When it comes to building a powerful online presence, few marketing tools can have a bigger impact on your brand than SEO. However, mastering SEO is often easier said than done.
Though one survey found that 82 percent of marketers feel that their SEO efforts are becoming more effective, it also noted that 76 percent of companies used “external resources” to manage their SEO.
Of course, as a new startup, you may not have the budget to use external agencies to help with your SEO — and that puts the burden directly on your own team. Unfortunately, this makes it all too easy for a new startup to fall short in its online marketing.
You aren’t alone if you’ve experienced SEO trouble. Many startups make mistakes when they first enter this complicated field. Rather than make these blunders yourself, however, you can get a head start on the competition as you recognize and learn to avoid these problems in advance.
1) Forgetting About Internal Linking.
SEO efforts often focus on ensuring link placements on high-ranking third-party sites through paid promotions, guest blogs and other similar tactics. But all too often, these same entrepreneurs forget the importance of using internal links on their site.
According to Immy Tariq, CEO of Webmetrix Group, “Internal linking is so powerful that it can quickly take a page that is underperforming in the SERPS and push it to the top. When you look at your website analytics, you may find that one of your web pages is ranking toward the bottom of the first page of Google.
Perhaps on the second or third page of the SERPS. Adding some internal links pointing to that webpage can give it a boost and can pull a tremendous amount of traffic in your direction.”
2) Using Duplicate Content.
When you’re short on time, it can be tempting to copy and paste content from another site or “spin” pre-existing content, creating only slight adjustments as it gets transferred to your own page. Not only is this unethical, it can also result in SEO penalties from Google.
Instead, you should always make the effort to craft high-quality, original content for your web page. Whether filling out your list of services or adding a new blog post, accurate, well-written content will provide the most value to your customers. Google and other search engines will recognize this and reward you accordingly with higher rankings.
3) Low-Value Backlinks.
Neglecting internal linking in an effort to generate backlinks isn’t the only way link building can go wrong. Many startups wind up hurting their rankings because they don’t filter which sites they use to create backlinks.
A proliferation of low-quality links could ultimately cause your site to be viewed as spam.
As AJ Kumar, CEO of Limitless Publishing explains, “Although link building can be an important part of online marketing, you won't want to put quantity ahead of quality. Low-value backlinks -- including those from spam websites, irrelevant sites or sites built solely for the purpose of disseminating links -- could do damage to your site's SEO.”
4) Forgetting Mobile Users.
Getting a good-looking website up and running can feel like a big accomplishment — but if you neglect mobile visitors, you’ll likely miss out on a significant portion of your potential audience. In fact, Google’s Mobile Playbook reports that a whopping 40 percent of consumers “have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience.”
You can’t afford to lose customers this way.
As such, ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly should be viewed as a required part of your SEO efforts. The Google Mobile-Friendly Test is an easy way to gain quick insights into what improvements you might need to make for smartphone and tablet users.
5) Not Using HTTPS.
Though Google hasn’t officially stated that using HTTP or HTTPS has a direct impact on your SEO rankings, there are clear indicators that the company is giving increased priority to secure sites. Earlier this year, Google announced that after July 2018, Chrome browsers would mark every HTTP site as “not secure.”
Site security isn’t just prioritized by Google -- it’s something that your potential customers look for as well. The use of HTTPS provides valuable performance enhancements, but it also ensures the protection of user data. No startup wants to be subjected to data theft, and this simple upgrade ensures your other SEO efforts don’t go to waste.
6) Adopting a ‘Set It and Forget It’ Mindset.
Just like any other marketing tool, SEO is not something where you can just “set it and forget it.” Yet far too many startups do exactly that. After setting up a few keywords and sprinkling them throughout their site content, they neglect to make any additional changes whatsoever.
This is a recipe for disaster. SEO algorithms are constantly changing. So is your startup’s industry. You need to continually re-evaluate your SEO efforts to determine if they are delivering quality results, as well as create optimized content that will keep your site fresh. A stagnant site will quickly lose its relevancy and usefulness.
7) Making Organic Traffic the Sole Focus.
Achieving organic traffic is a great way to get new customers — but it is far from easy.
If your strategy for generating web traffic relies entirely on SEO, you’ll have a hard time getting enough sales and leads to keep your startup thriving. Though SEO should be a high-priority tool, it should serve as part of a diversified approach to online marketing -- not the be-all end-all.
As Shyam Bhardwaj notes, “To have a viable web business in 2018 and onward, you should really be able to survive on traffic generated outside of Google’s natural search engine. Whether you generate this through social media, email marketing, interactive content like creating a great survey, paid search or offline marketing is up to you, but Google "organic" traffic should be looked upon as a bonus, not as a marketing plan.”
The Pathway to SEO Success.
Mastering SEO isn’t easy -- nor should you expect it to deliver instant sales results for your startup. Instead, SEO should be viewed as a long-term solution that will help you build a lasting online presence. As you adhere to SEO essentials and avoid these common blunders, you will be able to drive more traffic to your site.