Marketing a small business was hard before the Internet was invented, but at least back then it was simpler. Now, we have Google, a giant platform made of thousands of smaller platforms in which to market. As a result, there are so many decisions to be made when determining how to best market yourself online.
As a small or local business owner, it is nearly mandatory to utilize SEO. Without it, how can you build up your validity and credentials? We now know that search is the number one driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300%, so the importance of search engine optimization goes without saying.
If you have quality links from other web pages, Google will rank you higher on search engine results. Improving your search engine results should be the name of the game when marketing your small business in 2015.
SEO has come a long way since its inception. Great content is now the stepping stone to getting the links you need to build your credibility. If you can create quality content that includes your relevant keywords you will attract links and be well on your way to building your SEO.
With that being said, there are plenty of mistakes out there just waiting to be made that will hurt your site’s rank and visibility. How can you avoid the big SEO mistakes? Avoid this list of common mistakes, and you’ll be optimizing in no time.
infographic via: fertilefrog.
Over-OptimizationA lot of what was acceptable in 2013 can now be considered over-optimization and may result in a penalty for your business on search engine listings.
In cases of over-optimization, it may be easier to start over than trying to fix the unfixable. Do not let your site go into over-optimization by trying to take an easy route and hire a “quick fix.” It is better to start with a blank slate with SEO.
Google works as a fact-checker and will spot these SEO mistakes.
Don’t try to manipulate the search engines in any fashion. Write your content for your human visitors, not for “SEO,” and you’ll be rewarded with organic links.
Paid Link BuildingLink building is something that should occur naturally. There are several companies that offer to post your links on irrelevant or low-quality websites for a small fee. These tend to be poorly written and surrounding other paid links.
This can harm your website because Google will recognize this as low-quality.
Once Google recently upgraded its algorithm to Penguin, paying for links became a dangerous territory. Google now expects you to create links naturally through having great content to earn your links organically. Promote yourself and allow others to create natural backlinks. Just do normal, classical marketing and the rest will work itself out.
Keyword StuffingPurposely inserting keywords into website content to manipulate search engines to appear higher in searches is keyword stuffing. August Ash also named it as a top SEO mistake of 2015, so I figured the outdated tactic deserved a mention here as well.
Aggressive stuffing creates a poor user experience and can actually contribute negatively to your site’s ranking. Consumers will know that you are trying to be manipulative, and all trust and validity will be lost.
You’re not going to help your brand by sounding robotic, so create natural copy!
Trying to do SEO on Your OwnAs a business owner, you are swamped with work. You simply aren’t going to have the time, energy or knowledge to perform all of the SEO on your own.
If you try and perform all SEO aspects on your own, you’re going to either be under-optimized or over-optimized. It isn’t worth the stress on top of your other stressors.
All you need to do is learn what the right amount of on-page SEO is. That way you can spot when your pages are under-optimized or over-optimized. If you just go with the flow, your content won’t look robotic and contrived.
Luckily, there are companies, such as Local Marketing Solutions out there that can help you build your visibility with comprehensive citations. Using a reliable “white-hat citation service” can go a long way in ensuring that your business will have visibility.
Hiring WrongThis mistake ties perfectly into the last one. If you don’t know the field you’re playing in, then you aren’t qualified to hire players.
Know the basics of on-page and off-page SEO. If you see your keyword being used all over the place, you should know that is a red flag.
As I mentioned earlier, there are still a lot of SEO companies that service old outdated tactics like keyword stuffing or paid links to swindle unknowing business owners. It’s all they know how to do to make money, and they’ll be desperate to perform these “services” and send you an invoice. Don’t make this mistake! Do your research on the SEO provider you are considering, so you know you’re making the right call.
Have the conversation with your SEO company about what tactics you do not want them to employ, and get them to explain all of their processes. This way, you’ll be doing your homework and can rest assured your business will acquire links and SEO naturally.
Not Getting the Local SEO Part RightGoogle and other search engines are smarter than they were in the past. Search engines now focus on serving customized results based on the location of the searcher, and can keep track of searchers’ past behavior to inform their new algorithms.
If you want a chance to appear in these locally-customized results, you have to handle your local SEO properly. Feel free to use this following checklist:
1. Be consistent with your NAP
In order to be recognized by search engines, you need to make sure your business’ “NAP,” or name, address, and phone number are correct across the plethora of platforms, blogs, articles, directories, etc. on the internet.
Google and other search engines cross-reference your NAP information across a variety of websites to verify your business is valid. If your addresses don’t match up exactly on two websites, you may not even be recognized on a local search.
In addition to the above, the next most authoritative way of guaranteeing your information is correct is to provide it on your own website. Your business’ information should match up perfectly to all other search results for your business.
2. Utilize Social NetworkingNext up is providing it on your social networking profiles, especially Google+.
Google+ Pages is a vital tool because it makes it easy and accessible for a business to update and manage its physical location to appear correctly on Google’s organic search results and Google maps.
Always make sure that your Google+ address matches the exact one listed on your website and other directories (remember the importance of your NAP). Any slight error can harm your business in a not-so-slight way.
3. If you decide to move your business or change your name…
Keep all of your citations across the web up to date! Go back to every single NAP citation and fix it and submit the change officially to Google as well.
4. Thoroughly optimize on-page
Always make sure “geo-localizable” content to your site’s vital HTML elements. Be sure to always include your business’s city/region in your title tags, URLS, H1-H2 tags and Alt text image tags. Be sure to always include your NAP on the footer of every page on your website.
The Advanced Local SEO’s Worst MistakeHere, at the end, I’m going to tell you the worst mistake made by those who do know how to perform perfect local SEO and generalized SEO. They get so caught up on making sure they appear on the maps that they get tunnel-vision.
All they can think about is optimizing for their own brand and local information.
The mistake is to forget to focus on optimizing content for product, information, and entertainment terms. With SEO, you should always focus on the big picture and not just on one goal. Always do your research because SEO is constantly evolving.
SEO is a vital and powerful tool and it is valuable in growing your business. SEO should come naturally: if you write well and promote your content, you will be rewarded by search engines. Don’t let the historical “black hat techniques” trick you into “manipulating” search engines.
Taking care of SEO later rather than now is only going to be deleterious to you and your business. Remember, people may come to a site because it’s ranked highly on a search engine, but they only stay because they have access to the information they want when they want it. Avoid these mistakes, keep your presence consistent and of high quality, and you’ll build your visibility in no time.
Luke Harsel is a local SEO specialist at LocalMarketing.Solutions. When he's not on the Internet, he enjoys riding his bike and playing musical instruments, but not always at the same time. Follow him on Twitter.