Avoid these mistakes, and make sure your customers can find you.

Avoid these mistakes, and make sure your customers can find you.

Since 85 percent of consumers now use the web to find the businesses they’re looking for, you may be tempted to rely on your search engine rankings to attract the notice of new customers.

That’s not a good idea.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a valuable part of online marketing, but if you own a small business, it’s very difficult to do successfully. The rules are always changing, it’s difficult to keep up in the fast paced world of google and bing and all the others—and it’s easy to make mistakes.

You’re better off letting a company provide the service for you. If you’re insistent on trying to improve your own SEO rankings, however, here are five mistakes you should never make:

Building your own website
Yes, we know there are plenty of places and tools that allow you to build your own small business website—for free. With Facebook’s new shop feature, you can almost do it there. Remember, though, you get what you pay for. Do-it-yourself websites rarely perform well in search engine rankings. The professionals know how to use meta data, file tags and more to crack the algorithms that search engines are based on.

Not claiming every site you can
There are review sites all over the web—and you may have a presence there without even knowing it. Always seek out and claim listings on places like Yellowbook.com, Google+, Bing and Yelp. Many customers go directly to sites like Yellowbook and Yelp because they’re looking for local listings and they don’t want to sift through thousands of Google entries, anyway. Also, make sure you register your business with as many local groups as you can: chambers of commerce, business networks, etc. It’s easy, usually free, and it’ll help drive more links to your site—and that will improve your SEO ranking.

Not making your site mobile
Having a static website is not enough. This month, Google updated its algorithm to reward mobile friendly sites—it’s second such update in the last two years. More than 50 percent of online searches are conducted via mobile devices, and that number will only go up.

Not updating frequently enough
Search Engine algorithms favor active sites. It’s no longer a matter of “content is king,” but “constant content is king.” Make sure you are regularly posting new content: new blogs, new reviews or testimonials, products or services. It’s the proverbial snowball effect, only in cyberspace. The more you put out there, the more active your site will become and the more active it becomes, the more your SEO will benefit.

Not seeking and sharing reviews
Testimonials are the golden ticket of the Internet marketing world, just as they were the print advertising world and the television and radio advertising world. People will seek out auto shops, service centers, or any other type of business that they feel they can trust. Ask your customers if they’d feel comfortable posting a review while they’re in your shop. When they do, share it on your social media and make sure to thank them.

Even negative reviews, handled properly, can improve your search engine rankings. It may be sad, but it is true: people tend to notice negative reviews more than positive reviews and if you publicly handle a negative review to appease a customer, you’re appeasing a larger, interested audience. It’s a good way to bring in new customers and keep your old customers loyal.

Improving your search engine rankings isn’t easy, but if you avoid these mistakes you’ll be doing better than most. Have you tried any other methods? Let us know in the comments!