Common Local SEO Mistakes

2022.10.03 09:22 PM By Joshua Taddeo, Principal Consultant
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Gone are the days when TV and radio commercials or billboards and newspapers were the only marketing tactics available. With the advent of the internet, there are now a host of possibilities to win customers. Search engines, social media, and email are three online channels that offer massive potential for business growth. But if there is one thing that most businesses get wrong about the digital space, it is search engine optimization (SEO). Today, every local business needs to have a marketing strategy that incorporates local SEO optimization

While they create a site for commercial use, they do not fully understand the benefits of optimizing it. SEO is crucial for any business website. It is not a set of temporary tactics that can make a site compete in the online market. Rather, SEO is a method that strategically builds and develops a website for search engine results pages (SERPs). A good rank on the SERPs drives traffic and wins valuable leads, thus giving businesses a chance to convert them into repeat buyers. 

However, there are a few best practices for acing the ranking game of SERPs. Statistics by HubSpot show that 97% of users first discover a business on the internet. Further, 46% of them use Google to search for information about local stores and services. This means that businesses must optimize their sites for local searches. Otherwise, they will fail to get users to visit them on-site. In this post, we discuss the most common local SEO mistakes to avoid and offer tips on how you can fix them to improve your website's rank in the SERPs. 

Inconsistent Details

Having inconsistent records of Name, Address, and Phone number on online listings leads to lost revenue and time spent working on customer service issues, distrust, disrupted workflow, etc. Also, when customers are making a purchasing decision, they need to be confident that the seller is verified and reliable. It is common sense that inconsistent information will lead to confusion among customers. Potential buyers may be less likely to purchase from a seller with inconsistent information because they may not feel confident contacting the seller for support purposes. Instead, use a local listing management tool like Chatmeter or Yext to rectify NAP inconsistency. Also, bear in mind that even a small variation can be interpreted as inconsistency by search engines.

local seo mistakes

Keyword Stuffing

Overdoing the use of keywords kills content. Keyword stuffing means exactly how it sounds; stuffing a lot of keywords across your website; repeating the same keywords within a single sentence or paragraph. This will seem spammy to Google and other search engines. Place keywords as naturally as possible across your site, not only in blog posts but also in your description tags. As much as possible, use only 1 to 2 main keywords in the blog post and use related keywords. Make sure it doesn't sound forced but has a natural flow.

Duplicate Content

One common mistake has duplicate business listings. It could be by accident, or you believed that multiple profiles could lead to more traffic. Whatever your reason, one thing is true, having more than one business listing could have a negative impact on your rankings. Not only will you not rank as high, but it will create confusion for your visitors. How do they know which one is your "real" business listing? Make sure you don't have any duplicate business listing across all the online sites you've listed your business, especially Google My Business. Also, make sure your Name, Address, and Phone number are the same across every business listing.

Unlocalized Keyword Targeting

Keywords are essential in local SEO campaigns. They are the terms commonly used by your target audience when they search for what they need, leading them to your website. When selecting specific keywords for your business, it is imperative that you find the perfect balance of traffic, intent, and level of competition. Local SEO is a customized local search strategy which means that the basic foundation of a local SEO strategy is to target the geographical location of a company. Failing to do so can lead to a loss in sales for the company. With that, geo-targeted keywords are more effective for local businesses than generic keywords.

local seo

In implementing local SEO, you should identify geo-specific and service-specific keywords that are likely to attract your target audience. So, instead of optimizing for [best dentist], keywords like [Chicago family dentist] or [family dentist in Chicago] would be a much better fit. Google's own Keyword Planner lets you filter keyword searches based on location, so you get an idea of the popular search terms for a given region. This lets you create a list of locally relevant keywords to target. Once you have them, they should make appearances in your site's meta content, copy, and URLs. Also, include mentions of region-specific landmarks and hotspots in your content. For instance, if your local restaurant serves dinner in downtown Seattle, include references to "dining by the Space Needle" or "just steps from the Space Needle" on your site.

No Customer Reviews

Most businesses struggle to get customer reviews online. So if you're lacking reviews on your Google My Business profile, then don't beat yourself up too bad because you're not alone. The problem is that it takes some real effort on your customers' end to add a review. Unfortunately, there's no silver bullet solution here. All you can do is ask (via email, in-person, and over the phone) and make it as easy as possible for every customer to leave a review.

Of those three methods, we've found that asking in person or on a call with an immediate follow up text or email with the link, is the most effective method because your customer doesn't have to find your profile; you're leading them right to it. Getting positive reviews will likely be a slow process, but over time it adds up and will give you a real competitive advantage that is difficult to replicate.

google local business listing

Getting your customers to write glowing reviews for your business doesn't just optimize your Google My Business presence; it also encourages more local customers to buy from you. BrightLocal's 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey reveals that 85% of customers believe online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Here are some tips to encourage customers to leave reviews:

  • Ask for a review in person after the close of a sale.
  • Send a post-purchase email or text asking customers to write a review. (but only after you've screened them via an internal survey to ensure you're not approaching dissatisfied customers)
  • Respond to existing reviews in a professional way, thanking reviewers and addressing complaints in not-so-favorable reviews.

Lack of web and mobile optimization

A lot of users search on their mobile phones compared to desktop computers. Most websites are optimized for desktop users but not for mobile users. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. This allows the users to stay more on your site and explore your services. Work with an SEO expert or web developer in order to achieve this.

A 2017 study from Acquisio determined that traffic from local searches can be especially lucrative, with a remarkable 75% of all mobile searches that exhibit local intent actually producing in-store, offline visits within 24 hours. This confirms that you have to optimize your website for mobile to be a player in local SEO.

Here are some tips to optimize for mobile and web: 

  • Ensure your website loads quickly (no more than three seconds).
  • Use bigger fonts that are easy to read.
  • Use images and copy sparingly, conveying only the information you need (no room for filler on a mobile screen!).
  • Ensure intuitive UI for great UX.

No Google My Business Listing

Google searches have become location-specific to help users find businesses that are nearby and can be easily reached. In fact, according to the HubSpot statistics we mentioned earlier, 72% of users who did a local search visited a physical store within five miles. If you don't use Google My Business Profile (GMB), it can limit your chances of being found by potential customers on the net. However, not having a GMB profile is as harmful as having duplicate listings. 

Multiple listings on directory profiles like GMB can come up due to changes in address or phone numbers. In such a case, it can be confusing for users and search engine bots to know where exactly your business is and which one is a reliable listing. Further, Google regularly updates its algorithm to offer the users the best search results. One of these updates introduced the option to leave feedback, ratings, and reviews on a business's GMB profile. This feature allows people to rate a business depending on their experience. 

how to improve local seo strategy

In fact, up to 81% of users read reviews before making their purchase. Thus, it is necessary to use all GMB features that strengthen your business's credibility. Without leveraging a GMB profile and its features, you will find it difficult to attract new customers. Google My Business (GMB) carries important NAPW information like name, address, phone number, and website. Make sure you have a GMB profile with an updated NAPW, map location, and a single correct listing. Check out the search results below for 'AC repair services in Texas.' Besides the location and NAPW details, they also show the number of years that a business has been active. What better way for a business to showcase its expertise? 

As you start to build your brand on the SERPs, ask for customer reviews to boost trustworthiness. If you receive negative feedback, take in your stride and respond professionally. To optimize your Business Profile on Google, ensure that you:

  • Create a Google My Business account and verify ownership of the business
  • Provide accurate and up-to-date information
  • Include your logo, hours of operation, acceptable payment methods, the product or service you sell, and plenty of images
  • Encourage your customers to review your business online.
  • Respond sincerely to customer reviews.
  • Publish posts (announcing products, events, and special offers) to your Business Profile using the Google My Business dashboard.

No Backlinks

Backlinks are links on websites other than your own that go back to a page on your website. They can also be called inbound links because they represent another website's traffic coming to your own site. The quality and quantity of your backlinks can help you rank higher in search engines such as Google and Bing. One of the typical local SEO mistakes you should avoid is having a web page that lacks or has bad backlinks to offer as source support. Indeed, backlinks have become an essential component in how well your website ranks, and they may make or break how Google evaluates your content.

According to Moz's 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors study, link signals are the first- and second-most important factors for local pack (or snack pack) results and for localized organic results, respectively. Link signals are backlinks pointing to your site. It's vital to get links to boost your local SEO, but their quality is important.

Here are some tips on getting high-quality backlinks:

  • Create high-quality content on your site so others want to link to your content.
  • Guest blog on reputable sites with high domain authority.
  • Engage with local influencers on social media or by email to get them to link back to you.
executing local seo strategy

How to Improve Local SEO

SEO changes quite rapidly. You never know when Google will introduce new features on its SERPs for local searches, but you can count on these changes coming. That's why it's essential to always stay on top of local SEO. By avoiding common mistakes and implementing the actionable items mentioned in this blog post, you will ensure that your business doesn't just take advantage of lucrative local searches but also has a solid foundation when new SEO features are introduced. And if you don't have the bandwidth to make these adjustments, you may want to try our marketing consulting services. Universal Creative Solutions offers marketing consulting to help you audit your existing SEO strategy and implement a tried and tested local SEO strategy. Schedule a consultation call with us and learn how we can help bring more organic traffic into your local business.