Many small business owners are aware that their online presence needs work but don’t have either the time or technical knowledge to know what to do next. This is especially true when it comes to building good Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is a crucial component of any business’ online presence. If your business does not appear on page one of a potential customer’s search results, you are likely to be overlooked by consumers who are searching online for the services or products you offer.
A solid SEO strategy can help your business build its online presence over time, while you focus on the day to day tasks that keep your business running. Some of these strategies include making sure business information is listed accurately in online directories, creating a functional and well-designed website and identifying keywords that customers use when searching for businesses online. Whether you decide to build SEO yourself or enlist the help of an online marketing company, it’s important to be aware of and avoid bad SEO practices. If bad practices are used your online presence can be seriously damaged when search engines like Google discover the methods used. Depending on the severity of the violation, search engines could even remove you from their listings entirely. This could occur even if you weren’t personally aware that bad practices were being used.
As a business owner, there are some key points to be aware of that will help you avoid the use of bad practices and the online marketing companies who use them.
1. Avoid common bad practices such as hiding text, keyword stuffing and the use of unrelated keywords.
Keywords used on your website should be visible and relevant to your business. Hiding keywords or using those that are clearly unrelated to your business is an easy way to get caught using bad practices and be penalized.
2. Don’t spam other sites with links to your page to artificially boost search rankings.
Google has enforced penalties against online retailers for spamming other sites with links to their website or otherwise encouraging those links to be repeatedly posted in locations not relevant to their business. For example, if you were a roofing company and spammed the comment sections of celebrity websites with links to your website, this would be considered a bad practice.
3. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If a company guarantees that they can quickly get your business a number one search engine ranking or says that they have a special relationship with search engines like Google, look elsewhere. Google itself has stated that organic search results cannot be obtained through special relationships and top search results can’t be guaranteed by anyone.
4. Before you purchase, ask questions and do research.
Before you commit to purchasing services from an SEO company, make sure to ask them if they use best practices and ask them to give you examples of how they do this. Google recommends avoiding companies who exhibit certain warning signs, such as if they have had domains removed from Google or are not listed in Google themselves.
5. Good SEO can’t be built overnight.
Good SEO takes time, doesn’t happen overnight and must be maintained. Using bad practices like those described above might produce short term gain but will ultimately be ineffective in the long run.
It might seem tempting to get your business to the top of relevant search results as soon as possible, but SEO optimization isn’t meant to be a quick fix solution. It’s meant to be a long-term foundational strategy that will help your business get established online and stay there in the future.