10 Common Local SEO MistakesPublished on March 11, 2017 Words by Tom Gooden
Are you hurting your Google rankings?
Most businesses are creating self-inflicted damage to their local Google rankings. We often audit business websites and find the same mistakes being made. Sometimes the businesses don’t even realize they are making a mistake. In this post, we’ll discuss the 10 Common Local SEO Mistakes that we encounter.
1. No “Google My Business” profile
When you start to think about SEO, you begin to consider your website’s ranking in Google. But with local search engine optimization, things can be a little different.
When you search for “dentists near me”, you will see a Google map in the results with Dentists that are around you. You will also see local dental offices displayed under the map, as shown in the image below.
That information is actually being pulled from their Google My Business listing.
If your business does not utilize Google My Business, you’re missing out local visibility. Google My Business profiles are free to set up, and can be a great tool in allowing your target audience to find you. Also be sure to verify your business listing which will prevent anyone from being able to claim your listing online in the future.
2. Duplicate Listings
On this list of common local SEO mistakes, is duplicate business listings. Especially with Google My Business.
Not only could it have a negative affect on your rankings, but it also creates confusion and bad user experience for people that are looking for the service or product that you offer.
Make sure that you have a single, consistent, verified, and completed Google My Business listing.
3. Missing Contact Information
More often than not, businesses lack sufficient contact information on their websites. It’s important to ensure all of your contact information is listed, as well as consistent.
Ensure that your business name, address, and phone number is in an easy to find location. It’s also important to make sure that this information is in text, not an image. Google can not interpret images the way it can text. Having your contact information in images is probably damaging your local visibility.
Google takes a lot of things into consideration to ensure that its delivering accurate information to its users. They do this by comparing the information on your website to your Google My Business profile. They also cite other areas of the net where you may be listed, including social media, and local business directories.
Which is a great segway into mistake #4…
4. Inconsistent NAPW
NAPW (or sometimes just referred to as NAP) stands for Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website.
As stated above, it’s very important to have consistent information on your website, as well as your Google My Business profile. In addition to this, Google looks at different directories all over the internet to make sure that your NAP is the same across all of these places. This can be a huge pain in the butt considering how many citations there can be for your business all over the internet.
Make sure you have consistent NAP on every directory possible. Even the slightest inconsistency can cause confusion to Google and other search engines.
5. Lacking Citations
Another common local SEO mistake is lacking relevent citations. A citation is basically a mention of your NAP (see above) on the internet.
Citations can have a very high impact on local rankings. The more relevant the citation to your area or industry, the better it becomes. Every industry can have different citation sources, and different citations also carry different weight with different industries.
Well, it is and it isn’t. Citations are a lot of work, and it’s extremely important to have them from a local SEO perspective. Track down these citations, or have a professional do it for you. Figure out a way to get listed or mentioned, and you will see the positive effects over time.
6. Poor Customer Reviews
Most businesses don’t even consider customer reviews. Well, you better start.
Thinking about your business from a customer’s point of view can be difficult, but it’s something you need to understand if you want to grow your business. When a potential customer is searching for your service or product, they probably don’t know you or your business. What they do know is what other people are saying about you.
How do they know that?
Online reviews. There are many different places where your business can be reviewed. Identifying the big ones and staying on top of them can make a big difference. Over 88% of people trust online reviews.
Who ya gonna call? (Hint: Not Ghostbusters)
Online reputation management can be done in different ways. Usually, the best way is to just ask them in person. Next time they are at your place of business, simply let them know that a quick review would mean a lot to you. If done over time, you can create a lot of great reviews which will build trust in your brand.
7. Low Quality or Thin Content
Your website is the foundation of your online presence. If your business website is crammed full of pages with low-quality information or thin content then it is going to be hard to garner quality rankings in Google.
Thin content refers to pages that don’t have much information on them. Generally, this is pages with under 400 words.
Google’s job when you think about it, is to provide its users with the most relevant content to their search query. If your website is not informative, or just doesn’t have much on it, Google is going to assume that you aren’t as relevant to users as other websites may be.
If you have pages on your website that have low quality or thin content, then there are a couple solutions.
If you don’t feel there is anything that can be added to the page, you can “no index” that page so that Google doesn’t penalize you for thin content. You can also consider merging pages with relevant thin content to create a larger, more informative page. (Don’t forget to 301 redirect the old URL to the new page). And probably the best method, write more content. Google loves words. Especially when those words provide value to people reading it. Consider re-writing or touching up your pages to create a better user experience.
8. No Relevant Backlinks
Backlinks are one of the biggest factors Google considers when ranking websites. A backlink is another website linking back to your website in one way or another. Google figures if people are talking about you and linking to you, then you must be doing something right.
However, today we’re seeing Google become more picky about the links that are pointing to your website. And rightfully so. You cannot expect Google to count just any website to link to you. If that were the case, we’d go make 100 new websites right now and then let the ranking domination begin!
Not so fast. The backlinks you get need to be from quality relevant websites. Meaning, if I’m a Therapist in Lake Orion, it’s not going to help me to get a link from a Plumber in Florida.
So how do you get these quality relevant websites to link to you?
Well, creating something of value is really the key. There are a lot of different tactics to get ethical quality links. Consider contacting a professional SEO company to discuss these strategies.
9. Not using Social Media
Believe it or not, social media activity is indeed one of many ways Google can determine your website rankings for your business.
Social media is important not only from a ranking perspective but from a user engagement one as well. It’s one of the best ways to effectively communicate with your audience. That can be through basic occasional posting or creating targeted strategized ad campaigns for your product or service.
The greatest part about it is, wait for it… it’s free! Well, not the ad campaigns. But having a Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc for your business is totally free. Start building your following on these outlets today. Yesterday. Last week. It is a tool all businesses need to utilize.
10. No Mobile-Friendly Website
The last of our common local SEO mistakes. Would you believe me if I told you that more people are accessing the web from a mobile device as opposed to a desktop computer (or laptop)?
Well, it’s true. Mobile usage has taken over, and it’s growing by the day. This is so important, that you are actually penalized by Google for not having a website that adapts to mobile devices.
This goes back to understanding your audience. How many times have you looked for a local service by pulling out your phone and typing it in? Well if you’re at least a somewhat normal person probably a lot.
If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, it’s time to get one. It’s been time.
Are you guilty of these common local SEO mistakes?
Keep calm, and don’t freak out. Most of these common local SEO mistakes are easily fixed with a little bit of work. But before your attempt to implement fixes to some of these issues, make sure you have a good understanding of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you’re going to do it.
Even professional SEO’s can’t generate results overnight. SEO is an ongoing process and can take a lot of work. If you’re serious about ranking or just want to clean up some of the problems you’re having with your website, then contact a local SEO professional. Get your website professionally audited, with a roadmap of what, why, and how to make changes to improve your local SEO.