Roughly 55 percent of small businesses have a website — which in itself is surprising, considering that not having a website these days is as prehistoric as not having an email address or a phone number.
However, the real story here isn’t about adopters vs. laggards: it’s the shocking fact that the vast majority of small businesses with websites are getting at least one, usually some, and in many cases all ten of the following things dead wrong about SEO.
1. Choosing The Wrong Keywords
Choosing the wrong keywords isn’t just an SEO mistake: it’s an SEO catastrophe! Why? Because it means that small businesses won’t (and never will) have their website show up in search results when most of their target market is looking for answers and solutions.
2. Only Choosing High-Volume Keywords
Many small businesses target high-volume keywords because it seems logical that they’d want to target popular search terms. After all, doesn’t it make more sense to aim for a keyword that prospective customers are searching for 5,000 times a month vs. 500? Not necessarily! Long-tail keywords can be — and often are — more strategically valuable than high-volume keywords.
Yes, fewer people are searching for them. But a large proportion of that group represents highly qualified leads (i.e. prospects who are more likely to become customers). What’s more, long-tail keywords are much easier to rank for vs. high-volume keywords, because there is much less competition.
3. Keyword Stuffing
Unless a small business has worked (or is working) with a credible and competent SEO agency or consultant, then making the mistake of keyword stuffing isn’t just likely — it’s virtually inevitable. There are two massive problems with this. The first is that human beings hate keyword stuffing because the content is tedious to read. The second is that search engines are very good at detecting keyword stuffing, and they penalize websites that commit this grave SEO sin.
4. Not Publishing Original Content
About the only thing that search engines hate more than keyword stuffing is duplicate content. Yet many small businesses think that they’re getting SEO love by publishing stuff that they find on other websites, such as articles, blog posts, and so on.
In addition to possibly (or make that probably) being a copyright violation, as mentioned, there is no SEO benefit to this. On the contrary, websites that primarily feature duplicate content can lose what little SEO ranking they have. And in some extreme cases, they can be kicked off the search engine rankings altogether.
5. Failing To Properly Use Internal And External Links
Search engines want to promote websites that offer a positive user experience, and sometimes that means web pages should have internal and external links that help visitors get additional information. However, many small businesses either have far too many internal and external links, or they don’t have enough. Generally speaking, 1-2 of each is suitable, depending on the content and length. For an example of how to do this the right way, check out the blog by The Law Office of Charles Huber. It’s a master class in SEO best practices.
6. Not Using Images And Alt-Tags
Images and alt-tags (i.e. the descriptive words that show up when an image doesn’t display) are both critical elements of a website’s SEO footprint. Most small businesses aren’t aware of this, and as such, they aren’t getting the ranking results they need or expect.
7. Not Having A Mobile-Friendly Website
It’s been a couple of years since Google declared that a website’s mobile friendliness — or lack thereof — would be a major factor in its overall SEO score and rank. However, plenty of small businesses didn’t get the memo, and as such their website is difficult, if not impossible to properly access from smartphones and tablets.
8. Not Having A Fast-Loading Website
The need for speed is as important to search engines as it is to actual visitors. Many small business websites, however, are hosted on cheaper shared servers that aren’t just insecure but can really grind things down to a c-r-a-w-l.
9. Not Using Off-Site SEO
On-site SEO (which is what I’ve been talking about above) is important — but off-site SEO is arguably even more important. As a result, small businesses should be— but rarely are — publishing fresh content on relevant and credible third-party websites, and earning themselves a valuable backlink in the process.
10. Not Customizing Meta Tags
Last but not least: meta tags control the snippet of content that appears just below a website link in search engine results. Although Google has acknowledged that it doesn’t use meta tags to look for keyword clues, the fact is that human beings who click links are indeed interested in — and influenced by — this snippet. However, most businesses don’t customize this, or they just accept the default (and usually flawed) suggestion from their content management system.
SEO – Next Steps
If your small business is making one, some, or possibly all of these SEO mistakes, then don’t panic. Get the expertise you need and set aside suitable resources. Before long, you’ll be reaping the rewards of SEO: more customers, more sales, and more profits.
If you are interested in even more SEO-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels then we have a lot to choose from.