For as long as I have been involved with the web and search engine optimization (SEO) in a variety of roles and projects, I’m always amazed at what small business owners are told and believe about SEO.
I hear a wide range of stories, myths and lies on a regular basis as it pertains to small business SEO.
But what surprises me most are not only the people and businesses spreading this mess, but it is the small business owners that take and receive it as the gospel.
Not only that, but in most cases, small business owners lose precious resources, if not their entire business, only to be misled.
They were lied too, and scammed out of thousands of dollars for deceptive SEO practices sold under the disguise of affordable small business SEO.
Deceptive scam artists, posing a qualified SEO professionals, guaranteed to rank small business websites in the number one position on page one of Google and generate results.
And this is where I enter into the picture and find most small business owners as potential customers.
Now as much as I would like to strangle the person and company that told a little white lie or a bold faced lie, I must also be willing to be brutally honest with small business owners.
If you can’t take the time to educate yourself or staff, then a very painful and exponentially expensive SEO lesson awaits you each time.
I’ve had small business owners call me in desperate need as their website is no longer ranking and they don’t have a clue as to why.
Most of the time, these small business owners are upfront in one or two ways.
One way is informing me they hired one or more SEO companies or professionals, but had not a clue as to what work or optimization was performed.
The other side of the coin is small business owners who, knowingly or unknowingly, participated in black-hat SEO practices.
Either side of the coin, small business owner’s frantically contact me to fix their mess of a SEO situation.
Most of the time, I’m treated as if I can wave a magic SEO wand over their badly mangled website and remove all the harm that has been done.
The irony of being seen as an SEO wizard, which is nowhere near the truth, small business owners expect that I perform all of this in a timely manner, like yesterday, and on a budget of free.
I understand where deceived small business owners are coming from only based on the fact that they were taken advantage of, even if they knew what they were getting into too.
A costly SEO experience puts all aspects of a small business at great risk to the point of going out of business all because small business owners fallen victim to the following common small business SEO pitfalls.
Don’t become the next small business SEO victim because you failed to do your homework and prepare properly.
Depending solely on SEO to generate revenue
Why risk your entire business due to putting all of your eggs into one basket, the SEO basket?
I know small business owners who operate businesses that are nothing but a ranking or search engine update away from closing up shop.
Do yourself, employees, partners and customers a favor: Don’t let SEO be your marketing and advertising silver bullet as you greatly increase the chance of losing everything anytime SEO changes.
Before spending a dime on small business SEO services, spread your marketing and advertising spend and investment in multiple internet marketing sources of traffic and revenue generation.
Not understanding basic SEO principles
You may not be a SEO professional to the point of knowing advanced SEO practices and techniques, but as a small business owner you must understand basic SEO principles before engaging with a small business SEO provider.
Not educating yourself and understanding basic SEO only puts you and your business at a financial disadvantage in the long run.
You don’t have to understand the intricacies of web development, but you do have to understand the SEO principles of both on-page and off-page optimization.
A great place to start is with the on-page optimization of your website:
- Site and Url Architecture
- Content Creation & Authorship
- Keyword Focus
- Page Titles
- Header Tags
- Internal and External Link Building
Start with on-page optimization before moving onto off-page optimization:
- social media
- guest blogging
- press releases
- non-spamming or advertising on related forums and blogs
Not understanding techniques and tactics that are deceptive and black-hat SEO
As much as I harp on the fact that you must under sound SEO principles, you must also understand the dark side of SEO, black-hat SEO.
If you haven’t heard or experience, black-hat SEO is the talk of the town until the next search engine update.
It’s popular because it’s the quick-fix and get-rich-quick shortcut small business owners are after to keep their small business doors open.
Unfortunately, small business owners know that black-hat SEO works and works well in the short term.
However, most small business owners don’t know or knowingly gamble and take a huge risk at the long-term expense of detrimental damage of penalty or de-indexation of the website.
I encourage you to go and read up on black-hat SEO practices:
- paying for links
- article spinning
- keyword stuffing
- submitting to directories
- creating a multitude of mini-sites and doorway pages
- duplicate content
- link wheels
- and more are black-hat SEO…
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the break the bad news to small business owners that their sacred SEO practices are black-hat and deadly to their business.
Believing SEO is a one-time event is an expensive lie that never dies
If you believe SEO is a one-time event, then you’ll believe anything. SEO is not a one-time event.
If it were, then there would be no need for search engine updates to combat deceptive SEO behaviors of those attempting to game search engines with non-value add search rankings.
Don’t expect small business SEO services to be a one-off expense.
Whether do-it-yourself SEO or hiring SEO professionals or an agency, I recommend small business owners measure their SEO efforts on a monthly basis.
In addition, it is imperative to always stay abreast of SEO updates and industry news.
Benchmark the SEO effectiveness of your efforts and website performing quarterly SEO audits.
Staying up to date on the latest SEO news and performing quarterly SEO audits help diagnose and ward off potential SEO issues before detected by search engines.
Focusing on small business SEO being affordable versus effective
Focusing solely on price and affordability over SEO effectiveness will only leave you and your small business financially drained and nothing but a penalized or de-indexed website.
So if you as a small business owner are looking for $99 or less small business SEO services, you’re looking to kill all the sweat, blood and tears you and others have tirelessly poured into the business.
Not aligning or basing payment of SEO services on results generated
There are countless stories told by small business owners about paying upfront for SEO services only to never hear from the SEO professional or company ever again.
These SEO scammers disappeared with thousands of dollars, yet they did not ask for website credentials to begin work.
And if not the pay-and-run story, then it is the oldest trick in the book of pay up and keep paying for no rankings or results.
How does this happen? It happens when small business owners do not align and associate payment of SEO activities to results.
Falling victim to the SEO companies guaranteeing the number one spot in search engines
If a SEO professional or company ever mentions they are partners of search engines and can guarantee you a position because of their position, end the conversation immediately.
You can tell them I do you to do so, if need be.
No one and I mean no one can guarantee position ranking.
You may wonder when reading this site how is it I am able to guarantee rankings.
Notice anything different about the previous sentences?
The reason I can guarantee rankings is that I’m not guaranteeing position rankings.
So yes, a qualified SEO professional should be able to get your website indexed and ranked for a term.
However, what they cannot do is guarantee ranking based on a specific position.
Believing that SEO is paid link building
By far this is the most expensive of all lessons for small business owners to learn when approaching small business SEO.
If you have to pay for a link or deceptive link building of any sort, it’s not worth it.
If you think otherwise, then be my guest because at some point in the near future I’ll expect your call.
Simply put, SEO is not only about link building, paid or non-paid.
SEO is about providing the customer a sound user experience whereby customers are educated and informed about subject matter they were in search of.
SEO is not out to trick or bait and switch users into becoming customers.
Not having realistic expectations and timeline for SEO results
In the world we live in, everything is tied to results and SEO is no exception.
Too many times small business owners enter into SEO as a sprint instead of marathon.
Don’t enter into SEO agreements thinking it works like a light switch, sprint or instant success.
SEO takes times. I tell most of my clients it will take anywhere from 6-9 months before they see any type of rankings.
Notice I said rankings and not a thing to do with results.
Rankings is getting your website positioned and highly visible in all search engines, not just Google.
Results is about converting the traffic due to rankings.
So it is possible to increase qualified traffic but your results remain the same due to ineffective call to actions, website design, etc.
Not thoroughly understanding the SEO professional or company’s process for how they implement SEO
In addition, stop asking for testimonials and referrals.
What business do you know that would refer you to a customer that had a bad experience?
Exactly, not a one. I suggest you research third-party review websites if testimonials and referrals are that important.
Seeing that you work an agreement whereby you don’t pay for small business SEO services until you receive results, then you don’t need testimonials and referrals.
After all, you’ll become a testimonial or referral for the SEO services provider.
Also, if a SEO professional or company is unwilling to express in great detail and transparency what their process is, DO NOT MOVE FORWARD in any type of an agreement.
You’re only setting yourself up for failure, disappointment and in grave financial danger.