We at LBN have had the privilege of working with hundreds of local businesses in promoting them online, and SEO is one of the primary services they come to us for. In our experience we've come across a handful of beginner mistakes many businesses make when it comes to SEO, avoiding which would have given them a head start. So we consolidated the 5 most common ones, for the DIY entrepreneurs out there.
Not tracking the Index status
The internet has trillions of web pages out in the public, and the only way Google could keep track of them and rank the right ones in the SERPs is through indexing. Though it's rudimentary to be included in Google's index in order to show up in any Google search, many website owners still don't think to track the index status of their website regularly.
We've seen many small business websites go on for months/years not being indexed by Google, wondering all the while why they're not showing up in the SERPs, until LBN came around and salvaged the situation.
Obsession with Keywords
Google is moving away from keywords and towards "answers" with every passing day, and most website owners, even the experienced and the knowledgeable, are sadly still obsessed with keywords.
Though many webmasters refuse to see the change for what it is, the signs have always been out in the open. Google's 2019 rollout of BERT algorithm is the latest sign that keywords are much less relevant than the intent behind the search queries.
The beginner mistake in this category is the particular obsession towards what are called "generic keywords" (think of a local car insurance company wanting to rank for the keyword "insurance"). Google is moving more and more towards conversational search, and the search queries are becoming more and more "long tail".
Most webmasters won't want to invest their time on these long tail keywords because they don't have the desirable "search demand". The interesting thing is, though, the real content ideas are in the long tail search queries.
The solution to this problem is to look for the intent behind the search queries, instead of obsessing over keywords and their rankings
Obsession with the Top Spot
This is again an age-old obsession carried by beginners and veterans alike, but this is a critical beginner mistake because, due to all the hype around the top spot, they're compelled to start off on the wrong foot.
The "10 blue links" in the SERPs are long gone, and the top spots are often occupied by one or more of Google's own "rich snippet" results. In some cases, ranking in the #1 position doesn't even guarantee clicks.
The solution is to optimize your pages for these rich snippet results, by answering your customers' needs and problems through content and by adding structured data markup to your pages.
Mobile-friendly websites are already a thing of the past, and the search world is revolving around "mobile-first" websites. Yet, we keep coming across many websites that only work on desktop. Sure, it costs money and time to go "mobile-first", but if you consider the opportunity cost, there's so much potential revenue a business website has to lose out on simply by ignoring mobile devices.
The Solo-SEO Strategy
SEO is the holy grail of website traffic, no doubt, but most beginners mistake it for the only marketing strategy. The truth is, SEO should never be the only ingredient in your digital marketing strategy. SEO works best when it is complemented with other marketing efforts, particularly social media and email marketing.