In your process of developing a website that is search engine optimized, you have most likely avoided many obvious mistakes that are highly penalized by major search engines such as Google. Keyword stuffing, hidden text, and sneaky JavaScript redirects: these are all website options that most webmasters know to avoid. 

But what are some other SEO mistakes that can easily be overlooked? Remember, the goal of SEO is for your website to attract visitors naturally from the search engines. Here are a few overlooked optimization factors that can easily be overlooked or errantly not considered:

SEO Mistake #1: Using Flash or JavaScript menus without HTML alternatives

While Flash or JavaScript websites may look flashy and chic, excluding HTML alternatives will keep your website essentially hidden from the search engines and visitors for two reasons: 

1. Not every user across the internet uses an advanced browser.

2. Many search crawlers cannot read links from Flash or JavaScript.

Your website should be developed with the ability to be viewed by any user. Flash and JavaScript can add pizzazz to a website, but at the cost of potentially losing customers. Your menu scripts should contain HTML alternatives so that browsers without the ability to translate Flash or JavaScript are able to allow the user to navigate through the site.

In addition, part of optimizing your site for search engines is the link factor. You want to create a website so that any page can access any other page through clean links. Links allow a search engine crawler to see how popular a website is. The more links a webpage has, the more popular it will appear to search engines. That is why you want many links, both internal and external, to pages on your website. If a crawler cannot distinguish links because of Flash or JavaScript, they are not beneficial for optimization. Be sure to always include an HTML menu alternative to avoid making this costly mistake. 

SEO Mistake #2: Using images for titles, headings, and text

Part of your SEO formula is creating keywords visible to search engines. Keywords can appear in the body of text, but keywords placed in headings and titles are given special consideration by search engine crawlers. When you replace headings, titles, and even text within the body with graphical images, you remove the “keyword bonus points” you receive from a search engine algorithm. 

Indeed, you want to create a website that is attractive to your visitors, and a site full of text-only can be very bland and even a sign of a lack of credible professionalism to a new visitor. Therefore, you want to use graphics and images, but use them judiciously, especially when replacing potential searchable keywords. And always use “alt” tags with your images to give the search engines keywords and text descriptions to crawl. 

SEO Mistake #3: Using dynamic URLs with “unsafe” characters

Many websites take advantage of creating dynamic web pages based on search results within a database. However, dynamic URLs that include characters like “&”, “=”, or “%” can be detrimental for a webpage if you want it to be crawled by a search engine. Many search engines are unable to process “special” characters or characters used in hexadecimal coding. 

SEO Mistake #4: Using a PDF as a web page

Oftentimes a web developer will incorporate a PDF file as a webpage. This usually happens when a ‘contributor’ to the website designs a web page or set of pages using Word or PowerPoint software. Instead of translating the designs into HTML, they are simply transformed into PDF files and posted to the website where a user can download and view the information. 

Although this technique may be acceptable in some cases, such as downloading an annual report, a good webmaster will always insist that actual information meant for website contribution be translated into html. PDF is a great tool to use for document creation, but they can be bulky and time-consuming for users to download, and they are much less optimized for most search engine crawlers.

SEO Mistake #5: Failing to update often

Websites that are updated often are more likely to be found by search engines. Most search engines like to find websites that have current and updated information for their searchers. If you want to help optimize your website, consider posting a blog or other regular content updates. With each update, you have the opportunity to write keyword content using one or two specific keywords that becomes yet another search vehicle for your site.

By building an SEO-friendly website free of these mistakes, along with regularly checking your website, you can enjoy increased traffic for your endeavors.