25 SEO and Online Marketing Mistakes

25 SEO and Online Marketing Mistakes

I worked on my first SEO project in 1997 and I’ve learned a lot over the years (and made my share of mistakes).

I’ve also had a first-row seat and watched small business owners fall short with SEO and online marketing. Usually, it’s just innocent; they simply don’t know any better. Occasionally, it’s a lack of capital. They can’t outsource the work or hire the right people. Worst of all, it’s a pride issue. They ignore advice or question everything, questioning the value of numerous SEO tactics and strategies.

Small business executives make three-page websites and expect to compete with the biggest names in their industry.

One of my least favorite examples emerged several years ago. I got a lead from a company that specializes in artwork for the home and office. The business actually had some rankings and the potential for more. But nothing happened.

I created a custom SEO audit and charged them half down in this instance. Two weeks later, I delivered the complete audit with notes, website screenshots, keyword research, competitor analyses and a dozen recommendations. Over the next several weeks, the owners didn’t use any of my suggestions. Not one.

Were they disappointed? Did I miss the mark in every way imaginable? No. The owners simply didn’t get around to it. They didn’t want to finish paying for the audit.

“We weren’t happy with the results,” one of them said.
“You didn’t do anything I proposed,” I said.


I tried time and time again to get the second payment they owed, but they never replied. Finally, after a couple of more emails and phone calls, they finally paid.

My point is that you can’t succeed with SEO if you don’t take action.

Here is a quick-hit list of other SEO and online marketing mistakes that small business owners make. You might identify with a few and still benefit from SEO. Hopefully, not too many of these will sound familiar. If they do, SEO won’t be good fit for your company.

  1. You fail to understand or define your audiences.
  2. You give up on keyword research too soon.
  3. You don’t know the nuances of keyword selection.
  4. You don’t have a keyword in your domain name.
  5. You don’t track your print advertising ROI.
  6. You don’t accurately calculate your tradeshow ROI.
  7. If you don’t track other ROI well, you can’t compare SEO to the effectiveness of other marketing efforts.
  8. You don’t follow through with response forms in a timely fashion, which could shortchange your SEO investment.
  9. You ask too many questions on your response forms, which can diminish the impact of SEO.
  10. Your website is poorly designed, which means some SEO and the organic (natural) traffic can be wasted.
  11. When people call your number, you don’t ask how they found you (in order to assign at least some projected percentage of calls to SEO).
  12. You don’t know how to create page titles or really know what they are.
  13. You have too many short pages (little text).
  14. You don’t know how to optimize page headers (like headlines).
  15. You don’t know how to attract inbound links from other websites.
  16. You don’t align your new website content or blog posts with a keyword strategy.
  17. You don’t know how many leads you need to land a sale for a product, a service or a set of similar products and services.
  18. You charge too much, which can hinder your SEO efforts.
  19. You’re not familiar with Google Analytics, including goals and behavior flow.
  20. You settle for cheap SEO services, like places that “submit” your website to search engines (that already know your site exists).
  21. You don’t know how to use the data in Google Search Console.
  22. You entrust your SEO to a website designer who may know SEO mechanics but could be clueless with keyword selection and how to use keywords within the website (including page URLs and subheads).
  23. You don’t create top-of-the-funnel content (like how-to guides and videos) that catch the attention of visitors who aren’t in buy mode (but may be willing to subscribe to your monthly newsletter).
  24. You don’t know how to optimize your image file names or image alt text.
  25. You think you’ll just do SEO on your own and spend that time while ignoring other parts of your business.

Many small business owners do understand SEO and have leveraged it to boost sales. Their websites may not be perfect – and they don’t rank well for every keyword phrase they love – but they know enough to pull it off (sometimes with other internal resources or an outside consultant). They limit their SEO and online marketing mistakes.

What’s your SEO comfort level?