Marketing has become deeply entrenched in the digital sphere, but many business owners make the mistake of thinking that they don’t need SEO.

But even if online retail isn’t your main market, SEO can be an incredibly valuable way to draw in new customers for essentially any kind of business.

Here’s how:

Mobile devices are taking over search.

Every year, people are using their desktops less and less for search. According to Comscore’s latest US Digital Future in Focus report, search growth is being driven by smartphones (up 17 percent) and tablets (up 28 percent).

Mobile devices are taking over this sphere and bringing with them a unique opportunity for many local businesses.

Because mobile devices are, well — mobile — people are using them to research information they need to make purchase decisions.

xAD’s Fourth Mobile Path to Purchase Report shows that smartphone use for purchase decisions is relevant to all sorts of businesses.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 10.19.50 AM

If someone’s searching on mobile, they’re much more likely to be ready to buy. Forty-two percent of searchers who are on-the-go plan to make a purchase within the hour.

What does this all mean?

If you want to draw in new customers who are using mobile to find the goods and services they need, then your business needs to show up in their search results to draw traffic.

Whether you run a grocery store, dental clinic, repair shop or restaurant, people are using search on their mobile devices to find you. In fact, Google search sites is the top digital media platform used on mobile, followed by Yahoo sites.

So if you’re not taking advantage of SEO for your business, you’re missing out on a lot of potential customers, and likely a big chunk of change.

But it’s possible you already know all about the importance of SEO, and have already made efforts to keyword optimise your website. Still, there are some common pitfalls that businesses fall into when implementing SEO that can make it difficult to see results.

Here are a few key areas you may be going wrong.

Targeting the wrong keywords:
If you’re a local business, chances are you don’t have a marketing team, nor a massive SEO budget at your disposal. Unfortunately, big businesses like Walmart, Red Robin and Schuck’s Auto Repair do.

If you want to target the most relevant keywords related to your business, keep in mind who you’re up against. Many businesses make the mistake of optimising for highly competitive keywords, only to find themselves stuck on the tenth page of results.

Luckily, there are some tricks you can use to rank for less competitive but ultra-relevant keywords that will put your business in front of the eyes of valuable searchers.

Look for longtail keywords:
The first thing you can do is research some relevant long tail keywords that big businesses aren’t bothering to rank for.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11.19.01 AM

Long tail keywords are more descriptive phrases that people are searching for related to your business. They have less search competition but are still very relevant.

Focus on local optimisation:
Especially if you run a brick and mortar business, there’s a lot you can do to get ahead of the search competition with local optimisation.

Google often displays a local “3-pack” in search results when people use local keywords. This is prime real estate for your business since it appears before the first organic result.

Optimise for local search by signing up for Google My Business, then make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP), are correct and consistent everywhere they’re listed online.

Then, optimise your pages for relevant local keywords. If I run an auto repair shop, great local keywords could be:

– Car repair + town name
– Car repair + zip code
– Car repair + neighbourhood name

Forgetting about user experience:
Another common area many businesses go wrong is forgetting about the role of user experience.

Getting people to click on your website is only the first step in driving conversions. If you want to get sales, people need to have a positive experience once they do reach your website.

The first thing you should focus on is your site speed. People are not patient waiting for pages to load, and the more bounces you get, the worse it is for your search rank.

Use Google’s Page Speed Insights to look for ways to improve your site speed.

Next, make sure your website is optimised for mobile devices. As mentioned above, most searches are done on mobile.

Eighty-eight percent of people are less likely to come back to a website after a bad experience, such as encountering a site that isn’t optimised for mobile.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11.33.24 AM

Make sure you either have a responsive design or separate mobile site to make it easier to navigate your website on small devices.

Other than that, just make sure the content you offer is valuable and informative, and your website is easy to navigate. Check for broken links and other technical issues that might cause disruption in visitors’ navigation of your site.

Know of any other common mistakes businesses make with SEO? Have another question about implementing SEO best practices on your website? Leave me a note in the comments below.

See more from Aaron at Louder Online, his blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.