5 Common SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Mistakes in SEOSearch Engine Optimisation can be a difficult thing for small businesses to get their heads around. Many I’ve encountered here in Plymouth and through the rest of Devon have attempted it themselves, but many with very limited results. Some using tactics which would have worked well in years gone by, but not so much as Google updated its algorithm over the years.

When I begin working with a new client, there are a number of common mistakes that they had previously made, some of them easy to fix but others requiring a lot more work. In this article, I will cover the five most common mistakes I’ve encountered, why they’re mistakes and how to fix them.

Unnecessary Multi Websites

I’ve encountered a number of businesses that have different websites for products that really could be held under one website. This is especially the case when the products could be sold in bundles and up-selling could be done on-site.

The reason this isn’t ideal is the sites could both be competing for the same search terms, and neither of them has a as good domain authority as one single domain and website would.

It may be worth integrating the less popular website into the most popular, redirecting all pages and directing customers over to the main website.

Duplicate Content

There are two layers here, duplication and irrelevancy. For example, if you duplicate all your meta descriptions across every single one of your pages, it’s likely to be irrelevant on many… or at least not as relevant and enticing as it perhaps could be.

The other issue is when I see websites that either copy content from other websites or have the same text on a number of pages. This isn’t particularly popular with Google, so it’s worth really having good and unique text on every page.

Keyword Saturation

This one is from the days when it was easier to rank well on search engines by putting loads of keywords in the META keyword tag, and then repeating those terms hundreds of times throughout the page. If it was that simple, then everyone would do it.

This is bad for Google rankings as Google isn’t keen on content that looks like it’s been stuffed with keywords. It is also bad from a user perspective. Imagine getting to a website and seeing the same keyword repeated fifty times. You’d think the person who wrote it is an idiot.

If this is you, then run through your text and make it as natural looking as possible. Write it for people, rather than late 90s search bots.

No Canonicals

This is possibly the more technical mistake. It’s not necessarily a mistake, but something that isn’t included in a number of websites. Canonicals are used to tell Google that multiple pages should be considered part of one page. What I mean by that is say you have a business that sells food all over the country, and for user experience reasons you need to have the same page targeted at all of the different cities you target. So one for Exeter, one for Plymouth, one for Manchester etc. The content is likely to be exactly the same, so here you need to use canonical tags to tell Google that the central page is the one to put all the juice into.

This can also happen if you have product listing pages. You will have your main /products page. But if someone chooses to order the products by date added, the URL will be /products?order=date but the page will essentially have the same content. By telling Google that the canonical link should point to /products you are avoiding having lots of pages with duplicate content competing with eachother.

Short Content

Google likes pages with a lot of good content. This includes blog posts and pages. If you can add more relevant and unique information to your product pages or your services pages, then do that. Blog posts should be at least 600 words long, but ideally pushing 1,000 or more.

Having lots and lots of pages on site with about 20 words on each isn’t going to help a lot, so it’s worth adding more to all pages if possible. Maybe consider consolidating pages that aren’t getting any visits, so you can have fewer pages, but all much, much stronger.

There’s very little point in creating a blog posts with 1 sentence of news in it. If you are struggling to find enough to say about a news item, consider putting it together in a monthly update. This is better from a user experience point of view too, as it can be irritating clicking on a link to read an article, only to find the same information that was in the preview, and nothing more.

What to do next?

The above are common issues, but if you have found them on your website, it’s likely that you’ll find other similar problems. If you contact me, I’ll give you a free SEO audit, to help you see where you’re going wrong as well as any other opportunities. Alternatively, read more about the SEO services I offer.

About the Author

Patrick is a digital marketing consultant with around 10 years' experience, covering SEO, PPC, social media, email and user experience.

1 Comment

  1. americanlamboard.com April 14, 2017

    In the digital world, it’s a fact that people make the same search engine optimization blunders over and over. But luckily for you, avoiding these 5 common SEO mistakes — and improving your ranking on search engine results pages — is much easier than determining when warm weather will strike. Just follow our lead or, erm, shadow.

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