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5 Local SEO Mistakes that Hurt Small Businesses

Search Engine Optimization

Most small businesses understand the power and importance of Search Engine Optimization. These businesses normally fall into three categories: 1: They have a budget and will hire an outside firm that masters SEO. 2: They get their “cousin Vinny” to do it. Or 3: They try to manage it themselves, which in turn allows their competition that is most likely doing #1 to bypass them in the search results. Most small business owners who think they’re good at SEO rely on the knowledge they may have learned years ago or from one-off articles that are read from time to time. True SEO practitioners are needed nowadays to truly understand the intricacies and changes that have come down the pipeline over the past two years.

Because we know that most small businesses either practice #2, #3 or do ZERO SEO, we are providing 5 Local SEO Mistakes that we have seen many businesses make recently. Avoiding these mistakes can pay off dividends… so here they are….

Not Considering Local Intent

Over 33% of all searches on Yahoo, Google, and Bing have local intent. Mobile searches have also dominated the way people look for local businesses (represents over 27% of all searches) which only drives home the importance of being optimized locally. In order for local businesses to be found and chosen by searchers, there are several strategies that need to be in place. Some include:

  • Listing your local business on related directories
  • Create localized content that encompasses your targeted keywords and location (ex. internet marketing Orlando)
  • Having a mobile responsive design on your website

The time and effort spent on creating optimized content for local searches will be well spent.

Ignoring Social Media

Many small business owners ignore social media due to “being too busy” or “not knowing the true ROI”. Others think its too frivolous or their potential customers would never make buying decisions being active in it. Well, none of this is true. You CAN measure the ROI of your social media and social media DOES have an effect on the bottom line…..only if you have a strategy in place.

Businesses that aren’t on social media are missing out on awesome opportunities to expand their search engine visibility. Putting out strategic, fresh content is not only friendly for your users, but the links associated with shares are becoming increasingly more important for search engines.

Afraid of getting into social media full force? Don’t know where to start? Do research on your competitors. See where they are active socially. Most importantly, find the channels your customers are active on. Focus on one channel at a time, updating it with fresh content, interact with customers and potential customers then add more social channels as you see fit.

Duplicate Content Issues

Content marketing, while a huge buzzword right now, is something every business should master if they want to appease the search engines and transition their business according to how people make their buying decisions now. Many larger corporations have taken full advantage of content marketing by hiring editorial teams, adding continuous blog content and engaging their customers over time through nurturing and creating “Youtilities“. Some smaller businesses may see this and get discouraged as it takes time, dedication, resources and a complete understanding of WHY you’re doing it in the first place.

For those small businesses, a common practice might be to duplicate site content that was well written or well optimized for the search engines. This may increase the size of the website but its frowned upon by the “All Mighty” Google and makes for a bad user experience. Duplicating content is a focus of Googles recent algorithm change called Penguin 2.0. This change finds unethical search engine optimization strategies/ tactics and will remove the website itself from being able to rank well. Duplicate content may seem like the easy way out but it causes more issues than it does benefit your local or national business.

Not Posting Fresh Content

Posting duplicate content on your site can also be as bad as not posting any content at all. Not understanding the benefit updating your site’s content or blogging causes many small business owners to be sporadic or not create fresh content at all. Studies have shown that having consistent, fresh content on your site, increases organic search rankings and keeps people coming to your site which is important for Google’s ranking factors. There are several easy ways smaller businesses can create fresh and unique content in conjunction to social media. A couple tactics include…

  • Manage a blog. Most companies that are concerned with SEO have one but most aren’t active. This should be a priority that’s contributed to by portions of your entire company. Create an editorial calendar that holds people accountable to post periodically. Ideally, we recommend posting at least 1-2 times per week and after 3-6 months of consistent posting, you’ll see an increase in organic traffic (as always, we recommend having a strategy in place before you start blogging in the first place. This is where you may need to engage with a professional).
  • How does your target market like to consume content? Create a podcast, make a Slideshare out of your recent presentation, interview your engineers or executives on the phone (then transcribe it) or record the top 50 FAQs your target market may ask. There are no shortages of types of content to create. Just make sure you understand where your prospects are finding info and being influenced to make a purchase.

Your Search Engine Optimization is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Just because you’ve done keyword research and a little bit of competitive intel, doesn’t mean you’re able to stop. Search Engine Optimization is a long-term strategy that includes continuous tweaking and changes. The previously mentioned tactics are a great first step to launch your small business marketing campaign but they aren’t the end all be all. You should always be looking to generate new content ideas, build links to your site and to make sure the user experience on your website is top notch.

As Google’s algorithms change, businesses that answer the questions their local prospects are looking to get answered will become more and more relevant in the search engines. The importance of keywords will always be there, but major search engines are growing further away from needing only keywords to know what your website or brand is all about. Starting around 2 years ago, your business is an accumulation of all of your earned and owned media. Wanting to “be #1 on Google” in a short period of time may happen but the tactics used to get there will end up hurting you. Take your time, be strategic and be consistent with search engine optimization.

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