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5 SEO Mistakes Your Small Business Cannot Afford to Make

April 3, 2023

By Tom Zelinsky, courtesy of 1BoldStep

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been a trending marketing topic for many years. If you’re an avid reader of our blog, you may have started your SEO efforts here with our “Fundamental First Step of an SEO Content Strategy.”

In this blog, we’ll be building off of that by covering everything that happens after that first step, and how to avoid some of the most common SEO mistakes that small businesses make.

Why are we focusing on just small businesses? While any organization can make SEO mistakes, many small (and even mid-sized) businesses don’t have a dedicated SEO department or even a dedicated SEO professional.

Without a person or team looking into every aspect of your organization’s SEO strategy, website, and marketing efforts, it can be very easy to delay your SEO tasks — especially when there is more pressing business to take care of. In fact, 57% of B2B professionals said the lack of a dedicated SEO manager was their biggest obstacle to successful content marketing.

Now, let’s discuss what those common SEO mistakes are, and the best practices you can implement to avoid making them.

SEO Mistake #1: Not creating an ongoing SEO strategy

When creating an SEO strategy from scratch, the first steps can seem easy, right? You identify your keywords, write your content around them, and watch your pages rank in search engines.

But then what? Many organizations will look at this and think that their SEO is finished. It’s important to remember that SEO is not a “one-time” solution. It is a continuous process that needs to be monitored, updated, and tracked.

When your SEO is firing on all cylinders, it is an integral part of your content marketing. When your SEO is ignored, it can give your competitors an advantage in search engine rankings.

How to avoid this mistake

Your SEO journey is never done. By creating a strategy for ongoing monitoring and updating, you can help your SEO efforts show up in the search engine results pages like it is supposed to.

Creating or finding a checklist (like this one) for the SEO tasks that need to be completed each time a new web page or piece of content is created will make sure your content is fully optimized and aligned with each other.

Another ongoing SEO strategy is to make sure you’re tracking your results.

There are many different metrics that you can use to measure how your changes are performing. Using a tool like Google Analytics or SEMRush can help you track the ranking position for specific keywords, organic traffic to your site, and the time a user spends on your page.

By tracking these metrics, you will be able to see when a change or update has an impact on where your website ranks and how that changes the traffic your site receives.

SEO Mistake #2: Ignoring the behind-the-scenes SEO elements

Behind every web page, there are a couple of different SEO elements that need to be updated on the back end. The essential ones to look out for are meta titles and meta descriptions.

Meta titles and descriptions each have a specific character limit and must be unique for each page on your site. These elements are used by search engines to quickly identify the intent of a page when they crawl it. If either of these elements are not within the character limit or are duplicates of other pages could get, your website penalized in the search results.

How to avoid this mistake

Regular and scheduled website audits will go a long way in making sure that your meta descriptions and titles are relevant and keyword-optimized. If you decide to create an SEO checklist (like mentioned in SEO Mistake #1), adding a line for meta descriptions and titles will ensure this step is not skipped for new pages that are created.

SEO Mistake #3: Forgetting the backlinks

Backlinks are links on a website that link to another website. Backlinks are one of the many ranking factors search engines use, and should be an important part of your SEO strategy.

The most basic explanation: if you get a high-quality website to link to your website, that backlink will signal to the search engine that your site has quality content on that subject.

So how can backlinking be an SEO mistake?

Backlinking can hurt your SEO strategy when you ignore opportunities that present themselves to you. These opportunities can come from testimonial requests, press releases, guest blogs, news stories, directories, donations, or sponsorships. If you get asked to participate in any of these, make sure you include a link to your website!

How to avoid this mistake

The best way to capitalize on these opportunities is to get your whole team on board. These requests can go to different departments and personnel, so if everyone is aware of the importance of a backlink, there is less of a chance of missing out on it.

SEO Mistake #4: Ignoring local SEO

Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information? That statistic alone is enough to show that forgetting about local SEO can be a huge mistake for small businesses.

Organizations can often fall into the same line of thinking, “I want to reach the most people possible, no matter where they are.”

But for small businesses, targeting your local areas with your SEO tactics can be essential to reaching the users searching in your area.

How to avoid this mistake

To start perfecting your local SEO strategy, you’ll want to do an audit on all of the places your company is listed. During that audit, make sure that your company’s information is correct and consistent everywhere it is listed online, whether that be your website, social media, or directory listings.

Another great source for local SEO is Google My Business. Creating a profile and inputting all of your contact information, including your address, will allow your business to show up in different areas on the search engine results beyond the organic or paid search results, such as map listing or the knowledge graph, which shows up in the right sidebar on Google.

SEO Mistake #5: Forgetting that people read content, not just search engines

The final SEO mistake that is commonly made is writing your content for search engines and not for people. Even though keyword-optimized content creation is an important part of SEO, content that is written solely on keyword research is easy to pick out and extremely boring to read.

SEO is technical in nature, so it can be very easy to write like a robot (or you know, AI). But you want people to read your content, so it needs to be written for people.

How to avoid this mistake

The best way to avoid this mistake is to change the process for how you plan your content.

Planning your content that has a high business value first, then optimizing for keywords second will make sure you are creating content that is engaging for your audience and has the SEO impact you wanted.

Final thoughts

An ongoing SEO strategy can seem like a daunting task but should be a necessary part of your overall marketing strategy. By avoiding some of the most common SEO mistakes, you can increase your position in search engine results, which is prime marketing real estate.

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