I have been working in the SEO industry now for almost five years now. While working with large companies I also always worked with small companies, for free or paid. The reason I work with them is because I personally think working with small companies makes you more creative, not only because they have little to no budget to spend on SEO, but their agility. When it comes to changes on their sites or taking decisions, they don’t go through the long list of sign-offs to do the changes.

Below are some basic mistakes I have seen small companies making and they need to avoid to perform better in organic rankings with some tips:

1- Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is the major problem with small companies. They find it difficult to produce fresh and unique content for their sites and make the mistake of copying it from their competitors or other blogs in their niche, which has a negative impact on search engine rankings. Below are some tips for business owners to avoid duplicate content:

  • Ask a professional freelance copywriter or content writing services company to write the content for you. There are so many of them, especially after Google introduced animal names into their updates (Panda & Penguin).
  • Write it yourself. No one knows your product better than you. After writing, proof-read it or have a professional writer do it.
  • Avoid creating or running your script to create page after page for different locations with same content. Just the name of the city changing in the content, write unique content for these pages.

2- Choosing the wrong Keywords

Choosing the keywords to target is always tricky for small businesses; they find it difficult to decide which keyword to go for: the highly searched keyword and the competitive one, or the less searched for and therefore less competitive keyword, and make the mistake of going for the highly competitive keywords.

Tips for avoiding to choose the wrong keywords:

  • Make a list of keywords you really think you can target, your realistic keywords list. Run them through Google Adwords and see if it’s worth targeting those keywords in organic search results. Look at its conversion rate and number of impressions.
  • Look at your competitor link building profile, what keywords are they targeting, the rate they are building links to their website and the quality of the links, and ask yourself would you be able to build those links.
  • Don’t ignore the long tail keywords. Mostly they are less competitive and worth targeting and ranking for.
  • When you do your keyword research always double check if you are looking at exact, broad or phrase keyword match.

3- Duplicate or non-descriptive title tags

Everyone knows how important title tags are when it comes to on-page optimisation, and it’s not just the small businesses who forget to optimise the. Even the big boys sometimes ignore them and think there are other important things to do, title tags are very important they are one of those low hanging fruits that can’t be ignored at all.

Below are some tips for businesses which can help optimise your title tags and get the quick benefits:

  • Keep all your title tags unique.
  • Keep your title tags shorter than 70 characters.
  • Keep your most important keywords in the beginning.
  • Keep your title tags relevant to your pages.
  • Add your brand name in the title tag if it’s really necessary.
  • Don’t stuff keywords into your title tags.
  • Add uniqueness to your title tags to stand out in rankings.

4- Lack of fresh Content

As I said earlier in the duplicate content part, producing content is very challenging for small businesses. Some small businesses post content on their site only when their website goes live , others do create a blog and post regularly but give up after some time. According to Freshness factor, fresh content can influence rankings, and fresh content needs to be produced regularly.

Below are some tips for businesses that will keep them creating fresh content on their sites:

  • Update your old pages and if they are out of date, add fresh content to them.
  • Create a blog for your business on the same domain and publish content regularly.
  • Ask your clients or customers to leave reviews on your site.
  • Create Videos of your business and upload it to new URLs on your site with the transcripts underneath it.
  • Add a news section to your site and keep everyone informed about your business.

5- Low Quality Backlinks

With little to no budget low quality links are the biggest issue with small businesses. They always go for the quickest way to gain links. Because of lack of time, they either go with companies who are extremely cheap who get them links from websites with 100+ outbound links from one irrelevant page, or pay the $5 for 100 directories link.

Few basic tips to avoid buying low quality links and to go for the better quality links:

  • Stop buying those low quality links; it doesn’t work and it can penalize you in search results and they will charge you more when you ask them to remove those links.
  • Avoid using 1600 rpm article spinning software, write for humans not search bots.
  • Avoid submitting your articles to article directories.
  • Write articles and post them as a guest post on other sites.
  • Give interviews to other blog owners, and ask them to link back to your website.

6- Not optimizing for Google Locals Listing

Believe it or not, there are still companies out there who don’t have a clue what Google Local or Google Places are, nor how can it help them. It’s crucial to perform well in Local search results and take advantage of it for SMBs.

Some tips for business owners on how to be found on google Locals:

  • Firstly, check if your business is listed on Google maps by searching for your company name, address or your zip code. If it doesn’t add a listing for your local business, if it does appear while you do a search on Google Local then claim it and manage it.
  • Add as much detail as you can on your about tab of your Google + Page.
  • Upload your best images to showcase your business.
  • Add your address consistently on local citation sites.
  • Ask your existing customers to write a review of your business on your Google + Page.
  • Promote your Google+ page on your blog and website.
  • Read more about local search ranking factors here.

One more tip for small businesses before I end this article: go for the Low Hanging fruits in SEO — they are the quick wins.

What mistakes have you find SMBs doing while optimising their site, and what can they do to improve them please add them to the comments section below, and let’s discuss it.

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