For many small business owners and marketers, the fear of making SEO mistakes far outweighs their desire to see the benefits that good SEO can bring. The term “SEO” (search engine optimization) is frequently perceived as scary, technical “mumbo jumbo” that is far too complex for ordinary people to understand.
We’re here to tell you that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth and incorporating good SEO practices into your business’ website and online messaging isn’t much more difficult than the myriad of other management tasks you perform on a daily basis!
When you learn how to use SEO properly, it can substantially increase customer visits in both the online world and the “real” one. This is because utilizing good SEO techniques (also called “white hat SEO”) will gradually improve your online search rankings – meaning that more people who are searching for what your business offers will discover your website and social media accounts.
Avoid These SEO Mistakes
However, if you want to improve your search rankings, you need to use SEO correctly following the standards outlined by Google. SEO mistakes can negatively impact your search rankings and in the worst case scenario get your website banned from search results! Here are our top 10 SEO mistakes that you want to avoid in 2017:
Assuming that a small business website or blog will never be able to perform well in search rankings.
Yes, the giant corporate blogs and websites do have an edge, because they’re large, household name brands, but they don’t hold ALL of the cards in the deck! If you’re an independent manufacturer and distributor of small-batch, artisanal carbonated beverages, trying to compete against Coke and Pepsi for a high rank on “soda” might be near impossible – but is that really your target audience anyway? Going for the long tail keywords that accurately describe your niche will yield far better and faster results (not to mention a customer that’s looking for exactly what you offer) than trying to win a highly competitive battle for generic keywords.
Assuming that SEO is too complex and that it’s impossible to “win” at it.
It is true that Google is always modifying their search algorithms to keep up with changes in technology (for example, mobile devices) as well as to constantly defend against the ever-evolving “black hat SEO” techniques that are used by spammers and scammers. When you’re being honest about what your business is and what you have to offer, you’re on the right path. How do you know when you’re doing SEO the right way?
- You’re using your target keywords in a natural way
- Your content is consistent and aligns with your business
- The inbound and outbound links for your website are relevant to your industry sector
Assuming that keywords are no longer necessary
In following up from the previous point, just because “natural” sounding language is valued by Google, that doesn’t mean keywords are unnecessary! Search engines need keywords and key phrases to “understand” what your web page or blog post is all about and then determine if it’s a high-quality page that people who are searching for that keyword would want to see. Are you using your primary keyword in places like the page URL, the page title, main heading, and first paragraph? Are you NOT stuffing that keyword into every sentence where it could possible fit? If so, you’re using keywords in a way that search engines can correctly index your page.
Assuming that guest bloggers or writers are a waste of time
Picture this scenario… the agent of a celebrity chef contacts your cookware store to set up an in-store promotion for a new cookbook. Would you turn them down saying it’s a waste of time? That said, don’t turn away from having a relevant, helpful blog post on your website from a guest writer who is known and recognized in your industry! Community building is as essential in the online world as it is the bricks-and-mortar one, so welcome the exposure and the chance to network and link-build!
Assuming that quantity is better than quality
While we’re on the subject of link-building, it’s important to remember that links to and from quality websites will serve you far better in the SEO rankings than lots of links from websites that look like spammy directories. Remember, links are a vote of confidence showing that both websites uphold similar commitments of quality and integrity. Choose wisely. Receiving a link from an authoritative website will do more to boost your traffic than a dozen links from questionable sources.
Assuming you can only use one keyword per page
Several years ago, the SEO algorithms favored websites having different pages for each keyword variation. For example “best vacation spots,” “cheap vacation spots,” “vacation spots for families” etc. This forced websites to have multiple pages that were slightly different, yet still very similar – and it created a serious usability issue for visitors! These days, Google favors usability over technical keyword specificity, and their algorithms are sophisticated enough to be able to determine that a “vacation spot” can be the best, cheap, and ideal for families all on the same page!
Assuming that you can ignore what people on social media say
There’s no doubt about it, social media plays a role in search rankings. If your business hasn’t yet embraced at least one social media channel, you’re missing opportunities to reach potential customers. Social sharing also generates valuable links back to your website, which search engines are known to factor into how your website ranks. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Pinterest, social networks help to provide exposure and can increase interest in your products, content, or services. You can learn more about successfully incorporating social media on our blog, but it’s generally as simple as creating a schedule of messages and publishing content that your target audience would find useful or interesting.
Assuming that copying content is OK
If it’s been awhile since you had to write a research paper for school, we’re here to remind you that plagiarism or copying other people’s work is still NOT OK. In fact, when you copy content from another website and place it on your business’ website it’s even worse than your teacher’s icy stare, a red F, and possibly detention – it’s a big SEO hit that sticks to your website as long as that content remains in place.
Crafting unique, interesting copy takes time and effort. But stealing from a competitor’s website is not only illegal (some website owners actively look for illegally copied content and images and will take action against business using their material without permission) but you’ll get penalized by Google.
Before you place any content on your website, run it through a plagiarism checker like CopyScape or Grammarly and adjust accordingly. If you find “must have” content that another person or business has originally shared, contact them about obtaining permission to place a segment of the article on your website with a link to the original. When you follow the rules, Google will be happy, other content providers will be happy, and you might even make your 8th grade English teacher smile.