A great SEO consultant can be really helpful in outlining and executing a strategy. What we’re relentlessly focused on with DIYSEO’s
search engine optimization software is taking a lot of the best practices that consultants employ and making it accessible for small business owners for only $49 per month. This is in stark contrast to the thousands a month quality SEO consultants can charge. This way, even small businesses (on a small budget) can expect big results doing great SEO. is co-founder of Measured SEM, a search marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC and Tom Demers link building services. You can follow him on Twitter: @TomDemers. Currently, Tom is an inbound marketing consultant for DIYSEO, who specialize in providing SEO solutions with search engine promotion software. The biggest mistake is see with small business SEO is… Not being data-driven in their approach to SEO. I see way too many small businesses either ignoring SEO, or doing it as a “check the box” type of activity (SEO is important, so let me go do SEO). I think SMBs would be better served to treat SEO like any of their other channels in terms of evaluating how effective it is. This is difficult because SEO typically has a long “bake in” period and it’s tricky to evaluate the overall value of the channel because it has greater long term, passive value than things like PPC or direct response, but it’s important to work to calculate what your input is, and what your output is and what it needs to be to make it a profitable channel. This means:
Determining how much budget you can allocate to evaluating SEO. There will be a number you’re “comfortable losing” that you can spend to start to get SEO activities going to see if you’re getting any initial returns. It’s the same as starting a PPC campaign when you’ve never done it, doing a banner or display buy with a site you haven’t used, or even buying billboards or print advertising: you’ll want to spend an amount you can afford to outlay, and then evaluate what you’re getting back.
all of the resources you’re using for SEO – SEO isn’t “free” or easy. What are you paying for software, to consultants, for the content you’re creating, in dev costs to update your site, etc.? Putting things like goal tracking in place and monitoring KPIs like rankings, organic traffic, and conversions from SEO so you can evaluate performance.
Giving a lot of lead time (probably at least 6 months) to see results, and taking into account not only the immediate returns from SEO (traffic that month) but also passive returns (you’ve created a stream of traffic that will require minimal time and effort to maintain, and future efforts can go to layering on new sources of traffic by increasing position on your target keywords or identifying new keywords to target).
After working through this process lots of businesses will find that they’re getting a lot more from SEO than they think (and realize that it performs a lot more efficiently than some of their other marketing activities) but equally importantly: some will realize they’re not! Those businesses can either rethink their approach to SEO, or in some cases can identify that this just isn’t as profitable of an activity as something else they could push their time and money against. Small businesses are busy and resource constrained—which is why they don’t do this type of analysis to begin with—but being that busy means that tracking ROI and evaluating successful channels is even more critical.
Joost de Valk is an expert in the field of SEO, Online marketing and Web development, helping both big brands such as eBay as well as SMBs with their online strategy. He blogs at yoast.com, where he also provides the WordPress community with lots of free plugins to help them in their optimization. I think the worst mistake small businesses make is… To spend a lot of money (relatively speaking) on their website and even on SEM and SEO, but not on their site’s copy. I’m not a good copy writer myself, but the impact good copy can make on your business and on your rankings is often misunderstood. When I made that investment myself on yoast.com, the results were immediate: higher rankings and, more importantly, I doubled conversions.
Lisa Barone is is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer of the SEO consulting company Outspoken Media. You can get chatty with her on Twitter at @LisaBarone. The biggest mistake small businesses make with Internet marketing is… Not taking the time to claim, complete or optimize their online listings. So much of small business marketing rests on nailing this very basic step. You know that Google Places, Bing, Yellow Pages, Localeze, Yelp, City Search, FourSquare, etc, are all showing information about your brand and you know the search engines are using this information to look for cues that you are relevant to a particular neighborhood – so why are you not doing everything in your power to control it and to give yourself an edge? Small business owners need to claim every listing they can get their hands on – Google, Bing, Yelp, third-party providers, everywhere. After you’ve taken control of the listing, spend the time to fill it out completely. Use your correct business name, your correct address, select the correct category, and fill out every field being smart about keyword opportunities. It’s one of those really small things that’s worth its weight in gold. Google, especially, is looking for consistency in order to rank you for local queries. If Yelp lists you at 123 Main Street and Bing has you at 123 Main Street, Building 4, those are not the same. Get it accurate; get it consistent. [Oh, and stop using Facebook (or God forbid, Twitter) as your Web site. Register your domain and own it. You can’t control what happens to these social media sites. Don’t take a gamble with your business. Own, don’t rent, your Web presence.]
Wiep Knol is a link marketer from the Netherlands. He blogs about link building regularly and is the co-founder of Linkbuilding.nl, a Dutch link building agency that offers international and local link building services. The biggest mistake SMBs can make is… Choosing the easiest and cheapest option when it comes to SEO. Automated link software and low quality content targeted at all the variations of relevant keywords you can think of may sound like a good and cheap solution, but in the long run they’re more likely to cause trouble than to return positive effects. You try to provide the best products and/or services as possible, so why not do the same with your website? A small budget doesn’t have to be a limitation; it should bring out your creativity (or the creativity of your SEO service provider).
Paul May is CEO and Co-Founder of BuzzStream, a provider of link building management software, and has spent most of the last fifteen years either starting or working on early stage startups. Buzzstream also offers a variety of free link building tools for small businesses, SEOs and Internet marketers. You can follow and connect with Paul on Twitter @PaulMay. The biggest mistake that I see small businesses make is… They view SEO as something that they couldn’t possibly understand. They view it as some kind of deep-geek, technical, black magic voodoo that could only be understood by programmers. In reality, if they viewed SEO as just an extension of good marketing, they’d make better decisions and they’d rank better. Two big problems happen when people view SEO this way. The first is that they’re more likely to outsource their SEO without putting any real thought into their needs or the qualifications of the consultant. If they’re lucky, they get someone with good intentions. But that person still may not understand their market or their customer, and so they won’t necessarily do things that will be effective (and the business owner doesn’t know enough to recognize this). In the worst case, they end up hiring someone who’s just looking to make a buck and doesn’t care how things impact the business over the long run. On top of this, because the business owner only thinks of SEO as a technical undertaking, they don’t focus on the things that will really impact their performance in the SERPs – developing good content and building quality links to it. Site architecture and technical on-page factors are important, but nothing correlates with SERP performance as well as inbound links. Even some small business owners who recognize the importance of link building shy away from it often because, again, they view it as black magic. Good link building for most small businesses is really just good relationship building. The best thing to do is find the right community, engage and build relationships. These relationships will become invaluable when you start promoting content. If you’re not sure how to find these people, the good news is that their are plenty of free tools for link building and content promotion that will help you. My suggestion to small businesses is this: Before you hire any consultants, before you build a site, before you do ANYTHING SEO-related, spend a lot of time thinking through the big picture and think of SEO from the point of view of a marketer. Specifically, build buyer personas (e.g., profile of customer, typical day, information consumption patterns, etc.) and their use cases (i.e., their current workflow, the problems with the way they do it today, what they really want, etc.). Get this right and everything else will follow – you’ll target the right keywords, you’ll develop the right content strategy and you’ll build the right links.
Jim Boykin is CEO of We Build Pages (an Internet Marketing Company). Jim is also a regular speaker at Search Engine Strategies Conferences and Webmaster World Pubcons. His company has also built Free Award Winning Internet Marketing Tools (and we’ve built several that we don’t give away as well). The biggest mistake SMBs make with SEO is… Probably underestimating the power of getting links from other sites. Without links, you won’t rank in the search engines. It doesn’t matter how great your product is, or your content; without links, you’re dead to the search engines. What can you do to fix that mistake? Get Links. The more sites you get to link to you the better. The more trusted those sites are, the better. If they link to you using phrases you’re targeting, even better, but you need lots of other sites to link to you in order to get found in Google/Yahoo/Bing.
does Ruud Hein SEO at Search Engine People, Toronto and is the man behind the scenes of Canada’s largest SEO blog. Putting family and coffee first he can be found here at Twitter. The worst small businesses SEO mistake is… Not doing anything. Assuming that some links are not worth it (so-called devaluation disorder), or that you’re not advanced enough to get “it” or can’t afford to hire someone, can trap people in the equivalent of analysis paralysis. Meanwhile in SEO more than anywhere else, every step you don’t take … counts. This is still a golden time for search engine marketing; gold rush time, even. And the beauty is that as a business owner you’re uniquely equipped to play the game. You understand marketing concepts and selling—and in essence, search engine optimization is marketing, is selling. Apply what you know in those areas to what you’ve read about SEO—and start doing it. Now. If you’re really not sure at all, hire someone, hire a company, to do it or help you do it. To fix your biggest mistake—inaction through fear & uncertainty—use a plumbing approach to SEO. Plumbing is a real job, a real specialty. Different materials, new materials, knowledge of the market, keeping up with new techniques. But to learn how to change the rubber seal on a leaky tap, you don’t have to go there; this is something you can do. In SEO there are things that are both achievable and attainable for you, today. Like plumbing, it’s not rocket science and the first basics of the craft are freely shared across the web. Read it, do it. think, test, track. Repeat. By the time you want it to be more cost/time efficient or start to notice the job might be at a level higher than “change the rubber seal”, go shop for an SEO company.
Kate Morris is a Lead SEO Consultant at Distilled in Seattle. She blogs regularly for SEOmoz and Distilled and can be found speaking at numerous conferences including upcoming SMX Toronto and PubCon. The biggest SEO mistake SMBs make is… Thinking that online marketing is some kind of rocket science, or trusting people that tell them it is. For small businesses, the best things to do can be done by you alone. Claim your business in the search engine local areas and network. Your friends make the best links. Be a good business and people will talk about you on social media. Talk back, communicate. Be aware of what is being said about you and strive to be the best. That will get you further than any link building scheme or 10k site build.
Danny Dover is the Senior SEO Manager at AT&T and is working to make local search marketing easier and more effective through his work at YellowPages.com. He is the author of the best selling book, Search Engine Optimization Secrets, and is absolutely obsessed with his goals list which he documents on his personal blog Bucket Lister. The biggest problem I see small businesses encounter with online marketing is…Treating it like the more traditional marketing channels that they are familiar with. This is an easy trap to fall into because it comes from relying on what their previous marketing experience has taught them. The web is interesting because it is not a tangible means for sending messages. Whereas in traditional mail, there is an enormous implied difference in the message medium between direct mail from a furniture store and a hand written letter that was overnighted from a significant other, the same does not exist online. On the web, the message medium is diluted (all e-mails are essentially equal before they are read in your inbox) and the important differentiator is the content of the message and the person sending it. This means that the value of authenticity is heightened. I see many small business start writing blogs or participate in social media while acting as if they are writing traditional advertising. This unintentional facade is easily detectable by Internet users and stifles the potential for a message to spread naturally. The solution to this is to be more authentic with your online communication (notice I used the word ‘communication’, not the word ‘marketing’ which implies a one-way message) and to interact on the same level as your audience. You can see this working successfully with major celebrities talking to their fans on Twitter and with big corporations that are joining Facebook to interact where their customers interact. You can also see this with the informal tone of Jeff Bezos announcing new products on Amazon’s homepage and with companies like Mint and Whole Foods with their genuinely funny and useful blog posts. Online, the message is less about the medium and more about the message. You can use this to your advantage by communicating the way you learned to communicate in high school rather than the way you learned to market in college.
Ann Smarty is an SEO consultant and well-known figure in the SEO community. Ann is an editor and contributor at Search Engine Journal, and her expertise in blogging and SEO tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project, MyBlogGuest. The biggest mistakes I see small businesses make when it come to SEO is… Expecting fast results. This always comes to shifted priorities, bad decisions and bad service choices. The first thing to do here is to understand what SEO really is and why to invest money in it. SEO is not about cheating search engines into thinking your site is good: it’s about making it really good. It’s not about achieving some quick rankings. SEO is about securing a (more or less) stable position and clear search brand profile. High-profile SEO is a fair game. And this always requires much time, effort and money.
Gab Goldenberg offers professional SEO services and conversion rate optimization through his site SEO ROI, where he also contributes SEO tips and advice on his SEO Blog. You can follow and connect with Gab on Twitter @GabGoldenberg. The biggest mistake made with small business SEO is… Seeing marketing as a chore to get out of the way as quickly as possible, and seeing it as a one-off program. While that was partly the case when they just had to buy yellow pages ads, its no longer true today. My best friend in Montreal works with his dad at a bankruptcy trustee company. He’s described several of their salespeople’s pitches to me, and they’re often under-trained and over-promising. Not a good combination… but probably one that’s sufficient for SMBs that just want to check the “Marketing” box on their to-do list. To fix that mistake, take the time to read at least SEOmoz’s Beginners’ Guide to SEO and perhaps some other introductory guides on other topics like direct response, Web analytics etc. Learn enough to understand the jargon, to understand measurement so that you can hold people accountable for results, and to spend your money such that you get a positive ROI … not just a checked box on your to-do list.
Jon Henshaw is a co-founder of Raven Internet Marketing Tools. His first Internet marketing love is SEO, but he cheats on it often with social media. He also leads a dual-life on Twitter, tweeting about Raven with @RavenJon, but ranting, drunk tweeting, and being generally unruly with @henshaw. One of the biggest mistakes small businesses can make when it comes to optimizing their website for search engines is… Poorly implemented content. This can come in the form of an all Flash-based website, or a site with copy that doesn’t include keyword phrases that are used by their target audience to find their products and services. Here’s how to prevent the keyword mistake:
Small businesses need to identify what their products and services are, and then translate them into a list of one to three-word identifiable phrases.
They should then analyze those phrases with a tool like Google AdWords Keyword Tool. The Keyword Tool will highlight popular phrases—and show related keyword phrases that they might have missed when they made their list.
They should then distill their list into the key phrases that best represent their company’s offerings and are consistent with what their target audience would use in searches.
Finally, the keyword list should be translated into the website structure. That includes navigation, sections and pages, and the URL naming convention. Individual pages should include one or more keyword phrases in the page title, headings, and the body copy.
It’s crucial to optimize site content before you start any Internet marketing campaign. Optimized content should always come before efforts like link building or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Otherwise, regardless of your marketing efforts, search engines may find the content of your site irrelevant to the keywords you need to rank for, and AdWords may lower your quality score.
is co-founder of Measured SEM, an Ken Lyons inbound marketing agency. Ken has been an Internet marketer for seven years, building his career as a Boston SEO. You can follow him on Twitter @BostonSEO. Currently, Ken is an online marketing consultant for DIYSEO, who specialize in Web promotion software for SEO analysis. The biggest small business online marketing mistake is… Not having Web analytics in place so you can track: 1) Your website’s SEO performance 2) Return on your online marketing investment I can’t tell you how many times I start working with a small business owner who’s been “doing SEO” only to learn they have no site tracking in place. Sure, they track rankings on a handful of keywords, but that’s a very small part of the SEO success picture. And those may or may not be the “right” keywords (hint: the right keywords bring more sales). And given that there are powerful, free solutions out there, there is no excuse not to be tracking your SEO efforts and ROI metrics with analytics. The beauty of Internet marketing is that everything you do is measurable. And by measuring everything, you discover:
If, in fact, you’re generating more traffic from your SEO efforts
Where the traffic is coming from: search engines, other websites, direct traffic
Which keywords trigger the most leads and conversions (
organic goal tracking), so you can focus on ranking them higher New keyword opportunities you never thought of targeting, to help grow your
SEO strategy and your revenue Precisely where users drop out in your conversion process (
creating funnels), so you can plug that leaky bucket Whether or not you’re inline with your target cost-per-sale/
cost-per-acquisition Invaluable, proprietary data about what does and what doesn’t generate revenue for your particular website in your particular niche (which is really the ultimate objective)
Put simply, the data you collect from Web analytics tells you whether or not your small business SEO is working. And by “working,” I mean earning you more money.
Mike Blumenthal is widely considered an expert in the local search space. He runs the popular blog on Blumenthals.com, which offers small business owners a wealth of information on Google Maps and local SEO best practices. What’s the worst mistake small businesses make with online marketing and SEO? The answer is not a single answer as it depends on where in the process of online marketing a particular SMB falls and what industry and marketing area they are in. Some already understand that the marketing paradigm is rapidly moving online for many industries while others are just getting to that point. If I had to identify the single biggest mistake it would be that many think that SEO and online marketing is a one time action. Build it and done. Online marketing is a process not a product and there are no short cuts or silver bullets. All too often I find that SMBs are unwilling to learn, understand and do the necessary analysis so as to be able to pick a program that works for them. Probably the best thing that SMBs could do would be to get educated about online marketing so that they could tailor their direction to provide the best return.
Donna Fontenot, aka DazzlinDonna, is an Internet Entrepreneur and SEO who uses SEO and affiliate marketing to create successful online businesses. Her goal as an ebusiness coach is to help others make a living online from the comfort of their homes (and in their pajamas). Her motto is “You’ll never shine if you don’t glow.” I think the biggest mistake small businesses make with online marketing is… Placing blind faith in what they are told by their chosen “SEO or online marketing guru”. Many SMBs have limited or no experience in anything tech-related, so they are all too happy to simply let their “web guy” do whatever he chooses, and they assume everything he says is true. When faced with online marketing advice: I’d ask SMBs to simply use their own logic, intuition and business savvy when evaluating the internet marketing advice given by his guru.
Does the tactic your guru wants to use “smell funny”?
Would you be willing to use a similar tactic when face-to-face with a potential customer?
Does it sound like an aggressive sales pitch that you wouldn’t want your brand to be associated with?
Does it seem “too good to be true”?
If the advice your guru gives makes you uneasy, get a second opinion and do some research on your own. It’s better to spend a little extra time now, than to regret a hasty decision later.
When given SEO advice: Because SEO can often involve technical details, business logic and intuition may not always be enough to evaluate the guru’s advice in a “does it smell funny?” test. For that reason, I recommend every business owner learn the basics of SEO, so he can at least have a fundamental awareness of what the guru is saying, and can potentially spot the BS when he hears it. A good place to start is Google’s own SEO Starter Guide. The guide is only 32 pages long, and it uses illustrations and definitions to guide the novice through the technical details. While the business owner may not completely understand all the technical references made, he’ll end up having a much better understanding of the general “DOs and DON’Ts” than he did previously. If the guide still doesn’t address the particular technical advice he’s been given, he should once again look for a second opinion, using careful research to find trusted and respected professionals in the SEO field. To sum this up, if a small business owner doesn’t understand “all that web stuff”, he should use common sense, business savvy, and a little research to ensure his chosen “guru” isn’t just pulling the wool over his eyes. Blind faith in the guru can not only result in a waste of money, but it can also do immense damage to the brand reputation and the search engines’ trust of his domain.
Dixon Jones is the managing director of theUK Internet marketing consultancy Receptional, which heads up the marketing of MajesticSEO, the world’s largest open anchor text link map of the web. He has spoken at Internet marketing conferences including Pubcon, SMX, SES and International Search Summit. I think the biggest mistake small businesses make with SEO is… To think that SEO and online “tricks” (including link building) are anything other than just good – logical marketing. All your efforts should follow all the rules of marketing and branding that you would apply to offline principals. Let’s say you deliver flyers through mailboxes. Surely there would be a level of quality that you would not associate yourself with – be it the look and feel or just bad grammar. Well it’s the same with link building! I see a heavy correlation between natural links and web traffic, WHETHER OR NOT those links help organic search. I have good example of sites which will never (through design) generate much traffic from Google, but their link profile maps onto their traffic profile extremely closely. The easiest way to fix this is for a small business owner to ask himself “would this change / link / mention / press release be worth doing even if Google did not exist?” If the answer is no, then do something that WILL benefit your site (and your brand) in harmony with Google’s central quest of delivering the best results for the user.
is a professional online marketer with nearly a decade of experience on everything from startups to Fortune 100 corporations. He’s worked as both an in-house marketer for companies like CBS Broadcasting and on the agency side too. Hugo Guzman The biggest mistake that small businesses make when it comes to SEO is… Not properly calculating its long-term value. This results in SEO efforts that are poorly funded (or not funded at all) as well as campaigns that are abandoned prematurely (e.g. before they bear fruit). The fix is easy; perform a simple calculation to figure out exactly what an SEO conversion is worth in terms of cold hard cash: http://www.hugoguzman.com/2011/03/2-questions-your-seo-provider-should-be-asking-you/
Todd Mintz is currently a Senior Account Manager for PPC Associates. He has over 10 years experience in search marketing. He is an editor at Sphinn and writes regularly for Search Engine Journal, Search Engine People and the SEMpdx Blog, where he is a founding member of SEMpdx. A big mistake small businesses make when is comes to SEO is… Not maximizing your local search visibility. If your business is “Brick and Mortar” and primarily attracts a local audience, how it performs in Google’s Local SERPS is arguably the most important aspect of your Search Marketing campaign. With that in mind, here are some easy steps you can take to maximize your local search visibility:
Claim your Local Business Page with Google.
Pimp it out with as many different types of information as you can add to it (photos, videos, website link) and make sure you add your business to each and every relevant category on the Places Page. Study your local competitors & their place pages that rank well…try to mimic some of the things that they are doing.
Encourage people to review your business on Google, Yelp, CitySearch & every possible relevant review site. Note that it is perfectly natural not to get only 5 star reviews…and if someone reviews you negatively, don’t get defensive. Look at the negative review as an opportunity for positive dialogue.
Make sure your contact information, including phone number, is on every page of your website in readable HTML text.
Try to make sure your business is “cited” in each and every relevant business directory (including the largest business information aggregators). See
http://getlisted.org/resources/where-to-get-citations.aspx As your build links to your website, try to get some that have “local relevance.”
Also, let me reference David Mihm’s
Local Search Ranking Factors as an advanced guide for helping people achieve better local search results.
Tadeusz Szewczyk (Tad Chef) is a popular German SEO and business blogger and writes for the popular SEO 2.0 Blog. The single biggest mistake many small businesses make with SEO is… To assume that it’s something they can do after they’ve launched or relaunched their site. Actually, it has to be other way around. SEO has to be started even before the actual website is up. You can’t set up your business site in a vacuum. This is what SEO actually does: it identifies your target market, competition and competitiveness and, based on that, it locates the niche you can actually compete in. How can you start a business without knowing what the people want, what the actual demand is and whether the market is already saturated? Also building a business website without SEO in mind is like building a new store without planning to have any shop windows, without streets or roads leading to it and without finding out whether there is need for your product/service in the first place. Now imagine you have set up a store and it doesn’t work. Nobody finds it. Even if they do there is no way to go there and even if you arrive there with your off-road vehicle there is no door to enter or even window to look inside. Now you have to fix that afterward, but probably it is too far away from the next city or highway, it has no room for windows and doors. So you have to spend much money to either fix it or find a new better place and building. SEO makes sure that you you have all the infrastructure online. It creates a site architecture that allows people in and it makes your site findable in the first place so that traffic from the information highways can reach your site.
Terry Van Horne is the founder of SeoPros and a 15-year veteran of Web development, currently working out of his consulting and development firm International Website Builders. Terry’s interests are primarily the socialization of search and analysis of social Web traffic and applications like Twitter. The biggest mistake small businesses and SMBs can make with SEO and Web marketing is… To hire the wrong vendor. The best advice I can give to a small business in that regard is to say if the prospective search engine marketing vendor is more interested in selling services than hearing about your business, they likely aren’t the SEO vendor who will put the interests of your small business first.
Ross Hudgens is the SEO Manager at Full Beaker, Inc. in Bellevue, WA. Ross’ expertise lies in implementing SEO programs for new companies, having done so in-house, at an agency, and at his current employer, a hybrid of both. He is best known for his SEO blog, Authentic Marketing. The biggest mistake small businesses make with SEO is… With link building. Given generally small sites and less information needed, many small businesses can figure out on-page optimization pretty easily. However, as it comes to link building, most simply don’t have the time or expertise to do it effectively, and frequently resort to spammy links to rank their websites. While many of these will do the job, they aren’t sustainable. There is really no easy solution to this. Small businesses can either invest a lot of time learning link building to do it right, which might not be a good use of their time, or spend more money with an outside consultant, which might be beyond their scope in terms of cost. It would probably be best for them to give the aim of online marketing to one team member who is most sophisticated; by learning everything at a thin level, the cumulative benefit will help them do each job better across the board.
Jennifer Van Iderstyne is the Online Marketing Director for Search Slingshot, an Internet marketing company located near Albany, New York. She specializes in SEO consulting, reporting, and the art of link building. The biggest mistake SMBs or anyone can make in regards to SEO is… Going into it with the wrong mentality and not enough information. SEO can be a huge investment of resources, which can be intimidating for any small business, so they often decide to do a “little” SEO or to “try” a few inexpensive methods of increasing visibility. But what happens is they spend money on strategies that are “cheap” but carry little impact. And when they don’t see the kinds of results they want, they are discouraged about the whole process. One of the most important parts of SEO is determining priorities and creating a plan of action that is executed over a long period of time. Of course, there are some changes that can have a significant effect without a great deal of expense or effort. But at some point, on-page work will reach its maximum velocity and results will plateau. From then on, it’s a matter of evaluating, testing and honing keyword targeting and user engagement strategies. At the same time though, off-site work becomes essential. But being as link building and network building are slow processes that may take a long time to come to fruition, they are sometimes avoided or rushed in an attempt to circumvent the tedium. Businesses of all sizes need to realize that true SEO goes beyond surface level changes and requires on-going analytics and attention to attracting links. SEO is a form of marketing that demands as much creativity, innovation and commitment as any other, perhaps even more. Sometimes businesses fail to see that important point. That SEO is a long term process that is full of several incremental steps that build upon each other. If you try to look for quick fixes you often miss out on the important actions that will, over time, yield results. SMBs can correct this mistake by learning to see SEO as a marathon rather than a sprint. And bracing themselves for what will be: not just a period of change for a website, but rather the adoption of an entirely new online lifestyle.
Rich Brooks is founder and president of Flyte New Media, a Web design and Internet marketing firm in Portland, Maine. His company blog focuses on Web marketing topics such as search engine optimization, blogs, social media, email marketing, and building Websites that sell. While it may be a bit much to say there’s one mistake that’s the biggest for small businesses… I would say that a huge one is focusing all your attention on SEO and none on conversion. I don’t care how much search traffic you generate. If your website is a sieve, you’ll never make a dime. You need to change your website into a lead generation machine. You need to change the focus of your copy from your business to your customer. You need to talk about their problems and needs, not your products and solutions. You need to get them to take an action at your site, whether it’s a free download, an email newsletter, or a contact form. When your visitor sees that you understand them they’ll be more likely to reach out to you for help and advice.
Elisa Gabbert is the senior marketing copywriter at WordStream, where she manages their Internet marketing blog. WordStream provides PPC management software and services and a Keyword Research Suite. Elisa also writes poetry, book reviews, and perfume criticism. The biggest mistake SMBs make with SEO is… Not defining clear goals—and ways to verify those goals against a benchmark—before you start making changes. This is really the only way to know what is and isn’t working. It’s easy to get invested in a project, like an SEO audit or a site redesign, and forget the big picture. So whether you’re doing SEO in-house or outsourcing it, make sure there’s a clear outline in place for tracking progress (in terms of traffic, conversions, links and other engagement), as well as a way to roll back changes if you actually hurt your results. You should also incorporate testing as much as possible, rather than going on gut feelings.
is a Gerald Weber blogger, social media enthusiast and founder of the Houston SEO firm, Search Engine Marketing Group. The biggest Web marketing mistakes SMBs make are… I could easily write a full post on Internet marketing mistakes but to narrow it down to a single biggest mistake I would have to say, after getting a website up, doing nothing else. The “field of dreams” approach doesn’t work with websites. You can have the best looking or most professional website in the world but you must take proactive action to ensure that people who have interest and money (qualified prospects) come into contact with your products or services. Taking action could mean many things. It could mean taking the time to learn SEO, pay-per-click or social media strategy if you are a DIY type of person. It could also mean enlisting the help of a professional to do the job for you, but the point is some action needs to be taken. The chances of your website bringing in new business just because it’s there are slim to none. Also not having a clearly defined call to action/offer above the fold.
is a Managing Partner and directs search engine marketing and social media strategies for KoMarketing Associates, a Derek Edmond B2B internet marketing agency. With over 7 years experience, Derek has worked with organizations ranging from the Fortune 500 to venture-backed startups to small business enterprises. The biggest SEO mistakes SMBs make are…1) not getting SEO input before and during site development (only getting it afterwards) 2) not digging deep enough into keyword research Site Development – invest in competent SEO partners that have experience in web design/development and can help guide the business through the site development process. I almost look at our team as strategic consultants in this effort because we come at it from an unbiased and completely different perspective. It is so much easier and cost effective to take care of SEO “best practices” in site architecture when building a site as opposed to after the site is in place. Keyword Research – the bottom line is it is challenging to compete for highly competitive terms. Dig deeper into keyword research to find more complex keyword opportunities to target for SEO that have less competition. Look through analytics data, PPC search query reports, and exhaust keyword research tools to find small bits of traffic opportunities. If it makes sense, look into local opportunities that might not send a lot of overall traffic, but the traffic sent is highly targeted.
Jim Rudnick is CEO for KKT Interactive. He has more than 12 years of SEO experience and more than 23 years of Web experience. Jim has worked for the NY Yankees, PEP Boys, GE, The Disney Company, Mercedes, SAAB, Reuters and Quaker State Oil. Jim blogs about Canadian SEO at Canuck SEO. The biggest small businesses online marketing mistake is… That once they actually have gotten a website up and running, that they then think that the marketing job is done! “If you build it….they will come” becomes their mantra… sigh… something that I’ve heard for decades as SMB owners just don’t “get it!” And for us that’s the single biggest task that we face – the realization that SMBs actually think that this is true – and that we then need to educate and show via empirical data that nope, they’re wrong! And for too many of them they either don’t listen, can’t comprehend or maybe just don’t care that once a website is built then that’s the time to then get started on their online marketing campaign… Sad really, that online marketing has this biggest initial obstacle, the education of SMBs so that they actually begin to understand that a website needs traffic, needs calls-to-action, needs analytics and metrics too, to be able to get that revenue stream both started….and then to get it to grow! So we teach, we speak publicly, we belong to Chambers and business groups and service clubs and network groups and every single online social media site we can….and the message from us is a constant. To build an online website revenue stream is a daily task that needs constant attention and passion—something that yes, an SMB can do themselves or outsource, but never ever ignore.
is an SEO industry veteran with over 12 years of experience. Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of the Boston SEO services firm, Brick Marketing. Nick also writes daily in his SEO blog, the Nick Stamoulis Search Engine Optimization Journal, and publishes a weekly SEO newsletter. The biggest Web marketing mistake small businesses make is… Relying only on SEO for total business success. I see companies that think that if they can just rank a certain position that that will solve all of their marketing, sales and business issues. Well, that is certainly not the case! No amount of on-site optimization, link building, content marketing, etc. can help a small business if the products and/or services are not solid and there is not a clear strategy in place. Also, along the same lines, never put your all of your marketing eggs in one basket! Diversify building your brand, reputation, marketing and overall long term sales growth…SEO should not be the only great source of visitors to your website.
started Mark Thompson StayOnSearch in 2008 as a way to share his industry knowledge that he has learned as an Internet Marketer for five years. Recently Mark has started Search Creatively, a full service Internet Marketing company, based in Raleigh North Carolina. The biggest mistake small businesses make with SEO is… Not having realistic expectations upfront. Too many local business owners are worried only about the short term and don’t worry about long-term growth and credibility. They want to find quick ways to get customers. Unfortunately SEO in particular, doesn’t work like that. They need to understand that their are other businesses doing the exact same things you are doing and most of the time, for a lot longer. If you want quick customers, you are going to need a budget and look at doing Paid Search. The second part is, just like anything in life, the more you put into something the more you will get out of it. Same rules apply with Internet Marketing. A small business owner should be a part of the marketing strategy, not just pay an agency a monthly fee and thats it. The best results I see are when the clients are participating and helping towards their goals. Things like writing content, speaking at events, networking, and participating in forums/social media sites, all help your IM efforts. I think too many business owners look at Internet Marketing as a solution for all of their problems. IM is definitely a cost effective solution for reaching your target audience, but you need to have realistic expectations upfront and understand that it still takes hard work and time.
is a Senior SEO Strategist at Charles River Interactive, a Matthew Diehl Boston search engine marketing agency. He is responsible for the organic search strategies for companies of all sizes including companies on Inc Magazine’s list of the 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America. The biggest mistake I see small businesses make with online marketing is… Taking the “guns blazing” approach to online marketing. This approach to online marketing isn’t really a strategy as it is more a viewpoint a business owner has. It is easy to spot the “guns blazing” business owner: they are the ones that want it all (website redesign, SEO, paid search, display, social, email, blogging, etc.) and they wanted it done yesterday. Almost always, these are the small businesses that will have the least success in their online marketing campaign. Why? Because they will get everything they wanted then quickly realize it is way too much for them to handle all at once and end up giving up. So, how do small business owners keep their online marketing from going down in a blazing glory? It starts with changing their perspective on the time it takes to be successful at online marketing. It does not take days, weeks or even months to build a truly successful online marketing program but rather it can take years. A businesses’ online presence, just like Rome, will not be built overnight and once the owner comes to terms with that they are going to be able to set themselves up for success. Also, business owners should build an online marketing strategy that slowly expands their initiatives over time. At the very shortest this should be a plan for the next 12 months. This plan will progressively introduce new areas of online marketing to their overall program in an effort to build a holistic online marketing strategy one step at a time. Not only will this progressive approach to their online marketing make it easier to manage, it also allows for an evaluation period of each initiative to see if it is where your customers are and is an initiative that delivers results. This progressive, building block approach to online marketing isn’t something just made up by consultants to force business owners hands into longer contracts, it is a strategy that has proven time and time again to be effective at building a strong online presence while simultaneously finding what will work at driving a businesses’ success online.
David Leonhardt is the chief SEO, chief marketing strategist and writer for The Happy Guy Marketing. In his previous life, he was one of Canada’s most visible consumer advocates, often conducting 600 media interviews a year. David runs the Canadian news social bookmarking site Zoomit Canada. The biggest mistake I see over and over again with small business SEO is… Treating SEO like “science” rather than like “sport.” By this I mean, they want to purchase a specific, quantifiable result. The details vary from one business to another, but some typical expectations are…
How many links will I get per month for that? (It’s not just quantity. It’s not just quality. And the best links cannot be predicted.)
How many months do I have to pay for #1 ranking? (We can only guess, Google won’t tell us.)
How many links do I need for #1 ranking? (The game doesn’t stop when the client reaches #1)
What program do you do? (You can’t automate SEO – or else everybody would use the same “program”, and nobody would have the edge up.)
Some of these questions are not necessarily bad, but the thought process behind them goes totally against the grain of what works best with SEO and online marketing in general. My dream client (which I have right now) wanted me to come up with a program, he understood we had to be flexible, he put the money down, and he responds like lightening when we see an opportunity. He understands that we are out on the ice, that at any moment the puck can come our way and we have to be in play. He understands that not everything we do will score a goal, but that to get to the goal you have to take a lot of checks and give a lot of checks, take a lot of passes and give a lot of passes. SEO and online marketing are a lot like hockey. Watch a game or two and learn.
Jay Ehret is Chief Steward of The Marketing Spot, a marketing education and resource center for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Jay is a small business marketing consultant, coach, speaker, blog author, branding architect, a customer experience designer, a conversation starter, and an advertising strategist. The biggest mistake many small businesses make with SEO is… To take it to one extreme or the other. You either give it too much credit and become obsessed with SEO causing you to get too deep, or you pooh-pooh it and pay it no attention at all. The fix is to give SEO the appropriate amount of credit in your marketing mix. It falls somewhere in the middle. There are things you must do first, such as branding, experience mapping and sales copy. There are things that come after SEO, such as the sales funnel, lead generation and conversion. I’ve seen companies get deeper into SEO than they need to get. For most small businesses, the basics of SEO are all that you need. I know that some SEO firms have a very deep and complex SEO process. In most cases it’s too deep for a small business. Do the basics first, and maximize your conversions. When you feel like you’ve mastered the basics and you still have time and money, dive deeper into SEO for that marginal website traffic that may or may not mean more business. At the same time, don’t ignore SEO. It can make a huge difference in your business. One of my clients invested no time in SEO. We made a few simple changes to his website and Google Place page and he quickly rose to the top of the local search results for his business category. His inbound call volume increased substantially, and so did his business. The bottom line: Apportion a time and monetary value to SEO as part of your overall marketing plan. Put SEO in perspective with the rest of your marketing activities.
Becky McCray writes Small Biz Survival about small business issues. She co-founded Tourism Currents to teach tourism pros how to reach more visitors using new tools. Her latest project is How to Draw the Line Between Free and Paid, to help freelancers get paid for more of the work they already do. The biggest small businesses Internet marketing mistake is… Not taking time to learn the basics of being found online. It affects every single thing you put online about your business. Keywords are never what you think: they are what your customers think when they search for your solution, even when they haven’t heard of you yet. It’s your job to use those words and phrases as you create useful content to help your customers. It doesn’t matter whether it’s text, audio, video, slides, documents or just status updates, you have to know what your customers want to know. Then give them that, using words they will understand and would use themselves.
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