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44 of the biggest SEO mistakes small businesses are making

Don't throw your money in the garbage bin! In a Namhost blog post I mentioned how fascinating I found the blog post on the 46 mistakes SEO experts found small businesses are making. I found it so fascinating, I decided to write a summary on it below:

  1. To study the sites and pages who rank atop the search results and simply copy or imitate their strategy.
  2. Not to invest in it or tto invest in the wrong areas.
  3. Waiting. You don’t need a product or service in order to start marketing, just the idea of what you’re going to create. Your marketing efforts should start on day one.
  4. Ignoring their website. They put up a 10-20 page brochure site and ignore it and expect it to generate revenue.
  5. Underestimating the power of getting links from other sites. Without links, you won’t rank in the search engines.
  6. They view SEO as something that they couldn’t possibly understand. They view it as some kind of deep-geek, technical, black magic voodoo that could only be understood by programmers. In reality, if they viewed SEO as just an extension of good marketing, they’d make better decisions and they’d rank better.
  7. Choosing the easiest and cheapest option when it comes to SEO.
  8. Not taking the time to claim, complete or optimize their online listings. You know that Google Places, Bing, Yellow Pages, Localeze, Yelp, City Search, FourSquare, etc, are all showing information about your brand and you know the search engines are using this information to look for cues that you are relevant to a particular neighborhood – so why are you not doing everything in your power to control it and to give yourself an edge?
  9. To spend a lot of money (relatively speaking) on their website and even on SEM and SEO, but not on their site’s copy.
  10. Going at it alone.
  11. Treating it differently than any other marketing program they run.
  12. Remember that saying “the solution to pollution is dilution?” Some big brands seem to get away with having lots of crap links simply due to the masses of other links that they have. When you have a big profile full of 250k links, having 1000 bad ones isn’t usually a huge deal. However, when you’re a small business and you don’t know what you’re doing, you can easily go and find some cheap link building service that will net you 1000 spammy links for $200. When your total number of backlinks is 1500, that’s really, really bad news.
  13. To hire the wrong company to manage their SEO.
  14. Not hiring an SEO!
  15. To become so preoccupied with the machinery of SEO, that they forget that the best SEO is a product that doesn’t suck.
  16. Onsite. Or more specifically, technology choices. When you’re working with smaller budgets it becomes paramount to nail the on-site to lessen the load on the link building requirements.
  17. Going into Internet marketing thinking that the low barrier to starting a business on the Internet equals a low barrier to keeping that business running. That’s not the case.
  18. Not being data-driven in their approach to SEO.
  19. Not properly calculating its long-term value. This results in SEO efforts that are poorly funded (or not funded at all) as well as campaigns that are abandoned prematurely (e.g. before they bear fruit).
  20. To think that SEO and online “tricks” (including link building) are anything other than just good – logical marketing. All your efforts should follow all the rules of marketing and branding that you would apply to offline principals.
  21. Not having Web analytics in place so you can track: 1) Your website’s SEO performance, and 2) return on your online marketing investment
  22. Poorly implemented content.
  23. Seeing marketing as a chore to get out of the way as quickly as possible, and seeing it as a one-off program.
  24. Expecting fast results.
  25. Treating it like the more traditional marketing channels that they are familiar with. This is an easy trap to fall into because it comes from relying on what their previous marketing experience has taught them.
  26. Thinking that online marketing is some kind of rocket science, or trusting people that tell them it is. For small businesses, the best things to do can be done by you alone.
  27. Not doing anything.
  28. Not gathering all the requirements they need at the beginning. This should be in addition to their business plan.
  29. To assume that it’s something they can do after they’ve launched or relaunched their site. Actually, it has to be other way around. SEO has to be started even before the actual website is up. You can’t set up your business site in a vacuum.
  30. Not maximizing your local search visibility.
  31. To hire the wrong vendor.
  32. With link building. Given generally small sites and less information needed, many small businesses can figure out on-page optimization pretty easily. However, as it comes to link building, most simply don’t have the time or expertise to do it effectively, and frequently resort to spammy links to rank their websites. While many of these will do the job, they aren’t sustainable.
  33. Treating SEO like “science” rather than like “sport.”
  34. Taking the “guns blazing” approach to online marketing. This approach to online marketing isn’t really a strategy as it is more a viewpoint a business owner has. It is easy to spot the “guns blazing” business owner: they are the ones that want it all (website redesign, SEO, paid search, display, social, email, blogging, etc.) and they wanted it done yesterday.
  35. Not having realistic expectations upfront.
  36. Relying only on SEO for total business success.
  37. That once they actually have gotten a website up and running, that they then think that the marketing job is done!
  38. After getting a website up, doing nothing else.
  39. 1) not getting SEO input before and during site development (only getting it afterwards), 2) not digging deep enough into keyword research
  40. Not defining clear goals—and ways to verify those goals against a benchmark—before you start making changes.
  41. Focusing all your attention on SEO and none on conversion. I don’t care how much search traffic you generate. If your website is a sieve, you’ll never make a dime.
  42. Going into it with the wrong mentality and not enough information.
  43. Not taking time to learn the basics of being found online. It affects every single thing you put online about your business.
  44. To take it to one extreme or the other. You either give it too much credit and become obsessed with SEO causing you to get too deep, or you pooh-pooh it and pay it no attention at all.


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