While the primer covers a lot of “what to do right” with your SEO efforts, it’s always a good idea to look at some “what not to dos,” too. With that in mind, here are six common SEO mistakes many small businesses make—and that you should avoid.
1. Building a site on a free subdomain or social media site
As a website accumulates inbound links, it begins to rank better within the search engines. When you build your site on a free subdomain, you risk that if you ever choose to move your website (and there are numerous reasons that you may decide to do so), you will lose credit for all of the links aimed at your “free subdomain” website.
2. Duplicate or non-descriptive title tags
The Title Tag attribute is largely agreed in the SEO community to be one of the most important “on page” aspects of SEO for each page of your website. Simply stated, the Title Tag attribute tells the search engine what your page is about. Many small business owners make the mistake of making their homepage Title Tag attribute merely contain something generic like “Home,” which does little to tell the search engines what your website is about—and therefore what words and phrases they should be ranking it for.
3. Building primarily flash-based websites
It used to be that search engines couldn’t index the content on Flash sites—period. Flash optimization has come a long way since then, but if you think regular SEO is tough, then Flash based SEO techniques will seem like rocket science. While having Flash based components isn’t a problem (such as a flash banner rotating images of your products), most small business owners would be better off avoiding heavy use of Flash, unless they also have the budget to bring in Flash SEO professionals to ensure the search engines can read it.
4. Using “splash” pages as homepages
We’ve all been to that website that has the very sexy graphic or Flash animation on its homepage that users need to click to enter the “real” website. Not only is this bad from a usability perspective (these pages confuse some people and they simply leave the website) but it’s also bad from an SEO perspective, for a couple of reasons.
5. Not optimizing local listing pages on popular local sites
Twenty percent of all Google searches are local in nature. And lately, Google Places is showing up at the top of the search results for more and more of those search queries. If you want to be found for locally based searches on Google, claiming and optimizing your Google Places listing is vital.
6. Doing nothing on the “link building” front
Links are still widely believed to be the single most important “off page” SEO factor. Simply put, without links from other websites, your site won’t rank. The more competitive your niche? The more links you will need to get.
Unfortunately, many small business owners put their sites up and completely ignore the inbound link building process afterward. While link building can often be confusing to some small business owners, and it can definitely be time consuming, there is no doubt that if your goal is to improve your search engine rankings, you absolutely need inbound links.