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The 10 Worst Small Business SEO Mistakes
I don’t really think I need an intro for this. Let’s get to the good stuff.
1. No XML Sitemap
XML sitemaps are files that list all URLs that are available on a site. Their purpose is to allow site owners to submit all existing pages on their website to search engines for indexing. Once submitted, XML sitemaps tell search engines where to look to find pages to index. This will help pages on your site become indexed more quickly than they would otherwise.
2. Not Optimized for Mobile
With mobile search eclipsing desktop search this year, it’s more important than ever to make sure your website and its content is easily accessible and navigable on mobile devices. Both Google and Bing explicitly say that you will not rank as well in mobile search results without a mobile-ready website.
3. Not Enough Content
For successful SEO campaigns, content is king. Your site will NOT rank without content. Our research shows that the best ranking websites have an average of 1000 or more words of content per page. If you don’t consider yourself a good writer or you simply don’t have time to write website content, it’s worth the investment to hire a website copywriter.
4. Not Enough Geo-Targeted Content
If your company only services a certain area, you need to make sure your content is targeted to that area. When you fail to geo-target your content, you’ll attract visits from outside of your service area who are unlikely to convert into a lead or a sale.
ABC Plumbers offers emergency plumbing services 365 days a year to both residential and commercial customers.
Located in the Cleveland, OH area, ABC Plumbers offers emergency plumbing services 365 days a year to both residential and commercial customers.
5. Poorly Optimized Meta Data
The page title and meta description appear in the code of your page and in search engine results. They are very important in telling the search engines what the page is about. If your website automatically generates these meta elements for you, it’s likely that they are not well optimized for search engines.
Does Meta Data Really Matter for SEO?
For one of our clients, we changed absolutely nothing else on the client’s home page except for their title tag, meta description, meta keywords, and content headings (H1s, H2s). Here’s what happened:
6. Site Errors
Site errors can have a devastating impact on your small business website’s performance. If you think of your website like a house, the code of your website is like the foundation and site errors are cracks in that foundation. They send signals to search engines that your site is not trustworthy and thus not worthy of being a premium listing spot.
Common site errors include:
- Broken links
- Duplicate content
- Missing or duplicate meta elements
- Crawler blocked by Robots.txt
- Canonicalization errors
How Devastating a Robotx.txt Error Can Be
If you are unfamiliar this term, this is the file that is used to prevent search engine crawlers from crawling and indexing pages on your website that you want hidden from public view. Typically, you want to prevent your administration pages and any conversion triggered pages from being accessible to the general public.
An incorrectly formatted robots.txt file can actually be far more damaging to your site than having no robots.txt file at all. Our SEO auditors have discovered robots.txt files in site audits that were preventing search engine crawlers from indexing all pages except the homepage…making it easy to discover why this particular client wasn’t getting many organic visits to their site!
7. Webmaster Tools Not Connected
Google Webmaster Tools—or GWT for short—is an incredibly powerful (and incredibly free) tool for improving your website’s SEO. GWT can help you:
- Identify and fix crawl errors
- View search query impressions
- Make sure Google is indexing your pages
- Receive messages from Google about your website
- And more!
8. Slow Page Speed
Page speed is a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, so site speed can absolutely affect your small business website’s rankings.
In addition, website speed is indeed an important consideration that separates a good user experience from a bad user experience, or dare I say from a bounced visit.
Did you know that:
- Even 3 seconds of waiting decreases customer satisfaction by about 16%?
- Just a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions?
- Slower page load time results in an increase in page abandonment, with a 4 second load time seeing as high as a 25% increase in page abandonment compared to one with a <1 second load time?
How many leads and sales is your slow site costing your small business?!
9. Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO includes breaking the ethical rules of SEO (mostly known by Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines). It’s used in order to manipulate rankings and trick search engines to gain ranking and visits fast. Penalties and algorithmic updates by Google are in place to ensure websites that use these tactics are not successful.
Black hat SEO techniques include:
- Directory links as a link building strategy
- Guest blogging that provides little relevancy or value to readers
- Infographics that provide little value
- Non-branded links in press releases
- Exact match domains without valuable content
- Overuse of affiliate links
- Link wheels/networks
- Paid link building
- Keyword stuffing
- Scraped, spun, and duplicate content
- Footer links
- Over optimization
- Comment and forum spam
10. Failure to Track
About 90% of the business owners we meet with have Google Analytics installed on their website already. Of these, less than 10% have Google Analytics configured to track website conversions such as online form submissions. Many haven’t even filtered themselves or their employees out of the data. We had one client who appeared to have a lot of monthly website traffic – 2,000+ visitors, but after we applied a filter to his Google Analytics account to remove his employees, he came to realize he only had 700 visits per month.
What’s even more disturbing is that home service companies tend to receive far more phone inquiries than web inquiries. Often the ratio exceeds 4:1. So for every 1 web lead, the typical HVAC, plumbing, remodeling or roofing company is getting 4 (usually more) phone inquiries. Even if the business owner has Google Analytics set up to track web leads from organic search, by not also tracking phone inquiries from the same traffic source, he/she is missing more than half the picture!
In addition to improper tracking set up, many small business owners fail to track the true metrics of SEO success. Spoiler alert: they aren’t traffic and rankings!
When it comes to tracking your SEO success, you should be most concerned with:
- An increase in organic search visits in your service area
- Your visit to lead conversion rate for visits in your service area
- Your total leads (web and phone) from organic search
Need an SEO Company?
Find Out What Makes Blue Corona Different
Our goal is to be the best analytical, data-driven online marketing and SEO company on the planet! Unlike other SEO companies, we operate from the perspective of a business owner (our account managers have forgotten more about business than most “SEO gurus” will ever know—call us and see).
We strive to provide superior service by offering the following to all our SEO clients:
- A dedicated Account Manager, someone that understands business and SEO, to be your guide
- Detailed monthly reports (you can actually understand) that connect SEO performance to your bottom line
- A support team that includes an analyst, web designer/developer, and a dedicated professional copywriter
- Access to our proprietary analytics software (better data drives better results)
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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