This is just a quick warning for small business owners who are looking at SEO strategy for 2023. Each year in December, I start to analyze the different tools I use for helping my clients with digital marketing. Do I stick with the same trusted toolbox or try new things. Once I start looking at the different tools again, I am bombarded with ads for all sorts of digital marketing tools, and this gives me a chance to see how they are selling themselves to small business owners. It really gives a perspective of all the garbage that is out there to sift through. Though I know it is tempting for small businesses to jump on that cheap immediate answer that promises amazing results, in most cases these “get rich quick” tools are just going to take your money and leave you wanting. SEO takes work and the whole point is to differentiate yourself from your competitors by standing out. Most generic approaches just won’t work, and some will even get you in trouble. I’ve talked many times about getting good tools, but still needing to know how to use them. There is still work that has to be done. It is great when tools can help automate tedious processes, but it is important to know what you shouldn’t rely on complete automation for.
Here are a few things to avoid that I have seen pop up as ads for small business owners.
Google Business Only Plans
I am constantly seeing ads to super charge your Google Business page or how SEO is dead and by only using your Google Business profile, you can have a three month waiting list as one scammer noted. I discuss Google Business only schemes more in-depth in an earlier post, but at the very least, just know that your Google Business presence is highly reliant on the strength, content, and credibility of your website. Sure they may have some sucecess stories from markets that aren’t competitive or where sprucing of the Google Business page helped a business that already had great website SEO, but generally you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in this basket, no matter what the offer is. It is just too small of a piece of the overall SEO puzzle. What is worse is that you don’t truly own your Google Business page, Google does. They can do whatever they want with it. In 2022, we saw them erase many reviews from small business Google pages, as well as suspend listings that were simply making edits to their hours or updates to information. Google Business is an important part of the local small business puzzle, but it is not the only part, and it is highly reliant on other aspects of SEO.
AI Written Content
ChatGPT and AI content writing has become all the rage in late 2022. I now see many ads for tools promising to automate and write all of your SEO content for you. This is another topic I have covered in-depth over the years, but purely AI-generated SEO content is more likely your road to failure than to success. AI focuses on the information already out there, and in many cases with SEO AI, it is taking the content in the top ranking pages and throwing it all together, and then spitting out something that tries to incorporate all of those points. This may be a great start for you to write your own content, but to separate yourself, you need your own voice for your own market, and you need information gain. Google is looking to rank the content that stands out and offers something extra and useful to the user. With AI, it is all essentially the same content and becomes a pile of ranking mush. AI content tools can indeed be helpful in getting you started with your writing, but avoid any that say they do it all for you. You sill have some work to do adding and using your own voice.
General Automated SEO Tools
These are typically a mess. I can’t begin to tell you how bad of an idea it is to set it and forget it with your SEO. Just avoid any tool that says they do it all. Tools are meant to help you, but you still need to keep an eye on things. Don’t let any tool automatically change your text. You may be surprised at what you see when you eventually get around to reading that text you allowed a tool to automatically adjust for you. There are tools that can help speed your site up, offer content suggestions and even link suggetions, but they all need to be reviewed an then, as I keep mentioning, there is still work to do. Smart humans will always be necessary in competive markets to differentiate what is most important to act on with limited resources, as well as what makes sense to their users.
Link Building is Nuanced
Be very careful with all of these new companies that offer link-building tools. Again, some tools may be useful. It can be beneficial to see what sites link to your big competitors. There may be opportunities there. But real links are relationships. There isn’t an automated way to do that. Also, the companies that scare you by telling you all of your links are poison are big red flags. Often, with small businesses, some of the better links are low domain strength locally relevant links. They tell Google you are active and involved in your neighborhood. Often these may pop up on link tools as spammy because the site isn’t strong. Local links are not typically high domain-strenth links, but they are highly relevant links. At the end of the day, real links come from real sites and real relationships. Unless the link company is doing outreach to help build these relationships, be very careful about their tools.
ABC’s of SEO
In warning you to avoid scams, I have covered a bit of the ABC’s of SEO. If you need help having someone else worry about this so you can focus on your core business, give us a call. We have been doing it right for over 15 years for business owners all over the world. We are flexible enough to step in and help where you need it, and let you handle the pieces you have capacity for, with the assistance of someone that is keeping close tabs on the latest updates and changes in the industry. Wishing everyone tremendous success in 2023 with SEO, but don’t fall for the tricks. The money you save from not using a cheap scam can be used on a plan that will really help.