If you’re a start-up or small business, the big bad world of SEO can see impossible to conquer. There’s so much to know, and you’re terrified when anyone mentions “algorithm” or “penalties” – because you’ve got no idea if what you’re doing is right or wrong.
It’s not that you don’t want to do a great job of your SEO and reap the rewards. Who doesn’t want high rankings and increased search traffic? But when you’ve got a new business to run, you just don’t have time to sit there and worry about long-tail keywords.
To save you some time and help you to get your head around the basics of SEO, we’ve put together 5 of the key mistakes that SMEs tend to make when it comes to optimising their sites for search. Read on to make sure you avoid them.
1. Choosing a disreputable SEO company for quick wins
When you’re busy taking care of a hundred other things at once, it may seem like the easiest way to get the SEO ball rolling is to outsource it to a third party.
And that is a great idea. Clever Marketing, as a digital agency, has helped countless customers with their SEO, boosting their rankings oaring and leaving them to get on with the reason they started their business in the first place.
But if you are going to outsource your website’s SEO, choose your company carefully. Our top tip is to immediately disregard any company which offers quick wins or tells you they’re going to get your site into the no.1 slot on the SERPs.
If it sounds too good to be true, that’s probably because it is.
To provide you with quick wins, these “Black Hat SEOs” will likely be building a dodgy backlink profile and filling your site with meaningless spam words your users will never read, just to boost your rankings. This method will ensure that any uplift you see will be entirely temporary; Google’s algorithm updates have meant such sites are heavily penalised. You may even be banned from the SERPs entirely, and you don’t want to know the impact that could have on your business.
2. Designing a non-SEO friendly site
Any web designer worth his her or salt will design your site with SEO in mind, along with UX. But if you’re attempting to build your site yourself, it’s definitely worth getting to grips with what search engines can and can’t index, in order to give you the best chance of ranking well. If Google can’t index your site, it won’t display it as a relevant search result to a user’s query. In others words, no one is going to find you online.
So, what are the big no-nos when it comes to SEO-friendly web design? Firstly, overuse of images. Google can’t “read” images or the text contained within them, so while they may look nice, Google will largely ignore them (unless you add alt tags). For this reason, make sure you don’t use images for important site elements like headers or titles.
3. Sacrificing UX at the altar of SEO
This is perhaps the most common mistake we’ve seen SMEs making. What’s the point of having a high ranking site, if people hate using it? If your site isn’t user-friendly, this will result in a high bounce rate, which will quickly see your good ranking fortunes fade.
A good website balances the requirements of SEO with great UX. In fact, a lot of the time, SEO will follow on directly from the user experience. For example, if you create a consistent, logical and clear navigation system to enable visitors to move freely and easily around your site, this will benefit your SEO too as your site will become easier to index. If you write consistently rich and useful articles to provide your users with accurate and up-to-date information, the naturally-occurring keywords will help you climb up those SERPs.
4. Not moving with the times
Digital marketing moves quickly. SEO moves even quicker. We recently published a blog post about how link building has changed in recent years to help dissect the fact that what worked in 2010 just won’t work today when it comes to SEO.
We see companies still cramming their sites full of useless text and manipulating their backlink profiles with spammy links, and then being surprised when their methods aren’t working.
These days, SEO is less about links and keywords (in an isolated sense), and more about content. Which leads us nicely onto our next point.
5. Underestimating the Power of Content
“A blog and social media channels are ‘nice-to-haves’, not essentials”.
“We’re so busy – we don’t have time to blog”.
“No one reads our blog anyway”.
These are the reasons – or excuses – we hear time and time again from SMEs failing to produce good content. Through no coincidence, these are also the businesses struggling with their SEO.
In 2015, content and SEO go hand in hand. Google’s algorithm updates have moved the search engine closer and closer to its end goal of providing users with an answer to a question or problem, taking into account complex semantics and user behaviour. If you can create content which is genuinely useful and unique, you’ll soon find that you’re rewarded for your efforts.