SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make

by Wayne Barker January 21st, 2011 

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For those in SEO and Internet Marketing it can be tough to stay up to date with all the changes that Google is making, all the changes Bing makes, the importance of Social Media – and so on and so forth. We live and breathe this information on a daily basis, most of us (and we admit it all the time) are search engine information junkies – how many of you can honestly say that you don’t go home, sit down with partner and kids – only to be bombarded with thoughts of new content, link building strategies and new post ideas?

But what about the small business guys?

Some of them buy SEO services, some of them have a day’s consultancy here and there, some of them see us speak at business and marketing conferences — but how much information can they really take in?

Realistically, the Internet Marketing/SEO industry contains a whole bunch of niche areas and the small businesses that have to do their own SEO and online marketing – bound by budgetary constraints – often make some fundamental errors.

We see them all the time, caused probably by information overload rather than poor information – when was the last time that you saw a spammer giving a presentation at a business conference?

So let’s address some of the mistakes and hopefully help a few of the guys that just don’t have a marketing budget.

If you are reading this as a small business owner who does their own SEO hopefully you will take away some tips to improve your SEO and how you spend your time on it. If you are reading this as an SEO it is more about the information and advice we give out on a daily basis to clients and prospective clients.

Small businesses get trapped inside industry jargon

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I see and hear this time and time again – you ask someone what exactly it is they think they do and they come back at you speaking some language that just appears alien (SEOs are guilty of this too!).

They use language and describe their products and services as if they were talking to their colleagues; most of the time searchers are not going to be using the same terminology and language. You need to get inside the heads of the searchers – ask family members and friends to describe what it is that they think you provide – you may be shocked!

Interesting note: Some of my family actually believe that I sit at Google and when someone types in a query I press a button that serves up the relevant results (I never thought they would believe it!)

Small businesses want to cut corners

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Who can blame them; they have little time to invest in something like linkbuilding. But it is crucial to stay away from those quick fixes…”Buy a million links from us for the price of a Mars Bar” Small businesses buy into this because they think they haven’t got time to linkbuild – surely as a small business you are entering into relationships with customers and suppliers? Yes? Well there you go a whole bunch of linking opportunities form their sites! You are talking one on one with these guys; ask them to link to you.

The same happens when it comes to content, it is rushed and doesn’t read well – or worse it is copied and pasted from other pages.

It is worth investing time into content; it will be your bread and butter.

Small businesses often over-SEO pages

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These guys are working on their sites in their spare time, at night with a glass of wine…they look back through their notes that they made at a conference and they read “Keywords in Title Tag, Keywords in Meta Description, Keywords in Internal Links, Keywords in Body Text, Keywords in H1 And Alt Tags, Keywords in Internal Links”. This often leads to spammy looking sites, it is nobody’s fault, these are important things to look at for your SEO, but much of the information has been lost in transit resulting in sites that just look like they were designed with the spiders in mind rather than the customers.

I could go on and on, getting into further detail but then I would be guilty of going overboard myself! If you run a small business and are doing the SEO yourself take the time to fully understand what you are doing and invest the appropriate amount of time to the job – research and apply with love and attention!

If you are an SEO don’t forget that most of the guys you speak to are going to be new the world of SEO and Internet Marketing and you are the one that is speaking the foreign language, tone it down and don’t get too technical. Oh, and don’t tell your family that you sit in an office serving up the Google results to searchers – it will haunt you!

Wayne Barker

I work for Boom Online - an Online Marketing and SEO company based in Nottingham, England.

Boom Online

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7 Responses to “SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make”

  1. Good article with some great photos to go along with it! Content is so important. It should be written and created with your users in mind, not the search engines. It may be easy to buy lots of links, but it won't do you any good in the long run.

  2. Stever says:

    The industry jargon is one I see all the time. It does not even need to go so far as sound like a different language. Just using common industry terms, that people actually do understand, but are not the natural terms 90% of the public think of when conducting a search. A great example is car dealerships who mention their inventories of 'used VEHICLES' when people are searching for 'used CARS'.

    A few more mistakes small businesses make;

    - When not trying to do it themselves they are hiring the cheapest SEO services they can find. This essentially gets them all of the same mistakes mentioned above, plus a few more, except they are now paying someone else to make the mistakes for them.

    - Not paying attention to domain renewals. Too many not so computer savvy business owners buy their domain name without understanding they need to renew them yearly, or at least pre-pay for multiple years in advance. On top of that they used a personal hotmail or aol email account when they signed up. That email account now gets so much spam that they miss the renewal notices, or worse, they abandoned that email account due to too much spam and created a new one but failed to update email addresses at their domain registrar account.

    A year and 30 days later, after a domainer has scooped their expired domain, they are wondering why their website looks like a list of links and ads, and who the heck is that pretty young girl with a backpack??? WTF? Now they need to start over with a new domain and all the link equity and domain age trust they had built on the old domain is lost.

    - Which leads me to my next point, not separating personal from business with their online assets. Domain names, hosting accounts, email accounts, Google accounts (for services like adwords, places, analytics, webmaster tools, etc..), etc. should be under the business umbrella, not a personal one. You may want to sell your business in the future and those digital assets need to be transferable and not mixed up with personal stuff.
    .-= Stever recently posted: Yellow Page Ad Buying Tips =-.

    • Wayne Barker says:

      Hi Stever,

      Thanks for the comments – I totally agree about the 'used vehicles'/ 'used cars' scenario. There is also the 'used'/'second hand' scenario where dealers don't use 'second hand' because of the connatations attached…but a hell of a lot of people are using that term to search!

      To be fair Stever it sounds as thought this is a subject that is quite close to your heart…maybe we could see a Part 2 in the future just based on some of the excellent points you have made!!!
      .-= Wayne Barker recently posted: Google Page Rank Update – January 2011 =-.

  3. Wayne Barker says:

    Hi Nick – thanks for the comment. I have got to thank Ruud for the pictures though, he has a great eye for them! You make a great point, SEO is a long run tactic and sometimes businesses are just after the quick fix, which can be incredibly dangerous.
    .-= Wayne Barker recently posted: Google Page Rank Update – January 2011 =-.

  4. [...] SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make This post is geared towards someone with a small SEO budget. It outlines mistakes like getting trapped inside industry jargon, cutting corners, and overdoing it. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE [...]

  5. [...] SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make This post is geared towards someone with a small SEO budget. It outlines mistakes like getting trapped inside industry jargon, cutting corners, and overdoing it. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE [...]

  6. [...] SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make This post is geared towards someone with a small SEO budget. It outlines mistakes like getting trapped inside industry jargon, cutting corners, and overdoing it. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE [...]