Search engine optimization for a local business can present unique challenges. Personally, I find it to be one of the most rewarding projects, however, if you do not plan ahead, there are a number of pitfalls that can keep your business from succeeding. Luckily, most of these pitfalls are easy to avoid. You just want to be aware of them.
Pitfall No. 1 – DIY SEO Without A Plan
To be very clear, there is no problem with any company addressing their own SEO issues. However, be sure to research the topic before starting any aggressive plan. Whether your team or another causes an issue, damage control such as fixing a Google penalty often takes far more time, effort, and cost than doing it right the first time.
To Avoid: Be sure you understand at least the basics of SEO before implementing your own plan.
Pitfall No. 2 – Going for the Fastest Rankings
These days, in most cases you can only rank quickly in two ways:
- The keyword is not competitive, and -unless you are a niche business- you should ask yourself if that’s going to really help you.
- You are building links as quickly as possible with no regard to balanced anchor text or what looks natural, which is a good way to get your site penalized sooner rather than later.
To Avoid: Remember, your goal is brand viability and website traffic to increase sales, not a report showing rankings. Also, don’t aggressively build low quality links, stuff your content and anchor text with your keywords, Google algorithm updates continue to penalize more and more sites for similar practices.
Pitfall No. 3 – Fixating on The Lowest Price
While you always want to be careful that you are not over-paying, be very careful that your campaign is not too small to move you towards your goals. (Forbes also has a good article on general SEO pricing) Price can be effected by your type of business, how close you currently are to your goals, the size of the area you service and the city in which you live. For example a business in NYC, Seattle, or Austin is much more likely to be facing competitors who are paying attention to the potential of the online market. The results of a successful local SEO campaign should more than cover the price, therefore I recommend focusing on ROI rather than purely on cost.
To Avoid: Understand your goals, what the project is worth to you (and your competitors), and price accordingly. Focus on ROI over straight cost.
Pitfall No. 4 – Insufficient Development Resources
If you are not going to take the medicine that your doctor prescribes, you are definitely going to get less effective results from the visit then you otherwise would.
Many small and mid-sized businesses start to work with an SEO team, but plan to leave the changes to a non-developer. This can cause issues on the website and can significantly delay reaching your goals.
For content edits or basic changes, using a staff member is a great way to keep costs down, however, unless you are confident that your team can manage basic technical changes such as htaccess edits, redirects, and title tag changes you should be sure to coordinate how these will be implemented on your website. Note: Many SEO firms are vested in your success and offer limited SEO-focused development assistance as a part of their service or at a significant discount to locally-scaled clients.
To Avoid: Plan how the on site changes will occur. Talk with your SEO professional for guidance or have an experienced go-to person for more complex tasks.
Pitfall No. 5 – Not Asking For Reviews
Google loves reviews, and online customers rely on them more frequently than ever before. Be sure to ask for them from every happy client, because remember unhappy clients are very pro-active about posting.
To Avoid: Ask for reviews as a part of your regular sales process. Proactively respond to all reasonable complaints.
Pitfall No. 6 – Not Building Citations
This is the ‘If You Build It They Will Come’ approach. Often, a small business will set up a website sit, wait, and wonder why no one is active on their website. Online marketing is much like offline marketing, you need to be active, in front of your customers and letting people know that you are there. Citations are very important for local business SEO, however other types of links, social media and even relationships with other local businesses can help you to be seen.
To Avoid: Be active with your online activities and build citations.