For most small businesses, the local community is your lifeblood. If you have a brick & mortar location, they’re your whole market. You have to rely on the patronage of locals or your business will fail – plain and simple.
One of the most overlooked ways to optimize your local marketing is to boost your local search performance. That includes your search rankings for location-specific keywords and searches within Google Maps.
Poor performance here could be costing your business more than you realize, so take a few minutes to ensure you aren’t making any of these 7 most common local SEO mistakes. If you are, don’t sweat – just commit to fixing them and you’ll be back on your feet in no time.
It's fairly common knowledge that Google doesn't like seeing copies of information. It's repetitive for users and needlessly takes up excess storage space. Many people use a Keyword Density Checker to ensure that the content they're writing doesn't contain an overload of duplicated keywords that will be flagged by Google.
So, if you've gone overboard and set up duplicate profiles in Google My Business, it may be working against you. That duplicate information does nothing but help to drop your rankings.
The good news, however, is that there's a fairly easy fix for this – simply contact Google and have them remove the extra profile page. You can also do it yourself by logging into Google My Business, finding the account you want gone, and clicking on the three-dot menu. From there, simply hit delete and confirm your selection.
Lack of Customer Feedback
New customers are always interested in hearing what your past customers have to say about your business. They want to know if you delivered on promises, and how satisfied customers are with what you provide.
But getting reviews can be somewhat difficult. The best you can do is to consistently ask customers for feedback and make it radically easy for them to do.
Sending an email with a direct link to your Google profile page is always a good bet because it limits the extra leg-work customers have to do in order to write a review. Keep your email message short and to the point.
You can also give customers a small incentive to give you feedback, such as a future discount or entry into a drawing for a prize. If they're happy with your product or service and plan on using it again, getting their next purchase at a discount could be just the incentive they need to speak up.
Missing Google My Business Profile
There's a difference between the results that will appear in a Google search for local businesses and the results that go along with a localized map for the same search. Pull up a search for "nearby hairdressers," and a map will appear, along with some results.
Those results aren’t from Google's main rankings – they're from Google My Business profile pages. Small business owners often assume that Google will automatically list their business in a local search – but if you're without a Google My Business page, you won't show up in the map results.
It’s free to do, quick to set up, and you'll instantly start seeing results you were probably missing out on.
If you want to quickly add your business to Google maps, open it and sign in. Then zoom in to where you want your business location to be set and click on "Send Feedback" where you can add a missing place. You'll be able to drag a marker to exactly where your business is and add information your customers may need.
Not Categorizing Yourself Properly
If you have your Google My Business profile set up, you're on your way to increasing your local SEO results. But don't press the 'Done' button on that profile page too quickly. If someone is searching for your products or services, but you haven't included yourself in the category they're looking in, they won't be able to find you.
When you're setting up your profile, ensure you've gone through Google's extensive list of business categories to find all of those relevant to your business. WordStream can give you some insight into keywords that are popular in your industry to help you narrow down the relevant categories.
You can also check out Ahrefs, to see why your competition is ranking higher than you are and what you can do to change that. If you're a business that sells products or services in a number of categories, ensure that you've added each and every possible category so that, no matter what your customers are looking for, they'll find you easily.
Conflicting or Inaccurate NAP Info
NAP is an acronym for your Name, Address, and Phone number – and it needs to be correct and consistent everywhere it's posted online.
Google compares NAP info on your Google My Business page to what you've posted on your website and all across the internet. Inconsistent NAP info could knock down your rankings.
If you've made any changes to your contact information or location, double check every instance where that information appears online, and ensure it's consistent throughout. Not only will this help keep your rankings high, but it will also make it easier for customers to find your contact information.
Not Utilizing Social Media
Never underestimate the power of social media, even when it comes to local SEO rankings. Google actually uses the activity in your social media platforms to help rank your business.
Keep your social media accounts active and encourage customers to engage with your business on social. An active social media presence that interacts with other users is a signal to Google that your company is legitimate.
It’s also a good signal to customers that you’re always readily available and highly responsive should they have any questions or problems.
Boost Your Local SEO Performance
As a small business owner juggling a million and one different hats, it’s easy to fall into any of the mistakes above – you’re no SEO pro after all.
But the reality is that search (especially local search for small businesses) is how new customers find your business. Spend the time to fix the most common local SEO mistakes you may be making, and you’ll see the benefits pour in.
How do you optimize your business’s online presence for local SEO? Share your tips with us in the comments below.