Frankly, the biggest search engine optimization mistake you can make is not doing any SEO at all. It’s amazíng how many people believe “if you build it, they will come.” Marketing coaching makes one thing clear. Just putting a site up on the Internet won’t get you the traffic you want or need. By the same token, building a site and then thinking about SEO after the fact is a bad plan too. SEO needs to be at the heart of your Web plans from day one, and it’s a job that isn’t ever “finished.”

Learn What’s Bad For SEO And Don’t Do It

If you take a drawing class, one of the first things you’ll learn is that it’s easier to look at the negative space than at the object itself. That means that as a beginner, you have a better shot at recreating the funky-looking space between the apple and the pear than drawing the fruit the first time you pick up a pencil. And you don’t get so discouraged when your results aren’t perfect. That’s a good concept to carry into online marketing.Sometimes learning everything that can go wrong is a better place to start than trying to do everything right. Do-it-yourself, affordable SEO is too expensive at any cost if you’re constantly shooting yourself in the foot. Some of the biggest mistakes novices make are really the easiest ones to avoid!

Bad Navigation And No Sitemap

It doesn’t take a marketing coach to know that the entire point of “search engine optimization” on a site is to get that site crawled by the search engines. If you use images — or worse — Flash or javascript to design your navigation, the search engines will ignore you. (Also, any page that doesn’t have an incoming link won’t be crawled.)

Not having a sitemap is just as bad. Many website owners don’t think they need a sitemap because people don’t use them. It’s not about people! Search engines love sitemaps. They literally crawl all over sitemaps. Even if you have to maintain the sitemap manually, have one and link to it on every page of your site.

Poorly Constructed Title Tags And URLs

There’s nothing wrong with building your website, but pay attention to what your software is doing. Many site building packages and content management systems repeat the same title tag on every single page. Good programs of marketing coaching teach you that the title tag is probably the single most-important SEO element of any page. The title tag must fit the content of the page itself.

But, don’t pay attention to the title tag and ignore the URL. This is especially a problem in content management systems and shopping carts. The URLs are full of numbers and letters. You need to be including your keywords in your URLs so the search engines pick up on them. Don’t waste the invaluable potential in either the title tag or the URL.

Banning A Search Engine By Accident

It’s not unusual for a novice site owner to mess up their robots.txt file. The file exists in your site’s root directory to talk to search engine spiders. You can tell them not to crawl pages or sections or send other individual instructions. Since the file is just plain text and is so easy to create, site owners wade in without really understanding what they’re doing. If you’re not careful, you can ban the search engines from your site altogether. Use Yahoo SiteExplorer or Google SiteMaps to make sure that your site can indeed be crawled.

Vague Anchor Text For Links

Using anchor text like “click here” or “next” is a waste. When you are cultivating incoming links or creating links inside your site, use useful, descriptive anchor text. You don’t want to repeat the same phrase over and over again. Get two or three relevant, keyword-rich pieces of anchor text and also use your company name. Empty phrases are just that — empty.

Doing accurate keyword research is fundamental to successful marketing. It’s a huge topic in its own right, but you basically want to concentrate on phrases that are not overly general or that have too much competition. Good marketing coaches will spend a lot of time on keyword selection and you should too. Put that chore right up at the top of your SEO “to do” list.

In reading all the tips available on marketing coaching, you’ll find that most articles and courses focus on the things website owners should do. It’s also important to look at what you shouldn’t do. A poorly constructed site that fails to make good use of readable navigation, workable behind-the-scenes code, solid naming structures, and relevant anchor text will have a tough time online. Consider the fundamentals of basic SEO from the planning stage of your site to maximize your results and get the traffic you want.

By Paul Marshall (c) 2010