The internet is a cut-throat place for marketers. It’s never been easier to float a business and yet never been harder to market it. Theoretically speaking, it’s convenient to build a website, fun to start creating content, and even easier to share it on social media.
And yet, when one does take the plunge, one seems to struggle quite a bit. The various parts of the puzzle don’t quite come together. Then there is SEO and its ever-changing rules.
SEO can make or break your digital game. It’s also something that new businesses often get wrong. Here are some mistakes that emerging brands are especially prone to make, which can negatively impact their search engine performance. Make sure you guard against these.
Poor keyword planning and ignoring local search
Locking in on the right keywords is crucial for a business. You want keywords that are competitive, and which capture the essence of the business, so that the SEO and content combined give your website a shot at ranking high on Google.
But choosing the right keywords requires thought and planning, and a reliable tool such as Google Keyword Planner.
Let’s consider a hypothetical example of a Pilates studio owner in Philadelphia, who has big ambitions for her small business. She may or may not want to go national, but she certainly wants to expand. For her, keyword ‘fitness studio’ will be of no help because the competition for it is high. She needs to be as specific as possible if she wants to rank toward the top in this space.
‘Pilates studio Philadelphia’ is better. ‘Pilates studio (her local precinct)’ is even better. The more specific your keywords, the better the chances of your website ranking high for them, and also, introduce the local element wherever possible.
Local searches are at an all-time high. As per one report, “The majority of consumer engagement with brands (85-95%) happens through local listings, local web pages or other local search results.”
You can use tools like Ahrefs, AnswerThePublic or KeywordTool.io to perform detailed keywords research, and don’t forget to make your keywords specific and focus on the local.
Not aligning SEO with the larger brand marketing strategy
For SEO to bring you the desired benefits, it’s crucial to align it with the larger marketing strategy or the vision you have for your business. The greater the clarity a business has about its overall goals, the clearer its marketing objectives, and the smarter its SEO execution.
Alignment with the larger strategy will direct keyword research and subsequent content creation. Not only that, it will determine the aesthetics of the website as well as its brand messaging.
This is another area where emerging brands falter. They are not consistent in their brand messaging across the website and the content. Websites with confusing messaging cause visitors to abandon them in no time, which results in a high bounce rate (another point docked by Google). If your website strikes discordant notes in terms of brand messaging (including logo, content, and design), you might find Tailor Brands of help. With their easy to use and adaptable tools, businesses can create beautiful logos, expand their brand identity, and deliver a memorable user experience.
Ignoring content best practices
Google is always indexing and de-indexing content. As a rule, it rewards quality blogs and punishes poor ones.
However, quality content does not just mean a well-written blog post. A website needs to have enough of high-quality content to make a mark on Google and the content machinery needs to keep churning.
Some of the best practices in this regard include:
Posting regular content on the blog
Posting fresh content each time and taking care to eliminate repetitive content
Updating past content to keep it relevant and fresh
Eliminating spammy links from comments
Linking to authority pages via the content
Posting content in line with keyword planning.
Keyword stuffing is passé and a ‘Black Hat’ SEO tactic anyway, which we do not recommend. Be clear about what the business stands for throughout the content on your website but take care not to go overboard with the usage of the chosen keywords.
Ignoring content distribution
After content creation comes content distribution. You want your content to reach far and wide. In the initial stages, it’s a good idea to send your best content to industry influencers and authority websites to garner visibility for the brand. Guest posting is a trusted way of earning quality backlinks and increase brand visibility. It can also direct greater traffic, and hence a bigger number of potential leads, to your website.
But as you reach out to the influential people in your niche, it is important to send emails to the right point of contact. Blogger outreach is a time-consuming process. Make sure you are not wasting your time on the wrong people. You can use a tool like Norbert to either help you find the emails based on the name of the prospects or you can do email verification of the existing set of emails data you may have gathered.
Not investing in social from the get-go
SEO is not confined to your company website. Social signals also affect the search engine performance of a business.
Taking further our example of the Philadelphia Pilates studio owner, her website would certainly benefit from regular SEO and top-notch content. She, however, also needs to establish a presence on social media to not just market her business but also earn trust from Google. (It has long been suspected that there exists a link between social engagement and Google ranking, which was recently tested by Hootsuite and found to be the case.)
Our Pilates studio owner needs to encourage her existing customers to like her business page on Facebook, leave reviews on this page (and on any other local listings her business is on), get more people to follow her on social, and as a result create a trustworthy persona in general. Popularity on social media leads to a wider distribution of your content, which, in turn, bolsters your Google ranking (and brings greater exposure for your brand).
Poor knowledge of SEO changes and trends
You cannot just hire someone to optimize the content on your website for search engines and forget all about it, because SEO is an ongoing practice.
SEO audits need to be carried out on a periodic basis. Internet searches are a dynamic space and purposely so. Google is constantly updating its search algorithm, while taking a plethora of factors into account, to deliver more accurate and relevant information to its users. It, however, doesn’t exactly make a pomp and show about these updates, some of which have been drastic enough to send unsuspecting businesses tumbling down the rankings.
You must keep an eye on SEO trends and implement the changes soon as you find out about them. Best practices in this regard will save your emerging brand from slipping in Google rankings.
As Aaron Wall said, “SEO can sometimes feel to be a zero-sum game”. What works today might not work tomorrow and you must always be on your toes. Additionally, there are an endless number of variables to track, which, by the way, can all change overnight.
But SEO is necessary. It is challenging work, which when done right pays off handsomely. A dedicated SEO team will help because this is too important to be left to web developers/designers alone. Keep the above points in mind and you should see your efforts being rewarded sooner than later.