Local SEO has been one of the hottest buzzwords in digital marketing for the past several years. How could it not? Nearly half of Google searches are seeking local information, after all.
The power of local SEO becomes even more obvious when you consider that 88% of consumers will visit a physical location within 24 hours of looking it up. You can’t argue with those numbers.
There’s always a rush whenever a new digital marketing trend starts to make headlines. This can lead to a lot of bad information and worst practices.
To help you avoid some of these practices, here are some local SEO mistakes to watch out for.
1. Ignoring Google My Business
Some business owners think that their Google My Business page is filled out automatically with details for their website. That’s not the case. This can be one of the most serious local SEO mistakes, considering how important your Google Business listing is for your local SEO strategy.
To create your Google My Business listing, start off by going to https://business.google.com/create. Search for your business to see if your business listing has already been set up or not. If it hasn’t, you can claim the business so you can fill in the necessary information.
Once you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing, fill in all of the pertinent local SEO data. You’ll want to make sure to include business hours, any physical addresses if there are any, and links to any websites you might have.
A complete Google My Business listing is a key component of getting listed on Google Maps or the 3 Pack. Don’t overlook this simple step if you’re serious about people finding you via local SEO.
2. Not Optimizing Your Website for Mobile
A huge percentage of local searches come from mobile devices. Having a mobile-friendly website is always important if you want to deliver an optimal user experience. It’s mandatory, however, if you’re serious about local SEO ranking.
Mobile optimization isn’t only important for your local SEO ranking, either. It’s an increasingly important factor in how Google ranks your website.
If you haven’t optimized your website for mobile devices yet, now’s the time.
3. Remove Duplicate Listings
Your business might be listed on numerous local business directories. You can never have too many links, right? Not according to Google.
Google despises duplicate content. So much so that they will heavily penalize websites if they feature the same words or images.
This isn’t just restricted to content you’ve posted yourself, either. Sometimes business directory listings will feature a website without their permission. This could end up penalizing your website.
Make sure to Google your business’ name periodically, just to make sure duplicate content isn’t being posted anywhere. If you find any, you should remove it as quickly as possible.
4. Not Categorizing Your Business
Most business directories will have an option to list what kind of business you operate. One of the common local SEO mistakes a lot of business owners make is failing to list their business in the appropriate categories.
Many business owners will simply list their business under the most relevant category. This is the first mistake. You should be categorizing your business under as many labels as you can.
Google My Business lets you list up to 30 categories for your business, for instance. Spend some time thinking about all of the goods and services your business provides so you can make sure to include as many categories as possible.
5. No Contact Information on Your Homepage
You’d be amazed at how often people neglect the basics on their website. Failing to include your business’s contact information is bad for your local SEO in a number of ways.
First and most importantly, local SEO matters because you want people to find you. Not including your street address, phone number, and hours of operation means that people can’t find you when they need you.
It also means that Google can’t find you, either. Google is very on guard against bad information, as it hurts their credibility. One of the ways that Google verifies the information on Google My Business listings is by double-checking the contact info on the website.
Failing to do so could mean your website doesn’t show up in the rankings for local SEO keywords. Make sure you have the contact information for your business listed on your website in writing. Google won’t be able to detect it if it’s embedded in an image.
6. Inconsistent NAP Information
Having the wrong contact information on your website might be worse than having none at all. Google can be particularly severe about incorrect contact info, as it’s bad for their reputation.
NAP information stands for name, address, and phone. It needs to not only be correct on your website but every other website that mentions your business as well. You’ll need to keep an eye on other business directories, to make sure that the info they have listed is accurate.
Otherwise, your business could be penalized.
To check and see if there are any issues with NAP information, you can type your business name into the Moz Local Search tool. They’ll alert you to any potential issues that you may have that could negatively impact your local SEO ranking.
7. Lack of Mentions
Not being listed on other directories can also have a negative effect on your local SEO ranking. Simply making sure you have accurate information about your business is only the first step.
Search engines use additional business directories to look for further mentions to a business. Again, this is in the interest of their accuracy. An inaccurate search engine isn’t worth very much at all.
Search engines will check business directories for additional citations to your business to make sure you’re real. Think of this as the digital version of having two forms of ID.
You need to make sure your business is listed on at least one or two other directory sites than Google My Business
8. Lack of Customer Reviews
Social proof has never been more important than it is in today’s digital economy. 92% of consumers trust recommendations from their friends, for instance. It’s hard to know who to trust and where to find quality data.
Reading reviews is becoming more prevalent before making any kind of purchase decision. If people are willing to read two or three reviews before trying the taco truck up the road, you can rest assured they’re going to research extensively before making any kind of major decisions, like which college to go to.
The trouble is in getting customers to leave a review, especially if there aren’t any yet. Customers might feel more compelled once they see a few other reviews there. In the meanwhile, it can be tricky to garner your first few reviews to post on your website.
If you don’t yet have any reviews, don’t fret! Google doesn’t penalize too harshly for their lack. But you should be taking steps to fix that as quickly as possible.
One local SEO mistake that people make is not displaying the ‘Submit A Review’ button prominently. It’s hard to get customers to leave a review at the best of times. It becomes next to impossible if they can’t find the submission form.
A lack of positive reviews is something you’ll also need to contend with. It’s human nature to give more precedence to negative emotions than positive ones. People are more likely to leave a review when they’re upset than when they’re happy and feeling good.
You should consider offering some incentives to your satisfied customers to leave a review. Maybe offer a special discount code or a premium opt-in gift. It’ll be worth it, as positive word-of-mouth recommendations are more precious than silver.
9. Lack of Content
If you’ve been online in recent years, you’ve probably heard the phrase ‘content is king.’ There are a whole slew of reasons why your website needs to have as much content as possible. Some of them have to deal with SEO in general, not just local SEO.
Google is concerned with finding relevant content. Keywords are one of the principal ways they determine relevancy for a website. Simply put, the more times a keyword is used on a website, the higher it ranks.
From a very basic standpoint, it makes sense that you’d want to include that keyword on your website as many times as possible.
There’s more to it than that, however. Google also ranks the quality of information, not simply that it’s there. Otherwise, we’d still be in the days of black hat keyword stuffing.
Google scans for thin content to determine relevancy. Thin content is web pages with less than 500 words. If you’re serious about ranking for SEO keywords or phrases, local or otherwise, you need to include multiple instances using the keyword/phrase throughout your website.
You’ll also want to pay attention to some SEO technicalities as well. Not all keyword use is the same, either. Google gives special precedent to keywords used in headers, pages, and with relevant backlinks. Keep this in mind when you’re creating quality content for your website.
10. Lack of Backlinks
Speaking of relevant backlinks, having your website linked to is another way that Google determines your site’s authority and legitimacy. Like keywords, however, not all backlinks are equal.
Relevant, high-quality backlinks are one of the Holy Grails of SEO in 2020. Getting an influential website to link back to your domain can be prohibitively difficult, as a result.
Like social reviews, Google won’t penalize you too highly for a lack of other websites linking to your business. If you’re serious about developing your local SEO strategy, however, you should be thinking of ways to attract quality backlinks.
Getting your business listed in business directories is a good first step. These are accessible to nearly everybody and so are a good place to start to generate your first inbound links.
Beyond the business directories, creating great content is your best bet to get people to link to your website. It’s in your interest to do so, anyway. You increase brand awareness, establish yourself as a leader in your niche, and enhance your trustability when you create high-quality content.
Hosting a blog on your website is one way you can feature high-quality content. It’s also a further opportunity to rank for relevant keywords and phrases. When you create great content, it offers an opportunity to promote your material as well. It gives you something to share via social media, for instance.
Don’t just limit your content creation strategy to blogging, either. PR announcements can be an excellent source of relevant backlinks, for instance. PR databases are nearly as accessible as business directories, as well, making them a good first step in getting quality backlinks.
11. Lack of Social Media
Speaking of promoting content on social media, that’s another way that search engines determine your businesses’ relevance. Social media use is becoming increasingly important in Google’s SEO ranking.
Simply put, the days of social media being optional to promote a business are quickly receding. Search engines look for social media presence to determine if your business is real, as well as the relevancy of your keywords.
Think of social media marketing as another opportunity to establish your brand. Use your social media networks to post great content around relevant keywords.
Don’t simply publish your own content, either. Social media is an optimal opportunity to create connections and build relationships with people in your industry. This can even lead to those much sought after backlinks, as well.
As you can see, there’s a lot to know about local SEO. It’s becoming a robust discipline, with its own rules and regulations, as local search becomes increasingly important in the digital economy. Avoid these local SEO mistakes, and you’ll be flying up the SERPs before you know it.
Want to Avoid Local SEO Mistakes?
Local search is incredibly powerful in terms of local consumers finding your business. With 67% of consumers preferring businesses that customize their content for their location, you simply can’t afford to make local SEO mistakes if you want to flourish in your niche.
If you’re looking to help your business thrive in your community, contact us today to find out how we can help you soar up the SERPs.