This is when data from your page and other related web pages are included as a measure of relevancy for ranking. Add a call-to-action description tag and make it unique for each page.

Use keywords in your body text \"early, often and naturally.\" This means: Don\'t think about SEO as if you were an engine trying to match density, prominence, proximity or synonyms in a perfect way. If you know density matters, but that term weighting is more important, then create an appropriate strategy. Adding synonyms will help you with more phrases and bring about ideas for content.

The industry knows that at least the first 200 words are vital in telling non-human visitors--the search engine bots--what your page is about. A solid structure and outline using these \"on page\" factors, with a natural internal link structure can be the first steps to moving you up in the rankings. External factors--trusted inbound links from relevant sites--have been, and always will, be a strong indicator for better search engine ranking.