If you have done any bit of marketing as a business owner, it’s more than likely you would have at least heard the term Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, at least once.

SEO is a catch-all term for actions taken both on and off your website to make it appear at the top of the page on search engines. The “ideal” is appearing as number one on a search engine such as Google, but it can also account for other elements on a search engine’s home page such as “featured snippets”, or even video clips.

While the best practice and approach to SEO with a website is simply ensuring that it is accurate, kept up-to-date and that it is easy to find your way around as a user, there are some common mistakes that many business owners often make when it comes to optimising their website.

1) Neglecting Local SEO

If your company is geographically specific, or even if it’s not, it can be much easier to win those all-important top positions on Google by focusing on your local area. This can be achieved in a number of ways but making sure that you claim and look at your Google My Business listing and reviews is a great way to do this.

Search engines often see where users are based and offer up local business recommendations based on that location. If you can include local keywords such as town names and county names along with what you do – for example, “commercial cleaning Derby” – you’ll garner more specific, local traffic to where you are.

2) Not Choosing Your “Core” Keywords

Choosing which keywords to try and focus on, especially if you’re new to SEO, can be overwhelming. There are so many different combinations and you can end up with a list of hundreds of terms that you’re trying to chase after.

The best thing to do is try to shortlist a few really important terms for your site. There are some great websites like AnswerThePublic, Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner that have some free functionality and can help you see what phrases are being searched most frequently. Get these initial keywords to focus on, and you will stop yourself from spreading your emphasis too thinly. And remember you can always add to your keyword list at a later date.

It’s also important to note that search engines such as Google use something called “topic modelling”, which means that similar words and phrases can help others. So if your keyword is “blue plates”, then “blue dishes” will naturally be associated with your terms as well. The same goes for different spellings too (including misspellings and Americanisations).

3) Ignoring Basic On-Page Optimisation

Even if you’re not a super savvy SEO expert, there are some quick rules for creating titles for web pages (called meta titles).

  • Aim for your page to have a title that is 65 characters or less.
  • Try and put the most important keyword at the start of the title.
  • Make sure that it has at least 30 characters.
  • Make sure that the title is relevant to what is on the page itself.
  • Don’t use the same keyword on more than one page title if you can help it. This can confuse the search engine and leave it unsure which page to show people who are searching. This is sometimes known as keyword cannibalisation.

For example, a “good” meta title for this article would be:
7 Common Mistakes Business Owners Make With SEO | Virtalent

A “bad” meta title would be something like:
Bad SEO Mistakes

Or

Lots Of Mistakes With SEO That Some Business Owners Make And What To Do Instead So People Find Your Website

4) Keyword Stuffing

While it’s important to have keywords mentioned as much as possible on your website it MUST be natural. If you try to construct false opportunities for keywords to be included, this can be called “keyword stuffing” and can actually lead to your site being marked down by a search engine.

To work out if you are keyword stuffing, read the text and work out if the sentence would make sense without the keyword in it. Here’s an example:

Good Use of "Healthcare Consultancy": "Our healthcare consultancy firm specialises in providing tailored solutions to improve patient care and hospital efficiency."

Keyword Stuffed: "For all your healthcare consultancy needs, choose our healthcare consultancy services, where healthcare consultancy experts offer healthcare consultancy advice."

As you can see the first sentence reads clearly and has the keyword included naturally. The second tries to include it as many times as possible which may increase the volume of the keyword appearing on the site but doesn’t read well or offer any value to the reader.

5) Lack Of Quality Content

High-quality, relevant content is crucial for effective SEO. Many business owners often underestimate the importance of consistently publishing well-written, informative, and engaging content that adds value for their audience. It’s easily done though as keeping on top of researching, writing and optimising content can be time-consuming. If you’re not a natural writer or are new to SEO, then it can feel like one extra to-do on a big list of things to be done.

The most important thing about content is that it shouldn’t just be for search engines but written for the needs and interests of the website’s visitors. Just having a large quantity of content is insufficient; it needs to be authoritative and beneficial to your target audience. If you find that coming up with regular content difficult, then taking on a Virtual Assistant that offers blog writing and content writing may be a great way to ensure that there is always something fresh and new on the site.

6) Assuming That It’s A Quick Fix

SEO is often mistakenly seen as a one-off task or a quick solution for immediate results. In reality, SEO is a long-term strategy requiring ongoing effort and adaptation and can take months to see any real traction and even years to have any real impact.

Search engine algorithms constantly evolve, and what works today might not be as effective tomorrow. Patience and persistence, along with regular updates and optimisations, are key to achieving sustained improvements in search rankings.

While it can seem a bit overwhelming to wait months for an SEO strategy to pay off, it still remains one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business. The work you put in, and the content you create ages along with the website and offer long-term value to your business.

person holding white android smartphone

7) Panicking When Rankings Go Down

What goes up sadly must come down on occasion. Search rankings can fluctuate for various reasons, including algorithm updates, increased competition, or changes in search behaviour.

Google in particular has several “Core” updates each year which can have a massive impact on rankings, along with smaller updates around reviews, spam links and “helpful content”. While these can cause huge changes in rankings – even causing some to drop off completely – they are often temporary blips and usually calm back down and return rankings when the updates are rolled out.

Some business owners may be tempted to react hastily to these changes, making rash decisions like overhauling their website or abruptly altering their SEO strategy. It's important to recognise that these fluctuations are normal and to analyse trends over time rather than reacting to short-term changes. Maintaining a steady approach and adhering to well-planned SEO strategies is essential.

Further Learning & Resources

Learning about SEO can be both exciting and daunting. To help you here are some great resources that offer valuable insights and practical tips:

  • Moz's Beginner's Guide to SEO: Moz offers a comprehensive and user-friendly guide that covers the basics of SEO. It's a great starting point for understanding the fundamentals.
  • Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide: Who better to learn from than the search engine giant itself? Google provides a starter guide that is essential for anyone looking to understand how to optimise for search engines.
  • HubSpot's SEO Blog: HubSpot regularly publishes articles on SEO, content marketing, and inbound marketing strategies. Their blog is a valuable resource for staying up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques.
  • SEMrush Academy: For those who prefer a more structured learning approach, SEMrush Academy offers free courses and certifications on SEO and related topics.
  • Yoast SEO Blog: Yoast is well-known for its WordPress SEO plugin, and its blog provides practical tips, advice, and SEO best practices. This plug-in is a great visual way to he

Also, to effectively monitor the progress of your SEO efforts, it's crucial to keep track of how your keywords rank on search engines. While there are many tools available, finding one that is both effective and budget-friendly can be a challenge.

Ubersuggest, created by Neil Patel, a well-known figure in digital marketing is a user-friendly tool that provides keyword insights, competitor analysis, and SEO audit features.

The free version offers basic functionalities, which are quite sufficient for small businesses or individual users starting out with SEO. There are some great guides and plenty of YouTube videos to help you out with the basics as well.

Remember, this is a constantly evolving field, so staying informed and adaptable is key. SEO is not just about algorithms and rankings; it's about connecting with your customer base and providing value through your online presence.

Start small, stay consistent, and don't hesitate to seek help when needed. With time, you'll find that SEO becomes a natural and integral part of your digital marketing strategy, driving growth and success for your business in the digital world.

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