Have you ever wondered why your SEO marketing strategies are not working? As the owner or manager of a small or mid-sized business, you are a seasoned expert in your industry with intricate knowledge of your company’s products and services. Yet what you may not have such intricate knowledge of is the complex world of small business search engine optimization strategies and building a long-term strategy to increase your website’s rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) that are relevant to your business and product offerings.
Building a good relationship with search engines leads to your website gaining more high-quality website traffic, creating more leads from free search engine site referrals. Who doesn’t love free leads? However, you could unknowingly be making common search engine optimization (SEO) mistakes that are causing your site to miss out on these free leads and your website to rank lower in search results, sending website traffic right to a competitor’s site. Don’t miss out on qualified site traffic or higher rankings in relevant searches. Check out the top mistakes small businesses make regarding SEO.
7 Common SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make
1. Lack of Quality Content
The same saying that SEO experts used 10 years ago is still extremely true today: Content is King. Many small businesses often think that having a well-designed website and publishing many web pages filled with keywords that search engine bots will recognize will help them rank higher. That is highly untrue.
When modern search engine bots crawl content, they actively recognize quality content written for humans. They can also tell when content is low-quality and written to attempt to appeal to search engines, not people. In fact, modern search engine bots don’t even need to see the core keyword itself to recognize the topic of the content. They will rank content higher than is well-written, and they recognize it as pertinent to a user’s search query. Search bots can understand if a piece of content such as a blog post or sub-page of a website contains the directly applicable information and helps answer a question a searcher is looking for or if it provides the information they are seeking.
2. Not Optimizing for Both Short-Tail Keywords and Long-Tail Keywords
First, it is important to understand that there are two types of keywords: short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords. If your company sells high-end women’s handbags, an example of short-tail keywords to optimize for would include things like “purses,” “handbags,” or “buy a designer purse.” These keywords are designed to capture prospective leads that are in the early stages of shopping for a product or service your company offers. Long-tail keywords, also called key phrases, are designed to capture leads that are more specific about what they are looking for and are closer to the stage of being ready to make a purchase.
Examples of long-tail keywords for the same company would include searches such as “high-quality brown leather purse,” “best store in Atlanta to buy quality women’s purses,” “buy a most fashionable purse in winter 2019.” Clicks to your website from searchers using long-tail search phrases are much more valuable than those using short-tail keywords because they are more likely to generate revenue for your business.
3. Lack of Content Updates
One of the biggest mistakes a small business can make regarding search engine optimization when it comes to their website is to “build it and forget it.” This is an ever-changing world, and no matter what industry or vertical your company is in, it is also consistently evolving. No industry stays the same over the years or likely even the changing seasons. Content needs to be updated and refreshed consistently. Search engines recognize and reward updated pages. They also love fresh content, which is one of the main reasons why having a blog is so important to search engine optimization strategies.
4. Neglecting a Quality Blog
As mentioned above, a blog is very beneficial for several reasons. First and most obvious, a blog provides informational content that customers and prospective customers may be looking for. This information can greatly affect their decision to purchase a product or products from your business, and it can also help tip the scales on whether or not they will utilize your company’s service or download your app. Second, a blog helps position your brand or business as a thought leader in your respective industry. Being known as a thought leader is a great way to grow your business, attract brand advocates, grow your company’s digital and social following, as well as garner many more benefits.
A blog has also become almost essential for great SEO and can help your ranking results rise significantly in relevant searches, helping your site gain a great deal more qualified website traffic and generating more leads. The leads that come to your website as a result of finding your blog content online through search results are much more valuable than leads that come to your site through paid marketing efforts due to the fact that they were already looking for some information or answers to questions that relate to a product your business offers or a service your business provides. This is the very definition of a qualified lead.
5. Ignoring Backend SEO
Backend search engine optimization on your website is also called “technical SEO” because it’s very, well…technical. While certain content management systems (CMS) are making backend SEO easier than ever, it is still very intricate. Below are some of the most important things to pay attention to that have the greatest effect on your website’s search rankings. Ignoring these technical SEO elements are very common mistakes small businesses make in their digital strategy.
- Crawlability. Search engines prioritize sites that are easy for them to crawl. As a search engine bot crawls your site, it then indexes all the pages it can. Your site and subsequent pages won’t rank if the pages can’t be indexed. Use plugins to find broken links and a sitemap generator tool like XML Sitemap Generator to near-instantly create an XML Sitemap you can manually submit to search engines instead of waiting for them to crawl and index your site and pages.
- Mobile Optimization. Is your site optimized to reformat for mobile devices and tablets of all sizes?
- Page load speed. Search engines like Google will likely sing websites with slow load speeds, not to mention the fact that more than 25% of visitors will leave any page on your site immediately if it takes four or more seconds to load.
- Clean Code. If your code is cluttered, search engine spider bots can’t read and understand them as easily, causing your site to not reap the ranking benefits it would if you had clean code.
Although content will always be king, quality link-building might be his queen. High-quality links are crucial for any business’s search engine optimization strategy and will have an impactful effect on how search engines rank your company’s website and its subsequent pages in relevant searches.
Three types of link-building help your website rank higher in relevant searches.
Also called backlinks, these are the most important type of links that impact your website’s ranking. Inbound links are links that come from other websites, adding a link to yours. Backlinks are considered one of the “big three” ranking factors for search engines when it comes to ranking any website. However, not all inbound links are created equal.
Not all inbound links are created equal. How important search engines see a certain website to be is called that website’s domain authority. SEO experts used to simply try to get as many possible backlinks as possible. Now, SEO experts know that the higher the website’s domain authority linking to yours, the more value search engines place on that link, and the more it impacts the potential to rank higher.
Outbound links are the links on your website that link out to other sites. These also help improve your site’s ranking yet are not as important to search engines as inbound links. Having links to other websites with high domain authority shows your website as legitimate, and it shows that you are attempting to provide value to your site visitors. When adding outbound links, make sure to link to credible websites that likely have high domain authority.
These links take website visitors to other pages within your business’s website. Search engines like this because it shows them that you are providing visitors a clear path to go down on their visitor journey within your website. As a benefit to you, it also keeps visitors on your website longer, increasing their potential to make a purchase or become an active lead.
7. Expecting Quick and Easy Results
SEO is a drip process and not a flood. It takes time, attention to detail, consistency, and dedication. The key to having a successful SEO strategy for any small business is to have a thorough, long-term SEO strategy in place. Some of the efforts you put into your SEO strategy this month may not yield any tangible results for 6 months or more.
When you think about the SEO strategy for your small business, remember the common analogy used by digital marketers and search engine optimization efforts when it comes to SEO: if SEO was quick and easy to do, every company would rank in position one, and there would be no need for SEO because it wouldn’t matter.