For any business, SEO and search engine marketing are great and cost-effective techniques of driving traffic to offers, and generating leads and sales online. However, if you do not know understand search engine marketing, there are some mistakes you may be making that may be impacting negatively on your online marketing efforts.
Knowing what to do and what to avoid can be crucial to avoiding dreaded penalties like Penguin and Panda. Below are 10 of the most common mistakes I find small businesses doing on a regular basis:
1. Copying strategy of high ranking websites
One of the mistakes you may be doing is studying the sites and pages that rank high on search engine results and then imitating or copying their strategy. Doing this has two main flaws:
- You are assuming that the top ranking sites are following the best SEO practices, which may not always be the case. For instance, a website may be using manipulative tactics that may work in the short term but end up being detrimental in the long run.
- If you are copying a competitor, you are not creating value or being innovative in your space. If you create content that is helpful to your audience, you will attract high quality visitors that simply copy/pasting what a competitor is doing.
You can learn from what other top websites are doing. However, make sure that the tactics the business owners are employing are not frowned upon by search engines.
2. Not investing or investing in the wrong channels
However, you should not mistake SEO for buying links or some pre-packed set of low quality services. It pays to educate yourself online about SEO and work with respected agencies in your industry. Before hiring an inbound marketing agency, know what you want to achieve and find out how the agency would help you do that.
3. Waiting for the right time to start SEO
Many of the clients that I sign up fall in this category. They wait until they have the perfect product or service to start doing SEO. You do not need to have any offer ready to start marketing. If you have the idea, you should start marketing it.
Avoid the old school marketing of putting a “coming soon” page. What should your potential customers be doing as they wait for you to launch?
Rather than staying on the backend waiting for the big launch, start marketing the product to your audience. Starting writing blog posts, optimize your website and collect emails. This pre-launch marketing can have a major positive impact on the success of your business.
4. Ignoring your website
Do not put a 20 page brochure site and then expect it to generate leads without you working on it. Your website should be updated regularly with content that will improve the lives of your audience.
Creating content consistently helps to improve the number of inbound links to your blog. Apart from this, the blog will get ranked high by search engines, which improves its visibility among visitors. Research what your market searches for on search engines and create content around the target search term phrases.
5. Not hiring an SEO
Whether you are hiring in-house or outsourcing, you need a person or team to handle your SEO and search marketing activities.
A good inbound marketing agency can give a small business nearly everything they need to build their brand, reach the right prospects and generate leads. For instance, the agency may develop training or a marketing plan that the internal staff can execute, provided you have resources, are willing to follow instruction and work to a plan.
Read this post to find out whether you need to hire an inbound marketing agency.
6. Trying to game SEO
Another mistake you may make is trying to game SEO, forgetting that good SEO is all about providing value to your customers.
The era of playing games with search engines is over. Search engine robots have become smarter is identifying websites that use shady tactics to rank and are wiping them out en masse. Using tactics like using private blog networks and other blackhat tactics may work in the short run but will definitely got caught and penalized.
The best SEO you can do is focus on creating great content that is shareable and will attract natural links from other blogs.
7. Investing in the wrong technology
For small businesses, budget is usually an issue when it comes to marketing. Therefore, it is important to get the on-site SEO optimization correctly so as to lessen the load on link building requirements. One of the ways your business may be setting itself up for failure is using the wrong content management system (CMS).
Some all-in-one CMS solutions may seem to make content creation and management easy. However, if the CMS has bad architecture or canonicalization issues, it’s best to stick to WordPress. WordPress is easy to get started with and is already SEO-focused. Tweaking it for the best on-page results is easy.
8. Thinking there are no costs in online marketing
Yes, online marketing is an effective and low-cost marketing technique that makes leads generation easy. However, the low barrier to starting an online business does not mean you will succeed. While you may constantly hear of the “overnight” success stories, the failure or about 95% of Internet businesses is not broadcast.
Most small businesses fail because they don’t have a marketing plan or a long term budget. This problem can be easily fixed as you are planning to launch your business. If you have been struggling with online marketing this year, it’s time to ask someone for Internet marketing services. Call an agency early on and get a bid.
Use the bid to plan for your online marketing investment for the next year. If you cannot invest in online marketing, then you will have to work twice as hard to get noticed in your space.
9. Hiring the wrong inbound marketing agency
Another mistake you can make is hiring the wrong company to manage your SEO. There are hundreds of SEO companies that will sell you a monthly package for SEO services. Rather than hiring an SEO company to offer you link building services, you should ask to gauge them based on particular metrics that are important for your business.
For example, you may want to see an increase in traffic from users in particular regions. Likewise, if you are hiring a company to offer social media management activities, you want to see increased activity from the audience you are targeting.
Many small businesses fall into the trap of hiring an agency when a freelancer would do a job perfectly and at a lower cost or when it’s better to do SEO on their own. Your business goals should help you determine whether to hire an SEO company or do SEO on your own.
10. Building links just for the sake
Link building is no doubt an important part of SEO. However, building links just for the sake of it can hurt your business, especially if you are just establishing your footprint online. Big brands can get away with building low quality links since they are likely to have a huge amount of high quality links. The high quality links dilute the bad links.
However, for small businesses, having a huge amount of low quality links works against your online marketing efforts. Rather than building massive links, focus on creating high quality links from websites trusted by search engines.
One of the most effective ways of building good links is to create a shareable resource. After publishing your resources, contact bloggers in your industry and ask them if they would like to link to it as part of their resources.
Small businesses can build their brands, drive traffic and generate leads on their websites using SEO. However, it’s important to know important aspects of SEO to ensure any activity you are doing will result in a positive ROI.
The above are some of the mistakes most small business owners make when it comes to SEO. Which mistake are you making?