4 SEO Pillars and 6 most Common SEO Mistakes

Listed below are the four pillars of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that we recommend focusing on to increase website visibility. We’ve also thrown in 6 of the most common mistakes that will hurt your search results. Read on to grow your foundational SEO understanding and then make some quick changes to grow your companies visibility.

What is SEO?

Search engines like Google use signals (or ranking factors) from your website to determine the position your webpage should show up for in search results. The good news is that you have some control over what these are and can adjust your website to maximize organic visibility. This free visibility can work wonders to grow the reach of your companies brand and ultimately help generate new business.

Search engines then take these website signals and enter them into an algorithm that calculates the position of a webpage and determines what position it will have in search results. These search engine algorithms are secretive, complex and ever changing, but the following four areas of SEO are how we break it down.

Each area has foundational work we recommend for every business and more complex work depending on your niche, geography and competitiveness.

4 SEO Pillars for Small Businesses

1) Technical SEO

For a web page to appear in search results the search engines must be able to crawl it and index it. It also must be secure and provide a good experience for the browsers. We recommend reviewing the following areas and making necessary adjustments.

  • Robots.txt is correct
  • XML sitemap is being generated and submitted to Google
  • Solid page load speed
  • Core Web Vitals are healthy
  • Mobile friendly
  • Secure (SSL)
  • Google Search Console Errors and Warnings

2) Content SEO

It’s how search engines know you have expertise and authority around a given topic. Search engine value websites that demonstrate their value and provide the browser with the information they need about your product and service.

  • Quality content
  • Keyword strategy
  • Relevancy
  • Recency

3) On-site SEO

Elements on your web pages that allow search engines to derive more meaning from the page and its content. It’s how we add context to your content.

  • Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
  • Headers H1-H6
  • Alternative Text
  • Keyword usage and density

4) Off-site SEO

This is everything that happens outside of your website. Search engine take into account external signals like Google My Business, Social Media, Directory listings. These are a gauge of your online authority and trustworthiness.

  • Local Search Tools (Google My Business)
  • Directory listings
  • Backlinks
  • Social Media

The 6 Most Common SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make

#1 – No Keyword Strategy

Now keep in mind that keyword strategy is constantly evolving, but if you haven’t decided what keywords your prospective customers use to search for your brand, product or service then you’re likely giving mixed signals to search engines. There is a lot to consider but at minimum:

  • Identify your ideal audience. Who do you service, where are the located, what are the pain points they’re looking to resolve?
  • Brainstorm topics and key phrases that are relevant to your business.
  • Collect volume data for each phrase.
  • Evaluate possible keywords and then establish a plan to focus each page of your site on a keyword or phrase.

#2 – Confusing homepage

Google can tell if your website is confusing people based on the metrics it’s keeping. A bad user experience where user lands on your site and then immediately navigates away signals Google your site isn’t valuable and the user didn’t find what they want. Make sure your home page has the following

  • Clear Value Proposition
  • Intuitive and organized navigation
  • Valuable content displayed

#3 – Using in-house terminology that your audience isn’t using

It very important to adjust your terminology to be relevant to your ideal audience. Recently an SEO client of ours wanted us to incorporate the term “teletherapy” into the mix of targeted keywords. We did a little research and found that the term “teletherapy” has 9900 monthly searches, but the term “virtual counseling” has 74,000 monthly searches.

  • Confirm your homepage copy makes makes sense to your ideal audience

#4 – Sitemap not being read by Google

A sitemap is typically automatically created by your website. It can vary if you’re using specific SEO plugins but usually looks something like https://yourwebsite.sitemaps.xml. What’s not guaranteed is that Google is viewing your sitemap. GSC also provides some powerful insights into how your website is performing in organic search results that are helpful.

  • Create your Google Search Console account
  • Find your sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console

#5 – No clear H1 title tags on your web page

This is the signal that tells Google the most important phrase on your website page. If you were to look at the code of your site it would look like <h1>Water Filtration Service in Yakima, Washington<h1>. Often this is built in your website code, however it’s important to take a look to confirm.

  • Download the handy Google Chrome extension called SEO Meta in one-click that will tell you what your title tags say so that you can change them if needed.

#6 – Low page speed score

Google loves websites that load in less that 3 seconds on mobile and desktop. You can test yours right here. There a couple things you can do to increase the speed of your website:

  • Resize images – This is especially important with large background images. The smaller the file size the faster your site will load.
  • Compress all your images – Use a compression tool like Shortpixel plugin to automatically compress all your images site wide. If you want to compress individual images manually use tinypng.com.
  • Install a Cache plugin – This will help control some of the loading process so that users have a great experience and your page loads fast.

Bonus Mistake – Not setting up your Google My Business Profile!

We’ve written extensively about how to do this and why it’s important. There’s not a good reason why you shouldn’t do this. It’s simple, free and helps google now who you are and connect you with your customers.

At Center Street we are proud of our SEO service. It’s built for small business owners who want to raise their online visibility for years to come. Check it out here.