5 Questions Answered by Alan Bleiweiss – SEO Audits, Websites and More

Posted by Melissa in SEO on October 29, 2010

#1 – What is the biggest mistake you see businesses making when creating websites? Could it be not focusing on SEO before creation of the site?

Long before SEO, I was Director of web development at a major web firm in New York. So for almost 16 years I’ve seen a lot of crazy things with web launches. Making major launch announcement plans before the site is even half-way through development has got to be the most common mistake. Project Manager: “We expect to launch in 30 days”. Client: But we just made arrangements with several media outlets, the local TV station, and five radio stations. In 4 days, we’re announcing the new site at a big event. Thousands will be on hand…”

The 2nd biggest mistake, and the one with the most serious ramifications long term, is believing SEO can wait til after launch. Or that SEO is a “minor” factor in the planning process.

Then again – most site owners completely overlook or downplay the financial costs of marketing – the “build it and you’re done” mentality. #SpeedyDevelopmentByIntimidation

#2 – What are the top 5 common SEO problems you see when auditing a website?

Topical Cross Contamination
The single biggest problem is either a complete lack of topic focus, or a poorly executed topic separation. Many people hear “put keywords in your title and in your content”. That’s all they know. Or they think it’s okay to have five or eight phrases in the title, even if, upon proper analysis, half those phrases belong not just on another page, but in a completely different section of the site. Or they think they can get “the long tail” by filling the content with five, ten or twenty “related” phrases or words.

Text Anorexia.
Next would have to be site owners not wanting to “crowd” pages with text. “Do we really have to have text everywhere?” #SEOFAIL

Internal Link Poisoning
If web sites had a liver, many sites would die of internal link poisoning. So third on my list has got to be over-saturation of links. Mouse over the top nav and see 150 links. Scroll to the bottom of the page and see… 150 links… Click into a section of the site, and see a sidebar with… 150 links… So yeah – site developers, designers and, sadly, SEO “experts” who are addicted to links. The fact, from extensive testing on many sites, has proven itself to me that when you pollute every page on the site with so many links, not only do you cause Google to lose it’s ability to evaluate important content, or content organization, you make it even more difficult to communicate the topical focus of pages and entire sections of a site.

Laughable Link Building
How many people do you think there are that heard article marketing was a good idea, then proceeded to join craptastic article farms? It’s so hysterical how people believe EZineArticles is a good place to submit links, when in truth, all sites like that are good for is polluting your link profile with sites that either already have been, or eventually will be nailed by Matt. Or they’re worthless sites with no weight to begin with. And yea, it’s great for SEO – SEO for the EZine sites and their own rankings. And their profit line.

One of my clients had a guy saying how great article marketing was. He got them to write unique articles. With three paragraphs of “unique” content for each paragraph in the article. Yeah – you know where this is going… 1 Article becomes 3, 6, 9… all on the same topic… The majority of those links? yeah. From Russian spam sites, Chinese domains… Ideal inbound links for a U.S. based professional services company web site. #HAHAHAHAHA

Of course, many people in our industry will point out that some of those links are good because Google really can’t keep up with it. They’ll point out countless sites they say rank for such nonsense. Well guess what? If you really don’t care about quality, if you really don’t respect your clients or yourself, go for it. Have fun. Go to town. I’ll be over here being a professional, getting better results through other means.

An SEO Sucker is Born Every Minute
SEO Suckers are people who think “I’ll just study the competition, then do what they did.” The problem with that, if I really have to explain it, which I really SHOULDN’T have to do, is this… If all you do is what the competition does, how do you expect to get better results? By doing MORE of what they do? Yeah. That will usually only lead to them doing even MORE, then you having to do MORE… and, well, what a sad use of time and resources.

One of the reasons I am able to get the kind of results I do for clients willing to pull out at least most of the stops, is that the reason I look at competitors is mostly to see what they’re doing wrong. It’s usually a hit-and-run review. Or I may look at things they’re doing and see if they’re best practices, because sure, I want to recommend best practices as well. Yet my audit competitive analysis time is usually only a small fraction of my energy. Because most sites out there, to this day, are still managed by Topical Cross-Contaminators, Laughable Link Builders, Internal Link Addicts, and people with Text Anorexia.

#3 – Who needs website audits?

I can only speak about SEO or Conversion Optimization audits. It’s anyone who hopes to ever get their site the highest qualified leads that result in the highest possible conversion rate – all through organic search and related channels (off site factors) and who has the financial capacity and “stay in business long enough” time to apply enough pressure to the existing landscape. And only if their market really does use search to seek them out. And they need to be honest, open-minded and willing. Honest about their current business financial health, and about their real goals. Open-minded to potentially radical changes to their site, and their overall online marketing footprint. Willing to accept the responsibility for ensuring the action plan is carried out. Willing to accept it will probably not be overnight success. Willing to find other marketing methods when I recommend that SEO is the wrong solution for their unique situation.

#4 – What are businesses missing or forgetting on their websites?

You got a month? I got that many things to talk about on this one. I conducted an audit this week for a site that would seemingly be a cake-walk. Very small site. They have just ONE product. Very small actual competitive landscape. (Literally about 10 actual competitors). Very successfully being found for brand-related phrases. (just under 3 million visits to the site so far this year). By the time I was done, it was a:

  • 24 page audit and action plan document.
  • 14 Strategic Tasks
  • 27 Tactical Tasks
  • Still going to need a Link Building Audit
  • Still going to need a Conversion Optimization Audit

So uh, that’s how it goes. The list of issues that businesses forget or are missing is too long for this article. The fact is that the vast majority of business web site owners are missing so much, yet they don’t even realize it. Or they have a feeling, but supress it. Because to acknowledge it means having to hire professionals – after doing deep due-diligence, people who are truly experts at evaluating, and experts at implementing. But most site owners really don’t have the budget for it. Even though the budget for it would lead to increased income. Because this society is filled with people who have a penny and a dream. And it’s very thin on people who have capital to drive the dream into reality.

So I guess that just means the thing most sites are missing, is a site owner with a proper plan and/or the capital to drive it.

#5 – What recommendations would you give to businesses on finding the right web developer?

The right web developer? Can’t help you there. The right developer is different for every site owner and every market imaginable. Unless, of course, you want to get into crystal balls, metaphysics, string theory and the subtleties of spiritual psychotherapy. If you do, let me know. We’ll talk. :-)

You can find Alan at his site SearchMarketingWisdom.com or on Twitter @alanbleiweiss

SEO Site Audits, Search Industry Commentary, And Rants – a Lot of Rants…

You can see Alan at the Blue Glass Florida Conference – He will be a speaker. :-)

21 responses to “5 Questions Answered by Alan Bleiweiss – SEO Audits, Websites and More”

  1. Alan Bleiweiss

    Melissa,

    Thank you so much for inviting me to answer these questions. I was in rare form when I answered them. I think the best line I came up with in the whole article was “If web sites had a liver, many sites would die of internal link poisoning.” :-)

    Alan Bleiweiss

  2. JadedTLC

    Internal Link Poisoning. I love this description. Most sites I look at these days are suffering from this epidemic. Internal Link Architecture is so important today, and most SEO “experts” miss that boat. If you don’t tell Google what’s important to you, then how will Google figure that out. Perhaps, this is why Google “thinks” it knows what we want. Because we’re too lazy to tell it.

    JadedTLC

  3. Melissa

    Alan, thanks for answering and I think it is all great :-)

    Jaded, thanks for commenting and amen!

  4. Lyena Solomon

    Alan, just 2 days ago I was talking to an affiliate marketer who was very adamant in his conviction that EZine articles bring him most of his converting traffic. He also posts the same article on multiple article sites (#spam). What could I say? Even if the article is great, why attempt to rank it on EZine site instead of your own? I bet, he did not even have Analytics installed (#sarcasm).

    Another person – a copywriter for a huge local company – was given very specific keyword density instructions.

    There are so many people who do not bother learning about SEO that I feel very confident about my job security.

    Lyena Solomon

  5. Alan Bleiweiss

    Without seeing the site or the articles in question, I can’t offer any insight. I do know that there are exceptions to every rule. Yet I also know that the rule in this case, is article farms result in junk links.

    I’ve no desire to make use of such a tactic in the hope that I’ll hit that exception and strike paydirt. It’s just not worth the time or energy.

    Keyword density? must have been sold that nonsense from someone selling ice to eskimoes. just because you can doesn’t mean it’s worth it :-)

    Alan Bleiweiss

  6. New York SEO Company

    Internal Link Poisoning. I love this description. Most sites I look at these days are suffering from this epidemic. Internal Link Architecture is so important today, and most SEO “experts” miss that boat. If you don’t tell Google what’s important to you, then how will Google figure that out. Perhaps, this is why Google “thinks” it knows what we want. Because we’re too lazy to tell it.

    New York SEO Company

  7. Alrady40

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  8. Jill Whalen

    RT @SEOAware: @AlanBleiweiss look- 5 Questions Answered by Alan Bleiweiss – SEO Audits, Websites and More – http://bit.ly/dnrrQd

  9. Joshua Titsworth

    RT @SEOAware: @AlanBleiweiss look- 5 Questions Answered by Alan Bleiweiss – SEO Audits, Websites and More – http://bit.ly/dnrrQd

  10. Lisa Williams

    RT @SEOAware: @AlanBleiweiss look- 5 Questions Answered by Alan Bleiweiss – SEO Audits, Websites and More – http://bit.ly/dnrrQd

  11. Dana Lookadoo

    I lean toward voting for the following as the best line:
    “Because most sites out there, to this day, are still managed by Topical Cross-Contaminators, Laughable Link Builders, Internal Link Addicts, and people with Text Anorexia.”

    But, the biggest takeaway is that website owners need to be “Open-minded to potentially radical changes to their site, and their overall online marketing footprint. Willing to accept the responsibility for ensuring the action plan is carried out.”

    How many hours and hours of consulting time is wasted due to someone putting our audits and recommendations aside because they either don’t read or don’t really want change.

    Well done, Alan!

    Dana Lookadoo

  12. Dana Lookadoo

    5 Questions Answered by @AlanBleiweiss – SEO Audits, Websites & More on @SEOAware http://ow.ly/31MQ2 via @lyena Text Anorexia?

  13. Chris Winfield

    5 Questions Answered by Alan Bleiweiss – SEO Audits, Websites and More http://bit.ly/cxR3UN

  14. AnnieCushing

    RT @chriswinfield: 5 Questions Answered by Alan Bleiweiss – SEO Audits, Websites and More http://bit.ly/cxR3UN

  15. Alan K'necht

    RT @chriswinfield: 5 Questions Answered by Alan Bleiweiss – SEO Audits, Websites and More http://bit.ly/cxR3UN

  16. Samuel Lavoie

    There is a bunch of great lines in that article! Can’t vote for one.

    Well done for humorously point out the 4 common seo problems, suckers isn’t really seo specific ;-p

    Samuel Lavoie

  17. Alan Bleiweiss

    Thanks Dana.

    Personally,I don’t consider it wasted time. I give my heart to my work. It’s up to God to decide where, how, and when that energy I send out into the world is then put to use.

    Some business owners need to ignore/disregard our recommendations, because they’ve got other life experiences/lessons in store for them, according to the big master plan of the universe, right?

    But now I digress, and have suddenly stepped into the spiritual psychotherapy realm I mentioned at the end of the interview :-)

    Alan Bleiweiss

  18. Dana Lookadoo

    @AlanBleiweiss Poor @SEOAware is not feeling well & I look forward to your reply on http://ow.ly/31MQ2 SUPER job on the post!

  19. SEO Company New York

    Internal Link Poisoning. I love this description. Most sites I look at these days are suffering from this epidemic. Internal Link Architecture is so important today, and most SEO “experts” miss that boat. If you don’t tell Google what’s important to you, then how will Google figure that out. Perhaps, this is why Google “thinks” it knows what we want. Because we’re too lazy to tell it.

    SEO Company New York

  20. Cindy Krum

    RT @SEOAware: 5 Questions Answered by Alan Bleiweiss – SEO Audits, Websites and More – http://bit.ly/dnrrQd @AlanBleiweiss

  21. Danny Barrera

    Alan,

    It’s not even funny how true that statement is “An SEO Sucker is Born Every Minute”… lol

    #notevenfunny

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