Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ever-changing discipline that is not only essential to remain competitive in todays’ market, but is mandatory if you are serious about driving traffic to your website. For dental entrepreneurs who are new to the information superhighway, SEO can be like an excruciating toothache, and that is why many newcomers make common mistakes. Every few weeks or months new algorithms are introduced by search engines, in part to thwart the efforts of “black hat” SEO providers (more about “black hat” later in this article).

However, as a business owner, if you get the basics right, and stay at the forefront of these changes, and/or retain experts to assist you in navigating the murky waters of SEO, you can create solid SEO foundations on which to build a healthy page rank for your business. According to Outbrain, an online advertiser specialising in presenting sponsored website links, “Search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300%.” So, the need to optimize is a no-brainer.

Here then are eight (8) common SEO mistakes business owners make in their zeal to optimize their websites that you should avoid, at all cost, if you wish to stay ahead of the curve:

Mistake #1: Not optimizing websites for mobile.

You would think the fact there are over 2.6 billion smartphone users in the world, predicted to increase to 6.1 billion by 2020 (Ericsson Mobility Report) would be a clue for business owners to make their websites mobile-friendly. Unfortunately, this is not so. According to IronPaper, a digital agency based in New York City that uses marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients, “As of April 21, 2015, Google’s algorithm now incorporates a website’s ‘mobile friendliness’ into its rankings.” With this new information it is clear, business owners need to ensure their websites are mobile-friendly.

Mistake #2: Not Having Proper Title Tags

Title tags tell WebCrawler’s your webpage is relevant. They also enable search engines to identify your page. They are therefore able to track activities surrounding your page. E.g. If your page title ends up on Facebook and is “liked,” search engines will see it as relevant and so rank it higher.  The mistake many business owners make is to have the same title on different pages, and making the titles too long. The ideal length for a title is 70 characters (with space). Ensure each page is uniquely identifiable so search engines can index them correctly.

Mistake #3:  Optimizing the Wrong Keyword(s)

It is a myth to think because you are on the top of Google search results many persons are running to your page. The fact is, you could have gotten to the top of the list with keywords that are used by very few people to find information about your business. If this is so, then obviously only a small number of persons will click through to your website.

Unfortunately, many business owners do not know the difference between getting on the top of Google search results and having people on your website. You could also get on the top of Google search results for keywords that are not used by people in your target market. For example, if you are a dentist and targeting women aged 35 to 45, getting on top of Google for keywords like “Sunnyvale Dentist” will not bring you much of that target market because women in this age bracket are more likely to use keywords like “Sunnyvale cosmetic dentistry” or “how to look younger dentistry.” Make sure you are using keywords that your customers are actually searching for.

Mistake #4: Having too many keywords, aka keyword stuffing.

There was a time websites would have gotten away with the “Black Hat” technique of keyword stuffing. However, this no longer works. Don’t get caught in this trap. SEO providers use Black Hat methods of improving your website rankings that eventually lead to website filtering by the major search engines. White Hat SEO technique, on the other hand, is the preferred technique of search engines, requiring keywords in the title, on the pages, within the first paragraph, and preferably in your tags. These will help search engines to index your page. So while it’s important to have the right keywords, it is just as important for your Keywords to merge seamlessly into your sentences.

Mistake #5: Sacrificing readability for SEO optimization.

Many business owners hire a web developer to build a website. This usually includes a designer who offer a fancy site, but no consideration is given for the actual content of the site. Don’t make this mistake. Plan your content with the help of a professional writer first, then modify for optimal SEO. Be aware that your content should first communicate well. Then, and only then do you implement SEO optimization of the content.

Mistake #6: Piggybacking off the above mistake is the “poor content quality” mistake.

“Content is king” has become a cliché, but is still very true. Content on your website includes blog posts, photos, other images, a sales copy, and/or infographics. Choose topics that are interesting and heavily-researched. According to QuickSprout, the average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. “The higher up you go onto search listings page, the more content each web page has.” If you can create great content that is of a good length and includes your relevant keywords, you will be on your way to building a solid SEO foundation.

Mistake #7: Not paying proper attention to your outbound links.

Quality vs. quantity has been an ongoing debate on the online landscape, but has never been more relevant than now, a time when smart phones have broken the barriers of accessibility. As such, business owners no longer have the luxury of trial and error, or making silly mistakes when it comes to marketing their products.

Mistakes such as a link that goes to a 404 page is a no-no. So, too, is linking to a page with a low page rank (PR). When it comes to linking to an external website, quality trumps quantity. Link to high PR sites or an Authoritative blog.

Mistake #8: Not tracking your web traffic.

The aim of SEO is to ensure you maximize the number of people coming to your websites so that you have a chance to communicate to them and convert them into clients. The mistake business owners make is to invest in SEO optimization, but do not measure the impact of their SEO efforts. You won’t know how well your SEO strategy is working unless you implement services such as Google Analytics.

Well, there are many more SEO mistakes newbie dental entrepreneurs and even seasoned business owners make that can be detrimental to the success of your online business. However, these are arguably the top-most detrimental and commonly occurring among business owners.

Let us know via our Comments box whether you have made any or all of these mistakes, and what your experience(s) has been since you made the necessary adjustments.