Picture the scene. You’re off on a date - you’ve really scrubbed up for the occasion and from the look of your date’s profile they seem perfect: right height, good-looking, interesting job. Your mum’s bound to like this one.

But you arrive and they just keep telling the same stories again and again, they don’t have any friends to speak of and the Michelin starred restaurant they’d promised you turns out to be the local takeaway.

How do you feel? Disappointed? Confused? Hungry?

Well the same goes for search engines. They need to be wooed and there are some big deal-breakers when courting them for traffic. In this article we show you how to avoid these common SEO (search engine optimisation) mistakes and get your content to the top of search results.

Not paying attention to the little things

Any marketer worth their salt knows who their audience is and this knowledge is enthusiastically applied across social, ECRM, print etc. but often gets missed from the smaller, less sexy parts of a marketing campaign such as web copy and meta descriptions.

Make sure your tailoring the copy to keywords your audience search for (read up on Google’s Webmaster guidelines if you need a hand identifying these) and include relevant information such as location and contact info if the show or exhibition is touring many places. Fail to tailor these things and you’ll be competing against the Brad Pitts of the SEO world. Know your niche and you’ll find your match no problem.

Also make sure to keep your meta data up to date, use alt-text and label images properly by keeping them short, use dashes instead of spaces and include keywords if you can e.g. we-love-seo.jpg. It’s the seemingly little things that can add up to win over a search engine.

Keyword stuffing

'Hey I loved meeting you tonight'

'It was so great to meet you tonight'

'Loved meeting up with you tonight'

Repeating the same keywords is a big no no for search engines, so don’t come on too strong. Stuffing the same keywords into your copy in the hope you’ll get noticed will just make search engines think you’re spammy (and desperate). So play it cool and act natural. This means you need to have patience with the results too - remember, you’re in this for the long term.

Bad quality links

Be careful who you associate with. Linking out to dodgy sites will make search engines nervous so make sure that you link out to reliable, relevant sites. Likewise, having websites of good stock linking to your site shoots you up the rankings and practically makes you search engine marriage material.

Also make sure your anchor text (text that forms a link) tells the user what to expect when they click on it and make sure it relates to the content it’s linking to. Never use ‘click here’. Be up front about where you’re heading and it’ll smooth things over nicely.

Broken links within a website is also a one way ticket to digital loneliness. This will make your bounce rate shoot up which is a warning sign for search engines that you’re not serious about settling down... sorry, I mean a positive user experience.

Being someone you’re not

Copying content from other parts of the web is the equivalent of using a corny chat up line: it’s been done and it doesn’t work. Maybe back when the web was young and naive you could trick search engines this way, but not anymore. Create original content, tailored to your audience and your offering. Many organisations do this well for other channels such as social and rely on these to help them rank organically, but search engine algorithms show users what they think they want to see in a similar way.

Also make sure you haven't got duplicate pages and content on your website, this sends mixed messages to the search engine about which page to index, meaning your score will be split and you’ll tumble down the rankings. So let them know where they stand.

Getting complacent

Just because you’ve been going steady for a while and there’s the pitter patter of lots of lovely traffic on your website doesn’t mean you can neglect your SEO strategy.

Check on the numbers regularly using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools and see where your audience is coming from and how they’re behaving. Continue to optimise and respond to these insights every once in a while and it’ll be happily ever after.