Are you still struggling with your local SEO strategy? You tried to follow instructions and advice, but you still get little to no traffic to your website from users in your local area. While other businesses are reaping the benefits, your sales still stagnate. You even consider giving up your efforts and focusing on other ways of promoting your business. Before you make a regrettable decision, read this article first. You may find out that you are making one or several local SEO mistakes.
We know that to err is human and we also know you are busy and stressing because, once again, the future looks uncertain for your business due to current global events. Forgetting to do something or doing it incorrectly is understandable. Perhaps you did not understand how to optimise your website for local SEO. The good news is that you can fix these mistakes and start getting new customers from your local area.
Why Do Local SEO Mistakes Affect Your Website So Much?
You may wonder now – can one simple mistake affect the local search results and visibility of my website? The answer is yes, and here is the explanation for it. Google has now a very complex algorithm for finding good matches for search queries.
This algorithm relies on several sources of information and ranking factors. If you make local SEO mistakes in just one or two places, Google will not find sufficient proofs that your website is a good fit to the search query. Consider it a checklist for job applicants. The winner will be the one with most checkmarks.
How to Start Looking for the Mistakes in Your Local SEO Strategy
You want to get things right on the first try. So set aside sufficient time to audit your local SEO strategy, both onpage and offpage. Even if you are sure that something works fine, analyse every aspect presented below in our list of local SEO mistakes.
You may not even be aware that there is a problem with your website or your offpage local SEO. Also, we recommend using the information in this article for the future as a sort of checklist, to make sure that these mistakes do not occur again.
These Are the Top Local SEO Mistakes You Must Avoid
1. Duplicate Google My Business Listings
Listings on Google My Business appear in two ways:
- They are created by the business owners
- They are generated by Google from customer reviews.
In many cases, a listing for your business may already exist at the moment when you want to create it. If you do not start by searching for your business, you may end up with two (or more) listings on Google My Business. It is like becoming your own competitor, as Google will not recognise these listings as belonging to the same business.
How to fix this: Perform a thorough search on Google My Business and identify all duplicate listings. Claim all of them and merge the information into one single listing.
2. Incomplete or Inaccurate Categories in the Google My Business Listing
This is one of the easiest to make local SEO mistakes. It happens because you are so focused on creating the perfect description for your business and you lose focus while selecting the business categories. You should select all the categories and subcategories that apply to your business.
How to fix this: Fortunately, you can edit business categories at a later date. Just sign in to Google My Business, select your business location and click on the pencil icon next to the main category.
3. Inconsistent or Incomplete NAP Information
Another frequently seen local SEO mistake refers to the NAP (name, address, phone numbers) information. If you want to rank for local searches all your NAP details must be complete and written in the same format.
Google will interpret each lack of similarity as different NAP details. For example, if you write “Suite 14” in one place and “Office 14” in another, Google will interpret them as two different addresses.
How to fix this: Here, you need time and patience to find all the NAP information for your business published online and correct them.
4. Missing NAP Citations on Business Directories
Google is looking everywhere to validate your business location, including on various forums and business directories. A business with lots of consistent NAP citations will appear higher on the list of local search results compared to others.
How to fix this: Search for business directories, both with a general purpose and connected to your industry/niche. Add your NAP information on every such directory that allows it. If you find highly reputable directories that charge a fee to feature businesses, it is worthwhile paying it.
5. You Do Not Use Local Keywords
Local keywords are so easy to create, that we believe this is the most avoidable of all local SEO mistakes. Simply add to you main keywords terms such as:
- Your city/area name
- Near me
- Close to X location.
In most cases, these local terms can be added seamlessly into your keyword optimised content, without affecting the readability of the text.
How to fix this: Review all your published content and edit it to include local keywords.
6. You Use a Toll-Free Number
Toll-free numbers used to be extremely popular, before mobile phone plans became so affordable that the concept of trunk calls became irrelevant. At the present, toll-free numbers are used especially by national and local authorities to allow anyone to contact them.
However, businesses are getting rid of these numbers, especially if they want to rank for local SEO. The reason is simple: toll-free numbers do not include the area code. Thus, Google cannot verify the location of the business.
How to fix it: Get in line with everyone else and replace your toll-free number with a local number that includes your area code.
7. You Only Have a Web-Based Contact Form on Your Website
Online forms are popular because they allow users to send a question to the business quickly. They are also effective for the business, because they can add an opt-in check box for the newsletter – a simple lead generation strategy.
However, your contact page must also include complete NAP information. Actually, you should include NAP information on every page of your website. This allows both Google and your website visitors find your location and other convenient contact methods (including click-to-call number).
How to fix this: Edit your website and add complete contact information: address, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.
8. Poor Quality Content
Nothing you can do in terms of offpage optimization can outweigh critical local SEO mistakes, such as poor quality content. Make sure that you offer authentic, original and helpful information to website visitors. They may be lured to your page by good page optimisation, but they will leave it quickly if they realise that they do not find what they are looking for.
How to fix this: If you do not have the time or skill to create high quality content, outsource this activity to a freelancer or a content marketing agency.
9. Missing or Negative Business Reviews
Last, but not least, make sure that your business has a good reputation, demonstrated by customer reviews on Google My Business or elsewhere. Take the time to read the reviews and understand the problems your customers describe. At the same time, encourage your happy customers to leave a review for your business.
How to fix this: Respond to negative reviews and try to solve the customers’ problems. Add buttons to your Thank You for Your Purchase messages that direct your customers to your Google My Business page to leave a review.