As humans we spend more time ranting than taking actions; and since Google is the king of the traffic (sorry Facebook!) it seems many small business owners spend their time ranting about lack of traffic and ranking instead of realizing WHY THEY ARE NOT RANKING.
Here are my 10 brutally honest reasons why many small business sites fail in their ranking dreams.
1) You don’t know what to Rank for.
It seems ranking is like the word “diet” we all know we have to do something about it, but we don’t know where to start.
Many small businesses have no idea what type of keywords they need to rank, that’s why they don’t even start the process.
2) The ones at the top are there because they pay a fortune.
This is another one of the best misconceptions ever. One Year ago one of my U.S. customers, that had a tiny budget, outranked some of the top American Corporation websites for an “impossible keyword”
The guys at the top achieved ranking by “natural causes” (authority and domain name age), and not because they were actively working for their ranking.
Sometimes ranking for a keyword is a matter of starting the process. If you don’t give it a go, you will never know.
Remember: Many huge corporations don’t do SEO, they just “exist” waiting for a small fish (like you or me) to take the challenge of outranking them. Many times the small fish wins without the huge corporation even realizing they lost their ranking.
3) You don’t have content (seriously)
You think you have content, but you really don’t. Creating content about things we know sometimes is so obvious and easy, but we don’t do it.
Many small businesses still think that one image is worth 1000 words, but for Google 1000 words is worth more than all the images in the world.
Google is primarily a content based search engine. Google wants content, so make Google happy and feed them content. Long content. Quality content. Unique content.
4) You gave up.
You did SEO 2 years ago and it didn’t work, the same way I went to the gym 4 times and I didn’t get a six pack!
SEO is not the magic bullet it used to be. Now it’s all about keeping up with what you are doing. Sorry but the amazing site you had in the late 90’s isn’t considered good anymore, in the same way sites go up and down, Google has changed. Google changes every year, which means you also, need to change with Google.
SEO is now a marathon, not a quick race… but in this marathon the winners are REAL winners and the more people that quit, the easier it becomes for the real athletes to compete.
5) Your cousin, friend, wife designed your website…
And you love it don’t you? , well, you kind of love it… isn’t that right? Or maybe you hate the site but you don’t want to break their hearts, because hey! It was a free website!
The reality is that amateurish designed and built sites usually come with a delicious range of problems; such as long loading times, broken links, poor onsite optimization, and lack of social syndication.
Having a cheap old website is like trying to win the Monaco Grand Prix in an old Volkswagen beetle. You may think it’s cute, but deep down inside it isn’t competitive enough to win the race.
6) You’re taking shortcuts.
We all love shortcuts, because working hard kinda sucks. Like taking shortcuts to try reach other people in your industry, or when setting up a proper link building strategies; instead you think that submitting your site to Google will do, or paying $10 to someone overseas would cut it, so you’d be ranking first in your industry.
The reality is the online world works exactly like the offline world; you don’t become first by taking the shortcut approach. Like in any normal business you need a strategy, a timeframe, a budget and precise goals; just like a proper marketing strategy won’t work if you don’t put the hard yards in.
Some typical shortcuts are:
- Duplicate content
- Same meta description and titles across your site
- Cheap link building schemes
- Buying Links
- Thin sites that don’t bring any real content or value to the visitor
7) You’re not investing in SEO
Oops sorry to mention this, but if you want to get traffic you need to invest in SEO.
Invest whatever you want, but start investing. Invest time, energy, invest in content creation, invest in social media, and invest in reaching your audience. The point is clear: You need to put in effort before you see any results, and many times the amount of money, time and energy you put in is simply not enough.
Many small businesses spend more time Googling their keywords to see where they rank, instead of working on improving their own sites.
8) You haven’t done your homework.
There are some things you NEED to do, regardless if you are going to play the SEO game or not. Regardless what your strategy is, you need to keep in mind that some things are a MUST.
So even if you are apathetic to the idea of ranking your site, you need to:
- Have a Google places listing.
- Add your site to Google webmaster tool (to be sure everything is OK from Google’s end with your site)
- Do a basic Google Keyword Research to understand a bit your industry.
- Add your site to your industry directories
9) SEO doesn’t work for my industry
I have done SEO for companies that fix submarines, to some of the largest SEO retailers in the country. The reality is that people SEARCH. That’s it. People search for everything, and someone is searching for your products, services today.
They usually think they have tons of options, but deep inside they only have a limited amount of choices. The limited choices usually are: To click number 1, number 2 or number 3. That’s it.
Do you want to be one of the options? Or are you happy for your potential customers to click on the websites that now rank in the top 3? The decision is yours. But if you still think people don’t search for your services, think again.
10) You see SEO as one magic pill and not as one piece of the cake.
I would love to tell you that SEO is enough, but the reality is that SEO is part of the same cake: the cake that says I CARE.
Social media, user usability, internet marketing, copywriting, SEO … are part of the ingredients to the successful online business cake.
Companies that realize that SEO is a part of a “way of approaching” the online market and embrace that implementing SEO will not only improve their rankings, but force them to improve their website, their content and their user’s experiences; these are the ones that are really making a difference.
Those companies are the ones that achieve ranking not as the result of a secret link building solution provided by an SEO company, but thanks to their hard work across their website.