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* Frames. The top two web pages listed for most searched-on keyword employ frames. Frames may still be a bad web design idea from a usability standpoint, and they may ruin your search engine rankings if your site's linking system depends on them. But there are worse ways you could shoot yourself in foot.
* Links: Most of web pages contained ten or more links; many contain over 30, in defiance of SEO bugbears about "link popularity bleeding." Moreover, nearly all pages contained a significant number of non-relevant links. On many pages, non-relevant links outnumbered relevant ones. Of course, it's not clear what benefit website owners hope to get from placing irrelevant links on pages. It has been a proven way of lowering conversion rates and losing visitors. But Google doesn't seem to care if your website makes money.
* Originality: a significant number of pages contained content copied from other websites. In all cases, content was professionally written content apparently distributed on a free-reprint basis. Note: reprint content did not consist of content feeds. However, no website consisted solely of free-reprint content. There was always at least a significant portion of original content, usually majority of page.
* Make sure a professional writer, or at least someone who can tell good writing from bad, is creating your site's content, particularly in case of a search-engine optimization campaign. If you are an SEO, make sure you get a pro to do content. A shocking number of SEOs write incredibly badly. I've even had clients whose websites got fewer conversions or page views after their SEOs got through with them, even when they got a sharp uptick in unique visitors. Most visitors simply hit "back" button when confronted with unpalatable text, so increased traffic is just wasted bandwidth.
* If you write your own content, make sure that it passes through hands of a skilled copyeditor or writer before going online.
* Update your content often. It's important both to add new pages and update existing pages. If you can't afford original content, use free-reprint content.
* Distribute your content to other websites on a free-reprint basis. This will help your website get links in exchange for right to publish content. It will also help spread your message and enhance your visibility. Fears of a "duplicate content penalty" for free-reprint content (as opposed to duplication of content within a single website) are unjustified.
In short, if you have a mature website that is already indexed and getting traffic, you should consider making sure bulk of your investment in your website is devoted to its content, rather than graphic design, old-school search-engine optimization, or linking campaigns.
[Formatting: for web, please use "website content provider" as the link's anchor text (visible link text)] Joel Walsh's archive of web business articles is at the website of his business, UpMarket Content, a website content provider: http://UpMarketContent.com