10 common SEO mistakes made by small business owners

As a small business owner with a locally-based clientele, you may be sabotaging your own SEO efforts with a few common mistakes. The good news is, these mistakes are relatively easy to set right.

If you take action to fix the following ten common SEO mistakes, you’re certain to rise in Google’s rankings. As a result, your traffic, leads, and sales are sure to see growth as well.

common SEO mistakes

1. Inconsistent contact details

The first on our list of common SEO mistakes is an easy one to make. Always check that your website has exactly the same NAPW (name, address, phone number, and website) data, wherever it’s posted.

When a business changes phone number, office address, company name, or website URL, they sometimes forget to update these details in directories, or on their Google My Business profile. This leads to discrepancies, which Google penalizes in local rankings, as it’s unsure of your location and credibility.

2. Unreadable contact details on your website

Here’s a small but surprisingly common error. Of course, you should have your name, address, and contact number on your website, but also make sure it’s written in regular text, rather than displayed in an image. This is so the Googlebot can read it well, and know your location. Modestas Mankus, the founder of Talks Media Group, talked about bad presentation on websites saying: “Badly presented websites don’t just hurt the audience that is key to any company but also the SEO aspect of any website. Always invest in a good website developer, and if you’re unsure of something hire an expert.”

3. Not claiming a Google My Business profile

Local SEO is different to ordinary SEO in that Google serves up a few special results above all the other results. If you go to Google and search for something locally now, such as ‘best restaurants near me,’ you’ll notice a map and three results appear in first position on page one.

The details you see of these three lucky companies doesn’t come from their websites. Each of those businesses has taken the time to claim a Google My Business profile, which is free to do. It is these special GoogleMy Business profiles that you see displayed here.

Claiming a Google My Business profile is free and quick to do, yet most small business owners don’t even know about it. There might well be an excellent restaurant closer to you than those three you can see. But if it doesn’t have a Google My Business page, you won’t know about it. Make sure this isn’t the case for your business.

4. Failing to refine your Google My Business page

If you searched ‘best restaurants near me,’ in the previous point, you might have noticed that among those three Google My Business results, one or two are more attractive to you than the others. Take a moment to consider what makes them more attractive.

The number of positive reviews will most likely have swayed you. Also, perhaps one also has an amazingly tempting picture.

While an excellent first step, it’s not enough to simply claim your Google My Business profile and hope for the best, as do most small business owners. Instead, take the time to optimize and monitor your profile.

According to Google, a good picture will increase requests for directions by 42%, so choose your very best images. Also, encourage your happy customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business page. And always keep a close eye on your reviews. If you notice a negative one, respond promptly and handle it with care, perhaps even with a refund.

5. Few, or zero, directory listings

Business directories play a huge role in local SEO. Apart from helping your website with high-authority backlinks, your listing in the directory will itself rank well in Google for certain searches. Some people even search directly in the directories themselves.

Despite the clear value directories offer, many small businesses fail to pursue this strategy proactively. Try to get your business listed in every directory suitable for your industry. This might include The Yellow Pages, Bing Places, Yelp, Tripadviser, LinkedIn, AppleMaps, Facebook, and many more.

6. Duplicate listings

Following the previous two points, it’s worth noting that you should take care not to create duplicate listings, especially with Google My Business. If this occurs, Google won’t rank either of them.

This is one reason to keep track of your various profiles, monitoring carefully. Otherwise, as the years pass, you might simply forget and create a second listing, as quite a few business owners end up doing.

7. Nationwide keyword research

If you’re a small business in Southbury, CT, you’re looking for locally-based customers, then there’s little point trying to rank for broad, unspecific keywords with nationwide searches. This is a waste of time and resources which too many small business owners invest in.

Take the time to find localized keywords, where the searcher is in Southbury now, looking for a nearby solution. These keywords have less competition and you’re far more likely to rank well for them because you offer the exact local solution Google wishes to serve up.

8. Keyword stuffing

Ten years ago, repeating a keyword dozens of times on a page might have tricked Google. These days, Google has wised up, and this kind of keyword stuffing only works against you. If your website is a little old, you might still have pages that need updating, and keywords that need removing.

For optimal keyword density, it’s generally recommended to mention your targeted keyword no more than once or twice in every five hundred words.

9. Short, poor quality content on your pages

Whether or not you’re actively engaged in content marketing, ensure that your pages have a good deal of quality content on them. Google can now judge pretty accurately how much value your page is providing to your human visitors, so make sure you’re giving them top-notch quality. Images and videos can further enhance this value.

Many local businesses skimp on the content, but it’s generally recommended to have at least five hundred words on each page that you wish Google to find.

10. No optimization for mobile phones

Over 60% of all online searches are now made on mobile phones. When it comes to local SEO, this figure is probably greater. When people are searching for local solutions, they’re often on the move, going about their day, away from their laptops.

Despite this, too many small business owners only think to optimize their website for large desktop screens. Instead, consider how well your site loads and works on various mobile phones. Optimize well for all kinds of mobile phones. If mobile visitors are having a bad experience, Google will pay heed and penalize you in the rankings.

Local SEO can be a wonderful source of traffic and leads, but to rank well, you must do it correctly. If you can avoid these ten common mistakes, you’ll be sure to enjoy all the benefits of a page one Google ranking.

There you have it, 10 common SEO mistakes. Make sure that your business does not fall into this trap!