What would happen if Google decided to stop indexing local sites? Would businesses simply disappear from the Internet forever? Of course not, because they would continue to exist independent of Google. Even though the method of finding them might have diminished, there are still other search engines. Thankfully, local searches aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, in 2020, 93 percent of consumers used online searches to find local businesses. It stands to reason that it has increased even more by now.
That is why it’s important to have a local SEO strategy, and to make sure that you minimize your local SEO mistakes. If you want your site to show up in local search results, then you should start optimizing it for local keywords. This way, when someone types something into a search bar, your page will show up.
For those who don’t know much about local SEO, here are some things to keep in mind. First off, you’ll need to create a Google My Business account. Then, you’ll need to fill out all the information that Google asks for. Finally, you’ll need to optimize your site for local keywords. Once these steps are complete, you will need to create and execute a local SEO content strategy to match.
All of the moving parts of local SEO work together to create a comprehensive online local SEO strategy that will help you beat your competition. Therefore, it’s important to not make these mistakes along the way.
You Use Keyword Targets That Are Not Localized
In our experience, one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to SEO involves targeting broad, unspecific terms like “lawyer.” If you are trying to rank for this in New York City, chances are you won’t succeed. You’ll end up with a lot of competition because there are thousands of lawyers practicing law in NYC alone.
The problem with broad keywords is that they don’t tell Google what you’re selling. Instead, they give the search engine a general idea of the type of content you offer. This makes it difficult to target high volume queries that are relevant to your product/service. Broad keywords are great for driving traffic to your site, but they aren’t effective at generating leads and sales.
For instance, if you specialize in family law, you might use the term. This way, people searching for a lawyer know exactly what type of law they want to hire. They don’t just want a general practitioner; they want someone who specializes in family law.
You Are Targeting Keywords That Are Too Broad
One of the most important aspects in SEO is identifying and targeting specific keywords for your business. When you target too broad of a keyword, it becomes difficult to rank well in the SERPs. In fact, some studies show that targeting too broad of a keyword can actually cause some challenges in ranking, because these types of keywords are usually far too competitive for smaller sites to rank.
The problem with targeting too broad of a keyword is that there are literally thousands of different types of businesses that use the same keyword. If someone is searching for a divorce lawyer, they probably aren’t looking specifically for a divorce lawyer in Schaumburg, Illinois. They might be looking for a divorce lawyer in Chicago, or even a divorce lawyer in New York City.
This is why we recommend focusing on targeting geo-specific keywords over broad keywords. This way, you are able to narrow down your focus and increase your chance of ranking high in local searches.
For example, let’s say you are an attorney in Schaumburg. You want to rank highly for the keyword “divorce lawyers.”
You could try targeting the keyword “Chicago divorce lawyers” because you know that people in Chicago are searching for divorce lawyers. Or you could try targeting the keyword “divorce lawyers near me.”
By doing this, you are limiting your exposure to just those people who live within driving distance of that specific “near me” location.
This makes sense because you don’t want to waste money advertising to people who won’t ever find you.
You Don’t Have Any Customer Reviews
Many businesses don’t think about reviews at all, treating them like a “would be nice” add-on to their marketing plan. In fact, many business owners don’t even know where to start when it comes to encouraging customers to write reviews. After all, how do you ask someone to review your business? Do you offer a discount? A freebie? Maybe you make a deal that includes a coupon code? You might send out a survey asking for feedback.
But all of those tactics are just ways to encourage people to give you a good review, and not necessarily a great one. So what should you actually do to encourage customers to write a review? Here are some tips that work really well.
1. Give Them Something To Write About
The most important thing to remember here is that everyone loves a good deal, especially when it applies to something they want. If you’re offering a special promotion, let customers know about it — and tell them exactly what they’ll receive for writing a review. This way, they won’t feel obligated to write anything negative because they didn’t get the deal they wanted.
2. Offer Extra Benefits For Positive Reviews
Positive reviews are the ones that matter the most. They show up in the search engines, and they carry weight in helping your business rise above competitors. That’s why it makes sense to reward customers who choose to write a positive review. Offering extra benefits such as coupons, discounts, or freebies is a surefire way to motivate people to write a review. But be careful with doing this. There are some sites who have penalties involved when they discover that you are offering something in exchange for a review. So if you are getting reviews on a site like Yelp, be aware that they may levy severe penalties for doing these types of things.
3. Ask Your Customers What They Think Of Your Business On Social Media
Some business owners are entirely neglectful of social media, thinking that it’s a waste of time for small businesses. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many potential customers hang out on social media, especially after work hours. And your next customer could be found on these platforms. It pays to create, grow, and cultivate your own online social media following.
You Don’t Have a Google My Business Profile
Local SEO is one of those things that seems simple enough, but it’s actually quite complex. For starters, there are many different ways to optimize a site for local searches. There’s no single best way, but the most important factor is having a Google My Business profile.
Google uses location data to determine what businesses are relevant to a searcher. If someone types in “dentist near me,” Google knows that dentist is located within 10 miles of the person searching. This helps ensure that people find the right dentist for their needs.
A Google My Business profile allows a business owner to add basic info about their business, such as hours of operation, contact info, and photos. You can even include specials, events, and other helpful information.
You Have Duplicate Listings
The next common mistake we see in our line of work is having duplicate Google My Business profiles. Google doesn’t like duplicate profiles in this manner. And they’re actually very strict about this rule. So how do we know if we’ve got duplicates? It’s possible to use the Moz Local tool to check your listings.
Google says that each business location should only have a single GMB profile. But what does that mean exactly? Let me show you. If you run a restaurant and want to list your address, phone number, hours of operation, menu items, photos, etc., under Google Maps, you’ll notice there are several different ways to enter this data into the listing form. You could add everything manually, or you could copy and paste the info directly from your website. Or maybe you just want to make sure that all the information is correct. Whatever the reason, you might end up with a few different GMB pages.
This free tool checks your GMB listings and tells you whether they match up or not. It’s useful for making sure that you have a non-duplicative local SEO presence.
You Are Missing Relevant Categories
In our experience, the biggest error is failing to include relevant categories. This is especially true for small businesses because it’s hard to know what categories are relevant to your business. But even large companies can overlook some key areas. And the problem gets worse over time.
The reason for this is simple. When you set up your page initially, you’re thinking about the future. You want to attract customers from across the region. You want to reach everyone. Your goal is to grow your customer base.
But once you start growing, you’ll inevitably hit a wall. You won’t be able to add every single category that you think might help you. Instead, you’ll focus on the ones that matter most.
You Are Missing Contact Information On Your Website
Google wants to make sure you’re providing accurate information about yourself online. If it finds something wrong, like missing contact info, it’ll take action.
Google looks at your Google My Business listing. If you don’t provide certain information, like your phone number, address, hours of operation, etc., Google won’t include those details in its search results. In fact, Google will even warn you if you’ve left out important information.
Finally, Google will assess the accuracy of your information. If you misspell your name or misstate your address, you may miss losing out on receiving the Google My Business postcard that they will send you when you try verifying your business. And this could lead to not being verified on Google My Business at all. This is why it’s important to have accurate information in Google My Business.
If you find something wrong, fix it immediately. Otherwise, you could end up losing customers because of inaccurate information.
There Is Inconsistent NAP Information Online
Another mistake is that you have inconsistent name, address, phone number (NAP) information online. This mistake happens because people don’t always update their contact information on multiple locations where they list themselves. And while it’s true that many businesses do use the same address and phone number for different places, there are some instances where this isn’t the case.
This mistake occurs mainly due to the fact that some webmasters often employ data entry professionals who may include contact information on their websites, without verifying whether or not the information is correct. If someone visits your site and sees incorrect data, they could assume that everything else on your site is inaccurate too. So even though you might have verified your name and address, you still want to make sure that your phone number is accurate.
And what makes this mistake particularly frustrating is that Google actually looks into how much consistency there is among your contact information on different sites around the internet. In fact, Google uses this information to determine how trustworthy your listing is.
In addition, Google will compare your contact information against the contact information that appears on other websites throughout the internet. This includes things like business directories, local citations, and review sites.
If you find yourself wondering why Google is doing this, here’s the reason: People trust companies that provide them with good customer service. When customers go to a company’s website to learn more about the products or services they offer, they expect to see accurate information. If they come across something that seems off, it’s easy for them to assume that the rest of the company’s offerings aren’t reliable either.
So it’s really important that you verify the accuracy of your contact information on all of your websites. You can start by making sure that your name, address, and phone number are exactly the same everywhere you publish your contact info online. Then, once you’ve done that, take a few minutes to ensure that your contact information is consistent across the board.
You Do Not Have Any Local Citations
A citation is simply a mention or link of your name or brand on another website. There are many different types of citations out there, including social media profiles, local listings, review sites, directories, etc. You can think of it like a reference to your company. For example, if you are writing about how great your favorite restaurant is, you might include a link to Yelp.com, or just a mention of “Yelp.” This is called a “citation.”
Citations help provide context around what people are saying about your business. They give Google more data to use when determining where your business ranks. When someone searches for something specific, such as “restaurant near me,” Google uses a variety of factors to determine where your business appears in the search results. These factors include things like your location, reviews, ratings, and even your physical address.
But, don’t make the mistake of overdoing using the words “near me” in your optimizations. One business did this in their brand name, thinking that this will cause them to show up for many different local searches. This, however, only added to the confusion because people who are not SEO professionals will not understand why they used “near me” in their business name.
In another mistake, however, a business failed to emphasize the importance of consistency across ALL of their online citations. Because of this, they missed an opportunity to improve their rankings. Let’s take a look at why this is important.
First off, let’s talk about the basics. We’ve already established that having multiple mentions of your business across the web is good. But what does it really mean? What happens when you don’t have enough? Do you risk losing ground in the SERPs? Is it possible to lose too much?
How do you know if you’re missing important citations? One way is to use the free Moz Local tool. Simply enter your city or zip code into the box, and it’ll show you every single online mention of your business. From here, you can see exactly what needs to be done to fix the issue.
If you find there are opportunities to add additional citations, simply add all of your business’s information to the websites. Make sure to keep up with the changes, though, because Google will continue to update its algorithm over time. Remember, no matter how many times you try to make improvements, you never stop learning.
You Did Not Do a Competitive Analysis
When it comes to keyword research, there is no one size fits all approach. You must conduct thorough keyword research and analyze your competitors’ sites to determine what terms are working for them. This data will help you identify what your brand needs to do to succeed.
In addition to analyzing what your competition is doing, you should look into how they’re getting traffic. Are they optimizing for specific keywords? If so, what type of links are they getting? How many unique visitors are they receiving per month? What is their bounce rate? All of this information will give you insight into how effective your current efforts are.
Once you’ve gathered all of this data, you’ll want to compare it against your own numbers. How much money are you making off of your site? Do you make enough to sustain yourself? Is your revenue growing? Once you know where you stand, you can begin to optimize your site.
You Don’t Have Locally Optimized Content
Google assesses the quality and the value of the content on your site and factors this into the algorithm. This is one reason why we see high rankings for websites like Wikipedia and Digg. They are very good sources of information, however, they do not provide much value to readers. In fact, many people find their articles boring because they read the same thing over and over again.
Websites that focus on providing great content, including original research and analysis, are often ranked highly by Google. Quality content helps build trust and authority within Google’s algorithms.
If you want to improve your rankings, start by creating unique content that provides value to your visitors.
However, this changes somewhat on the local side. You want to have localized content that focuses on the local area, while also providing that value to your site’s visitors. Don’t think you can just publish the same content on every page, while only changing the local keywords to fit that location. While that may have worked 10 years ago, things are much different today in that regard.
You can also use the Search Console to analyze your keywords and see what type of traffic each keyword gets. Use this data to come up with ideas about what types of content you could produce that would attract visitors.
You Have Not Added Local Business Schema
Schema is essentially a snippet that summarizes a webpage for a Google robot. This allows it to quickly collect information about the type of business, including working hours, contact info, location, and more. This helps Google understand what a business does and categorizes content for users searching locally.
For example, there’s a local business schema called ‘Local Business,’ which is designed specifically for local business owners to present their most crucial information like working hours, reviews and different departments within the business. You can also choose to add booking, reservation, orders, and payment options directly into search results with schemas.
While this topic is a lot less technical than others on our list, adding schema to your site is pretty easy. You don’t even need to know how to write code – we’ve got a handy tool that’ll generate the necessary markup based on your business name, address, phone number, email, etc.
Don’t Ignore Local SEO!
If you have a small business website, and you are more locally based, then you must not ignore local SEO.
If you do local SEO, and you make local SEO mistakes, especially if you’re a small localized business, mistakes such as these can cause you more difficulties in the long run.
This is why it’s important for any small business to have a local SEO process in place, and to make sure that you don’t run afoul of Google’s local SEO guidelines.
When do you plan on creating your own local SEO strategy?