As a startup, you’re under pressure to attract attention and grow your user base as quickly as possible. So when it comes to getting people to notice your business online, you might be tempted into “doing SEO” yourself instead of hiring an expert—after all, that’s what Google is for right?
But if you make these common mistakes, your SEO efforts will be anything but effective—and may even get you into hot water.
So, whether you’re a startup or already working with an SEO company, make sure you avoid these blunders:
- Not having a website
- Choosing the wrong keywords
- Lack of social media presence
- Ignoring user experience (UX)
- Poor website design and usability
- Not creating fresh, original content
- Overusing keywords
- Not posting video content
- Bad linking strategy
- Not monitoring website performance
Let’s look at each one in detail.
1. Not having a website
Every modern business needs a website, and that’s an absolute must for any startup that wants to be taken seriously in the digital age.
A website provides you with a number of benefits, including a web presence that can help your company appear more established and trustworthy to potential customers.
Pages on your website can be written in your own words instead of including company “buzzwords” that don’t really tell potential customers what you do.
Your site should also include pages for frequently asked questions, testimonials and reviews, information about how to make purchases, shopping cart buttons (if applicable), contact details and social media widgets (such as Facebook ‘like’ and Twitter follow buttons).
2. Choosing the wrong keywords
Many startups choose their business name as the main keyword, which might seem like a good idea at first glance.
But if you’re not careful, you could end up getting buried in Google under a sea of other businesses with similar names—or even kicked off from Google entirely. This isn’t just a risk with your main keyword, but any keywords you try and rank for.
Don’t pick broad terms like “marketing” and “website design,” because there are hundreds of thousands of businesses looking to rank for those same keywords – and chances are most of them have more resources than you do.
Instead, choose niche-related keywords or long-tail keywords that are easier to rank for—for example, instead of targeting the term “dentists Minneapolis,” target something much more specific like “cosmetic dentist Minneapolis.”
3. Lack of social media presence
Social media is an integral part of any SEO strategy these days, whether it’s Facebook likes or Twitter followers or Pinterest pins—and it’s something potential customers often look for when accessing a business’ website.
Before you even think about optimizing your site, make sure your startup has a social media presence first—and don’t forget to claim all relevant business profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks that are relevant and important too.
Once you’ve done that, share as much content as possible across those social networks to attract as many new users as you can.
If your company is particularly large or well-established, consider hiring a dedicated social media manager to help out with these efforts every day.
4. Ignoring user experience (UX)
Most businesses are aware of their need for SEO, but few understand the importance of user experience (UX).
What is UX?
Simply put, UX is how visitors using your website feel about using your site. It includes factors such as how quickly your page loads, where different links are located on the page and how easy it is to find important information.
UX can have a huge impact on your rankings in search engines—after all, you want web searchers to have a good experience when they visit your pages, right?
Even if you’re not including keywords on every single one of your web pages, make sure you pay attention to UX by ensuring each page contains only necessary content and load quickly.
5. Poor website design and usability
As your website is a reflection of your company—in both design and content—it’s important to ensure the site looks good and loads quickly, and that visitors can easily find the information they’re looking for.
When planning out your site, remember to use visual cues such as colour-coding and images, rather than just bulleted lists or large blocks of text.
For example, if you’re trying to sell a particular service on your site, don’t just write an essay about how great it is—include images, graphs, screenshots and links so users can get more details immediately without having to click away from your page.
Make sure users know exactly what they’ll get when they click through to another page too — otherwise many will simply leave.
6. Not creating fresh, original content
While many startups might think they’re immune to changing search engine standards, it’s not true.
Google is constantly upping the ante when it comes to SEO—and if you want top billing for keywords that are important to your business (even long-tail ones), you need to follow suit by doing things like creating original content on a regular basis and ensuring all of your links remain relevant.
You can also consider publishing press releases online or hiring an SEO specialist who can help out with these efforts.
7. Overusing keywords
While keywords are important to SEO, many companies still overdo it when they try inserting the same words into every single page on their sites.
Google isn’t stupid—if your copy is filled with exact-match keywords just for search engines, you’re going to rank lower than sites that use natural language instead.
Example of bad SEO copy:
Horseback riding in the great outdoors is an exciting way to explore new trails and get some exercise at the same time. Places like Horseback Riding Farm offer the best horse lessons, horse trail rides and horse pony rides all year long. The cost of a group Horseback trail ride for one hour starts at $40 per person.
Now compare it to the same text written with real users in mind:
Example of good SEO copy:
Are you searching for a farm that offers trail rides near you? You’re in luck!
There’s nothing better than spending a sunny spring day riding through the woods on horseback—just ask anyone who’s ever gone horseback riding before.
Whether you’re travelling around your local area or exploring further afield, there are many different options available if you’re looking for places to go horseback riding.
For example, Horseback Farm offers lessons, trail rides and pony rides all year round—and the cost of a group trail ride for one hour starts at just $40 per person.
8. Not posting video content
The number of people who watch video content on a daily basis is ever-increasing—in fact, 61% of people watch more online video content now than they did last year.
This means if you’re not adding videos to your site right now, there’s a good chance that visitors aren’t clicking through from Google searches either.
As well as posting interesting clips throughout the website to keep users entertained, you should also consider hosting a promotional video on your homepage to encourage visitors to stick around.
It’s important that your videos are optimised for SEO too—and take advantage of either YouTube cards or the official Google Drive plugin to turn your clips into rich snippets.
If you want to rank well in the search engines—and stay ahead of your competitors—you’ll need to incorporate video into your site.
When uploading a video to your site, make sure it is relevant and useful.
As we mentioned earlier in this blog post, the days of stuffing your website full of text and hoping it ranks high in search engines are long gone. You have to be unique—and that includes everything from content, design and usability.
The easiest way to incorporate video into your site is to create a YouTube channel where you upload videos and embed these videos on your blog using the video-sharing site’s own HTML embed code.
The biggest benefit of embedding video content on your site is that it improves the User-engagement factor.
This means that users are more likely to come back to your site if they find it entertaining and informative—and video can help you do both of those things.
I particularly liked how an affiliate website BestinIndia.com has used this technique on most of their post pages.
9. Bad linking strategy
While it’s important to build links (or incoming links) to your site, you need to make sure they’re relevant and come from quality sources.
This means that if you want to start a blog about boating and fishing, but all of your backlinks are coming from places like online directories, forum profile links and unrelated blogs, you’ll have a very hard time ranking in Google.
Moreover, those links won’t have much value in terms of helping you rank higher for keywords related to boating or fishing.
In order for your content to show up as a suggested link when people search specific terms—and so that Google sees your site as worthy of ranking well—you’ll need high-quality content on your website that relates directly to the keywords being searched.
Here is a guide we highly recommend if you want to learn more on this topic.
10. Not monitoring website performance
Performance problems are among the easiest things to spot in your Google webmaster tools, which you should be used to monitor your site’s health on a regular basis.
Google’s Search Console is packed with useful information that will help you understand how visitors are finding your site, what they’re doing when they get there and how long they stick around.
While this data is available via other means too, the main benefit of accessing it through Google’s free services is that it can provide direct insight into any SEO problems you have—as well as issues relating to website performance, URL structure, broken links, internal linking and more.
For example, if you want people to stay on your site and click on more pages after visiting the home page but they aren’t doing so, Google Analytics will give you the right hints.
Here are some critical website metrics you need to track using Google Analytics.
The 10 mistakes mentioned in this article are very common and can be easily avoided with a bit of extra time and effort.
Also, the best way to avoid making mistakes is by learning from other people and brands who made these mistakes before and taking lessons from their experience in order to learn what not to do in your situation.
We hope that you’ve found this article helpful and that it will help you avoid making the same mistakes in future. Have you made any of these mistakes? How did you fix them?
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