Making it to the top ten in search engine rankings involves hard work and persistence, but the future rewards are well worth the necessary effort. Being among the first websites to appear in your respective niche means traffic, and in the world of online business, traffic means profit. This is the primary reason why books teaching proper search engine optimization (SEO) are in high demand. Roughly defined, SEO means arranging and designing certain elements in your website in order to improve its chances of being indexed and catalogued by search engines. Good SEO means your website is among the highest ranking sites in relation to your niche, while bad SEO means your website is lingering and festering away near the bottom of the listings, virtually invisible.

However, even reaching the top spot with search engines does not mean that you are off the hook, never to work on the website again. While it does mean that the work is not as hectic as it was during the website’s launching, you still have to keep in mind some SEO details that could affect your future success. These elements may seem minor and insignificant, but given enough time, they could profoundly decrease the overall quality of your website, and your website’s search engine placement. Compounded, they could pull the site down from the top ten to the top thirty, or worse. Careful planning and attention to these molehills is a must for any website owner hoping to be the best in his field:

Dead links
As the website grows larger, the number of inbound and outbound links can also spiral out of control. Sometimes, a few links may lead to websites or pages that no longer exist or have been relocated to another web address. Search engine crawlers will eventually discover these dead links and may lower your ranking as a result. It is easy to miss these, especially if your website has a significant number of pages and links. Therefore, it is recommended to schedule a day or two every couple of months and check all your inbound and outbound links to determine whether they are still active or not and to take the appropriate actions as necessary.

Declining content quality
Sometimes, reaching the top ten can have a negative impact on your motivation, and you may no longer feel like working as hard on content quality as when you were first starting out. While it is true that it may no longer be as difficult as before, halfhearted posts and articles can turn away loyal customers and followers. Having new content that is on par with or better than its predecessors will ensure that you continue to maintain good SEO.

Infrequent updates
Being passive just because your website has reached a good ranking is a sure way towards future failure. Although it may no longer be necessary or practical to update your website daily, it should be browsed over, improved, and updated with new posts or articles every week or so, especially if competitors are vigorously modifying and updating their websites in order to catch up with yours. Having a set-it-and-forget-it attitude is not the proper way to go with good SEO.

Minimal visitor interaction
Your audience, followers, and customers are the number one priority of your website; they should be properly taken care of and frequently interacted with. Not having a way to reach them or not bothering to network with them can hurt your ranking. It is important to have a comments section and join in on a discussion once in a while. Leaving an email address where people can ask you questions and give you feedback is also important, as well as promptly replying to these emails. Set aside time every week dedicated to answering questions and thanking people for their interest in your website. Customers and followers who feel that you genuinely care about them will continue to be loyal and frequent your site often. Unattended, they will leave you for someone else.

Unattractive design and confusing layout
Although search engine crawlers may not put much emphasis on what font style you use or how bright your background color is, your visitors will. Even if your website is highly optimized, if visitors find that they can’t read the text because it’s too glaring, or if your products and posts aren’t well organized, they may leave and never come back. In fact, many top websites even overhaul their entire layout and design every couple of years in order to give their followers a better surfing experience. It’s important not to get sidetracked by SEO and forget the aesthetic value of the site. It has to be pleasing to look at and easy to navigate, otherwise, no amount of SEO can save it.

Choice of programming language
Some people use Flash or JavaScript in order to spice up their website. This can be a double-edged sword. Although it may improve the quality and sophistication of the site, it can also overwhelm users, especially those who may not be as tech-savvy or those who have slow internet connections. Some people have little patience to wait for a Flash program to load and immediately hit the back button if it takes too long. Others may have computers that are not capable of showing such programs. If not properly executed, these types of programming may not be accessible to some crawlers and spiders and will be ignored, thus hurting SEO and site ranking. Be sure to determine the costs versus the benefits of using non-HTML programming and plan accordingly.

Unoriginal content
Search engines are more inclined to rank websites with unique content higher than those who use public domain articles that have been overused. Being a good writer who can churn out unique and well-written articles and posts is a huge benefit in maintaining a website. There are also others who like to hire professional writers on their team. Whichever method you choose, having original content is the way to go. Posting free-to-use articles that have gone stale can actually hurt your website ranking, add cut against your SEO efforts.

Grammatical Errors
Grammar is important. A page filled with grammatical and spelling mistakes will be unattractive to visitors. This can be avoided by carefully proofreading your content before posting them on your website. A few minor mistakes will not hurt the overall page, but some visitors will be put off by frequent grammatical errors and will not bother to return even if the content has good value. Hiring professional editors or asking help from people who have excellent writing skills are good alternatives if grammar is not your strong suit.

It is easy to let your guard down once you have reached a certain level in your online aspirations. Perseverance and determination always pays off, but you must not let it all go to waste by neglecting small but important aspects of your website. Good SEO means taking care of the minor details as well as the major ones, even if they may seem insignificant at the moment. If you take time not to let your molehills grow into immovable mountains, you have achieved good SEO, and the top ranking is yours for the taking.

nlnunez © 2010 for Horton Group