If you have a website, your web pages and content are out there, online 24/7, and if they aren’t optimized for search engines you are missing out on the opportunity to attract new prospects online.
But while search engine optimization (SEO) presents a very good opportunity for a relatively low level of effort, there is also a steep downside if done incorrectly.
Below are four SEO mistakes that you need to avoid in order to protect your company’s reputation and search result rankings.
4 SEO Mistakes to Avoid
1) Don’t Get Cute With Your Keywords
Coming up with good keywords – those that are relevant to your business and content, that are widely searched on, and that are not so competitive you can’t realistically get on the first page of Google’s search results – is difficult.
In an effort to arrive at a keyword that meets all three criteria you may be tempted to use keywords that kind of, but aren’t really consistent with your content theme.
For example, if the keyword is “small business internet marketing consultant” but the topic of your content is small business blogging, you are better off using a keyword that is more naturally aligned with your topic, “small business blogging”, even though it may be more difficult to rank for this keyword.
2) Write For Your Audience and Not Keywords
As a small business, creating content is a challenge. It is both difficult to find the resources and the time to create content, let alone make it compelling.
One solution is to create an editorial calendar. A calendar will allow you to budget your time and resources; it will also help organize your content and associated keywords.
One mistake you don’t want to make is over-using a keyword. Using a keyword too frequently – for example using it week after week in your blog posts – or worse, stuffing a piece of content with a keyword – will bring the search engine’s attention to your doorstep, and not in a good way.
You may be penalized for trying to game the system, in which case your pages will have a hard time ranking at all.
To avoid this, use a calendar to space out your content (and associated keywords), and don’t make the keywords the focus of your content creation; rather, make your audience, your prospects and customers, the focus of your content, and let the keywords fit your content.
Another challenge is keeping your keywords aligned across the five critical SEO elements on each web page: page title, URL, page header, internal links, and body content. The more consistently and frequently you use the keyword phrase the better Google’s algorithm will score it and the higher it will appear in Google’s organic search results.
But it’s not easy to coordinate all of these elements all of the time. Compounding this challenge is the fact that Google will change how it evaluates and weighs keywords from time to time, and of course the marketplace for keywords is changing constantly.
With all of these variables, if you can’t match all five of your page’s SEO elements don’t sweat it too much. Try to align as many as you can without forcing the keywords to fit your content, or vice versa. We don’t want to do this.
3) Don’t Forget to Promote Your Content
Now that you have your content, and it’s optimized, don’t forget to promote it. The best way to do this is to leverage social media to exponentially spread your content.
Using several social media platforms while trying to post several times a time can get cumbersome, as well as being difficult to keep your message on target and consistent.
Again, utilizing an editorial calendar will help you organize and keep track of your efforts, but be sure to investigate online tools that allow you to create once and schedule the release of your social media posts over a period of time, such as HootSuite, TweetDeck or Hubspot.
4) Be Patient, Keyword Success Takes Time
It takes time for your keywords to take hold and for the content to start working – at least six months from the time the content goes live online.
The natural reaction when results aren’t immediate is to change direction, to scrap the course you are on and embark on another path.
Don’t do this.
If you are applying best practices and creating quality, useful content, over time it will work.
You’ve already put in the effort – created the content and optimized it for small business SEO. The hard part is over, your content is out there, now give it time to work for you.