Oh God, not SEO again!
Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before – get a bunch of keywords, stick them in your site, people will find you…
Err, no – if that’s what you think you’re in trouble.
And no, SEO isn’t particularly time consuming, ridiculously complicated or impossibly hard. If you get the basics right, you’re half way there.
Mind you, if you get them wrong, you’ll do all sorts of damage to your business.
Let’s start from the top by looking at the most common SEO mistakes made by small businesses.
Are you using the right keywords?
And I don’t mean things like – luxury, professional, innovative etc. Yes, I have had clients give me a list like that before.
The keywords you should be using are the words or terms that your customers type in to Google to find your products and services. That means you’re going to have to squeeze your feet into your customers’ shoes.
Think like them, not like someone who already knows you exist and what you do.
A good tip is to create a list – as long as you like – and then type your queries into Google. You’ll instantly get a drop down list of similar searches that could widen your keyword net further.
After refining this list, you’ll have a great SEO starting point.
Broad is bad
If you want to be effective, your keywords and phrases must be narrow.
Let me explain.
If you sell designer leather dog collars – optimising for ‘dog collars’ isn’t going to work. First, it will be really competitive so your chances of ranking highly are remote. Secondly, you’ll end up with a really high bounce rate because the vast majority of the searchers will be looking for cheap and cheerful collars and not niche, uber expensive ones.
Instead you should be opting for ‘designer leather dog collars’. Granted, there will be less traffic for these longer keywords, but the traffic you do get will be highly targeted and more likely to convert into paying customers.
That brings me nicely onto your website copy.
Finding the right keywords is only the tip of the iceberg. Once you have optimised your site you have to be sure the content of your site will convert (as well as enhance your rankings).
Look at the content on your site. Have you used the words and phrases from your keyword research list? Are they in your URLs, page titles and first paragraphs? Has each page been optimised for a different term?
One word of caution – although your website content should contain your keywords that’s not a license to stuff them into every sentence. It’s not a competition to see how many times you can use them. Above everything else, your writing should be natural. By all means use your keywords in your page title, headings and opening paragraph, but also mix in synonyms. Plus, it’s wise to not only use your keyword/phrase in its entirety, but also broken down – so, yes use ‘designer leather dog collar’, but also make sure you use each word separately within your text.
Site and content maintenance
Another big part of SEO, and one that’s often overlooked, is the maintenance of your website.
If Google constantly finds broken links, missing images and out of date information you will be penalised.
On top of that, make sure you haven’t duplicated any copy on your site. It’s really easy to over look this. Look at your home page and make sure there are no phrases or paragraphs repeated on your about page. What about your returns and shipping information on your product descriptions – have you just cut and pasted, or are you using unique content?
The content on every page (and this includes your blog posts) must be unique and relevant to the keyword that’s being targeted.
Ignoring SEO altogether
This one happens a lot.
SEO seems too much like hard work.
There aren’t enough hours in the day and what’s the point anyway? You don’t sell through your website; it’s just there for information.
Really? Is that what you think?
If it is, you’re missing the point completely.
People research before they buy and that means turning to Google (other search engines are available).
By ignoring your SEO, you’re ignoring a great swathe of potential customers looking for what you offer.
Even if you don’t have the time or inclination to do your own SEO there are plenty of companies out there that can help you. Granted, SEO suppliers vary in quality, but so long as you do your research you’ll find the right fit for you, your business and your budget.
- SEO means you’ll be more visible.
- SEO means you will enjoy organic growth.
- SEO means you’ll boost your sales.
What’s not to love about it?
A little investment of either your time or money will have a big impact on your business.