Some people don’t give much thought as to why a given site appears first when they conduct an internet query. But if you’re trying to reach your customers online, you’ll want to shed some light on why this actually occurs.
It’s not necessarily because a site provides the best products and services. While that could be the case, it’s actually because Google has determined that the site in position one of search results will provide the most relevance and the most value to the web user.
So how is this determined? Search engine optimization (or SEO). Optimizing your site for search engines will play a crucial role in allowing your brand to be easily found online.
In the digital age, SEO should be included as part of your larger marketing strategy. But if you don’t have a strong foundation of SEO, you might quickly become confused or frustrated when it comes time to develop and execute your plans.
Because internet trends evolve so rapidly, SEO best practices change frequently. It’s all too easy to make an SEO mistake that could hurt your ability to effectively reach your customers.
Let’s take a closer look at why SEO matters for your business in the first place, as well as some of the most common SEO mistakes businesses make. With any luck, this post will help you avoid the pitfalls and gain a more thorough understanding of digital marketing essentials.
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Why Does SEO Matter For Small Businesses?
First, let’s talk about the importance of SEO.
The vast majority of online experiences all begin in the same way: with a search engine.
By typing a simple query into Google’s search bar, you can find the solutions you need in mere seconds.
But when a website isn’t optimized for search engines, it’ll make it much more difficult for prospective customers to find their way to your website.
Optimizing a site includes a variety of techniques, including the addition of relevant keywords, improving technical aspects of a site, and increasing its overall authority on the web.
Basically, Google won’t recommend your site to web users if it doesn’t provide a consistent, valuable, and relevant experience. After all, why would Google present your site to a web user if it’s not clear that you’ll provide what that person is looking for?
For small businesses, in particular, SEO becomes even more crucial.
In order to compete with other businesses in your industry and stand out from the crowd, you need a website that’s optimized for search.
Unfortunately, having a nice-looking website isn’t enough. You need to prove your value to Google – and that means you’ll need to embrace SEO.
It’s worth noting that SEO is actually one of the most affordable lead generation tools that exists. It’s incredibly cost-effective, offering an impressive ROI. Since SEO is made to build organically over time, the investment you make today will continue to pay off years from now.
SEO can allow you to level the playing field and market your business in a way that won’t over-extend your budget.
However, there are a number of mistakes that can derail your efforts and impede your ability to rank in search engines. These missteps can result in wasted time, money, and energy with little to show for it in the end.
If you want to start seeing results from SEO, you’ll want to avoid the following pitfalls as you develop and execute your marketing strategy.
Which SEO Mistakes Can Hurt Your Marketing Efforts?
Whether you simply lack the marketing knowledge or you’re dealing with a lack of resources, SEO mistakes can easily occur. To have the best chance of improving your site ranking and protecting your brand reputation, you’ll want to prevent these marketing mistakes.
MISTAKE: Your Site Isn’t Optimized For Mobile
Having a mobile-friendly website is no longer optional. It’s completely necessary in today’s world.
Google reports that more than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile devices. That means most of your customers are probably searching for answers on their smartphones.
Even if you depend on local foot traffic to keep your business running, it’s a safe bet that those customers check out the available options nearby using their mobile devices.
And if your site doesn’t provide a positive experience for those users, they’re going to look elsewhere for the products and services they need.
A mobile-friendly website will feature responsive design (which automatically adjusts based on the device being used), easy navigation, and impressive loading speeds.
You can conduct a mobile audit or a site speed test to determine whether your website meets the bare minimum for mobile-friendly design. You should also take care to remove intrusive interstitials (pop-ups that detract from the browsing experience), improve site security, and alleviate layout shifts and interactivity delays.
Since Google recently launched its Page Experience algorithm update, you should pay particular attention to the Core Web Vitals ranking factor and other ranking signals that are related to the mobile experience.
With all that said, you might be confused. How exactly does website design relate to SEO?
The truth is that web design and search engine optimization go hand-in-hand. Because Google cares about the user experience, it uses numerous metrics that pertain to web design when determining a website’s ranking.
Therefore, you’ll need to pay close attention to your site’s user experience (UX) if you want to market your business effectively through SEO.
MISTAKE: You’ve Been Targeting the Wrong Keywords
You might already know that keywords are used to indicate context and relevance to search engines.
They can help tell Google what your site is about and what you can provide to web users.
Using keywords in organic ways across your website – in blog post content, on landing pages, in headings, in meta descriptions, and elsewhere – can get the message across to Google.
But how do you know you’re using the right keywords?
It’s not as simple as picking a keyword that accurately describes your products or services. There’s actually quite a bit of nuance that goes into this process.
You need to conduct thorough keyword research to identify the best search terms for your SEO strategy. There are plenty of free tools you can use to accomplish this, though paid services sometimes provide greater insight.
Keep in mind that broad keywords aren’t always better. In most cases, they’ll have higher search volume. But they’ll also be a lot more competitive, making it harder for your small business website to rank.
For local organizations, it’s often recommended that you target more specific keywords. These tend to be a bit longer and might reflect your location or more general detail.
While there may be fewer people searching for those terms, the people who are searching for them are more likely to make a purchase from you. They’ll probably be located in your area and will be further along in their buyer’s journey.
This translates to a more effective strategy for you. Even if you receive fewer clicks on your site, the ones you do receive will be more likely to convert into customers.
If you target only overly broad keywords, you’ll have a tougher time getting noticed in search results. No matter how big your marketing budget is, you probably won’t be able to compete with huge corporations that already rank on those general search terms.
But what’s more, you probably won’t want to rank on those terms. You’d end up getting lots of irrelevant traffic, which could result in higher bounce rates, decreased rankings, and lower sales.
When you target keywords, you need to think beyond the clout of ranking on page one for a competitive term. Instead, you need to consider how improving your rank on more localized or long-tail keywords can help you achieve your greater business goals.
MISTAKE: You’ve Abandoned Your Business Blog
Some business owners dismiss the idea of having a blog altogether.
They assume that their customers won’t be interested in reading these posts or that blogging will take away from their other marketing efforts.
But it’s important to remember your business blog isn’t just for your current customers. These posts can signal to Google that your business will provide value to web users – and that’s key in improving your rankings.
Yes, you should absolutely write content for human users. Writing only for search engines will typically backfire.
But even if your current customers don’t check your blog religiously, posting new content regularly can help your business grow.
If you’re creating content that helps answer questions or address problems for internet users, that can build brand trust and let Google know that you’re a credible source of information.
It’s also worth noting that Google loves fresh content. When business blogs go silent or are updated on a very sporadic basis, that won’t help your marketing strategy.
It’s best to create a content calendar and update your blog on a regular basis. Whether it’s once a week or twice a month, stick to a schedule and make blogging a priority.
Remember: in-depth content is best. Web users and search engines won’t find much value in thin content, so aim to create posts that are anywhere from 700 to 2,000 words when possible.
Longer posts are more likely to be shared, revisited, and keep users on the page. You can even add onto your posts later on to provide more value.
If you’ve abandoned your business blog because you’ve run out of ideas, do some research in Google or in web forums to find out what customers want to know. Then, develop and follow a schedule to create optimized, helpful content consistently.
MISTAKE: You’re Trying to DIY Your Way to Success
Although you can theoretically learn a lot about SEO on your own, the reality is that this area of digital marketing can be tricky.
Because trends and best practices evolve so quickly, you might unknowingly be engaging in outdated techniques that could hurt your site.
It’s all too easy to make a mistake that can result in a Google penalty.
Black hat SEO techniques, like keyword stuffing and spammy link-building, were once effective. But now, using these tactics will often harm your ability to rank in search engine results.
Ultimately, that might mean you’ll find it extremely difficult to reach your customers and protect your brand reputation.
It’s best to steer clear of these tactics, of course. But if you’re DIYing your marketing strategy, it can be tough to know what to avoid.
Unless you have a solid background in SEO, it’s best for business owners to work with reputable professionals. They can save you time and money while reducing risk to your brand.
They can also set proper expectations (as SEO success doesn’t happen overnight!), monitor your progress, and make suggestions for sustainable growth.
Although DIYing often sounds like a good idea, this makes it far more likely that you’ll make a major error with your marketing.
Avoiding SEO Mistakes Can Boost Your Small Business Marketing
As a small business owner, your expertise can be found in your industry. SEO can be notoriously complex – and if you don’t know the ins and outs of optimization, you might make a costly mistake.
When you know the common SEO pitfalls to watch out for, you can take steps to avoid them. Use this post as a reference when developing your marketing strategy and take care to prevent these problems before they ever pop up.