The 5 SEO Mistakes that Hurt Small Businesses

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The 5 SEO Mistakes that Hurt Small Businesses

Most businesses understand the importance of implementing SEO tactics into their overall marketing strategy.  However, many executives still think that there is a one size fits all SEO program, and by simply copying the same methods as their competitors they will see an instant improvement in their companies’ search rankings.

Unfortunately for these misguided professionals, a SEO strategy is highly personal.  Creating a tailored SEO strategy customized for a specific business’s profile, goals, and budget can mean the difference between first page results and search engine oblivion.  This is especially true for small businesses.  With limited time, resources, and specific audiences, small businesses need to be extremely measured in how they implement their SEO program in order to maximize their return on investment.  Yet many small businesses make the same mistakes over and over in their optimization programs.  The following 5 mistakes are the most egregious, and, when fixed, could provide the biggest boost.

Ignoring Local:

An estimated 1 in 3 searches conducted on Google are focused on a place or location.  Mobile search, which has already taken a huge bite out of PC traffic, is increasingly focused on local; local mobile search is now estimated at 27%, according to one recent study.  In order for small businesses to reach their target audiences, which are often geo-specific, they must ensure that they are ranking high in these local searches.  There are several strategies for targeting local search, including:

  • Listing your business in relevant industry and geographical directories/listings
  • Creating keywords that combine your company with your physical location (such as “tour guide” and “Disneyland”)
  • Optimizing your company’s website for mobile

Time and energy spent in optimizing content and increasing visibility in local and mobile searches are resources well spent by small businesses.

Eschewing Social Media:

Small businesses often face time and resource constraints; in order to maximize effectiveness, many choose to ignore social media, thinking it frivolous or too nebulous to properly measure; however, the exact opposite of that is true.  Even worse, small companies will dutifully set up their social media accounts, then promptly ignore them, leaving a trail of empty, outdated profiles.

Those businesses are missing out on prime opportunities to increase their search engine visibility.  Not only are social media channels great opportunities for businesses to put out fresh quality content, but links from social media channels are growing increasingly more important to search engine websites.

Afraid of jumping on the social media bandwagon?  Do a little research.  See where your competitors are online, and more importantly, where your customers are.  Start with just one profile on the channel that is most applicable to your company, such as LinkedIn or Facebook.  Refresh the content often, build quality links, and as you get more comfortable, add on channels as needed.

Posting Duplicate Content on the Company Site

All businesses know that one of the keys to having a great SEO-optimized website is having a large amount of well written, informational content that balances keyword usage with language and user experience.  Smaller businesses that have naturally less-robust or more diminutive websites might see their content quantity as a disadvantage.

For these companies, a good strategy might seem to be duplicating well-written, well-optimized sections of content throughout the entire website, increasing the size of the site and the number of optimized sections.  However, this method is really a glorified version of keyword stuffing, which makes for poor user experience, causing readers to abandon the site.  Furthermore, duplicate content is one of the subjects of Google’s Penguin 2.0 algorithm change, which cracks down on unethical SEO practices and removes offending sites.  Duplicate content might seem like a quick, easy SEO fix, but it causes much more harm than good.

Forgetting to Post New Content

Just as bad as posting multiple copies of the same content is never posting any content at all.  It can be difficult for small businesses to find the time to maintain multiple content platforms, or to find new ways to update their site’s content.  However, consistent, fresh content positively increases organic search rankings as well as user experience, which is increasingly important to search engines’ ranking factors.  There are some low impact ways for smaller businesses to crank out fresh content (in addition to those social media channels):

  • Maintain a blog.  Many companies will start one, but as deadlines and other work crops up, the posting and maintenance will peter out.  Think of your blog as an SEO priority.  Commit to posting content relevant to your industry or company twice a week.  Involve coworkers, interns, and if the budget allows for it, freelance writers to help.
  • Create a news feed on your company website, and update it frequently with events, company milestones, client news, anything that is relevant to your business and industry, and that organically uses your keywords to help boost search rankings.

Thinking that SEO is a Quick, One-Time Job

There is a pattern in the suggestions and strategies in this article; they are all long-term, continuous projects.  That’s because a successful SEO strategy is a commitment – your work is not finished just because you’ve researched keywords and optimized your website.  Those tactics are the best first step to launch a small business’s SEO campaign, but from there, it is a recurrent process to generate content, build links to your content and site, and optimize your customer’s experience with your brand online.  While it might seem daunting, keeping up with your SEO program means your company will have increased visibility, more website traffic – and more customers.

Search engine optimization, like all long-term marketing initiatives, depends upon a solid execution plan, constant tweaks to execution, and measurement and analysis of the results.  Small businesses in particular are vulnerable to stumbling onto SEO pitfalls in an effort to conserve resources.  However, by devising and implementing a solid SEO plan tailored to the company’s goals, small businesses can perform successful SEO tactics that maximize their return on investment.

Photo credit: purchased from thinkstock.com on 11/09/13 for commercial use.

Erin Cushing

Erin Cushing

Content Marketer at The Aberdeen Group
Erin Cushing is a content marketing and social media marketing professional in Boston, MA.
Erin Cushing
Erin Cushing

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