7 SEO Mistakes You Might Be Making (And How To Fix Them)

Search engine optimization is like a sassy cat.

You can give it attention, affection and constant love, but somehow you’re getting zero love back. I hate to say it, but it might not be the cat–er SEO itself.

Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are constantly trying to improve their formulas for finding the best search results. The better the results, the easier to find things and the more often people come back to search.

On one hand it means we’re constantly getting better search results and finding solutions to our problems faster each day. But on the other hand, since things are constantly evolving there are a lot of people who are spreading bad or outdated information. And with that comes a lot of SEO mistakes.

But don’t worry!

We’ve compiled a list of the 7 of the most common SEO mistakes along with some quick tips on how to avoid them.

1 Ditching The Keyword Research

Keyword research is the backbone for all SEO. The keywords you discover will influence a ton of SEO factors like descriptions, metadata, URL choice, visible link text and so much more. But when you go straight for keywords without doing any research you can really hurt yourself.

You may already know a lot about your customers and what types of words they’re using to conduct searches, but that’s only half the battle. You need to see how many other people are also using those keywords and phrases. You may find there are keywords available that aren’t super popular, but with less competition you’re more likely to rank for those keywords.

2 Ignoring Local Searches

If you’re a pet sitter, groomer, walker or boarding facility targeting a geographic area you cannot ignore local searches.

Every time you do a search for a pizza place, hair salon, dry cleaner or any other type of business in a certain city you’re conducting a local search. With these types of searches Google retrieves standard results as well as results which give the business name, phone number and reviews that display at the top of page one. These results are local results. They’re so important because they’re likely the first thing a potential client sees regarding your business.

As the business owner you can claim your business listing. Once you claim your listing you can ensure information is correct, especially the website link. You could be missing out on a ton of free traffic by not adding your website to your business listing.

3 Creating Bad Content

I’ll be honest, this one can take a little bit more work to correct than the others.

Bad content has spelling errors and is nothing but dull, offensive or outdated information. Good content is entertaining, educational and engaging information with your unique flair. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to constantly be pushing yourself to create high quality content that visitors will love.

4 Using Jargon

It can sometimes be hard for pet professionals to get out of the professional mindset. You spend so much time learning about what’s going on in the industry and working hard to keep a professional outlook on things. But when it comes to SEO you have to take into account what your ideal customers are searching for, and not necessarily the proper professional terms they should be using.

If you’re having trouble removing your pet professional hat, try thinking about:

  • The most common questions you get from customers.
  • How you simplify things for confused customers.
  • What problems your business solves.
  • How your product/service makes life easier.

5 Allowing Duplicate Content

Having multiple website pages with the exact same content may seem like just an organizational mess, but it could be hurting your website more than you think.

The problem is when you have more than two pages with the exact same information the search engine crawlers get confused. They don’t know which is the original, which can throw off how they rank the pages.

On top of that, when you have duplicate content you’re splitting your traffic. So instead of having 40 visitors to one page, you might have 20 visitors to each of those two pages. It’s much more beneficial to have just one point of entry and once place where traffic can be counted.

6 Ignoring Your Customers

On the outside SEO seems like this ultra nerdy process. You need to run numbers, check research and understand algorithms. But there is a much more human element to the process. Before you can get started with SEO you need to understand your customers and ideal buyers inside and out. By understanding their mindset and behaviors you’ll know where they are in the buying process and better be able to craft keywords and phrases that they’re more likely to use.

7 SEO After the Fact

SEO is like going to the dentist. You need to keep up with it and do regular checkups to make sure everything is working. If there are problems you want to jump on them quickly, so you avoid long-term damage. If you neglect your teeth for years a dentist can only fit you for artificial chompers and send you on your way.

SEO works the same way. You’re not going to see instant results. You will however see small improvements over time, which are a reflection of how much work you put into it.

That’s not to say if you’re not doing well on SEO, don’t even bother. Rather, it’s important to start with SEO as soon as you can and do as much as you can to keep your SEO going strong.

4 SEO Myths We Totally Hate

SEO is weird.

Most business owners know that in the era of social media, smartphones and unlimited connectivity that SEO is a must to grow online. But since it’s constantly growing and changing, there’s a ton of bad information out there on SEO.

I’m not exactly sure how any of these SEO myths started. It may have been bad information or just confusion that got out of hand. In either case, we want to spread the word that these SEO myths need to go away and never come back.

1 SEO Is Just Marketing Phewy

Okay, I get why this myth exists.

SEO is constantly changing but it still seems like half the SEO “experts” out there are depending on outdated information from 2006. And don’t even get me started on those people who promise incredible SEO results for a ridiculously low one-time price. Unfortunately, those people have made a bad name for SEO and have left a yucky taste in the mouths of business owners across the world.

Online marketing is only going to become more important and SEO is going to play a big part in its growth. So just casting it aside as a fad or just another way for your marketing person to squeeze a little bit more cash out of you is a bad idea.

The important thing to remember is to do your homework. Know what’s going on in the world of SEO so you don’t get taken advantage of.

2 Google Will Figure It Out

Well, not exactly.

Google search engine bots will crawl your website and jump from page to page indexing content. But if you don’t have the right page structure and don’t do your part for SEO, the bots won’t be very helpful.

The great thing about SEO is that you can do a whole lot for your website just by knowing (and actually doing) the basics. Things like sticking to one well researched keyword per page, adding it to the page title, url and headline won’t be strenuous, but these simple SEO techniques can make or break your rankings.

3 Small Businesses Shouldn’t Even Bother

I’m going to be honest here. Small businesses can’t compete with big businesses when it comes to SEO. They have way bigger budgets and the teams needed to constantly be monitoring and updating pages.

But you have something they don’t (and can’t) have:

  • The ability to make quick changes.
  • The ability to make personal connections with customers.
  • The ability to have laser target focus when it comes to keywords.

Big companies are like giant cruise ships. They have a lot of power behind them, but when they need to change their route, it can take a long time just to get them to move in the right direction.

Small businesses are like little speed boats. They may not have a lot of people or space onboard, but by not having a lot of weight or extras they can move effortlessly at a moment’s notice.

So if you’re seeing your keywords aren’t really working, you can do the research to find better ones. You can see what your competition is using and you can add new, better keywords to your website without going through 5 tiers of management approval.

If you’re trying to compete with a national chain for a generic keyword, you’re probably not going to rank number one. So embrace your small business power and get hyper niche. Try doing this by narrowing down your keywords by location, specialty and descriptors potential visitors are using.

  • Generic Keyword – Dog Food
  • Location Keyword – Sacramento Dog Food Manufactures
  • Specialty Keyword – Organic Dog Food
  • Descriptor Keyword – Healthy Dog Food

You’ll end up with longer keyword phrases, but since they’re so niche, you’re more likely to rank higher in a niche search.

4 Social Media Is A Waste Of Time

The simplified version – social media has a huge impact on SEO.

Constantly staying on top of social media can be overwhelming sometimes. One expert might say posts at these times, which is the opposite of what another expert says. If you don’t have a ton of followers on social media, it can be kind of tempting to just stop doing it all together, but don’t do it!

Social media is more than getting followers to engage with your brand. It’s also a great (not to mention free) tool to market your business online.

In the good old days search engines used to be a lot more trusting of websites. Business owners could add in their keywords and the search engines would index accordingly. But as always, some shady people ruined it for everyone. These people would add in irrelevant keywords, use misspelled words to try and get accidental traffic and much more.

So search engines had to figure out ways to rank content that couldn’t be cheated. Enter: social media. Social media shares, likes and comments are hard to fake on website pages.

Tying into this is the importance of blogging and content creation. When you’re constantly producing new website pages that your visitors find engaging, informative and entertaining you’re creating new opportunities for them to share. So even if you’re not ready to fully to commit to content, by just creating 1-2 blog posts per month you’ll start to see a bump in website traffic over time.

Long Story Short

We hate these SEO myths. It’s our hope that more business owners start to see through the bull and these myths die out in the next year, but I’m not keeping my fingers crossed. SEO myths, as well as other marketing myths, will pop up from time to time. Which is why it is so important to do your homework before making any big commitments. Your business and your wallet will thank you.

5 Free (And Totally Easy) Ways To Improve SEO

SEO can be cruel.

Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is necessary to market your business online. The better your SEO, the higher your website will appear in search engine ranks like Google or Bing. It’s not rocket science–more eyeballs on your website means more potential customers will call, leading to faster business growth. It’s every business owner’s dream, and it all starts with SEO.

There is no shortage of hacks, cheat sheets, and gurus with the latest secrets “that Google doesn’t want you to know about”. The truth is high search engine rank is a competitive game. Trying shady techniques to trick the system can actually hurt your SEO more than help it. But never fear! You can improve SEO with these 5 easy, free and Google friendly techniques (sorry shady gurus).

1 Create A Blog

By creating and maintaining an active blog you’ll not only be showcasing your expertise, but you’ll also be giving your website some serious SEO juice.

What can a blog do for your website?

  • Creates New Site Pages
  • Increases Social Link Sharing
  • Keeps Visitors On Site Longer
  • Interesting Content Creates Traffic

For best results understand the types of people you want to attract and what they want to see. And don’t forget to encourage visitors to share posts with their friends! The presence of social media has made link sharing extremely important to search engine rankings.

2 Share On Social Media

Many small business owners have a love/hate relationship with social media. They love that it’s a free way to market their business, but hate the time, frustration and drama it takes to build a community.

Whether you’re on team love, or waving a big foam finger for team hate, social media is essential for increasing SEO. Let’s break down why social media influences search engine rank:

  • Increased social sharing = increased credibility.
  • It’s hard to fake social sharing.
  • Google is vain and loves Google+.

In the new world of marketing, content is king. If you’re only sharing images, videos and blog posts from someone else’s website you won’t be gaining any SEO juice for yourself. So be sure to keep your ultimate online marketing goal in mind and send followers to your website whenever possible.

3 Get Involved In The Community

If you’re a local business don’t be afraid to network locally. Networking doesn’t translate to awkwardly swapping small talk with a sweaty stranger. Think of local events as a way to entertain and educate your social media and website followers. You can live tweet the event, share pictures or videos on your website, tag other attendees or even take something you learned at the event and turn it into a blog post. By getting out into the community you’ll connect with locals, create social media buzz, improve SEO and increase exposure for your business.

4 Social Bookmarking

So at this point we’ve established that an effective blog and social media presence is a match made is SEO heaven. But there is one common hiccup we need to talk about! How do you get your blog in front of NEW people without spending a fortune on Facebook ads?

We love loyal fans, but the more traffic, social sharing and backlinks you have the better off your online marketing will be. One easy solution to this problem is sharing your blog posts with the help of social bookmarking.

Social bookmarking sites like Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon and even Pinterest allow business owners to add content links (blog posts, videos, etc.) to their online directories. The links can then be discovered by new people and lead to new traffic, unique page views and even more social sharing.

But be warned: not everyone is going to fall in love with your blog. The key to social bookmarking is getting seen by the right people. So take the time to research possible keywords before posting to these types of sites.

5 Support A Cause

People are drawn to passion. They want to align themselves with brands that support what they believe in. Figure out which causes you and your followers both support and then get to work! This could mean helping to promote cause efforts through blog posts or even taking up a collection for the cause on your website. Whether it’s social causes, animal welfare or helping to save the planet, share your content and help create buzz for your cause through social media. Even small scale efforts can mean helping a good cause and a healthy dose of traffic back to your site.

There’s just one catch. Your support for a cause has to be genuine. People can smell phonies from a mile away, and they will make a point to tell you about it online. Trendy causes come and go, so follow a cause that speaks to your heart.

Long Story Short

There you have it folks, 5 free and super easy ways to improve SEO. Now we want to hear from you! Which of these techniques are you already using and which need to be added to our list? Let us know in the comments below.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for WordPress

WordPress by itself does a pretty good job of SEO but to make it even better – follow the practices below to the best of your ability or as it makes sense.

Not all suggestions will work for all sites.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and User Experience don’t always want the same thing. When it comes to a decision on SEO vs. User Experience – always side with a positive User Experience. The traffic doesn’t mean anything if the user is taken to a page that doesn’t help them out. A lot of times this shows up when trying to increase keyword frequency in a page if the keyword is a longer tail key phrase made up of 3-5 words.

Install Google Analytics and set up monthly overview reports to be sent to you via email (no need to login – get monthly reports of traffic, etc). If SEO is important to your business – you will want to monitor this.

Signup for Google Webmaster Tools and authenticate the site – Webmaster Tools is a great diagnostic tool from Google that will alert you of any potential issues with the search engines like crawl errors, excessive 404 errors, etc.

Register with Bing’s webmaster tools as well but doesn’t worry about spending much time there – we just want them to know you are there.

Add the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast – Hands down the best SEO plugin we’ve used on WordPress in a handful of years.

When working with the Yoast plugin – your SEO is scored on a page/post basis using traffic signals, red, yellow and green lights. Aim for mostly green with a few yellow (some pages just really can’t be optimized like contact pages, directions pages, etc)

Install Infusionsoft website tracking code if you are running Infusionsoft. (doesn’t directly affect your SEO but will help you track visitors across domains for ROI calculations)

Make sure the architecture of the site and the site structure tags are used properly. Some themes will put H1 tags on the logo, rather we want H1 tags to be used on the actual page titles, H2’s and H3’s to follow in order of importance. Anything beyond H3 probably won’t be necessary – adding this much content on one page will negatively impact user experience.

For page titles, descriptions, headlines, etc. Make sure you use keywords and try to get them “up and to the left” – meaning up higher on the page and closer to the left side of the page (beginning of a headline instead of at the end)

Unless you are a national brand – Do not let the title of your site be your company name – many times people aren’t looking for your company name (if they are they already know about you) – many times they are typing in keywords related to a problem they are currently experiencing.

Example:
Not Great: “ABC Plumbing – Commercial and Residential Plumbing”
Better: “Commercial Plumbing Repair and Residential Plumbing Repair by ABC Plumbing”

We still get the name in there for branding but the most important element of the title is now “Commercial Plumbing Repair” and “Residential Plumbing Repair” which are more likely the keywords that people will search on.

Make sure images are optimized for display on the web – proper resolution and proper size. Page speed is one of the things that the Search Engines look at in terms of ranking. To check your page speed go here => http://www.webpagetest.org

Add “ALT” tags to images and make sure you include the keywords for that specific page in the ALT tag

When creating categories for your blog posts (even if they are used to display non-blog data) use keywords as categories or subcategories if possible

For pages and posts – add social media sharing options where appropriate. For example: on a blog post that you wrote – great place for a social sharing button, on your “Terms & Conditions” page – not so much.

Add testimonials wherever possible to increase social proof. Text based testimonials are good, Text testimonials with a headshot are better, video testimonials are the best.

Encourage clients to leave reviews for you on apps like: Yelp, Google, Angies List, whatever. Yelp and Google seem to get the most play in Google Search Results.

Anytime you are posting content on sites other that you own website (Facebook, twitter, you tube, guest blog posts, etc) – keep the keywords rules in mind – USE THEM, keep them at the front of headlines, use them in descriptions, etc. You never know when and how this information will get indexed.

Shareability is a huge factor in search engine optimization (SEO). The best way to increase shareability is to put in a little extra effort and create really great content that people will want to share. If you ask often enough – people will share your stuff as a favor. We want the content to be so good that we don’t need to ask.

Contrary to popular belief – Backlinks are still good to have and will positively affect your SEO. Whether it’s PR, guest posts, news stories about you, etc – Make sure all of this exposure includes a link to your website.

Claim local listings on sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook and keep the updated. You can use a service like Yext or Moz Local to keep them all updated and in sync easily.

Make sure your website is mobile friendly. It can be a mobile app, a standalone mobile site or a responsive design but more and more traffic is coming from mobile sources (phones, tablets, etc) so a good site is one that can offer a positive user experience regardless of device.

Now it’s Your turn! Use the comments box below and let me know about your favorite SEO tip.