What Small Businesses Are Doing Wrong With SEO
Is your SEO strategy doing you more harm than good?
As a copywriter, I hear all sorts of stories from small business owners about their personal SEO exploits. Often, that includes outsourcing it to SEO service providers who have promised a golden ticket to the top of Google.
But, not all services are created equal. There are good - and there are bad. So, before you start throwing your money away on scams, take a moment to develop your understanding of what SEO is, and why you might be doing it wrong.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This confusing, white-unicorn-farting-success-rainbows-on-your-business SEO thing-a-majig.
SEO can be simple, effective, and affordable. But, what the bloody hell is it?
Simply, SEO is a technique for improving the visibility of your website or pages in online search engines. Google’s search engine is the one most people care about – and with good reason. Google is #1. It achieves this by providing the most valuable search results. It provides the most valuable search results because its search algorithm is constantly being updated to weed out the crap and only find and reward quality content.
Q U A L I T Y.
Google uses keywords and key topics written in your content to measure its relevancy and usefulness to searchers. It crawls your H1 and H2 tags, meta titles and descriptions, back-links, URL, and keyword density. The more people who find, read, and share – the better your page will do.
When SEO is Done The Wrong Way
When SEO is not understood – there is a tendency for businesses to throw money at the first person promising them a golden ticket. But – no one can guarantee you the #1 ranking in Google. No one. And, I’d be wary of those that do.
Check out these three scenarios that various clients shared with me last week - these are examples of SEO done the wrong way [insert crazy face].
Client 1: Buying and selling links.
This is a terrible strategy and is high on Google’s dodgy list (considered a ‘Black Hat’ technique).
Client #1 informed me she was in contact with an online ‘link dealer’ to buy and sell backlinks. This is where you pay for other sites to publish backlinks to your website. You can also sell links for other people to promote their links on your site. This includes ‘like for like’ or ‘link for link’ in this case. Sah dodgy.
When there’s no value, relevance, or benefit to audiences – it’s considered an attempt to manipulate the system and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Participating in a buy or sell link scheme will actually see your site or page penalised by Google when they find you (and, they will find you).
Client #2: Submitting content to article submission sites.
Client #2 expressed interest in submitting content to third party article submission sites to create more back-links to their website. This can be a solid strategy – but, you need to research the quality of the sites you’re submitting to.
- Do they have an approval process or, do they accept every single article submitted to their site, regardless of quality or relevance?
- Do they have a strong audience following related to your niche/industry?
Because, if you publish your content in a neighbourhood that Google considers to be poor or not of good quality, then, this strategy will work against you. Back-links are a super important influence on your search rank, but only when you’re being linked from high quality, credible sites, using high quality content.
However - there are good article submission sites! Find them and use the ones relevant to your business. But, make sure you don't duplicate your content. Duplicating content = also bad.
Client #3: Paying for SEO services
The big one – and probably the one that catches most small business owners out. Paying for SEO services from an unsavoury service provider. Let’s be clear here – there are awesome SEO strategists out there who do amazing things because they develop a long-term SEO strategy for your entire online presence (for the small fee of your unborn child).
But – there are also shitty SEO ‘service providers’. As a small business owner, the chances are you can’t afford the awesome version and you settle on the shitty one (without realising), who may do your site more harm than good.
Client #3 confessed he’d spent $6,000 over the past 6 months for SEO services that have had no affect on business sales. You know, the types who make empty promises to get you to the #1 Google rank, and naturally you think, ‘shut-up and take my money’.
But, there’s a tendency for them to use shitty SEO tactics for a quick fix, like:
- Buying and selling links
- Duplicating content
- Keyword stuffing (including so many keywords in your content it doesn’t make sense to humans)
- Hidden text
If you're trying to outsource your SEO, ask your service provider to explain their strategy for your business. If they’re using these short-term black hat SEO techniques, they are doing your business more harm than good.
How to SEO Your Business the Right Way
SEO can be simple, effective, and affordable when you know what you’re doing.
- Start with quality content – before anything else. Your aim should be to provide value to your audience. Start with that and everything else happens naturally.
- Know your keywords. Are you a local service provider? Include the common phrases people would use to search for you, for example, ‘reliable handyman in Bulimba’. Ensure this phrase appears in your meta tags, meta description, Heading 1 and Heading 2 tags, and in your page content. Don’t overdo it – but aim for at least once in all those areas! Check out these tips to enhance your website - like how to identify keywords and optimise your content.
- Produce quality blogs, videos, and podcasts and share links on your social networks. Content is key – the more quality content you produce, the more reason people have to visit your site, refer to you, and share your links with others in their network. Ensure your blog, podcast, and video descriptions and titles are all optimised for search.
- List your business on Google My Business, like, yesterday. It will automatically create a Google + profile for your business which is also great for search.
- Set your website up on google search console. You can manage and monitor your site’s Google search performance.
I’m a small business owner – so I understand that time is money. But, SEO really is something you should get your head around – the good and the bad.
I understand for some your eyes probably rolled to the back of your head because it all seems like more time, energy, and expertise you don’t have, which is why you outsourced in the first place. There is a cheaper solution. Instead of blowing your money on ineffective or questionable SEO services, consider collaborating with a professional website designer and a quality copywriter who can build an engaging and effective online presence at a fraction of the cost.
Check out the video