Most small businesses are aware of the need to put up their own website and establish an online presence these days. Some of them may even have a basic understanding of SEO. However, there are certain SEO mistakes that a lot of them make that can impact how well they are able to rank in search results and drive traffic to their site. Here are some of the most common you can avoid.
Ignoring Local Search Optimization
Most small businesses are focused in one place or location. You might not know this but mobile search already consists of a huge chunk of search traffic and is increasingly focused on locally optimized results. According to Erin Cushing of Search Engine Journal:
…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 a few things you can do to make sure you’ve got local search covered. You can list your business in relevant industry and geographical directories and listings. You can use keywords on your site that include your physical location. And finally, you can optimize your website for mobile users.
Forgetting to Put Out Fresh Content
The thing about content marketing is that many people think it’s easy to generate content. In reality, it’s quite time consuming, and most small businesses don’t know how to quantify the results of content marketing anyway. As a result, many of them start forgetting to update their content channels such as on their blogs or on YouTube. Some of them even start duplicating content from other content sources, which in some cases is even worse. According to Dan Steiner on Yahoo! Small Business Advisor:
Google’s Panda update targets sites with significant amounts of thin or duplicate content. Although the update first rolled out in 2011, it’s an update that continues to affect thousands of site owners every year.
How Can You Prevent Panda From Hitting Your Site?
Your first step is a top-to-bottom site audit. Look for pages on your site with similar or duplicate content (archive, category and tag pages are good places to start looking). Also, keep an eye out for content that might be thin or add little value to the web, like 100-word blog posts or short product descriptions.
Finally, search for any title tags on your site that overlap. For example, you don’t want two separate pages on your site with the title tag ‘Jane’s Chocolate Cupcakes for Sale’.”
Links are important. A link back to your website is like having someone vouching for it in the search results. However, the source of that back link is just as important as the one who is vouching for you. According to Business Zone UK:
[The] quality of these sites is important if you’re going to get any value from these backlinks. Links from low quality or irrelevant sites could actually be dragging your site down in the search engine rankings.
Building Your Site on a Free Subdomain or Social Media Site
There are a lot of free blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogger that allow you to start your own blog without spending a dime. However, it isn’t recommended because what if your needs become more specialized and you need to start self-hosting your site to get the kind of features you want? Sure you can migrate your content, but there’s a problem with that too. According to Open Forum:
When you build your site on a free subdomain, you risk that if you ever choose to move your website (and there are numerous reasons that you may decide to do so), you will lose credit for all of the links aimed at your ‘free subdomain’ website.
WordPress does allow you to do a 301 redirect for a small fee, but it’s a yearly expense. Hosting services already have some affordable packages aimed at new and smaller websites, and you can just upgrade your plan as the site and its traffic starts to grow.