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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Top 10 Small Business SEO Mistakes

Posted by @ 8:44 pm

Given the unveiling of SEOmoz’s latest Top SEO Ranking Factors survey and some discussions I’ve had recently regarding what not to do in terms of SEO, I thought a top SEO mistakes post was appropriate.

People often get so carried away with the idea starting an SEO program that they fail to do their research properly and succumb to common SEO mistakes which often undermine your efforts.

Here are 10 of the most common SEO mistakes to avoid and why:

  • 1. Targeting the Wrong Keywords

At the most fundamental level, SEO is about keywords. Select the wrong keywords and you could waste months optimizing for search terms no body uses. Keyword research is always worth the investment.

  • 2. Focusing on Flash and Rich Media

Even though Flash and Rich Media is getting better at being indexed by the search engines, where possible provide HTML alternatives for your rich media. There’s no point looking good, if no one can find you.

  • 3. Ignoring Site Structure

The issue here is that SEO is often an after thought when designing a new website. At a minimum, your keyword research should be done beforehand and used to help guide URL structure, navigational links etc.

  • 4. Fresh Original Content

Content still plays a vital role in your SEO efforts. Most site owners don’t appreciate the importance of updating content and expanding content. If you have content that interests people, they’ll do your off-page SEO for you!

  • 5. It’s About Humans – Not Spiders!

When you active start an optimization program, remember that you’re optimizing for humans – not search engines. Your website needs to make sense to the visitor or your SEO efforts are pointless.

  • 6. Images in Place of Text

When starting a website, aesthetics often get in the way of good practice. There will always be times when using an image is unavoidable, but remember – search engines can’t view images – so is possible use text over images.

  • 7. Ignoring the importance of internal links

Beyond making it easy for visitors to navigate through your website, internal linking is also an important SEO strategy. Every link is an opportunity to add SEO value – so you can’t ignore the chance to use strong link text, and ensure your important content is easy to access.

  • 8. Duplicating Content

Duplicate content is a well known SEO taboo. While content is king, multiple versions of the same content is the devil in disguise. This is a case where less content is definitely more.

  • 9. Keyword Stuffing

It’s a common misgiving – but SEO isn’t about having the same keyword term repeated 10,000 times on your web pages. If you’re serious about sustainable SEO – then scratch this archaic black hat practice from your strategy.

  • 10. Forgetting about conversion

Your website’s primary goal to encourage action from visitors, be that buying a product, downloading a guide etc. Remember that your web pages need to combine SEO with Marketing or you’ll struggle to justify your SEO efforts on the traffic alone.

There’s plenty more mistakes that people make when embarking on their SEO journey, but more often than not, these can be avoided by taking the time to do your research properly. This post should just be a part of the process.

Have you encountered or seen any other SEO mistakes worth noting? Share them with our readers below:

Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile

Discussion (9 - comments)

Until recently our website was page ranked 4/10 by Google and we were at the number 1 slot on the first page of Google (natural listing) for certain of our key words.

This is my point and it rather bears out what you have said; the spiders/crawlers are blind they do not see pictures, they only respond to text.

So we decided to use a shopping template and jazz up our website: Yes! You have quessed it, we used loads of images, used large type faces, loads of inappropriate copy. End result no page rank and we are nowhere to be seen on Google – other than now we are using PPC – expensive, not cost effective.

How do we reclaim the territory, so to speak?

Our website URL is

By Richard Green - September 1, 2009

@Richard – Thanks for your comments. Sounds like your rankings have dropped due to a number of reasons. the image intensive site definitely doesn’t help.

I am surprised that it dropped your PR to zero though. Sounds like the algo has re-evaluated your inbound links. no quick wins on that one. Keep up a consistent SEO program and you should reclaim some of your lost rankings.

Feel free to check out our premium SEO programs if you need professional assistance.

By Rene LeMerle - September 2, 2009

Thanks for this. I like to keep on top of any SEO buzz. Research of keywords has always been important. Do you use a research tool or rely on the Google Keywords generator in AdWords? Thanks for your blog.

Lisa Evett

By Lisa Evett - September 6, 2009

Thanks for the article. I have a client who wants to use competitor keywords. I’ve seen mixed info about this and instinctively thought BAD IDEA. what do you think?

By Dani - September 6, 2009

[...] This post was Twitted by BizGrowthTips [...]

By Twitted by BizGrowthTips - September 6, 2009

i use various tools to double check the data. it’s hard to go past Google’s keyword tools given it’s the focus of most SEO campaigns. But i like tools such as SpyFu etc to help get some competitive insight.

- competitor brands/product keywords? That can be tricky and you run the risk of actually promoting them via your SEO efforts.
- general keywords that competitors use – go for it! you want to be in the consideration set of searchers when they find your competitors. but don’t waste time/money/effort on highly competitive terms…your efforts will be better spent elsewhere.

By Rene LeMerle - September 7, 2009

Well I think it is much better to spend some time analyzing which keywords (and ads, bids, landing pages, etc.) work best for your competitors than to simply import all of them. There are a few great tools like AdWords Intelligence ( that provide comprehensive analysis.

By Nika - September 26, 2009

[...] 6. The Top 10 Small Business SEO Mistakes [...]

By The Top 7 SEO Tips & Hints of 2009! | ineedhits - January 4, 2010

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