Common Small Business SEO Mistakes

common small business SEO mistakesSEO is shrouded in mystery to most people. What it is and how it works is too complicated, too technical and too confusing to make it worth while to learn. So, businesses hire optimization services to do the work for them. And many search optimization companies do the job they are hired to do, at least until there’s a mishap of some sort.

There are cases when the specialist is doing everything he or she can to get results, but your site might be undermining those efforts and all the money your spending is for naught. It doesn’t make any sense to spend money that doesn’t return on the investment. Every business owner knows the only time a loss of ROI is acceptable is when it’s purposeful, like a dedicated loss-leader.

Otherwise, it’s not good practice to put money into an effort which brings only minimal or no results. That’s what your site might be doing to sabotage your search engine optimization campaign. Chances are excellent, if you’re doing something on your own to try to cut down on costs, you might be costing yourself in lost traffic and conversions.

Understanding a Search Engine’s Optimization Standards

Both Google and Bing publish guidelines for effective search optimization. What might surprise you is they’re not much different. Both advise businesses to build a search friendly site, complete with some technical standards and plenty of quality content.

Unfortunately, many small businesses fall into the trap of choosing the keywords based on volume — thinking the ones that provide the most traffic will be the best investment. But what you really want is to focus on the keywords that will bring you the most business, even if they bring a small amount of traffic. —Inc.com

However, many companies try to concentrate their efforts in just one or two areas. As the nearby blockquote points, out choosing keywords by popularity is, well, a popular or preferred method. While it seems logical, it really isn’t a very good practice. Targeting your audience and narrowing your scope does far more than casting a wide net, hoping it will catch the attention of many more consumers.

In other words, if your search optimization isn’t focused, you’re essentially spending more time and effort getting less results. It’s far better to do some high quality content marketing that’s specifically designed to capture customers who will repeatedly purchase your products and services.

That’s precisely the way search engines want you to operate. Google and Bing want you to speak directly to your industry niche and become a reliable, authoritative source of information. If you do, you’ll naturally climb higher in organic ranking.

Common Small Business SEO Mistakes

If you’ve found an affordable provider, then you ought to make their job a bit easier–after all, it’s only in your best interests to do so. Companies are constantly fighting the battle against algorithmic changes, keeping up with the latest trends, and tweaking their efforts to do the most good.

However, if your site has one or more of these deficiencies, it’s probably posing too much of a problem for your service provider to overcome. Remember, optimization is much, much more than just getting links to your site. So, let’s take a look at some common problems:

  • Manipulating links to gain more traffic. If you’ve engaged in this practice and haven’t told your optimizer, then you are hurting your organic rank in a serious way. Google is very staunch in its stand to eradicate link networks and other low quality sites.
  • Publishing bad content or adding copy for the sake of it. If you’ve heard Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt’s past statements, or the search engine’s Chief Webspam Engineer, Matt Cutts comments, you’d know that content has to be of high quality and engaging or it won’t help your site whatsoever. Write original material and don’t duplicate content.
  • Slow load time or persistent downtime. You site has to load quickly to meet one of the 200 ranking signals in Google’s arsenal. In addition, if your site is down often due to server issues, it’s sabotaging your SEO.
  • No redirects or server communication problems. These also a big ones. If you don’t include 301 redirects for content you’ve moved from one place to another or do not customize your 404’s, you’re harming your optimization.
  • Poor internal link structure. This is a real no-no in the world of search optimization; but, if your site has bad internal linking, it won’t fare well in its organic rank. You’ve got to diversify and clean up any existing problems in order to get the most out of internal links.

Another thing to do is to be more focused on well-written content that’s semantic, not keyword laden. Google’s Hummingbird is having a tremendous impact on how sites are ranked. Publish naturally written, thoughtful content and do so regularly.

Owen E. Richason IV

Owen is blog content writer, SEO consultant, social media marketer, and website guy. His work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, on Business.com, Tampa Bay Business and Financier, AOL and numerous other blogs and websites. is also a musician and is the founder of Groove Modes.