If you’re here, then i guess you have a small business website that is failing, responsible for failing small business’s website or perhaps looking to make sure your businesses website doesn’t fail. Either way, you’ve come to the right place! Below I will outline some of the most common reason or misconceptions that will cause your small business website to fail. Many business owners put a website online, but don’t have the skills and/or resources to make the website work for the business.
5 – Set and forget.
Many small business owners will create a website or have one created by a web designer, and then just leave it on the internet for people to find! A website needs maintenance, much like a car. You need to keep your website up to date, change content from time to time to keep it relevant, make SEO tweaks etc. You can’t just leave a website and expect it to give you the results you need. Realistically, you need to dedicate some time on a regular basis to your website and your web presence in general. How much time to dedicate to your website, really depends on how big the website is, how often your products or services change, if you have a blog etc. I would say a minimum of half a day a month should be spent on a small business website if you don’t have an eCommerce site or a blog. If you really feel you either can’t learn the skills or you don’t have the time or the interest, then consider outsourcing to an agency.
4 – Basic onsite SEO is weak or missing.
I completely understand that some business’s will benefit more than others from having a website. But even the smallest most basic website needs to have some basic SEO completed to even be in the Google index at all. It’s not always the business owner to blame here. I have had quite a lot of cases where a small business owner has employed the services of a web designer and no SEO at all has been done on the site. Although it isn’t the job of a web designer to do the SEO for you, I believe a good web designer will make you aware that some basic SEO is needed.
So what basic onsite SEO should a small business owner make sure is done?
Title & Description metatags
Every page that you want to be found in Google’s index should have title and description meta-tags. For those of you who don’t know what these meta-tags are used for, they are the title & description that Google (and other search engines) show in their search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Keep the title length below 60 characters, but long enough to be sufficiently descriptive.
- Keep the description length below 160 characters, but long enough to be sufficiently descriptive.
- Try to combine your Primary Keyword and a long tail keyword to form the basis of the title.
- Try to combine a 1-2 primary keyword with 1-2 long tail keywords to form the basis of the description.
- Make sure the title & description are written in a way to make it obvious what information the site visitor will receive on the specific page.
An XML Sitemap gives the search engine the information it needs about the site structure and the pages on your site. If you are using WordPress then it is a good idea to use the Yoast SEO plugin, this can create the XML Sitemap for you and will update it when pages are added or altered. Once you have created the XML Sitemap the Search engine needs to be told it is there. You can add the XML Sitemap to Google in the Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster tools) and to Bing in Bing Webmaster tools.
The robot.txt file give search engine crawlers instructions. This is usually to tell the search engine bot which pages it should (and shouldn’t) crawl.
There are many other onsite SEO techniques that can (and should) be seployed on your small business website. But these are onsite SEO minimums that are required to stand a chance of showning in the SERPs at all.
3 – Use Google Analytics
If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your site, then you probably have absolutely no idea about the traffic that is coming to your small business website. Google Analytics is a Website traffic analysis tool produced by Google. It is a must for ANY website, business or personal. It is absolutely free so you really have no reason not to use it.
What information can I get from Google Analytics?
You will be suprised by the information available in Google Analytics. Some examples of the information you can see are below.
- How many users visit you site.
- Where your site visits are coming from.
- The location of the users.
- The device the user is using.
- The most popular pages on your site.
- how many site visitors that were converted to leads.
How should i use the Google Analytics information?
How deeply you dig into this information is up to you. Google Analytics can be massively powerful. At a minimum you can see the pages performing well or not so well and make adjustments based on that information. Check out my other Google Analytics posts to better understand how you can use this information.
2 – Backlinks
If you don’t know a backlink from a backpack, then you really need to listen! A backlink is basically a link from a different website to yours. For each backlink you get “link Juice” to help give your website more authority. It a basic sense the more popular the website that is linking to you is the more “link juice” you get. In reality it is much more complicated than that, but it gives you an idea. As well as the quality of the backlink, the quantity also plays a part. The basic goal is to get the most quality backlinks that you can, emphasis is on quality!
Where can I get backlinks from?
Well backlinks can come from all different places and some are more relevant than others depending on your industry, but some examples are below.
- Guest posting on industry relevant blogs
- Forum – don’t spam the forum, contribute to industry relevant forums. Only add a link if it is relevant and a genuine benefit to the poster.
- Blog comments – Don’t spam the blog comments, comment on industry/product relevant posts. Contribute the the post and only add a link if it is a genuine benefit to the readers.
- Social media – look for groups or posts on social media that are relevant to your business. Only post a link if it is a benefit to the poster, don’t spam. Also make sure you have links on your business social media pages back to your main website.
- Supplier/manufacturer/vendor websites. Lots will list suppliers of their products on their website. If they do, find out how you can get listed.
- Directories – Only bother with the main directories, Yell, Yelp, industry specific directories etc. If is a waste of time listing on the small unknown directories, search engines give little (if any) weight to these links.
- Q and A websites – websites like Quora, yahoo answers etc. Help the users by answering industry relevant questions, again only add a link if it is a genuine benefit.
- YouTube – If you have a business YouTube channel then make sure you link to you website in the description and have your video branded with you business name/website.
There are plenty of other places to get backlinks, but this is a good starting point. I hope you spotted the theme throughout, don’t spam and only add a link if it a genuine benefit.
Don’t try to cheat by buying “blacklinks”!
I use the term “blacklinks” for any spammy backlinks. There are plenty of people on places like Fiverr or unethical SEO companies that will generate 1000’s of backlinks to your website for a super cheap price. Quite simply, it isn’t worth it! It won’t work, or if it does it will be short lived. Once Google finds out you will be penalized.
1 – Check for “blacklinks”!
If you have a few spammy “blacklinks” to your website it is unlikely to be making much of an impact either positively or negatively. If you have a lot, then this is going to be causing you a problem. There are plenty of free backlink checkers that will tell what backinks you have. I recommend that you have a look and see if there are any spammy looking “blacklinks”. If you find there is or you want to dig a little deeper into your backlink profile, there are a few good paid tools that will help, some of the popular tools are SEMrush, Majestic or MOZ are some of the popular options. If you find spammy links back to you site then make sure you get them removed or disavowed.
Bonus tip – Negative SEO
Negative SEO can be malicious or accidental, but which ever it is you need to get it sort. Negative SEO is normally malicious and is a way of making Google look negatively on your website. Negative SEO can be quite a pain to recover from, if you find you are a victim of negative SEO then I suggest you might want to speak to an SEO agency to resolve the issue for you. Some common negative SEO techniques are below.
- Lots of spammy backlinks to your site sudden appear.
- You website has been hacked and content changed or spammy pages created.
- a sudden influx of negative review on social media or review sites.
- a sudden influx of negative posts on forums or Social media groups.
- Fake websites, social media pages etc masquerading as your business.
There are plenty of other trick that “blackhat” SEO’s might use for negative SEO but these are some of the more common techniques used. It is also possible that you may have accidentally created lots of spammy backlinks yourself, if you have these need to be removed too.
These tips are some basic SEO tips to make sure that you are listed in the Google SERPs and are really just scratch the surface with SEO. If you are serious about getting the most out of your website and the leads that you want you will need to put quite a bit of effort into SEO and dedicate some time each week/month to SEO. If you really aren’t interested in doing the work yourself, speak to an SEO company. A good SEO company will easily be able to generate the leads to more than compensate their cost.
As well as your website don’t neglect your other business web presence, such as Google My Business page, Social media, review sites, directory sites etc, they all should be used to drive traffic to your business.