• Zoe Barnett

8 common SEO mistakes that small business owners make (and how to fix them)

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

Eek! That title sounds a little mean, doesn't it?! I don't intend for it to sound so critical but the thing is that I've recently spotted some recurring SEO (that's getting found on Google) issues that keep popping up on small business owners' websites. And... it's such a shame. These little SEO mistakes are harming your small business' online success! BUT if you fix them, you'll stand a greater change of rising up the search engine ranks.

Sound good?

Then, keep reading...

Online audit service for small biz websites & social media

As a bit of context, I regularly carry out 'online audits' with any new clients working with me.

It is simply a way for me to shine a spotlight on your current online marketing - and a HUGE chunk of this boils down to your SEO on your website.

This is where I spot the same mistakes - and think to myself...

"Oh dear - if only someone would simplify and de-mystify SEO so small biz owners can get to grips with it?".

And then I say, "oh yeah - that's my job!"

And a blog post all about common SEO mistakes is born...

*Don't worry! This SEO blog post is strictly jargon-free (as are ALL my SEO blog posts) - or when jargon is used, it's always explained. So, no SEO-induced fear here!*

8 common SEO mistakes & how to fix them

1. You don't format your website copy

Do you use headings? Bullet points? Lists?

Do you break up text?

Bold it?

Add hyperlinks for easy navigation?

There are lots of simple ways you can format your text - and it has two benefits.

Firstly, it improves your SEO. Using header tags (these are the Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 etc. and written as <h1 tag> in your website source code) tells Google quickly what your page is about...

And don't forget your user - it tells your reader quickly what your page is about!

people on mobile phone reading formatted marketing content by Zo Connected Marketing in Northwich
Remember many people will access your website from their mobile - and there is nothing worse than long text ON A MOBILE! It just looks so chunky - break it up, and make it easier for your reader. Headings really really help with this!

So use them! It's good SEO practice, adds structure and makes people hang around more - rather than thinking "nah, can't be bothered to sift through that" and leaving your website.

And... If they do this, this will increase what's known as your bounce rate - people exiting your website quickly after leaving. (Keep reading to see more about this!)

2. You don't think about keywords

Writing for your website is great content marketing - whether it's a blog post or adding a new web page.

However, writing for your website without thinking of keywords and phrases means that sometimes your hard work doesn't pay off.

After all, you want people to land on your website.

So yes, write naturally - but then review your keywords.

Are you saying them enough? Varying them (think synonyms)?

Yoast has a great keyword guide for this - it's easy to follow and helps you get to grips with what exactly a keyword is in the land of SEO.

key in door to demonstrate importance of keywords in content marketing SEO strategy by Zo Connected Northwich Marketing
Keywords can UNLOCK your success on Google Search - see what I did there? *cringe*

3. You don't look at your Google search results

Checking how your website displays on Google search results is very important.

It's the difference between understanding why someone clicks on your link, or doesn't.

That little bit of text that shows on Google is called a meta description - and it's really important to write a compelling meta description to get people to click the (damn) link!

You can also format your title tag.

Want to learn how to do this? Read my blog post all about meta descriptions & how to use them.

screenshot of Zo Connected Blog for Cheshire Small Business Owners marketing tips
This is a title tag (sometimes known as an SEO title) and a meta description (the text below the title bit in blue/ purple - when clicked on already). They are usually easy to edit.

4. You forget to describe your images

IMG6758.jpg tells Google NOTHING! NADA!

Most website CMSs (content management systems - that's the errr... 'back end' of your website) will have a space where you can describe your image.

This is known as an alt tag.

Fill it in! And be really descriptive - it helps your images rank on Google for who you are!

You can learn how to do this in my blog post all about alt tags - what they are & how to use them.

5. You neglect old content

You posted a blog 6 months ago and then that's it?


Make the most of your hard work (or money if you outsource your blogging) and tweak it, update it - make it relevant to now.

Google likes to see that you keep older pages up-to-date and relevant.

woman at laptop updating old content for good seo as part of Zo Connected Cheshire marketing advice
Putting an hour aside to update old content can make a big difference - simply add some new hyperlinks in, update any facts and even think how you can develop it for future content.

6. You ignore mobile users

Did you know that from now on Google will crawl the mobile-version of your website first?

That's why it's really important to get your mobile version of your site right.

A mobile-friendly site will mean good points for Google - and could even make or break you appearing in top-level search results on mobile devices.

Most website editors or content management systems (CMSs) will have an option to check & edit your mobile version of your site - make sure you use it.

7. You forget your reader

Ok - not technically SEO. But indirectly this has a lot to answer for.

When you don't talk to your reader, with your reader - you don't engage your reader... you risk turning them off.

They say goodbye - they leave. YAWN at your website!

And then? Your bounce rate goes up.

screenshot of google analytics by Zo Connected cheshire seo marketing helping small business owners
Why are people leaving your website? Google Analytics helps you see when people don't stick around - so, why?

And your 'session time' (that's Google Analytics talk for how long someone spends on your website) goes down.

Google knows this. And will think, "ah, this website isn't great".

And could push you down those search engine results.

How you write and the words you put out there is a big part of keeping your reader engaged.

To learn more about writing about them, not you - read my blog post about writing Instagram captions.

Yes, it's about Instagram - but a lot of it can also be applied to how you write on your website too.

8. You don't get help with SEO

Sometimes SEO can feel like a minefield - and you just don't have the time to get into it as a busy small business owner.

Digital marketing agencies are too expensive for you, right?

You're just a small business owner, after all - you don't have a big budget.

That may be so - but I don't think SEO has to a big scary expensive task for small business owners.

Often once it's pointed out to you it's clear that the little changes you can make - the good habits you can put in place - all make a BIG difference.

(Okay - I'm sorry but *PLUG ALERT*)

Take a look at my online audit service - it includes SEO, content analysis and social media.

Prices start at £60 and go up depending on the size of things to analyse - simple!

Or get in touch to find out how I can help you in the other SEO-magic ways.

*not really magic - it just sounds nice that way*

Zoe of Zo Connected, Cheshire Marketing, sat on sofa ready to give marketing consulting to small business owners
I'm an SEO expert based in Northwich, Cheshire - but can help small biz owners all over the UK with their SEO marketing.