In order to save money, small business owners often take a DIY approach to search engine optimisation. However, that leaves them vulnerable to common mistakes that can negatively affect their online presence and cost them money in the long run. Let’s take a look at some of the top mistakes that should be avoided when optimising a site.
1. Lack of Audience Research
In order to properly target a business’ digital marketing efforts, it’s important to define the specific target audience that the products or services are aimed at. Lack of audience research leads to a lack of strategy and lack of effective optimisation.
Being too general and casting too wide a net can inhibit business growth, as it won’t speak to qualified (interested) searchers and is also unlikely to attract casual searchers. A good first step (often with the help of a professional SEO agency) is to conduct audience research and learn more about the demographics of the company’s ideal customer. An effective way to do this is to create “audience personas”, with information on a potential customer’s needs, motivations, pain points and so on.
2. Poor Keyword Choices
While the way that SEO professionals use keywords has changed and evolved over the years, keywords remain one of the most important aspects of a good SEO foundation. Search engine crawlers use keywords to analyse a site and understand the purpose of its content. That’s why choosing the right keywords is crucial.
Businesses that skip keyword research will often choose the wrong keywords and phrases, meaning the site will rank for phrases that fail to lead to profitable results and conversions. Well-informed keyword research by an SEO agency can help SME owners to make sure they’re ranking for the most appropriate phrases.
The keywords used should reflect what interested customers are entering into search engines when looking for specific products and services. It’s not as simple as targeting the most popular keywords; these will be highly competitive and already in use by much larger businesses. On the other end of the scale, keywords with very low popularity may be irrelevant to searchers. A strong SEO keyword strategy can help businesses to find the right balance.
Optimising for appropriate niche phrases with low competition is a good way to start ranking. This might include location-specific phrases that mention a city or neighbourhood, attracting searchers who are nearby geographically. (In fact, 30% of mobile searches today are related to a location.) Longtail keywords are also easier to rank for, and more focused than more general terms with high competition and popularity.
3. Stale Content
Regular, relevant and up-to-date content is key to generating interest in a website. Content is one of the most important signals used by Google to rank a site. Blog posts, videos, quizzes, online polls, downloadable resources and podcasts are all types of content that can attract searcher interest. This content should be updated regularly, using relevant topics and keywords to attract traffic from searchers and rank well with search engines. A lack of fresh new content will cause user interest to drop off dramatically, which will influence rankings negatively.
Thin, low-value content should be avoided, and onsite content should never be scraped (plagiarised). Good content is the stuff that offers value (information, entertainment or both) to site visitors, and keeps them coming back to a website.
4. Neglecting the Back End
Even the most engaging, professionally written content needs solid back end optimisation in order to be visible to search engines. It’s essential to optimise the title, slug, meta description and alt-image text of a page with the right keywords before the content goes live, or Google will ignore that awesome content that took so much time and hard work.
5. Neglecting Mobile-Friendly Optimisation (Responsiveness)
Just over half (51%) of searchers are more likely to make a purchase from a mobile-optimised website. The majority of online interactions today are being done via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, and search engines like Google are pushing a mobile-first approach for businesses, and mobile optimisation has become a serious ranking factor. SMEs who ignore the mobile trend risk getting left far behind.
That doesn’t mean business owners need a separate dedicated mobile-friendly version of their site. Responsive design makes it possible for one well-designed site to work seamlessly across multiple devices, adjusting their resolution, layout and menu structure accordingly.
6. Lack of Links
Even a well-optimised web page won’t achieve its full potential unless it’s supported by a robust link network. Once searchers have landed on a website, it’s important to encourage them to stay and browse for longer, learning more about the business and encouraging a conversion. Internal links between pages are an excellent way to do this, promoting more extensive visits and providing site visitors with more well-rounded information.
Many businesses don’t think about SEO beyond the pages of their own website. Off-page SEO is also just as essential as onsite optimisation. Link building plays a huge role in this, and a lack of link building will hold a website back. It’s important to partner with other businesses for guest posts and backlinks, while also adding links to business directories and online forums.
7. Treating SEO as a Once-Off Solution
SEO is not a one-time job. It is an ongoing process that needs to keep evolving and developing as the online landscape changes. The strategy that helps a website to rank well one month might not follow through to the next month. Searchers behave differently as their needs change from month to month, and business websites need to adapt to speak to those changing needs. It’s important to regularly update and refresh a site’s SEO efforts in order to make sure that rankings and conversions remain consistently high.
8. Not Tracking Results
It’s critical to find out which SEO tactics work for a business, and which fall flat. This means traffic needs to be monitored and analysed continuously. A good SEO agency will monitor and report on a site’s performance to show each client how and where rankings are improving. This process also means the SEO efforts can be adjusted and refined as needed, to make results more predictable and scalable.
If you’re a small business owner looking to optimise your website in the most effective way, a professional agency like Lilo can help you get the results you want, and avoid those common SEO pitfalls, at highly competitive rates to suit your budget.