If you want to drive traffic to your website and grow your business you must get comfortable applying SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Importance of Learning SEO for Small Business Owners
By learning how to optimize your website you can improve the chances of your website getting found in search engine results. Your website search engine results are what ultimately determine if your business will grow or stagnate online.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a tricky process. If done incorrectly, you can end up with a lot of wasted time and money and little to show for it. SEO is getting more complex, and it’s growing harder to know what to do.
To maximize the SEO efforts you need to keep up with all the latest SEO developments and trends so you can stay competitive and not make the mistakes that can seriously derail your SEO efforts.
Even with an abundance of information about SEO, it’s easy to make mistakes that will get you banned from search engine results and negatively impact your business. To help you avoid these harmful SEO blunders, we put together a list of the ten most common SEO mistakes so you can do your best from making them.
Learning the basics of SEO is not difficult. There are a number of rules and guidelines that are easy to implement. You are probably already familiar with many of them. They include things like optimizing pages with keywords, using images and video, researching the competition, and creating high-quality content.
If you use WordPress you’ll find many plugins to help you with your SEO. RankMath and Yoast are a few that are most commonly used. These and other SEO plugins will give you a list of tasks you need to fulfill to optimize your posts and your pages.
The best way to learn SEO is through practice. So if you want to know how to optimize websites you must not only know the rules but also be ready to apply them.
By practicing SEO on real websites, you’re bound to make mistakes, especially in the beginning. But making mistakes and learning from them is what will make you an expert if you’re willing to persevere.
If you’re just starting, you probably make many basic mistakes without realizing it. You might forget to apply for an SSL certificate or decide to build your website without knowing anything about web design. Some of these mistakes may not result in penalties, but others can make a big negative impact on your website rankings.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who makes these mistakes. Many top SEO experts probably made the same mistakes. Instead of giving up, they analyzed the results, fixed the problems, and continued to improve until they got where they are now. And because the world of SEO is constantly changing, even experts will continue to make more mistakes until they figured out how to best apply the latest trends & strategies.
What’s more, the SEO landscape is constantly changing. From the death of Google Authorship to the rise of AI Tools, there are many SEO mistakes you could be making that will affect your bottom line.
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To help you, take a look at the list of the most common small business SEO mistakes you want to avoid if you’re just starting with SEO and online marketing.
Skipping Keyword Search Before Creating Content
Many new website owners create content without performing keyword research. This is a big mistake. It takes years for websites to rank for some of the most highly competitive keywords. What’s more, many of the top listings are dominated by big companies that have a huge pool of money and staff to make sure they get and stay on top.
Without proper research, you might waste valuable time trying to optimize for keywords you’ll never able to.
Instead, find long-tail keywords. Use tools such as Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, and SEMRush to find keyword variations that are less competitive but are still valuable.
Not using keywords in page titles or URLs
When it comes to SEO, you need to make sure you’re using keywords in your page titles. Google uses these keywords to determine what your page is about. If you’re not using keywords in your page titles, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity
For example, if you’re trying to rank for the keyword “online marketing,” then you need to use that keyword in your title if you want to rank for this term.
So make sure that every page on your site has a title tag and a description meta tag that uses your target keywords.
Overlooking Meta Descriptions
Sure everything looks great on your site, but if you forgot to properly optimize the Meta descriptions of your pages, it will negatively impact the click-through rate or how many people click on your link. You need to make sure they are optimized to correctly describe what your pages are about. Keep them short, descriptive, and relevant, and include target keywords, for best results.
Not Connecting & Using Google Analytics & Search Console to track results
One of the first things you need to do after launching a new website is to connect it to Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
By forgetting to connect your website you’re missing out on tons of valuable information. Without proper analytics set up, you won’t know how many people are visiting your website, and how long they’re staying. Whether they’re leaving right away or going and checking out other pages.
If you don’t know any of this information you will not know what you need to do to improve.
So do yourself a favor and make sure your website is using proper Analytics and Search Console code for tracking your website. Finally, don’t forget to regularly review and analyze the results to see what changed and what you can do to improve.
These two free tools offered by Google will show you how well your blog is performing, how much traffic it’s getting, and where that traffic is coming from.
If you can’t measure, you can’t improve. These tools will tell you which pages are getting the most traffic, which keywords you’re ranking for, how long people stay on your website, and how fast your website loads.
By knowing and using this data, you can focus on improving your website and increasing your website rankings.
Not optimizing your website for speed
Speed is one of the main factors in Google’s ranking algorithm so if your site is slow, it can negatively affect your SEO. One of the most important things you can do to optimize your website experience is to make sure your website loads quickly.
Not paying attention to mobile
If you ignore mobile, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of your audience. The best thing you can do is have a responsive website, which is a site that automatically resizes to fit whatever device it’s being viewed on.
Trying to rank for wrong keywords
Trying to rank for keywords that your customers don’t use or that don’t relate to your business is a waste of time. Perform keyword research to find the best keywords for your pages.
Ineffective keyword research can be a big problem resulting in no traffic to your blog and your site. The intent of keyword research is to get the right audience to find your content by getting to the top pages of search engine results. Without optimizing your content for proper keywords you’re drastically reducing your chances of the right people finding your pages.
Not creating high-quality content
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to SEO is not creating amazing content. You can have a beautiful website, but if your content isn’t up to the standard of your competitors, then you’re not going to attract traffic.
SEO and content creation go hand in hand. Without high quality and evergreen content, it will be difficult to rank your website and if you don’t apply SEO to your content, it’s likely your content won’t rank well.
However, not just any content will do. The field of content marketing has seen tremendous growth in the past few years. There are around 4.5 million blogs posted every day. (Source: Techjury.net ).
Posting mediocre or low-quality content will no longer suffice. Writing high-quality content takes time and effort, but if done consistently your efforts will yield many long-lasting benefits.
Over time, small businesses realize that it gets tougher to come up with quality and highly engaging content. For this reason, most website owners end up compromising the quality to keep up with the quantity. Don’t make this mistake.
Quality is always better than quantity when it comes to content. Longer, better research posts will always do better than short articles and will show up higher in search engine rankings. Besides the longer the post, the more keywords it
Not creating long-form content
This is similar to the mistake mentioned earlier regarding creating poor quality content. In today’s digital space, short-form content is clearly losing ground to long-form writing. SEO has become more about how engaged your audience is, and how long they stay on your site consuming your content. A short content will not get you as much attention as long-form articles. Google monitors how long people stay reading your content and if the users quickly leave, your site will likely lose its rankings. Instead of struggling with how to use up all your keywords in the copy without being too forward and unnatural about it, opt for long-form content.
Not performing on-page optimization (missing H1, alt, and other tags)
If you’re not implementing on-page SEO, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to rank higher in search results. Make sure that the keywords you’re targeting are in your title tags, the H1 tags, the image alt text, the URL, and the body of your content.
If you’re using WordPress there are many free SEO tools that will tell you exactly what you need to do to optimize your content. Below is a screenshot of the Rank Math WP Plugin.
Forgetting To Create And Submit Sitemaps To Google Search Console
Many beginner SEO practitioners often make small errors when they first start. One of these is forgetting to submit your sitemap to Google so your site gets properly indexed.
If you use WordPress and one of the popular SEO plugins like Yoast, All In One SEO, or RankMath, your site map is automatically created for you. Having a sitemap on your website does not guarantee Google knows about it. You need to set up a Google search console account and submit your sitemap there. Once Google has your sitemap, it will know when you make any changes to your website structure. This means that any time you add new pages or make changes to your current ones, Google will keep track.
As soon as the new website is finished, you need to submit your sitemap to Google so it can properly index your website and knows when changes are made.
Not auditing your website On a Regular Basis
Regardless of how long you have been using SEO, auditing your site is of the utmost importance. It helps you narrow down the things you are doing right for your site, and those you are failing at.
An audit can help you identify technical issues such as broken links, crawl errors, and duplicate content, which can negatively impact your search engine rankings.
Running monthly or yearly audits can also identify areas of your website that may be confusing or difficult for users to navigate, allowing you to make improvements and enhance the overall user experience.
An audit can help you identify opportunities to optimize your website for specific keywords and improve your search engine rankings. By identifying and fixing issues that may be causing users to bounce from your website, an audit can help improve conversions and increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Cannibalizing your content (Creating content on your website competing for the same keywords and phrases)
Cannibalizing content refers to when you have various pages or posts on your website competing for the same keywords or phrases. When you cannibalize on your website, it means you’re competing with yourself and therefore decreasing the chances of achieving higher rankings. The best thing you can do is combine the articles so they won’t compete with each other.
The easiest way to check for cannibalization on your site, type ‘site:domain.com’ ‘keyword’ to check whether you have pages competing for the same keywords.
Additional Reading: What is keyword cannibalization? From Yoast.
Not building internal and external links
If you’re trying to improve the ranking of your website on search engines like Google, then you need to build internal and external links. An internal link is a link from one page of your website to another page on your website. An external link is a link from your website to another website.
Not Checking For Broken Links Regularly
Just as link building is important, it’s just as important to check and make sure that the links on your websites are working.
It’s a bad user experience if your links are going to websites or pages that have moved or no longer exist.
Luckily there are many great tools to check for broken links on your website.
If you’re using WordPress, there is an excellent broken link checker plugin that will go through your website and notify you whenever it finds a broken link.
So make sure to perform a link audit every month using one of these tools and fix any of the broken links that you’ll find on your website.
Not Researching Customer Questions
It’s important to do keyword research when creating content in order to make sure that your target audience can find your content when they’re searching for it.
By providing quick answers to common questions (FAQ) you help users quickly find answers to common questions, saving them time and effort.
When you help website visitors locate the information they need quickly, you will also improve the overall user experience on your website.
A well-crafted FAQ page can demonstrate to users that you have a thorough understanding of your product or service, which can enhance your credibility and trustworthiness.
Finally, FAQ pages can also be optimized for specific keywords, which can help improve your search engine rankings and make it easier for users to find your website.
Not Performing Regular SEO & Technical Audits
An SEO audit can help you identify technical issues such as broken links, crawl errors, and duplicate content, which can negatively impact your search engine rankings.
By performing regular audits, you can track the progress of your SEO efforts and make adjustments as needed to improve your results.
Use can use Google Search Console, ahrefs, or SEMRush (they have both free and paid versions) to find out which keywords rankings have declined or improved.
Finally, make sure to perform a technical audit to ensure there are no indexing errors and other website technical issues that will penalize your website.
14 SEO tips for more traffic in 2023 🤩— Ahrefs (@ahrefs) January 3, 2023
Our blog ranks on the first page of Google for >13,600 keywords—and using these tips helped us get there.
Let’s dive in 🏊♂️ pic.twitter.com/R5Xt8kZl7y
Not Using SEO Tools To Maximize Your Efforts.
The final blunder on this list many beginners make is not taking the time to find and learn SEO tools. There are many excellent tools that are available. Many are paid, and some are free, They cover every aspect of SEO and online marketing. Tools for keyword searches and tracking links, tools for monitoring website rankings, and researching the competition. Without these tools, it’s almost impossible to get a clear understanding of how well your website is performing.
At the very least you need Google Analytics and Search Console. Another popular tool you might want to try is Ubersuggest from Neil Patel. You can use it to run website audits, research your competition and check for backlinks. If you have a bigger budget, you can try SEMRush or ahrefs which will cost you about $100/month. Both of these have tons of features and will provide an amazing amount of data you can analyze and use to optimize your website.
Now ahrefs allow users to create a free account and use many of its amazing tools. You can run a free website audit and track backlinks using one of their free ahrefs Webmaster Tools.
If you’re looking to discover more marketing and SEO tools, check out a growing list we put together. You’ll find a categorized collection of the best marketing tools we found. Many of these tools are free or have a freemium model.
Try as many tools as you can, use the ones you like, and always keep an eye for more tools and services to help you maximize your SEO efforts.
Treating SEO as One Time Task
A lot of people think SEO is a one-time thing, but it’s not. It’s something you have to keep doing. SEO is an ongoing process of making your website better. It’s not something you do once and abandon it. Treating SEO as a one-time task, instead of a long-term strategy, will lead to frustration.
SEO takes time and energy to maintain, so it’s important to take the time to do it right and not just throw a few keywords into a page and call it a day. SEO is a long-term strategy and ongoing activity that requires ongoing commitment and ongoing investment.
Not keeping up with SEO trends and the latest changes
Things are changing with time, and they are changing fast. If you are not alert to keep up with every SEO trend, then all your optimization efforts will be wrong. And you will not achieve your SEO goals thereof. Ideally, the same SEO marketing strategies will not work all year long.
Using black hat strategies
Many years ago this practice worked. However now the only result of using black hat strategies is your site getting downgraded or banned from search engine results. If you overuse specific keywords in your content Google will eventually find out and you’ll see your rankings drop. Instead, focus on related keywords that can be used interchangeably and that are related in meaning.
Not sharing on social media
Even high-quality content, will not get the attention it deserves unless you put an effort into promoting it. After you create your content, publish it on social media with a link back to your post. Also posting multiple times and scheduling your posts can also improve the chances of more people seeing your post and are more likely to come to your site to read it. Promoting all your content on social media should be a no-brainer.
SEO is a constantly evolving field, and even the most seasoned marketing professionals can sometimes make mistakes. To keep your website ranking well and avoid penalties, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in SEO and avoid common mistakes. By following best practices and staying informed, you can ensure that your website remains at the top of search engine results and continues to attract traffic.