The 4 Most Common Mistakes of Do-It-Yourself SEO
With technology constantly evolving, businesses need to adapt their marketing strategies in real-time to remain visible.
Staying competitive means knowing how online spaces work and how to take advantage of that knowledge. One particular method that’s been a buzzword for quite a while now is SEO, or search engine optimization.
Many businesses have a rough idea of how this works, especially during the initial stages of building their website, so they’re tempted to handle it themselves.
Getting organic traffic doesn’t look that hard, right? However, underestimating the complexity of SEO is one of the biggest mistakes website owners can make.
We’ll discuss how SEO works and the four most common mistakes made in DIY SEO so you can learn how to make sure your website is optimized properly.
What is SEO, anyway?
Search engine optimization is a process that helps you reach the front page of a search engine like Google.
This is done through building internal links, establishing relevant content on the site for your pages and blog posts, gather high quality backlinks and making sure your website is technically sound via speed and user-experience.
Page one is prime real estate in the digital landscape. Being on the front page increases leads and traffic to your website and establishes your reputation in your industry.
Ultimately, this heightened visibility seriously increases your sales and revenue.
Surprisingly, not all businesses are putting in the effort to improve their SEO.
More than 70% of small businesses don’t have any, and 53% of those who do only started in the past three years.
In most cases, they’re doing it on their own with no help from SEO experts. While they may think it’s easier or less costly than hiring an agency, SEO has a very technical underbelly, and most business owners don’t have the skillset to handle it on their own.
Through this post, your small business will understand if your DIY SEO strategy is flawed by learning the four most common mistakes DIYers make with their SEO efforts.
DIY SEO for Small Business: The Four Most Common Mistakes
1. Starting Before You Understand How SEO Works
Here’s a test: visit this link and open some of the hyperlinks. This is Google’s overview of their guidelines to make your website eligible for search engine results.
Want a quick read? Check out Google Guidelines. Just kidding. It's not a quick read at all as there's a ton of information to learn here.
So, do you know how to make your links crawlable?
How about the rich media file best practices?
Are you aware of the quality guidelines that Google imposes against prohibited SEO techniques?
Yeah, didn’t think so. If you don't understand this stuff, then you shouldn’t be handling your SEO on your own.
SEO is a highly complex process that includes on-page and technical SEO. The former is what most business owners are familiar with, which convinces them that they can do it on their own. It’s just writing words connected to the business, right? And who knows the company better than the people who run it?
As long as you’re uploading content filled with keywords related to your business, you'll start seeing high keyword rankings, right?
Meh, not really. This line of reasoning only makes sense if you actually know about on-page SEO.
Even on-page SEO has a certain level of technicality to it. You might not be aware of outbound links, long-tail keywords, alt text, and other elements that can make or break your SEO.
There’s also the matter of creating content that actually features relevant keywords to what people are looking for.
Sure, you can write about whatever topic you want about your website or business, but if it’s something outdated or irrelevant, then it will have a detrimental effect on your search engine results page (SERP) standing. Without relevant content, you're already starting from behind the eight ball.
Then there’s technical SEO. We could dive deeper into its complexities, but you’ll need to have a basic understanding of web design and development to fully grasp how it works.
While it’s still a part of on-page SEO, technical SEO deals more with the elements of a website outside of the content. Optimizing technical SEO makes the website work faster and makes it easier to crawl for search engines, which leads to higher rankings.
Many times a website, if it's been around for a little while, will have technical issues that need solving before you actually begin optimizing the site for your key products and services.
If you're not a technical person or have no background in fixing complex technical issues of a website, even the basics of SEO work won't actually benefit you.
That’s a lot to take in, right? So much more than what the average business owner knows about SEO. If you’re finding all this daunting, then it’s probably better to leave this part of the job to a digital marketing agency.
2. Doing Too Much SEO Work
Many website owners are under the impression that the more target keywords or content you have on your website, the higher the chances of getting on the front page.
Since your website is stuffed with the phrases that people are using to search, then it makes sense that your content would be on top of the results, right?
This is another common pitfall in DIY SEO. There are two ways this can harm your website, and it’s not just your search engine ranking.
First, it affects user experience, or UX. When a visitor is reading articles on your website, they’re looking for answers to their inquiries, from general advice to hard data.
When you stuff your content with irrelevant topics, keywords, and other fillers in a misguided attempt to increase your SERP rankings, the reader will have a harder time finding the information they need.
Incoherent and generic articles will also affect user experience.
This blog talks about how you can actually make strides with your content and your SEO strategy. And all of it is cost-effective.
Many websites publish content on every topic that’s tangentially related to their services or products. This will confuse readers about the services the business offers, and it can sometimes be misleading. There’s no quicker way to lose a visitor’s interest than that.
The second effect of too much content is on SEO itself, specifically how it can backfire and harm your SERP rankings.
Google, Bing, and other search engines have means to tell if you’re spamming target keywords in your content. If they identify this, they penalize your website and remove you from search results altogether. It's called keyword stuffing.
If they don’t remove you outright, you can still expect very low rankings. What's most important is to create compelling content that pertains to your products or services. By having a content strategy that focuses on being resourceful to your prospective customer versus generic or too salesy, you're building the integrity of your site for humans and algorithms alike.
Create unique content ideas for your site will result in other high quality entities wanting to link to that content for the long term.
Which leads to another reason why high quality content is so important. It helps with your backlink profile.
The interesting and unique content on your site will help others in your marketplace want to link to it on their websites.
By doing so, these people will be building the credibility of what your site has to say. Think of it as a digital endorsement for the quality of your content.
Backlinks could warrant an entire blog post to themselves but one thing many DIY SEOers will do is buy backlinks from sites like FIVERR.
Link quality is so much more important than link quantity. If you're buying links in bulk, chances are those are harmful backlinks that will do more damage to your site's reputation than help.
Want to build high quality backlinks? Avoid FIVERR. Buying links in bulk is basically a black hat tactic and could be super harmful for your company website.
Links are hard to get. In fact, a recent survey of marketers revealed that more than 20% of marketers list link building as their #1 frustration.
What's that tell you? Link building needs to be done carefully and it takes a TON of work.
If it was as easy as buying some links on FIVERR everyone would be doing it. Buying links in bulk are harmful backlinks plain and simple.
In summary, writing content for the sake of it or buying backlinks in the dozens at a time are massive errors when doing SEO yourself.
There is such thing as doing too much and spamming the search engines. Successful SEO is about balance.
Don't overdo it.
3. Not Doing Enough SEO Work
Once you’re done setting up your SEO, you can just let it do its thing while you focus on more important tasks, right?
Many website owners think that if they add a blog post or two once in a while, that will be enough to boost their rankings. However, SEO is a full-time project. It demands nearly constant monitoring to ensure that it’s working as intended.
And yet, SEO will always get placed at the bottom of the to-do list; it’s simply not a priority for business owners. This is because it’s very technical and it's a specialized task that demands extra time and resources, which could instead be used in other business operations.
Even if business owners dedicate time to producing SEO content filled with a good balance of relevant keywords, it may not be of the highest quality since they’re doing it themselves. No matter how much effort they give, they won’t see any results, so they’ll begin to think that they’re wasting time working on it.
The lack of time dedicated to SEO is understandable, but don’t be surprised if nothing changes after months of effort.
SEO takes a lot longer than just an hour or two a month. This is just one page on Agency Jet's website and we're ONLY talking about links built for that page. One page out of dozens. To really see success in SEO, you need to dedicate at least 15 hours (expert hours by the way) every single month and that's the bare minimum.
According to Search Engine Watch, every work week you should be spending at least 3 hours on content development, up to 15 hours on local optimization, and another hour analyzing results in tools like Google Analytics, keyword research tools, backlink checkers and more—and that’s just the bare minimum.
So what can you do? You simply can’t dedicate so much time to improving your SEO and you're on a tight budget.
More on the solution for that later.
4. Not Maintaining SEO
Let’s introduce you to a list of some the things you need to do to keep your website optimized:
- Make a URL redirect
- Fix broken links
- Fix duplicate content
- Make sure your mobile page speed score is adequate
- Request indexing in Google Search Console
- Create backlinks
- Diversify backlinks
- Update plugins or source code elements on their content management system
- Write copy that's optimized for people and algorithms
- Make sure your site is responsive
- And a whole host of other things
Are you familiar with any of these? As we mentioned in our first point, many business owners attempting to DIY SEO don’t understand how complex it can be.
If you don’t have any technical knowledge, then handling SEO might feel just as complicated as trading futures on the stock exchange.
The list above is just the beginning of all that you have to handle after the initial launch of your SEO strategy. Remember that it’s an ongoing process. You must write new content that’s relevant, install new plugins as your website capabilities grow, and adjust graphics and marketing collateral for various display sizes. The latter is especially relevant now that overall mobile usage is predicted to rise to more than 50% in the next few years.
Even if you manage to successfully DIY all of that, would you know how to check if it worked? Can you analyze the results and see if there’s anything amiss?
Your website might have Google Analytics hooked up but do you know how to interpret the information? If the answer is even close to maybe or no, then what's the point of DIY SEO? If you can't understand if it's working, you're not going to understand how to do it.
Part of understanding SEO is knowing the things that can go wrong. When you’re ready for this to happen, you can mitigate problems and adjust your strategy to address the issue. If left unchecked, erroneous SEO methods can lead to penalties from search engines.
Certain widespread SEO practices are classified as black hat SEO. These are the approaches that go against search engine guidelines — in other words, they’re tactics that help websites cheat their way into the front page.
Whether you do these intentionally or unintentionally, the penalties you’ll face will be the same. It’s really better to leave it to those who understand the best practices.
Let the Experts Provide Affordable SEO Solutions
DIY SEO should be considered a last resort on almost any level. Why? Even if you spend hours and hours learning it today, your knowledge could be outdated before you get started.
Google changes their algorithm thousands of times a year, their guidelines suggest over 200 items for successful SEO (many of which are highly technical), it takes hours and hours to produce content and gather quality links, and maintaining off-page SEO work is a huge challenge to the uninitiated.
We recommend letting the experts handle it. Given how affordable small business SEO services can be today—coming in at less cost than hiring a single marketing employee—working with an agency would make a smaller dent in your budget than you'd expect—and the ROI will be worth the small investment.
Agency Jet can provide comprehensive SEO services for your website, going above and beyond to deliver outstanding results. If cost is still a concern, we provide an analysis of where your website currently stands.
We’ll also add a 100% free educational website assessment with absolutely no sales pitch.