Just as there are things a business can do to increase its brand’s presence and visibility through Local SEO, it is also possible to make the occasional local SEO mistake. We list the most common ones below.
Local SEO mistake 1
Failing to claim their Google My Business listing is a fundamental error. I recall a very successful electrician who used to attend business meetings with me. He was not interested in talking about “Local SEO” because his web designer had him ranked number one for “electrician in town name” (I am not going to reveal the town!). But this rank was an organic rank and it is pretty easy to make a website rank for a single keyword in a single town. As a result, his business never appeared in local search results, i.e. in the 3-pack Map results. His local competitors were never troubled by him when people were looking for a local electrician because the map results show higher up in the results than the organic results. That must have cost him a small fortune over the years.
Local SEO mistake 2
Having duplicate listings. There is almost nothing Google hates more than duplicate content; so much so that they will often penalise websites for publishing content identical to that of another website. Not only is duplicate content unhelpful for the user, but it is also a waste of Google’s resources when searching for relevant results to display. If one business location has more than one listing within any online directory, it is going to hurt them more than it is going to help. Very often duplicate listings lead to reviews being split across the two listings so that their benefit is diluted.
Local SEO mistake 3
Improper categorisation. Checking off those little ‘category’ boxes that all online directories ask for is a delicate balance. Typically, a business will do better in the results if they check off as many of those categories as possible, as this helps the search engines to understand their business. However, Google will also penalise businesses that have checked off categories that are actually irrelevant to their business. This is why it is a delicate balance.
Local SEO mistake 4
Incorrect contact information on the website. What does a business’s website have to do with their online directories? Other than the fact that many of those directories point to those websites, a lot. Google wants to make sure they are displaying the most accurate results to the user. If they did not, the phrase “Google it” might be less effective. In order to do this when it comes to business listings, Google will cross-reference the contact information within the online directory with the contact information on a business’s website. If the two do not match up, Google may not recognise the listings as representing the same entity which will negatively affect its rank.
Local SEO mistake 5
Inconsistent NAP information. Just like Google cross-references contact information with a business’s website, the online directories also cross-reference a business’s NAP – name, address, phone number – with each other. When inconsistencies occur, businesses will not obtain the ranking benefit that they otherwise would.
Local SEO mistake 6
Ignoring key citations that your competitors are not ignoring. The Local SEO game is about doing just a bit more than your competitors so having an eye on them is important. If they are all listed on a high authority citation site such as Yelp and you are not then you need to do something about it.
Local SEO mistake 7
Lack of reviews or of responses to reviews. This is another thing that you can compare to your competitors. Recent reviews are increasingly important to consumers and are recognised by Google. Responses to reviews are a powerful social signal and can differentiate your business from your competitors.
Local SEO mistake 8
Ignoring Social Media has become a problem as recent studies have shown the link between local rank results and social media presence and activity. What many people don’t realise is that you can be criticised on social media even if you don’t have a social media account on the platform. In that respect, it is the same as “word of mouth”.
Local SEO mistake 9
Sparse content on your website if you have one. I have left this to the last because it is quite possible to rank well locally without a website and if I were to include website errors affecting Local SEO then I could double the list. So if you have a website then you need to use it to help you to rank locally. Although sparse content is a common error, it is by no means the only one. In general, Google needs enough information on your website to understand what you do and to take you seriously. How much is unknown but at least 500 words per page is often used as a yardstick.
Just as some practices need to be instated to increase a business’s Local SEO efforts, those listed above need to be avoided.
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