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Top Four SEO Mistakes on Small Business Websites

Top Four SEO Mistakes on Small Business Websites in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

Top Four SEO Mistakes on Small Business Websites

Digital Marketing by Chris Kramer in Vancouver WA and Portland OR


Intended AudienceSmall business owners that are looking to sharpen their digital marketing skills. AssumptionsYou have already started marketing. Whether having already created a website, a Google Business page, FB page, etc, but have not yet hired a professional to work on your marketing.

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Intro: Educate Yourself About The Concepts Of Marketing Online

Over the years I have worked with dozens of small businesses looking to step up their online marketing in an effort to grow their business. Whether they need help with lead generation, brand awareness, etc. As I worked with more and more clients, I began to see a common thread when it came to how difficult, or easy, it was to help them achieve the results they were after. It became apparent that the clients who saw the quickest success after working with me, were business owners who really took the time to understand digital marketing, the overarching concepts of SEO, and had taken educated steps to promote their businesses online, before coming to me to smooth out their efforts.

Most Small Businesses Are Neglecting Low Hanging Optimization Opportunities

This article is meant to help small business owners in a few ways. One, it’s meant to help you market better! This one is obvious, you don’t want to spend valuable time learning a secondary skill, only to have it not move the needle, this article will help you know if you’re on the right track. Second, to help you understand what you need to improve, especially when taking the step to hire a professional. Knowing the difference between what’s been done, and what needs to be done, can help you hire the right digital marketer. And third, as the title states, to give you a roadmap if you’re starting from zero knowledge.

What Are The Main Concepts Of Digital Marketing For Small Businesses?

The two main concepts to wrap you head around can be summed up as technical and social.
  1. Give These are things you give produce and dispense when marketing. This includes your website, your Google Business profils, other listings, technical details relating to search engines, etc. These are things YOU control.
  2. GetThese are things given to you when marketing. This includes reviews, links to your site from other sites (backlinks), testimonials on social websites, shares, likes, etc. These are marketing “good boy” points that are bestowed upon you, and give you standing.
  3. As a small business owner who’s not yet able to afford a digital marketer, being cognizant of these two concepts is key to starting your marketing off on the right foot, and not causing problems that will be hard to remedy down the road. Let’s go!

    Common Problems With Self-Managed, Small Business Websites

    This is a list of common, yet impactful, mistakes that I see all the time when auditing a new client’s website:
    • Website/Homepage Title

      You want your homepage to have a title that reflects your services and location. If you are using WordPress as your CMS, there is a “site title” in the customizer, but most themes will use the homepage’s page title as the site title. Google heavily weighs your homepage when deciding on how to rank your website, and even more specifically the page title. Too many times do I see really poorly written titles, and with it being an easy thing to fix, it’s worth checking yours.
      Navigate to your website’s homepage. Now, hover your mouse over the browser tab, just after the icon, and the title will appear in a tooltip. This method may not reveal the whole title, but if within what it does show you don’t see your main service and service area, it would be safe to say that is hurting your marketing efforts and general SEO.
    • Homepage Heading Tag

      Seasoned SEOs reading this might argue that heading tags’ day in the best practices sun has come and gone. While there is data to back this up, for small business websites that have not been indexed on Google for long, and may not have tons of content to parse— making sure your H1 tag on the homepage is dialed in is still a good idea.
      Navigate to your homepage, right-click and select “inspect”. Next, on your keyboard, press control+f to bring up the find tool. Type in “<h1” (no quotes), and press enter. Scan the text after this and if it doesn’t contain, once again, at least your main service and location, you need to figure out how to edit it in your site builder. Many times I’ve seen H1s that are “Great Service!”, or “Welcome!”. This will not help new sites with thin content rank, so change it to be a variation on the site title you created in the previous step.

      For a more detailed list on how to perform the above, click here to visit our Technical SEO page!
    • Homepage Meta Description

      The meta description is the paragraph that sits just below the page title in the results page. Google has stated that meta descriptions aren’t ranking factors, but having a poorly written one with not help your CTR (click though rate). Your meta description should sound conversational, human-written, and contain a CTA (call to action), encouraging the searcher to click.
      Navigate to google and enter a search query that will show your homepage in the results. This is usually your businesses name. Read the meta description and assess whether or not you would click your own link. Next, do a search for your main service+main geo. Compare the meta descriptions of those sites above yours to your own and maybe see if maybe can elicit more clicks through improving yours.
    • Your Mobile Experience Is Garbage

      This one can be a death knell if not rememeded. Most of your users will use their phones when searching for services. I don’t, but I’m on my computer all day, but 90% will. It’s amazing to me when I get a new client and when testing their current mobile experience I am hit with site-blocking pops, font sizes that are too big or too small, no visible phone number, CATs, or forms. These things are bare minimum. Unless you have extremely informative, well-written content to present, you better have easy to engage with conversion points.
      Ask a friend or family member to navigate to your website on their phone and pass it to you. We get used to seeing our properties on our own phone, and can have new light shed when using a completely different device. You’re looking to find problems that would annoy you if this wasn’t your website. Is it slow, is it cluttered, can you read the content easily, is the phone number present and clickable?

    Beyond The Low Hanging Fruit

    The list above are just the most common issues I see holding back local businesses from potentially ranking better. Squeezing the most out your marketing is the name of the game when attempting to rank locally. As a small business owner running your own website, or even when paying someone else to, its important to understand the core concepts of internet marketing. Knowing what actions move the needle is crucial to make sure not only are you putting your efforts in the right places, but you aren’t making moves that can set you back. There is always a delay between when you make a marketing decision, and when you get feedback. Any digital marketer worth paying realizes that organic marketing is a long game that builds over time. Even if you were to inject some urgency via paid ads, if your landing page, copy, and call to action aren’t all in sync, no amount of paid traffic will increase leads.

    Final Thought: Content, Content, Content

    I’m going to wrap this up with the high-level concept Google has made clear: be helpful. No amount of search engine pleasing will help you perform better without the content to back it up. Your content needs to answer questions beyond “Why should you choose me?”. Show your potential customer you are knowledgeable by offering helpful answers to their questions. This applies to not just your website, but any social properties you maintain as well. Couple this with consistent branding, and a user-first crafted experience— and you’ll be off to the races.

Redesign Your Website for SEO: A Checklist

Redesign Your Website for SEO: A Checklist in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

Redesign Your Website for SEO: A Checklist

Digital Marketing by Chris Kramer in Vancouver WA and Portland OR


Redesigning a website can, and should be, an exciting endeavor. Perhaps the redesign is to reflect a new business direction or a new brand aesthetic. Maybe you saw your competition’s new site, and felt the pressure to deliver something new to your users or customers. Maybe you’re just sick of your current website, and enjoy a project.

Below, I will outline steps that should be taken to ensure that your current optimization efforts don’t get bungled, or how to course correct, when rebuilding or redesigning your website.

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Survey The Land

It’s important to know how search engines view your site before going into a redesign project. This is true of a site that is already performing well, because you won’t want to mess with a good thing. Meaning, if your site is performing awesomely, you won’t want to screw that up with a sloppy redesign.

On the other hand, if you are redesigning mainly to make SEO gains, not just aesthetic ones, taking into account what search engines like Google are telling you about your site, is valuable.

Google Search Console

Click here if your site isn’t connected to Google Search Console or Google Analytics. I’m assuming that most people reading this will have their site connected to these free services if you’re reading this article.

In Search Console, click the “coverage" tab. Explore this area to see what pages are actually indexed and which are not. For pages that are on your xml.sitemap, but aren’t indexed, are these pages you could improve? Are they not indexed because the content is thin, or because the content is too similar to another page.
search console coverage

Next, click the “performance" tab. It’s important to have a grasp of what search terms your site is getting impressions with, and what queries are garnering clicks to your site. Write down a list of search terms with high impressions, but few clicks. These search terms can come in handy, especially since you’ll most likely be touching every page throughout the redesign process and will have an opportunity to fine tune your content, page titles, etc.
search console performance

Next click the “mobile usability", “page experience", and “core web vitals" tabs. Take note of any warnings you find in here, as these are hints at ways to let Google know, because remedied, you take user experience seriously. Sites with lower traffic volume might see something along the lines of “Not Enough Data". If this is the case, don’t worry, there are other ways of sussing out this data.

Google Analytics

Next, go into your Google Analytics account. I’m going to assume that your site is connected to a Universal Google Analytics account. Google Analytics 4 is somewhat new, and while it reveals compelling interaction data, most people will likely have legacy accounts.
analytics site-behavior

The area I would suggest taking data points from is the “behavior" tab. Inside, the “behavior flow" area can be a great tool to visualize where people are landing and leaving. Maybe you see a page that gets more traffic than you thought it was. A common page I see users consistently viewing that doesn’t always get much design love is the “about" page. The “landing pages" and “exit pages" sections offer a more concise, list-style version of the “behavior flow" area. The idea is to simply get familiar with how users and search engines are assessing and interacting with your site and use


Moving on, head to Google and enter into the search bar “". The result will be a list of every page Google has indexed from your domain. If you are connected to Search Console, you already have access to this information, but this exercise offers new information: page titles and meta descriptions.
serp check

It’s not uncommon for Google to scrap page titles, and replace them with one they see more fit for that page. If you see this happening, it can give you insight into how search bots assess your page. This is more useful information to have when redesigning, as you’ll want to address these issues as they arise before submitting your site for re-indexation.


Lighthouse is a tool built into Chrome Developer tools. This tool can give a quick insight to key performance and SEO factors that are good to be aware of when going into the redesign/rebuild process.

lighthouse Go to either your homepage, or any other page that you feel is typical of your website, or that has high SEO value/lots of traffic, and right click. At the very bottom, click “inspect". Once the inspector opens, click “Lighthouse" on the top navigation. Once inside, check any boxes you’d like, though I would say SEO, performance, and accessibility will yield the most pertinent results when redesigning your website. Next, choose mobile or desktop, but do both by the end.

Take a look at your scores, and drill down into the explanations thereof to get a page by page insight into these core metrics. Don’t let a low SEO score freak you out, as the tool will tell you
These checks ensure that your page is following basic search engine optimization advice. There are many additional factors Lighthouse does not score here that may affect your search ranking, including performance on
This mainly means that the SEO is being very nitpicky with HTML semantics, but does not take into consideration the quality of content. The information is still good to have when trying to get a well-rounded overview of key technical aspects of your site.

Considerations when redesigning your website for SEO

Now that you have an understanding of how search engines are parsing your website, you can go into your redesign with a list of do’s and don’ts.
  • Do you have pages that are performing well AND the page title hasn’t been changed by Google? DON’T mess with it, other than applying your new design!
  • Have you noticed lots of traffic clicking on a page that you haven’t given much love to? DO mess with it! Add more content, add more images, reassess the title and meta, etc..
  • Did you see a large amount of traffic exiting your site from a specific page?DO mess with it!
  • Is there a call to action that garners lots of conversions?DON’T mess with it!
  • Did you notice a handful of pages that Google was editing the titles of? Google is gonna Google, but take a look at those pages to see if the content reflects the keyword you were intending that page to be about.

Site Structure/Page Slugs

During a redesign is a great time to address the url structure of your site. Over time, as more pages and sections are added to your website, your site structure can become smeared. The way your pages are organized is one of the main signals that search engines use to gain insight into your website. Import your sitemap into a spreadsheet and look at the way your site is laid out. Are some urls, 3, 4, 5 levels deep? That’s too deep. Reorganize your pages to not be more than three levels deep, max. Can some pages be combined? Does it make sense to add an entire new section?

After you take the structure into consideration, start to look at the individual page slugs. Are they as short and descriptive as possible? If not, now would be a good time to change them to something shorter and sweeter. Google loves a tidy, descriptive url.

Make sure to keep track of all of the structural changes you’ve made for when it comes time to issue 301 redirects. 301’s do not affect SEO, but a more concise structure and urls do affect your SEO - positivity!

How can I improve SEO on a page level?

When redesigning at the page level, you want to focus around conciseness and interlinking. Make sure that each page has a clear subject and that the keywords for that page match the subject. If you aren’t already using heading tags, now is a good time to reorganize your content around them. Also, if the content is too thin, definitely consider re-writing or adding depth to the information you’re presenting. Look for any opportunity within the content to link to related pages on your site. Add relevant images if there aren’t any. If your site isn’t using breadcrumbs, you need to add them. If you find that the content serves a very similar purpose to another page on your site, consider merging the pages. And as always, make sure you check the mobile experience of your pages.


  • Reassess page-level keywords
  • Review heading tags
  • Enrich and add depth to thin content
  • Look for interlinking opportunities to relevant pages on your site
  • Optimize images
  • Add backlink/breadcrumbs
  • Review mobile experience

SEO For Your Blog Posts

You don’t want all your well intentioned blog posts to get lost in the blackhole that is the internet, do you? When redesigning your website, take the time to SEO your blog area to make sure your articles get a fair shake on search engines.

Author Pages

Search engines, like Google, are really honing in on making sure that content on websites can be attributed to a creator or author. They want someone to be responsible for the words on your pages. This is for a couple of reasons. One, the web is full of lies. If you are transparent and link to an author page, this shows Google that you aren’t afraid to own up to your content. On the other hand, it could force creators to rethink the utility of the content they put out. Either way, it helps to fill results pages with more relevant, fully-formed ideas. So if you do not already have author pages set up, take the time to do so and link articles/content to the appropriate author, with a rel="author" in the anchor tag.

Article Schema

If you’re using WordPress’s Yoast plugin, you should be in good shape, though I have seen situations where people were not in good shape, even when using Yoast. Either way, it would be good to double check that you are in fact implementing schema markup on your articles and blogs. If you are taking the time to research and author long blogs, you want to take the time to communicate the content on a technical level, because it’s not just Google using this information to catalog pages, but lots of aggregators will scrape this data as well, to possibly feature your work.

Post Website Redesign Actions

Good job! You’ve successfully redesigned your website to give you users an updated experience, while taking steps to minimize, or improve, your SEO. There are a few actions to take after your launch to help make sure that your efforts weren’t in vain.
  1. Run your new site though the Screaming Frog tool to help uncover basic errors such as dead link or duplicate heading tag, and even page title and meta description misses.
  2. Make sure to issue 301 redirects to address any url structure changes
  3. Login to your Search Console account and upload a new copy of your xml sitemap
  4. Login to your Google Analytics account and make an annotation on the timeline for when your redesign launched.
  5. Write a blog post informing users of your new look! (optional.,but hey, doesn’t hurt)
Redesigning your website to include all the newest UX/UI gizmos should be exciting, hopefully this article will help you feel better about making adjustments without sacrificing all of your hard-earned traffic.