Business owners have to juggle so many tasks that things such as search engine optimization (SEO) often get overlooked. Yet, how well you play the internet browser game can make a difference in your website traffic and thus how many new leads you collect. Don’t just assume you know the basics, so you’re fine. You can do a number of things to ramp up your efforts without much time or financial investment.
The problem with understanding how to win at SEO is that the second you figure out how algorithms work, Google or one of the other browser providers changes the requirements and you drop back down in your search engine rankings. You must stay on top of all the different methods to ramp up results.
What Are Some Common Mistakes in SEO?
Search engines make up around 68% of online shopping starting points, according to a BrightEdge channel report. One thing you can do to instantly improve SEO is avoid the common mistakes business owners make when trying to improve their placement.
There are pitfalls companies fall into over and over, and knowing them can give you an edge over the competition. Here are the things most small and medium business owners get wrong about SEO.
1. Not Studying the Competition
How well you rank in search engine results pages (SERPs) is highly dependent upon how you stack up to other sites. The search engine robot goes through a checklist in mere milliseconds to determine your rank for a particular keyword phrase.
They’ll compare how well your site matches user intent, how long the content is, whether your site loads quickly and many other factors to determine your placement. Take time to look at what your competitors do well and determine to do better.
How does one brand reach position zero without paying for advertising, while another winds up on page two of results? Figure out what’s different about their content or site and how you can repeat their success. Know how keywords work and when to use them. Study everything you can about what they do.
2. Ignoring Accessibility
Is your site accessible to people of all abilities? For example, a user with a vision impairment may rely on screen readers to figure out the layout, text and images on a page. A simple change like adding alt tags improves accessibility and helps you rank higher for certain searches.
Depending on your industry and who you serve, you may even fall under regulations such as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. The ADA sets forth which businesses must comply, but the internet is still a gray area at the moment.
3. Expecting Instant Results
SEO isn’t something you do once and get first position ranking. It takes time to build a reliable site that’s a go-to source for information. If you search for nearly anything, the sites that pop up first in the results are going to be well-established ones.
You need content and plenty of it. You must publish on a consistent basis. You have to gather backlinks and keep trying things until your SEO improves. Add new words and see how it impacts your ranking. Expand on an idea and check again. Give search engines time to catch up with your changes and spider your new content.
4. Losing Quality for Quantity
Some business owners assume if they throw up a lot of content something will stick and they’ll get more traffic. While that might have worked years ago, Google and other search engines are much smarter today. They look at quality as well as quantity.
You’re better served writing one in-depth article covering all aspects of a narrow topic than throwing up 15 200-word articles that don’t say much at all.
Don’t overlook varied types of media. Ideally, your site will consist of articles, white papers, webinars, video and infographics. Users absorb things in different ways and adding one of those words to any keyword phrase can change your ranking.
For example, if you offer home mortgages, someone might search for “home mortgage brokers in ABC Town.” What if they add just a word to the search? Do you still offer valuable and relevant content? They might search for “home mortgage brokers in ABC Town with videos.” Suddenly, the entire content expectation changes.
5. Not Knowing What Tools Work
Small businesses can’t always hire someone full-time to see to SEO and website management (more on this in a minute). However, you can use a lot of tools to speed up processes and automate things. Knowing what’s available may speed up your work exponentially.
For example, you can use something like SEMRush to stay on top of Google’s ever-changing algorithms and preferences. Gain benefits such as keyword choice recommendations, tone checks and plagiarism detectors. Since 68% of online experiences start with a search engine, using tools to tweak your SEO is a smart move.
6. Not Hiring Help
You might not be to the point where you can hire a full-time SEO specialist or even a web developer. However, you can certainly pull in contracted employees to help you ramp up your efforts. Another option is hiring someone part-time or splitting duties between two different job roles until you can afford to hire another person.
Trying to handle all the SEO on your own isn’t usually doable for a small business owner. There are too many other competing things to distract from building traffic on a consistent basis.
Since SEO changes constantly, always strive to learn the latest trends and how Google changes and updates their algorithms. Read widely on the topic, listen to other business owners and keep trying new tactics.
The more you know and understand about how SERPs positioning works, the better you’ll be able to navigate changes.
Authored by Eleanor Hecks
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.