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Web site promotion mistakes

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In my other articles, I generally try to point out different web site promotion tricks and techniques that work, or talk about different obstacles and how to overcome them. This article is a bit of an exception. It doesn't explain what to do - instead, it is about the things you should avoid doing.

I've made many of the mistakes described here myself back when I was starting out, and I know that a lot of people who are new to web site promotion make these mistakes every day. Believe me, it's better to read about common errors and learn to avoid them than to do them yourself. I learned the hard way...

Search engine mistakes
Search engines are a key part of promotion and because they are so important, there are a lot of untruthful rumours, misconceptions and outdated secrets circulating about them. Perhaps the most common one is the good old "invisible text" technique. It is pretty simple: Add some text to your page that is in the same color as the background. Include keywords to this text - the search engine sees it because search engines don't "see" background colors, but your visitors will never know it's there.

This method used to work in the stone age of search engines and you can still see some pages out there that use it. In time, search engines have gotten pretty efficient in dealing with this sort of manipulation. Getting caught while doing this can result in having your rankings dropped as a penalty, or even having your site completely banned from the engine in question. Try to avoid the "invisible text" technique if possible. If you really have to use it for one reason or another, do it with CSS. But don't come crying to me if (when) you get burned...

A similar trick is to add extremely small text, stuffed with repetitions of the keywords you're trying to target, to your page. The purpose is similar to the "invisible text" technique, to hide the keyword content from the visitors while allowing search engine spiders to see it. Of course small text isn't entirely invisible, but coupled with a suitable picture in the background, it might be almost unnoticeable. This "small text technique" is another old trick which is very risky nowadays. Using this technique is hardly worth the risk and the design problems that come with it.

Let's move on to another serious mistake commonly made by webmasters just starting out with search engine promotion. They might have heard from somewhere that certain keywords, for example those related to the adult industry or different celebrities, are really popular and get searched thousands and thousands of times each day. So even while their site is for example about 19th century firearms and has nothing to do with those things, they decide to add tens of unrelated adult words to their META tags and in the worst case, even into the actual text of their page.

When doing this, they are wishing that because the keywords are so popular, their site will be seen by many and they will get a lot of visitors. This is not a good search engine promotion method, as it will only bring them visitors that are looking for something else than what the site is about. Once the visitors realize that the site is not what they are looking for, they'll leave in a heartbeat. Believe me and only optimize your site for keywords that are relevant to your site.

Another thing to keep in mind is not to overdo it when you're optimizing your pages. Repeating your primary keyword 100 times at the top of the page will not get you the top spot on search engines, on the contrary it will hurt you and might even get you into trouble. Moderation is the key - use those keywords often, but not as every other word!

Our final search engine mistake is using the META refresh tag. The details about this tag can be found in the "Meta tags" article. Read it, and leave this tag alone.

General web site promotion mistakes
Well, I don't know if this is actually a web site promotion mistake, it might be more like a general web site building tip. Anyhow, I think it's important, so here it comes:

Do not rely on free web site hosts. They are great if your ISP doesn't offer you space and you want to create a modest homepage just to show you're on the Net, but if you're planning to build a more serious site, I'd say a domain name and a paid host is almost a must. Domains and hosting space are cheap nowadays and they are well worth the money spent on them. First of all, good paid hosts are faster and more reliable than free hosts. Second, a domain name gives your site some authority - it shows you're serious and your site is going to stay around for awhile. This is extremely important if you're trying to sell something, because you'll need to make your visitors feel comfortable to send their money to you.

Another point to consider is that it's generally easier to get a site with a domain name into search engines and directories. It is a lot harder to do that if your site is hosted on a free host. It's not impossible, but web site promotion is a tough game, there's no reason to make it any harder. So spend a few bucks here if you can - you'll get them back later, with interest.

There is one more subject to cover before we're finished. That is, wasting your money on bad submitting services. I've seen thousands of spams that scream "We'll submit your site to 15000 search engines and directories for the low price of $49.95". Don't be fooled by them. The majority of those 15000 places produce minimal traffic, as there are hardly even 150 significant global engines. I'd advise against paying for these services, unless you can test-drive them first for free and pay only if you are satisfied with the results.

Note that the above does not mean you shouldn't pay for different web site promotion services. There are promotion tools that are worth the money and people who can do wonders for your site if you hire them. However, remember to investigate before you buy. Ask other people about their experiences with the service you're considering to purchase before buying it - you might save a lot of money.


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