we make marketing make sense for small business

8 Common SEO Mistakes SMEs Make

Every business knows they should be doing SEO (search engine optimisation), but most aren’t sure exactly what they should be doing and when. This leads many businesses to ‘dabble’ in SEO practices - doing a little here, a little there, but never nailing down a concrete strategy.

Without an SEO strategy to follow, you’re likely to make mistakes that will waste your time, at best, and damage your digital footprint, at worst.

The good news is that developing an SEO strategy is straightforward and once you know what mistakes you may be making, you can put them right and build upon your success month after month.

Here are 8 common SEO mistakes for your SME to avoid:

Listen to the audio version of this blog or read on.

8 Common SEO Mistakes Your SME May Be Making

1. Failing to pay attention to metadata

Your metadata is your direct line to search engines - it’s where you can tell them what to pay attention to. Despite their importance, many businesses fail to optimise their meta descriptions to be compelling and contain their keywords. Make sure you’re making the most of your page metadata by using keywords strategically while telling potential visitors what they’ll find. You should also consider what keywords you put in your H1 and H2 tags to make it clear what you’re offering on that page.

2. Slow site speed

One of the biggest mistakes SMEs make in 2022 is not paying attention to their site page speed. With ultra-fast internet and strong computing power in our palms, we’ve never had a shorter attention span, and that means people don’t have the patience to sit and wait while a site takes a while to load.

So, what is a ‘while’? Typically, less than 5 seconds - in fact, studies have found that you’ll lose 40% of visitors if your site takes more than 3 seconds to load. You can check your site load speed for free here, this is especially important for mobile users and it used as a ranking factor.

If your site is slow, your next step should be to speed it up. You can do this by moving to a faster hosting service, compressing large files like images, reducing large Javascript files, and more.

3. No location-specific information

If you’re a local business, you should have a Google Business Profile, which adds your business to Google Maps. It also provides potential customers with essential information about your business, such as opening times, pictures of your location, your services, and reviews.

You should also consider having location-specific pages on your website if your company serves different areas, to capture those “[business/service/product] near me” searches. Make sure each location contains relevant information for the area your serve, and don’t reuse content from other pages as this can harm your ranking by creating duplicate content.

A Google Business Profile account isn’t just useful for businesses that welcome customers in without an appointment. You can also use a Google Business Profile account to strengthen your SEO and legitimacy, as it’s a trust marker.

4. Not checking how mobile responsive your site really is

Have you recently checked your site’s responsivity? You should take the time to review how it performs on a smartphone and tablet whenever you make a change to the layout or design. Many businesses choose a mobile responsive design or platform and assume that it has done all the hard work for them, but that’s not always the case. You may go through your site to find that a header is below the text it should be above, an image is different, or body text is too small to read. Go through the site, make notes on what needs fixing, and put them right. Then check it again. Utilise your Google Search Console for mobile usability so you can identify issues on a regular basis.

5. Never checking and fixing broken links

Searching for broken links should be something you do at least once a quarter, if not monthly. A link may be broken if you change the HTTP address of a page but don’t change the link to it, or if another website you link to changes its address or deletes its site. Regardless, search engines aren’t a fan of broken links and neither are users - they’re frustrating and may even prevent them from finding the information they need.

It’s best practice to check for broken links and images once every 1-3 months (depending on how often you update your website and how many external links you have) so you can fix them or set up a redirect. You can find all your broken links in your Google Search Console account.

6. Outdated content

One of the top benefits of a blog is that a post you wrote six years ago can still generate plenty of traffic for you today. But, if you’re not paying attention, you may not have noticed that it only gets about half the traffic now than it did three years ago. Why? It’s not just down to algorithmic changes on Google’s part, though that is a part of it. Google prefers up-to-date content, so if you have a blog post or page that performs well, it’s worth going in and updating it every 6-12 months. If the content isn’t evergreen, it’s even more essential to go back to that information and update it whenever necessary.

7. Your URLs are vague

Do your URLs look like this: “.com/common-SEO-mistakes” or like this: “.com/page1/tfgj255gnra”? If it’s the latter, it’s time to do something about it. Your URLs should be shorter than 2083 characters but should be descriptive and contain your main focus keywords.

When you set up your URLs to be readable by humans as well as computers, you’ll improve your user experience and increase your search engine visibility. Here are some best practices when it comes to your URLs:

  • Avoid special characters
  • Use simple connectors like “-”
  • Use keywords when possible (for example: .com/pool-builders-wiltshire/)
  • Make sure you have a secure connection, so https: instead of http:
  • Avoid more than two folders when possible (for example: .com/building/pools/pools-in-wiltshire)

Most website builders make it easy to edit your URLs, and there are plugins for those that don’t, so research what’s necessary for your website so you can edit any un-SEO-friendly URLs.

8. You don’t know where you stand

Do you know how well you’re doing with your SEO in the first place? If not, you’re not alone, but it's a good idea to get a baseline so you can build on that going forward. Remember, what gets measured gets managed. To find out where you stand, why not take advantage of our SEO audit?

If all this is feeling a little overwhelming, don’t worry. SEO is a long term investment, with a lot of moving parts, and you need to know your website platform well to make these tweaks quickly and easily. If your website makes it difficult for you to keep up with your SEO efforts, it may be time for a website redesign. The hours you save with an easier website will far outweigh the investment of a new one.

Alternatively, if your website works well but you just don’t have the time or desire to manage your SEO yourself, we’re here to help. Click here to find out more about our SEO services.

We're here to make you a winner

Join the other business already growing with FTW Digital.