Biggest SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make

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Knowing where to focus your time and energy and avoid SEO mistakes when it comes to executing local SEO strategies and advanced tactics that will have value and drive rankings, traffic, and conversions is key to building a long-term strategy to grow your online business.

Below you will find a list of SEO mistakes that many small businesses make. I am sure some of you will disagree with me on some of them, which is ok, but if you disagree with me, ask yourself if the tactic you disagree with is a long-term strategy that aligns with building a quality online business and brand.

Mistake 1: Mass Directory Submission

If you have a website or search Google, I am sure you have seen those ads for submitting a website to 1,000 directories for $99.99. They claim that you can get hundreds of “high quality” backlinks for basically no work. This is not a good tactic, especially for new sites. It can hurt your link graph and be a signal to the search engines that since you are receiving a large number of low-quality links, your site is a low-quality website as well.

Building links is a process that includes creating valuable content and then marketing that content to other blogs, websites, and social networks. Acquiring quality trusted back links is a slow (in most cases), tedious and difficult process, yet is a necessary evil for any new or existing website.

Mistake 2: Thin Content That Has Little Value But To Try and Rank

With the Panda update, it is no longer ok to create thin low-quality content, spin articles, or outsource your content overseas to save a few dollars. The search engines (Google specifically) have become very sensitive to content quality and value it gives to the user. If they see a website consistently publishing low-quality content, they have machine learning in place to start and devalue the content and website as a whole.

Mistake 3: Paid links

There is an ongoing debate about the value of buying links through link brokers or sites like text link ads. Google specifically says it violates their website guidelines here. Personally, I don’t feel this is a long-term strategy and holds a high risk of being devalued or getting your site penalized.

Mistake 4: Keyword Stuffing And Making Their Content Bot Focused

Keyword stuffing does not just happen in the body copy of a website. It can also happen in the title tag, meta keywords tag, or links. This does not help a site rank better, it is a poor user experience, and it can have a negative affect on rankings.

Before Google launched in 1996 the larger search engines operated almost entirely through on-page metrics. One of these on-page metrics that became a factor was how many times a website repeated the targeted keyword on a page. This became known as “keyword density”, and the methodology behind it flowed into how people thought Google and more advanced search engines rank pages. The truth is, there really is no such thing. If you write for the user and include a diverse set of valuable keywords, it becomes about keyword diversity and content depth, and not about how many times you repeat a keyword on a page.

Mistake 5: Submitting To Article Directories

This is an old tactic that attempted to build back links by submitting the same article or a “spun version” of an article to a large amount of low-quality article directories. This is not the same as content marketing or guest blog posting, which can be a valuable way to build links and market your business because it’s based on content quality, not quantity.

Mistake 6: Using Only Exact Match Anchor Text To Try and Rank

Exact match anchor text means that if you were trying to rank for “Web Design Studio” all (or a large majority) of the links you get from external websites link to your site with that exact anchor text. A part of link building is looking natural in regards to link growth and diversity. There is not a site on the web that would have almost all their links pointing to their site with exact anchor text being used – well unless they were buying links, which is a low-return, high-risk tactic.

Mistake 7: Thinking A Great Website Experience Isn’t Important

Many small businesses get so focused on ranking well that they forget that Google and the other search engines are taking into account bounce rate, user metrics, and overall content value when ranking websites. Balance is the key to most things in life, and SEO is no exception. There needs to a balance between designing for the users and building a strong SEO foundation; going too far in one direction will have negative effects overall.

A great website experience has been on the list of value metrics that have a positive effect on SEO and user experience for years now. The biggest mistake many small businesses make is they think having an average website design and experience is ok – it’s not, so get that website updated.

Mistake 8: They Forget The Measurement Strategy

With the search engines making over 500 tweaks to their algorithm each year, it becomes vitally important that marketers measure as many data points as they can. Some of these data points might be traffic, traffic by site section, total keywords sending traffic, total URLs receiving traffic, and conversion rate. The more you can measure, the more data points you will be armed with when trying to determine why your rankings dropped, conversions tanked, or traffic was stunted by an algorithm update.

Mistake 9. SEO Is An Afterthought

One of the most frustrating parts of an SEOs job is getting called into a meeting and being told that a new site, which is completed and is launching next week, needs to be SEO’ed. As outlined in #6 SEO is not just writing title tags or adding keywords. SEO needs to be included in the planning phases through the quality assurance phase of a website for it to be most effective.