Guest Post by Phil Singleton
Most small businesses understand that an effective SEO strategy must be implemented in order for the company website to rank highly in Google for targeted search terms, however most fall short of what could be accomplished if a few mistakes were avoided. If you are a small business owner, you can learn from these mistakes and make your website more attractive to both search engines (in particular Google) and people.
Here are the 5 biggest local SEO mistakes small businesses make on their websites:
- Not optimizing page titles and meta descriptions. While it’s true Google doesn’t pay much attention to meta keyword tags today, optimized page titles are critical. In fact, the 70 characters in the browser title are some of the most important text on your entire website. In addition, the first characters in the page titles have the most “weight,” so it’s important to use text that accurately describe what you do and where you do it (i.e., city) rather than non-descript text like “home” or “welcome.”The meta description does not directly affect search engine optimization, however it is often what is listed for your website on the SERPs, or search engine results pages. How compelling the description is will directly impact how many people click on your website, or your “click through rate.” This IS one of the most important organic ranking factors of the 200 or so Google uses in ranking websites.
- Not including optimized static introductory text on your website’s home page. While it doesn’t have to be lengthy (only about 200 words or so), a paragraph or two of optimized content on your home page is important. It gives search engines (and readers) a brief overview of your products/services, the market you serve, experience, years in the industry, etc. Keep it brief, but optimize lightly for key search terms.
- Not adding a blog feed that pumps fresh content onto your home page. Providing fresh content on a regular basis is critical in SEO for small businesses. While it may seem impossible to update the pages of your website frequently, keeping your home page fresh can be accomplished by feeding your latest blog articles to your home page. If you add a new blog post every week or two (or even more often, if possible), an excerpt of the most recent posts on your home page will help keep the content fresh. Keep in mind that content should be valuable and engaging to the reader.
- Improper social media integration. Today, social media is a vital component of every SEO campaign, whether for corporations or small businesses. Embedding a Google+ badge, Facebook “like” box, Facebook and Google+ “like” and “plus” buttons, and other social media and article sharing buttons makes it possible for visitors of your blog to share the content they like with others and “vote” for your content in the form of a like or plus. All of these social “signals” are picked up by Google, which helps in search engine ranking. In Google’s eyes, if your content gets “liked,” “plussed,” and “shared” frequently, it must be of high quality and interest to others!
- Not using basic search engine friendly coding. Using a WordPress framework and installing an SEO plugin are great for starters, but just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, there is a substantial amount of “uncorked” SEO value on many small business websites, simply because these sites lack the structure/coding to achieve their full search engine potential and release the true SEO value into the Internet. Most business owners are not educated in the “background” coding and structure of a website, so it’s a job best left to the professionals. Moz provides a great checklist with their Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet.
Search engine optimization is no doubt complex, but there are some simple things you can do to make your small business website more search engine friendly, and things to avoid before spending money on a new website. Are you making any of the SEO mistakes mentioned above? A few small changes can make all of the difference in the success your business experiences online.
About the Author: Phil Singleton is the owner of KCSeoPro.com, a full-service online marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other Internet marketing services, and KCWebdesigner.com, a WordPress web development firm specializing in custom SEO-friendly websites and custom web applications. Phil is also a Duct Tape Marketing™ Certified Consultant and provides small businesses in Kansas City with marketing products and services at KCMarketingAgency.com.