Top 10 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make When Using SEO

Know Which Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid to Grow Your Local Business

Know Which Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid to Grow Your Local Business

In spite of the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) to any digital marketing strategy, just 63% of small business owners have an SEO strategy in place, according to a study published by prnewswire (Only 63% of Small Businesses Invest in SEO, Despite Enticing Long-Term Benefits).

Although we see a positive trend – in 2021 only 49% thought about investing into SEO at all – there still need to be more awareness within smaller businesses for SEO.


One of SEO’s biggest drawbacks is that it takes a lot of time and money to apply properly. SEO is often compared to a marathon not a spring and that is right. As a result, few small business owners are willing to try SEO, and those who do are likely to make mistakes that hurt their bottom line and cost a lot of money in the end. Search engine optimization may be slow, but it offers one of the highest ROIs of any digital marketing strategy. Fourty-nine percent of marketers surveyed by Search Engine Journal named organic search traffic as the most profitable digital marketing channel once it began generating results.

Of course, it is always better to let the work being done by professionals, but if you rather would handle SEO on your own, though, we’ve compiled some of the typical Mistakes Small Business Owners Make When Using SEO  and suggestions for avoiding them.

What are the most common SEO mistakes for small businesses?

Building Your Website Before Implementing an SEO Strategy

The very first mistake usually happens quite directly at the beginning.

Real-World Example: Annie’s Boutique, a small clothing store in Berlin, launched its website without considering SEO on the WIX Platform. As a result, the site’s design, navigation, and URL structure made it difficult for search engines to crawl and index. Although the website looked visually more than appealing, it failed to attract organic traffic, it was not Keyword optimized and the performance was also quite poor.

Case Study: John’s Plumbing Services in Boston launched a website that wasn’t optimized for SEO. After six months, they noticed that their site wasn’t ranking for relevant keywords, and their competitors were outranking them. They decided to hire an SEO agency, which conducted a website audit. They were able to identify all Keywords which are his competitors were ranking for and implemented an SEO strategy built around content with those keywords. Within 9 months John’s Plumbing Services saw a significant increase in organic traffic and leads.

For any startup, the process of designing and developing a website is an exciting prospect, leading many owners to rush the process in order to launch their website as soon as possible. However, the vast majority of web designers are not SEO experts. Crucial aspects of search engine optimization are very often overlooked. The end result is a site with great visual appeal but low search engine visibility. We had to say too often to our customers: “Yeah, this is absolutely nice and pretty, but no one can enjoy it because simply no one does find your business website on the internet”.

Website redesign and relaunch can be very costly, so it’s best to get it right the first time around. Involving a search engine optimization expert during the design phase of a website ensures that the site will be optimized for optimal performance from the start.

Neglecting On-Page Optimization:

Real-World Example: Sue’s Flower Shop in Madrid neglected on-page optimization, resulting in generic title tags, missing meta descriptions, and a total lack of keyword targeting. The website failed to rank for important keywords such as “flower delivery” and “florist near me.”

Case Study: Pete’s Auto Repair in Miami struggled with low website traffic due to poor on-page optimization. After conducting keyword research and optimizing meta tags, headers, and especially the content, the website saw a 75% increase in organic traffic and a higher conversion rate within the same year.

On-page optimization (also called technical SEO sometimes) is crucial for small businesses to rank higher in search engine results pages. On-page SEO optimization refers to the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic. This includes optimizing the content, the HTML source code and the whole website structure for both users and search engines. This includes for example checking for broken links or the correct configuration of a SSL certificate as well. Some easy wins for small businesses include tightening the size of website images and removing unnecessary CSS or Javascript code. The goal is to make it easier for search engines to understand the content of the page and its relevance to specific search queries, which ultimately lead to higher rankings and more organic traffic.

Neglecting on-page optimization such as title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and keyword optimization leads almost every time to low website traffic and missed opportunities for potential customers to find your business. An Effective seo strategy always includes Onpage SEO Optimization.

Failing to Optimize for Local SEO

Make sure that you have a well maintained Google Business Profile. Local SEO is almost the most important aspect for small businesses that serve a specific geographic area.

What the heck is Local SEO?

Local SEO refers to the practice of optimizing a website’s online presence to attract more customers from a specific geographic area. This involves optimizing not just the website, but also its business listings and other online directories that contain information about the business’s location, hours of operation, reviews, and other relevant information. The Majority will think in first place in Google Maps Listings.

With the help of local SEO you can increase the visibility of your business in local search results and to help it appear in the Google Local Pack, which is a featured listing of local businesses on Google’s search results page.

Ignoring local SEO factors such as Google My Business listings, local keywords, and backlinks from local websites can lead to low website traffic and missed opportunities for potential customers in the area.

Neglecting Keyword Research or using the Wrong Keywords

Keyword research is essential for the success of a website for several reasons, you need to understand the search intent of your potential customers. It enables you to gain insights into what your target audience is searching for online. Understanding the language and terms they use, you can create content that resonates with them and meets their needs which in the end increases conversions.

One major mistake is to use incorrect keywords, focusing on very competitive keywords such as Plumbers and not “Plumbers 24 -7 in NYC” for example. For instance, plumbers should look what they’ve found in their search engine.

Keyword research via Semrush for Plumbers

You can check yourselves for Keywords Competition with a number of platforms, to name only a few: Semrush, Ahrefs or Ubersuggest. If you want to learn more, have a look at our guide on how to conduct effective keyword research.

Overusing Keywords

Keep the use of Keywords to a reasonable minimum. It is very easy to get lost in metrics and algorithms and forget the main goal of your website — to provide quality content to customers and convice them to buy your products. 

So-called Keyword Stuffing in website content and meta tags can result in a penalty from search engines, which can hurt website rankings. In the best case Google simply will ignore your website, in rare cases they put a so-called manual action on you which will ruin your Search ranking. It occurs more often than you think that website A does use the same Keywords like Website B and you have a case of keyword cannibalization – Google will ignore one of those websites completely. Small businesses should use keywords strategically and naturally in their content.

Usually you should distribute Keywords carefully and strategically to h1 and h2 Header tags, to meta descriptions, inside the beginning and the end of your websites body and in your page title.

Ignoring Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization is crucial for small businesses as these days by far more people use mobile devices to search for businesses online. Even years ago marketers said that around 70% of all website visits are done by mobile devices (75+ Mobile Marketing Statistics (2020) | Mobile Search Stats ) and this trend clearly increases every year. Google itself is providing a tool to check if your website is mobile friendly enough.

Google Mobile Friendly Test Tool

To use it, you need to type the URL of your website in the text box and click TEST URL, Google will fetch the requested URL as if it were a mobile device and the test result will show the mobile-friendly status of the page.

Ignoring mobile optimization can lead to a poor user experience and lost customers.

Missing High-Quality Backlinks

Backlinks from reputable websites are important for SEO as they indicate to search engines that a website is trustworthy and authoritative.

Backlinks are links from other websites that point to a specific webpage on your website. When a reputable website links to your webpage, it is essentially vouching for the content on your page and indicating to search engines that your website is a trustworthy and authoritative source of information.

BacklinksProfile Example
A sample Backlinks Profile

Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo etc. are using backlinks to determine the quality and relevance of a webpage. The more high-quality backlinks a webpage has, the more likely it is to be seen as authoritative and trustworthy by search engines. This ultimately helps the webpage to rank higher in search results, as search engines want to present their users with the most relevant and high-quality results possible.

Not building high-quality backlinks can lead to lower search engine rankings and reduced website traffic.

Building unnatural links

As described backlinks are an important indicator of search engine results. Google relied primarily on links to determine content quality and hence links have become crucial elements to any SEO strategy. As you can perhaps imagine it is really difficult to gain backlinks from high quality websites. Big companies of course do have an advantage in this field since they or their marketing agencies do have more money and industry relationships as well as greater reputation.

So some could think of buying quality links – lots of people especially from the so-called third world are offering backlinks for only a couple of dollars.

Within a couple of minutes you will find plenty of shady offers on the Internet. We really do recommend not to buy them. First of all buying paid links is prohibited by Google Webmaster Guidelines and Google got very good over the years identyfing backlinks coming from spammy link networks. In the best case it simply will ignore those backlinks for your ranking, in the worst case it will put a penalty on your website, ruining your ranking.

Expecting First-Page Results Overnight

Unlike paid advertisements, SEO results do not appear overnight. On the other side search rankings also do not disappear over night like it happens with paid advertisements as well. A common seo mistake is that small business owner do expect being on the first page of Google search results after a couple of days. This is usually not the case.

Since there are approximately 576,000 new Websites every day and even Google does not have unlimited calculation power. They evaluate carefully which website they are going to crawl when and how often. By the way: If you want to know how many Google Searches are done every day – around 3 billions!

No surprise Google’s algorithm takes time to assess your web page and its quality. We have seen websites being indexed by Google within minutes and by far more frequently it took days or even weeks before a website got indexed, it is a time consuming process and seo requires patience.

How long does it takes to see any results of a successful seo campaign? The answer is: It depends. It depends how long your website has been around, its current condition, the amount of prior SEO work done on it, its link profile, the quantity and quality of its content, and many other SEO factors all play a role.

It is true that there is no absolute answer to the question of how long it takes for SEO efforts to produce organic improvements. Experts in the field agree that the timeframe is realistically six to twelve months. In this context, “results” refers to a measurable rise in website visitors who convert into customers.


Sending more traffic to a slow website

It doesn’t matter how high you rank for the most valuable keywords if visitors land on your website and hit the back button to leave right away. You can’t paper over the cracks of a poor website by simply driving more traffic to it because you’re simply going to drive more of them away – potentially forever.

According to a survey carried out by, slow loading times are the biggest issue users experience (21%) and only 16% say they’re likely to return to a website with slow page speeds.

You need to consider slow page loading times into your seo strategies. What is a slow loading time? According to Google it should not take more than 2 to 3 seconds.

Bad Website Performance Score via GTMetrix

If you want to check your page performance check out tools like Pingdom Test or GTMetrix and our blog post how to measure website performance. Grades of B or better are satisfying for Google search, anything below you should take care of.

Having an Out-of-Date Website

Nothing is more embarassing than an completely outdated website. Perhaps a website which does not even get a lot of traffic (which you can easily check via Tools like Google Analytics).

Every effective seo strategy includes checking from time to time if your websites are still up to date. If not you should refresh them – Bing and Google love if you put fresh content onto your web presence.

What is the main mistake of SEO that companies make?

I am sure you will read this with a smile or you simply cannot believe it but it is the embarassing truth: The majority of smaller companies do make the mistake of not checking if their site got indexed by Google or not. We get every week inquiries like “I cannot find our website in Google? Why is that?”. Then we go check the Index Status and we see that their websites had not been indexed at all.

Reason for this is frequently the most common seo mistake small and midsize businesses SMBS make: Webmasters missing out to submit a sitemap to Google and Bing.


Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a powerful tool that small businesses can use to grow. But to be successful at SEO, you need to plan carefully, pay attention to the details, and avoid common mistakes. Small business owners who want to improve their online presence should build a website with SEO in mind from the start. This requires careful optimization of the page itself, a focus on valuable and relevant keywords, and optimization for local search. It’s important to put the user experience first by making sure the website works well on mobile devices and is easy to navigate.

A key part of a good SEO strategy is also building authority and trust. This can be done by getting high-quality backlinks from trusted sources and resisting the urge to buy unnatural links that could get you penalized. In the end, small business owners should think of SEO as a long-term investment that needs constant work and attention.

Some business owners may choose to handle SEO on their own, but working with SEO experts can give you valuable advice and help you avoid mistakes that will cost you money. By following best practices and avoiding common SEO mistakes, small businesses can improve the visibility of their website, get more organic traffic, and connect with a wider audience. This can lead to growth and success in the digital world.


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