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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.

Table Of Contents

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.