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Top SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid

One of the most effective ways to improve visibility and attract potential customers to your business is through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Unfortunately, SEO mistakes that small businesses make can negatively affect their SEO efforts and online success.

According to industry research, almost 50 percent of web searches don't result in clicks. This means that out of all the potential customers who could see your brand, the majority will not actually visit your website.

In this article, we’ll look at how SEO can work for your business and the common SEO mistakes that small businesses make when launching marketing campaigns, so that you can avoid doing the same.

What are some common SEO mistakes that small businesses should avoid?

The following SEO pitfalls can negatively impact a small business’s search visibility, as well as  the traffic that is ultimately driven to their website:

1. Not understanding the audience and their search intent

A common SEO mistake for small businesses is when owners don’t fully understand their audience’s search intent. This means that you may not be creating content that resonates with what your target audience is searching for online.

Understanding your audience means knowing their demographics, interests, and pain points. Search intent refers to the reason behind a user's online search, whether informational, navigational, or transactional.

Failing to understand the audience and their search intent can lead to ineffective keyword targeting and irrelevant content creation, resulting in lower search engine rankings and decreased traffic to your site.

To address this issue, it's essential to conduct thorough audience research and analyse keyword trends so that your SEO efforts match your target audience’s search intent. For example, if you're a local pet store, you can research popular pet care topics and local pet ownership statistics. Then, create content like “Top 10 Pet-Friendly Parks in Kenya” to address the needs and interests of your local audience. 

2. Neglecting low-competition keywords

Low-competition keywords, or long-tail keywords, are longer search terms that tend to be more descriptive and have less competition from other websites, making it easier to rank higher in search engine results. 

An example of long-tail keywords in a Google search bar

By focusing solely on high-competition, or short-tail keywords, businesses miss opportunities to attract niche audiences.

Using low-competition keywords allows businesses to rank higher in search results with less effort. Though these keywords may have lower search volumes compared to high-competition keywords, they often have higher conversion rates because they attract users specifically searching for what the business offers.

To avoid neglecting low-competition keywords, you should conduct keyword research to identify relevant search terms with moderate to low competition. Incorporate these keywords into your website content, including titles, headings, and meta descriptions.

3. Ignoring technical SEO

Technical SEO  involves optimising a website's infrastructure and coding to improve its search engine visibility and usability. That includes website speed, mobile-friendliness, crawlability, site structure, and schema markup.

Neglecting technical SEO can lead to poor website performance, hindering your search engine rankings. Search engines prioritise technically well-optimised websites because they provide a better user experience for visitors. Ignoring technical SEO issues such as slow page loading times, broken links, or improper site structure can lower search engine rankings and decrease organic traffic.

To avoid this SEO mistake that small businesses make, you should regularly conduct technical audits of your website to identify and address any issues impacting its SEO performance.

4. Ignoring on-page SEO

On-page SEO involves optimising individual web pages to improve rankings and attract organic traffic.

Factors such as title tags, meta descriptions, headings, and content optimisation are crucial for on-page SEO success. Ignoring these practices means missing opportunities to improve search engine rankings and attract more qualified traffic to the website.

5. Duplicate content

Duplicate content refers to blocks of content that appear in more than one location on the internet. It can occur within a single website or across multiple sites. 

Search engines like Google aim to provide users with the most relevant and unique content in their search results. Therefore, when they encounter duplicate content, they may choose to display only one version in their search results. They could even penalise websites that consistently produce duplicate content.

This can ultimately harm your website's visibility since search engines may need help determining which version of the content to prioritise or index. It can lead to lower rankings for the affected pages or even penalties from search engines.

Avoid duplicate content by regularly auditing your content to identify any instances of duplication. 

Tools like Google Search Console can help you quickly identify duplicate content issues. Once identified, you can either remove it, consolidate it into a single page, or use canonical tags to indicate the preferred version of the content to search engines.

6. Abandoning SEO efforts too soon

SEO takes time to show results, so stopping too soon means missing out on potential benefits for your business. You must understand that SEO is an ongoing process requiring consistent effort and patience.

Instead of giving up quickly, you should continue optimising your website and monitoring its performance over time. Your business can gradually improve its search engine rankings and attract more organic traffic with persistence and dedication.

7. Failing to monitor analytics

Another common SEO mistake small businesses should avoid is failing to monitor analytics. Analytics provide valuable insights into website performance, user behaviour, and the effectiveness of SEO efforts. 

Without regularly monitoring analytics, your businesses will miss opportunities to identify areas for improvement, track progress toward goals, and make informed decisions to optimise SEO strategies.

Therefore, you should regularly analyse website traffic, bounce rates, keyword rankings, and conversion rates. It can help you identify trends, spot issues, and adjust SEO strategy and tactics accordingly to improve your business's online visibility and drive more targeted traffic to your site.

8. Poor site structure and navigation

A weak site structure and navigation can hinder SEO efforts. They also affect user experience and search engine crawlability. If your website's structure is disorganised or navigation is unclear, users may struggle to find relevant information, leading to higher bounce rates.

Additionally, search engines may have difficulty indexing your site's content properly. A well-structured website with straightforward navigation enhances user experience and improves SEO performance.

9. Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing or excessively using keywords in your content, is detrimental to SEO, as it disrupts readability and provides a poor user experience. Additionally, search engines penalise websites for keyword stuffing, resulting in lower rankings.

Instead, focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that naturally incorporates keywords. It can improve user experience and increase the likelihood of ranking well in search engine results pages.

10. Inadequate linking strategy

An inadequate backlink strategy can set back your website’s SEO performance. 

Backlinks from reputable websites signal to search engines that a site is trustworthy and authoritative. In contrast, internal links provide a good user experience and provide more information about a topic on your site to users and search engines.

Without a strong backlink strategy, your business website may struggle to gain credibility and visibility in search results. To improve your site’s SEO, you should invest the time needed to earn quality backlinks from relevant and authoritative sources within your industry.

11. Not utilising local SEO

Neglecting local SEO can impact your business's visibility in local searches. Local SEO involves optimising online presence to attract nearby customers. It includes creating and optimising Google My Business listings, incorporating local keywords, and earning local backlinks.

Ignoring local SEO means your business misses out on opportunities to connect with local customers actively searching for products or services. You should prioritise local SEO efforts to improve local visibility and attract nearby customers.

12. Lack of HTTPS

Not having Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) can negatively impact your business website's SEO. HTTPS is a secure protocol that encrypts data transmitted between a user's browser and your website. Search engines prioritise secure websites, so lacking HTTPS can lower search engine rankings.

An example of a URL with HTTPS

Additionally, users may be wary of interacting with insecure websites, leading to higher bounce rates. You should implement HTTPS to secure your websites to improve SEO and user trust.

Wrap Up

As a small business owner, these are some SEO mistakes to avoid. They can compromise your brand’s online visibility. By staying informed about best practices and trends in SEO, you can ensure that your site is optimised for search engines. 

Simple efforts like prioritising local SEO, mobile optimisation, quality content, and backlink building can significantly improve your online presence, attract organic traffic, and lead to business growth and success.


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