There’s so much to do when you develop a new website for your business. You need to decide on a domain name, figure out your site design, and create the content. There are pictures to be uploaded and plugins to install. Your main goal is to make the site active, so you can start converting visitors into customers as fast as possible.
With all that going on, new site owners often do poorly addressing search engine optimization (SEO) and some completely ignore it.
Instead, online entrepreneurs should make SEO their highest priority.
Search engines like Google and Bing have sophisticated algorithms that determine where your site ends up in users’ search results. Your site will be listed near the top if you have a high ranking. If your site has a low ranking, this will drop it on the second page of Google.
Since it’s rare for users to look beyond the first page of results, a low ranking means you won’t get much traffic, bringing you fewer conversions.
So, how to make sure your site has a high ranking? The answer is SEO.
If you implement a strong SEO strategy and take periodic steps to keep it updated, you’ll consistently see more traffic and, in turn, generate more sales for your business.
This article will examine six of the most common SEO mistakes that small business owners make.
- Not Knowing Your Target Audience
- Not Using the Right Keywords
- Failing to Provide High-Quality Content
- Not Creating Engaging Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
- Having Poor Website Optimization
- Having Poor Off-Site Optimization
Of course, we’ll also provide tips on avoiding these traps. Let’s get started!
Not Knowing Your Target Audience
When you think about your target audience, imagine a round practice target. There’s a distinct red bullseye in the centre of it.
In the same way, you must direct your online presence toward a carefully defined audience. If you take a generalized view of your customer base, you’ll miss the opportunity to connect with the people most likely to buy your products or services.
One way to zero in on your target audience is to develop a list of customer characteristics. Picture your ideal customer and think about what their needs are. What problems do they have that you can solve?
Once you have a clear idea of who your customer base is, you’ll be able to use one of the many available tools to research relevant keywords. One such tool is Ubersuggest. It allows you to enter a ‘seed’ keyword and get a list of variations based on real-world searches. A seed keyword can be a single word or two that rank high enough and have plenty of competition.
The main takeaway is that you should drop any general keywords in favour of specific ones. That way, you’ll directly target the people you want as customers.
Not Using the Right Keywords
A huge part of SEO involves nailing your keyword strategy. The right keywords will attract visitors searching the web, so your best bet is to get that part correct.
When searching for the products or services you provide, most users will type in a set of keywords. It’s important to know what those words are, but there’s a good chance that a competitor’s business will rank higher for those keywords than yours. Your site may be in the results for those search terms but on the second or third page, where no one ever looks.
Focusing on broad, generic keywords might be one of the biggest mistakes, as you’ll lose a much more critical inflow from visitors that search for something more specific. A great tool to find the ideal keywords for you might be Semrush.
It provides a good deal of information, and with the help of its intuitive interface, you can find all the influential keywords like low-competition keywords that your competitors might have missed!
Don’t be Afraid of Long-Tail Keywords
This is the opposite of the generic or seed keywords that contain one or two words.
A long-tail keyword is a phrase that sacrifices brevity for specificity. In other words, it uses more descriptive words but gets straight to the point, and that’s something a searcher will notice.
Imagine keywords stacked like a bell curve chart. The keywords in the bell’s base are the long-tail keywords, while the ones closer to the top are the short and most frequently used keywords.
Your long-tail keywords should be precise to your business. They’ll have lower search volume, but the people who use them will be highly qualified customers.
You’ll need to avoid using search terms that no one will search for, but that’s the trick. In almost every category, at least a few keywords exist between implausible and too popular extremes.
The end game here is to define a set of long keyword phrases specific enough to attract your ideal customer and frequently used to impact your conversions positively.
Failing to Provide High-Quality Content
Even in a field with minimal competition, if other companies provide helpful content online and you’re not, that’s not ideal for your business. You’ll lose valuable customers because of it, but there’s always a way to change that.
A typical error that small and medium-sized businesses make is ignoring that online consumers have come to expect helpful information, not just a place to buy products and services.
Publishing high-value content that helps your visitors solve problems will give you higher rankings in search results. It’ll differentiate your business from others and cultivate the brand identity.
Focus on creating regular blog posts that address your customers’ issues or pique their interest in your products. Publish a video tutorial or how-to article that provides value to your consumers. It’s also helpful for your internal linking strategies.
The more help you give them, the more people will visit your site and see more conversions.
Keep in mind that SEO demands fresh content. Get a helpful post published quickly, then make a content calendar so you remember to push out a new blog post once in a while.
Not Creating Engaging Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Title tags and headings are the most accessible places to put your SEO strategy to work, but many small business owners ignore them.
When ranking results, search engines place more importance on the keywords found in your titles and headings than those in your paragraphs and product descriptions.
Make your title and headings unique, short, and not overstuffed with keywords. It’s wise to Include your brand name in these tags too.
Of all the SEO mistakes you can make, this is one of the easiest to avoid. Put some thought into your site’s title tags and headings, and you’ll have one major part of your SEO task taken care of.
Having Poor Website Optimization
On-site optimization is the part of SEO you have the most control over. Unlike off-site SEO, which deals with backlinks and links to other (external) websites, addressing on-site performance happens right inside your website.
A slight change in how Google ranks websites is all that’s needed to drop you down the order. Errors like pages with big loading times and poor mobile performance are all too common among small business owners.
Below, you’ll find a more detailed list of common errors you should avoid regarding your website’s optimization.
Fail to Keep Up With the Current SEO Best Practices
About twice yearly, Google changes how they rank search results. Sometimes it’s a minor tweak that you’d barely notice, or it could be a change that makes your ranking plummet overnight.
A recent example is when Google doubled the character limit for meta descriptions.
That made it possible for SEO-savvy business owners to improve their keyword usage by including more detailed descriptions of their products or services.
Anyone who missed that change also missed an excellent opportunity to maximize their SEO. The likely outcome of that mistake is losing business to competitors who took advantage of the updated standards.
Add a reminder to your calendar. A quick search twice a year will help you find out about changes to SEO standards, and you’ll be able to keep your site on the cutting edge.
Poor Performance on Mobile Devices
A common SEO mistake small business owners make is failing to optimize their site for mobile users. These days, most people access the web using smartphones. It doesn’t matter if they’re watching a movie or shopping. It happens on their phone or tablet.
Google was ahead of the curve on that trend. Their search engine has been favouring mobile-friendly sites since 2016.
Large companies with a lot of money will create a separate version of their website optimized for mobile access. You don’t have to do that. You can get by with a single site that works great on all platforms using responsive design and dynamic page elements.
If you’re unsure how your current site design measures usability-wise on mobile devices, check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. It tests your site and provides a report on how easy it is for customers to use it on their phones or tablets.
Slow Page Loading Speed
Does this have to do with SEO? After all, page loading happens well after ranking your site by the search engine.
Does Google know how fast your site loads before a user clicks it?
Sure it does!
For some time, Google’s ranking algorithms considered how fast your web pages load. The faster the load time, the better your ranking will be.
If your pages load slowly, the most likely culprit is large images in the loading queue. Get your photo file size under control, and your site’s load-time will improve significantly.
Increasing your site’s speed is a win-win situation. You reward your customers and first-time visitors with a great web experience and enjoy the benefits of improved SEO.
Having Poor Off-Site Optimization
When we talk about off-site optimization, we mean managing two things:
- Links from your site to other sites
- Links to your site from other sites
Getting those right can help your website rank higher in search results.
This subsection addresses some common SEO mistakes you can avoid while we at HostPapa provide valuable advice on how to do that.
Weak Social Media Presence
Many small business owners set up a Facebook page and Twitter account, then forget about them.
Neglected social media accounts can do more harm than good. Customers that see you haven’t posted anything in a while won’t be impressed and will leave. This is the power of social media.
Promoting your business through social media should be a significant part of your marketing approach. Social media interaction has become a high priority for search engines, used to indicate how well your business engages with its customers. The better your engagement, the better your ranking will be.
Not Creating Enough Backlinks to Grow Your Link Network
When you create a link network, other websites will link to yours. Likewise, your site will include links to other websites.
The main reason to provide external links is to add value to your site. The reason to have sites link to yours is to generate more traffic. These pointers are also perfect ways to improve your SEO and boost traffic.
A site with many high-quality links mentioned by reputable sources will rank higher than one with low-quality and poor backlinks.
To create a link network:
- Reach out to other businesses and organizations and write guest posts.
- Agree to have mutual backlinks to each other’s content.
- Use regional business directories, articles about your area, and newsletters related to your field of business for the best results.
If your efforts stall, check out the competition. Noting the links on their sites can spark some ideas about the ones that would work for your site.
Finally, there are two potential points when it comes to link networks:
- Don’t overdo it. Google’s ranking algorithm will penalize link-heavy sites if they don’t also offer a great deal of unique content.
- Don’t link to or from non-credible sources. You’ll rank higher if your business is associated with respected sites. Search results will be badly affected if they contain links to (or are linked from) disreputable sites. SEO aside, heeding this suggestion will make your visitors happy and preserve your business’ reputation.
As long as your links are relevant and offer value to your prospects and customers, cultivating a robust link network can seriously impact your SEO and your conversion rate.
Google Analytics provides powerful tools to help you fine-tune your SEO. You can do keyword research, analyze site performance, and get valuable insights into how site visitors engage with your content.
A way to get a quick SEO check-up is by using a tool called Browseo. It displays your site the way search engines see it. After you enter your URL, the tool displays your site with all the design elements hidden, allowing you to focus on the tags and content. If something important is missing, you’ll know that search engines can’t interpret it properly, and you’ll need to fix that.
Augmenting your site with great SEO is not a one-time job, it’s an ongoing task—an endless cycle of analysis and continuous improvement. You might have fantastic ranking today, but that can change fast.
If you regularly update your content and stay on top of the latest keywords for your field, you can make sure that stale SEO isn’t holding your business back.
Don’t Let Common Mistakes Hurt Your SEO
Search engines are the gatekeepers of web traffic. Failing to satisfy the demands of their complex algorithms means your website will be penalized with reduced traffic. If you rely on your online presence to generate sales for your business, implementing a solid SEO strategy must be on the top of your list.
Google Analytics provides powerful insights to help you fine-tune your SEO. You can do keyword research, analyze your site’s performance, and get valuable insights into how your website visitors engage with your content.
An excellent way to quickly check your website’s SEO is with free tools like Seobility SEO Checker. The tool highlights all its striking findings in red to quickly identify and fix them. It displays your site the way search engines see it. After you analyze your URL, the tool displays a list of things to consider and improve.
Putting SEO high on your to-do list and using the correct keywords and the right amount of them are all good points to improve your site’s SEO performance.
If you develop a strong SEO strategy and keep it updated with the best practices, you’re sure to get more website visitors, which means increased sales for your business. Are you regularly taking care of your SEO?