Most small business owners started their business because it was their passion. They wanted to be their own boss. They wanted to work towards achieving their own dream rather than helping someone else achieve theirs. They knew it would take hard work and there would be a learning curve. They knew they would have to become a jack of all trades--and a master of all of them too. The one thing they probably didn't anticipate was all the little details that can be so incredibly essential. The complexity of a supply chain. The convoluted details of taxes. Oh, and the wide array of absolutely necessary marketing strategies. One of those strategies is search engine optimization.
Most people don't even know it exists. They assume that Google is run on magic and fairy dust and that the best information is always at the top. For the small business owner, this search engine ranking can be infuriating. They want to reach a wider audience, but their website only shows up on page 3 or 4. This is unfortunate because about three-quarters of online users never scroll past the first page of results. SEO, then, is the best chance at moving a site up in the ranks. But there are a few land mines every small business owner needs to avoid when working on their SEO. Here are just five of them:
1. Avoiding Analytics
SEO is time-consuming. And, at first, it can kind of be a guessing game. You have to play around to see which keywords might drive traffic, and it can be difficult to tell what is actually working and where you are wasting your time. The best way to get a clear overview is to use an analytics package. You can set it up to track the conversion of every individual keyword. When you compare them, you'll be able to tell where you should be focused and what you should just let go. As an example, if you have a blog section, try and write extremely varied posts at first. Maybe one about the corporate housing you stayed in while on a business trip and another about the back office employees in your company and another about your industry. Take a look at the analytics, and start narrowing down the topics you cover to fit what your readers prefer.
2. Think Local And Mobile, Not Flash
Regular SEO isn't easy. There's a lot to learn and it's always changing. Flash-based SEO, though, is on another level. It is the rocket science of SEO. It's so complicated that search engines were only able to start indexing Flash content fairly recently. Now, you don't have to take this to an extreme and offer no Flash content on your site. But it's really best to limit it to things like rotating images of your products on a Flash banner. However, if you are absolutely set on having a heavy amount of it, make sure your marketing specialist is trained in Flash--or at least send them for training. If you want to be up to date on real estate in Canada, you need training. If you want to have the latest information on non-invasive surgical procedures, you need training. Flash is no different.
Replace this emphasis on flash with mobile and local optimization. There are some pretty shocking statistics about local searches on mobile devices. First and foremost, the vast majority of consumers use their mobile devices to look at websites, but only about a fifth of companies have sites that are optimized for mobile. And even more astonishing, 88% of mobile users who make a local search will visit that store in one day. So first, make sure your website is optimized for mobile use and, second, make sure you're optimizing for local SEO. Consumers want to take action if they find you, so let them.
3. Bad Keywords
Yes, you want to get traffic to your website. But it's not just about traffic. It's about making a conversion. Switch your thinking from trying to get high ranks for high-traffic keywords. First off, you likely won't be able to rank that high and, second, a lot of the time that traffic doesn't convert. Instead, concentrate on lower-traffic phrases that are specific. You'll get very high rankings for these and you'll also achieve your goal of making sales. Just be careful that you don't get too specific. If you're using keywords that are never searched for, your high ranking won't make any difference. Find the happy medium.
And stop keyword stuffing. Too many individuals think that they need to stuff keywords into body copy, the title page, links, and the meta keywords tag. Not only will this annoy users, but instead of having the intended affect of improving ranking, it will actually have a negative impact. It's not about how many times a keyword is used on a page, it is about the diversity of keywords used and the depth of the content.
4. No Internal Linking
This is probably the most under utilized SEO trick. And the main reason people don't do this is because they don't know that it actually makes a difference. Linking to other pages on the website brings a whole new level of SEO juice. It helps the search engine find more of the pages on your site. It helps users find more of the content on your site--and don't forget: usability matters to Google's rankings. Try and have at least three internal links on every page, but more only helps. And pages you want ranked higher should have more internal links.
5. Bad Content
Bad website content is like bad product packaging: It's just tacky. So just like you need to get your branded packaging right, you need to make sure your website is full of quality content. Bad content doesn't just mean poor quality content, it also means duplicate content. But we'll start with the former. Content created for the sake of content creation will not perform well. On the same token, content created by amateurs also won't do well. As far as duplicate content goes, don't do it. If multiple pages discuss the same thing, but for different purposes, don't just copy and paste. Create content that shows users how this product, service or whatever else applies to the specific page. Users get annoyed when they read the same information twice. It's a waste of time. And as far as SEO goes, search engines will only index content once, so it's pointless.