You want more website traffic? Here are the SEO mistakes you must avoid.

There is a lot of conflicting information about effective SEO techniques available on the web. It can be difficult sorting out which methods work and which don’t. The ways search engines index websites are changing so rapidly, that there is a lot of outdated information to sift through. However, there are some rules that don’t change.

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Here are a few common SEO mistakes to avoid when promoting your website.

The most common mistake companies make with SEO is expecting immediate results. It takes a lot of time and effort to increase the visibility of your site. With diligent work, you can start seeing a major change in 6-12 months. The major search engines like Google have a long memory. They need to see a history of being relevant and useful to people before you rise up in their rankings. There are some ways to jump-start visibility, including pay per click advertisements. Generally speaking, with these you are paying a search engine to promote your website or business in conjunction with a specific keyword, so when people search for that term, you are among the first results. Google has made the “ad” sign much more difficult to notice in recent years, so many people do not even notice when they are clicking on an advertisement. Buying traffic is becoming more important as competition for organic – free – traffic increases.

A general rule of thumb when purchasing advertising is, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are plenty of sites that will offer you easy shortcuts that will drive traffic to your site overnight. These usually take advantage of what are known as “black hat techniques.” These advertisers try to bypass the search engine’s guidelines with various aggressive methods. The fact is, Google and other search engines are becoming increasingly better at rooting out these types of tricks. While they may grant you some easy short term traffic, in the long run they aren’t likely to benefit you much and your money will be wasted.

Another common mistake that people make when creating a new website for a business is only thinking about SEO as after site is finished. SEO should be a consideration during every step of the process. Including keywords in your URL, implementing an XML sitemap into your design, and using HTML tags are all great ways to ensure effective SEO. Giving serious consideration to what keywords to associate with your site is another often overlooked step in this process. Have your SEO professional help you develop a list of target keywords for your website. There are also tools like Google Keyword Tool that can generate a list of helpful keywords for you.

Make sure that the content of your site can be easily indexed by search engines. PDF pages, Flash content, and image heavy pages can hurt your listings. Consider switching your PDFs and Flash to HTML format, and include significant text with your images to improve their visibility. Another helpful way to spread the word is by promoting your site through different social media outlets. This is a free, often neglected source of advertising that can gain you significant exposure through word of mouth. Your business should have at least one active social media account. If your business has a B2B market, LinkedIn is a good choice, but if you have a B2C market, try Facebook.

Finally, one of the biggest SEO mistakes businesses make when promoting their website is not budgeting for professional SEO services. There are a variety of agencies and consultants available who can assure the steady and efficient growth for your site through sustainable means. There is a cost involved with this service, but the alternative is that you take time away from your business and become an SEO expert yourself. Your time is better spent focusing on your own business instead of learning a new profession.
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