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Many small business owners are not taking full advantage of SEO for their web presence. This might result from inexperience, lack of time or technical knowledge, or lack of understanding of the value of search engine optimization and the benefits it can impart. The good news is that the most common SEO mistakes by small businesses are easy to avoid, or fix, with a little time and a helpful guide.

SEO mistakes by small businesses

5 SEO Mistakes Many Small Businesses Make

Let’s dive into the 5 most common SEO mistakes small businesses make and what you can do about them.

#1. Trying to Appeal to Everyone

Many small businesses have not taken the time to conduct audience research, to target their digital marketing efforts better. Perhaps they make the assumption that all potential clients or customers are welcome, so they cast as wide a net as possible. It may be counterintuitive, but that approach will only stymie their business. The general approach won’t make a business especially appealing to a casual user and won’t stand out to an interested one.

Instead, take the time to conduct audience research and figure out the demographic details of your ideal customer. Our approach is to create one or more target audience ‘personas’, mapped out as if they were characters in a book. We write down demographic information, like age and income, and write a biography introducing them. This would talk about their motivations, preferences, needs, pain points, history, and so on. When we optimize our website, then, we write content for those characters whom we’ve created to typify our customer demographic.

#2. Using Jargon or Overy Specific Keywords

The purpose of a keyword is to connect your content with a user who might be searching for it. That sounds straightforward enough, but remember that your keywords can’t assume familiarity. You, certainly, might be familiar with the ins and outs of your industry, and you might be perfectly comfortable with the precise technical language it calls for. Still, you can’t expect that same familiarity in everyone.

Imagine a user who has never been to your site or worked with someone in your industry. How might that person phrase a search in Google before they knew exactly what they were looking for? Those are the sort of keywords you want to target. It’s about being found, even by people who aren’t sure what they’re looking for.

#3. Not Keeping up with Current Standards

The standards for SEO change about twice a year. A business will lose out on considerable traffic if it isn’t keeping up with the changes. At the start of this year, for example, Google doubled its character limit for meta descriptions. Suddenly, sites had the option to add extra keywords, add more comprehensive descriptions, add new calls to action, and more. Sites that weren’t optimized began to lose out on traffic, and their authority scores dipped.

No small business can afford not to take full advantage of the SEO options available, and it’s imperative that your site – and your business – not get left behind.

#4. Failing to Optimize for Mobile

News flash: the majority of web interactions now happen on mobile devices. That might mean engaging with content, making purchases, contacting vendors, and so on. For many users, a mobile device is their only device. Google, recognizing this, has been pushing a mobile-first approach for over a year, and your business should be, too.

It may not be necessary to keep a dedicated, separate mobile version of your site. Still, with responsive design and refined page elements, your site will optimize dynamically for any device. It alienates users when a desktop site merely shrinks without adjusting resolution, menu structure, image size, layout, etc.

#5. Ignoring a Link Network

No matter how well optimized your website is, if it doesn’t also have a robust link network, potential customers or clients may never see it. The importance of off-site SEO (also called off-page SEO) can’t be understated. Off-site SEO is actions taken outside your website, hens the name, that impact your search engine rankings. To build your link network, reach out and partner with other businesses for things like guest posts or backlink mentions in their content. A backlink is another important SEO linking tool – it is a link that your website would get from a completely different website (i.e. not from a page within your site). Backlinks have a noticeable impact on increasing your prominence in search results. They are one of the key indicators search engines use to determine a website’s ranking.

Leverage business directories, blogs about the city, industry newsletters, and so on. Don’t bother with spammy links — they should always be relevant and useful — but otherwise, the sky’s the limit; you can never have too many.

So, there you have it. The five most common SEO mistakes small businesses make, and what you can do to avoid them. With these basic SEO strategies, you’ll be well on your way to helping your small business to thrive, online and off.

Colibri Digital Marketing

We are proud to be San Francisco’s only B Corp-certified digital marketing agency. Our focus on the triple bottom line influences all that we do. We work with like-minded businesses to tell their stories, connect with new customers and clients, and affect change in our communities. If that sounds like you, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter, or book your free digital marketing strategy session now!