Local SEO is the chief driver of organic traffic for any type of local business. As we all know, search engines, notably Google, are where people search for products and services they want to acquire. It goes without saying that any business out there that wants to have a piece of this huge marketplace has to make itself visible on Google and present its services and products in front of every potential customer out there.
Reaching the top of Google search engine results is not an easy task. It requires a deep understanding of Google ranking metrics and a great grasp of SEO strategies. Keywords research, on-page and off-page optimization, local SEO, technical SEO, content marketing, etc. In this article, we will break down some of the major local SEO mistakes that affect your business in organic searches and provide you with solutions on how to fix them.
What is local SEO?
Before we dive deep into those unforgivable local SEO mistakes, we need to understand what local SEO is? And what does it bring to the table?
Local SEO is the practice of optimizing your website to enhance your visibility in local searches and potentially present your product or services in front of as many local people as you can. Local customers are the first target for any business out there, and they cannot be ignored.
Doorway pages are specific pages or websites solely created to rank for particular or similar search terms. In recent years Google has acknowledged these types of pages as forbidden SEO tactics, but that wasn’t the case a decade ago. Google’s reasoning behind this is that these kinds of pages don’t provide any value for website visitors because they don’t offer the needed information. A very common doorway pages in local businesses are location pages you put in the footer of your website.
Location pages are great to spread your business locally, but they need to be distinct. New and fresh content with relevant videos or images from that particular location should be implemented in them so that Google and the visitors don’t get confused.
It refers to a type of content that can be found in multiple places on the web. Each content has its own unique URL, so if that same content appears with a different URL, it is acknowledged as duplicated content. Even if with duplicated content, you might not get a penalty from Google, it still can hurt your ranking on the search engines. This is understandable because it would confuse Google which content to rank first, and that would lead to your duplicated pages not getting indexed as fast or ranked as high as they used to on SERP.
Thin content is content that brings little to no value to the reader. As we said before, Google labels doorway pages, keywords stuffing and simply content that is just there to fill a page without adding to the users’ knowledge as thin content. Other examples can include duplicated content or basic non-original pages with less than two hundred words as thin content too. Ever since Google Panda updates, Google easily distinguishes between low and high-quality content.
You should follow the famous “content is king” motto in every stage of creating content on your website to fix this problem. When you understand that it is excellent, informative content that makes your pages rank, you will never compromise with low-quality content on your web pages ever again.
Broken links (404 pages)
Whenever a user follows a link to a website, they expect to see something on the page that will answer their question. But when they come face to face with a 404 page, they will undoubtedly leave your website. Broken links can harm your SEO and ultimately damage your Google search result page rankings. One way of fixing this critical problem is by checking your URLs regularly with the help of SEO tools.
Ahrefs is one of the most popular SEO tools out there that can help you find those hidden broken links on your website.
Implementing Unlocalised Keyword Targets
Keywords are the beating hearts of any content you post online, But choosing these keywords has never been an easy feat. Choosing broad or difficult words to rank for is one of the main mistakes websites makes, and then wonder why they’re not ranking for those words. For example, “SEO” can be a keyword, but for one thing, it’s very broad, and second, it is very competitive and very difficult for a new website to rank for it. With a simple search, you can check which websites are ranking for that word.
So, if you want to target local people, your keywords should also be localized. That means to reach local customers; you need to research for geo-specific keywords that are included in search queries done by people near your business.
Next time instead of just using [best dentist or affordable dentist], try making them more personal and region-based like [best dentist in Sidney or the most affordable Sydney dentist].
No or lack of Customer Reviews
A website without customer reviews is not a trustworthy website. The first thing a customer does when he wants to buy products online is reading the reviews to make up their mind. Also, Google recognises good reviews, and that can definitely give you a boost in Google ranking.
Another benefit of customer reviews is that they help in conversion rate. Meaning if you have positive reviews, new customers will trust your product or services a lot quicker hence increasing sales without any effort. These reviews build trust among your potential customers and make Google recognise you as a reputable business in your line of work.
So, from now on, pay attention to customer reviews and after you finalize a sale, encourage your clients to post a review for you online either on your own website or on Google maps. They can even tag you on social media and help you boost sales and search engine rankings with a few positive words about your services.
Inconsistent NAPW information
The most necessary information any website visitor wants to find on your website are NAPW (Name, Address, Phone number and website). While it’s so obvious how important this information can be, so many websites either ignore them or provide inconsistent information across all their platforms.
This step doesn’t require a lot of explanation because it’s fairly easy to keep a good track of this information. So, the next time you change your address or phone number, make sure to update them on any platform or a listing directory as well. That way, you won’t lose new customers who are trying to reach out to you with outdated information.
No Directory Profiles
Search engines weren’t born yet in the early days of the world wide web; we had only directories. Back then, not many people had websites, and their profits were little to nothing. At that time, people had to remember the exact domain name of a website to access it. That all changed when the number of the website increased and people couldn’t remember all those domains. Then yahoo came up with a way to list all the websites in one place so people could have an easier time finding them. Yahoo called this list web directory.
But because this web directory got overwhelmed by the huge number of websites, it was a huge hassle finding a suitable website between all of them. This is when the need for search engines immerged and marked the decline of web directories.
Even though we now have search engines, the importance of web directories still exists. Some businesses have second thoughts about the advantages of web directories because they don’t increase organic traffic directly; however, profiles on multiple web directories can help boost your SEO because search engines see web directories as a powerful high-authority website. Along with guest posting, web directories can be a great addition to your backlink strategy to increase your rank on Google and other search engines.
It is also worth mentioning that being listed in multiple web directories with consistent NAP information can also boost your local SEO. Because being on those lists will increase your business credibility in the eyes of Google hence showing you to the local people when they search for a service or a product you provide.
No Google My Business Listing.
Google My Business account is crucial for any business’s strong presence online. Every small or big business out there needs to have a Google my business account; it’s free and can boost sales since so many potential clients look for information about your business or read reviews from your previous clients.
This information can include your location on Google Maps, email address, website URL, Phone number and opening/closing time. For a customer, they’re very valuable information. You can even put a link to articles about your business or announce upcoming events.
If you want to increase sales and be found in local searches, you need an active account on Google My Business page. This account will enable you to come up in local searches as Google algorithms look for the nearest similar results for each search intent. So, suppose you have a restaurant, and it’s not listed on GMB page. In that case, you will not be shown on Google map results, and that will significantly affect your local sale because so many customers find what they need on Google Maps these days, especially after the pandemic.
No or lack of Backlinks
Arguably backlinks are the most effective SEO strategy that can boost your results on SERPs. Essentially backlinks let Google know that another website finds your content valuable enough to link to it. As the number of these “backlinks” increases, your Website’s Authority in the eyes of Google also increases; therefore, Google will enhance your ranking on its SERPs.
There are several ways to get more and more backlinks. The best and most valuable way is to publish the best content you can create in your field. If you provide the best content, in no time, you will be discovered and linked to without even realizing it.
Another very effective way to build a strong backlink profile is guest posting. This strategy is fundamental if you want to be found in local searches. Your keywords and anchor text must target a specific geographical location in order to rank in that particular local.
Poor mobile optimization
Mobile optimization or mobile responsive is the process of optimizing your website to load on a mobile device regardless of the screen size. The mobile optimization process goes beyond just slightly compressing or rearranging the content to fit a mobile screen. Your website needs to be more than just mobile-friendly.
One popular way to ensure that you provide the best mobile-optimized experience to your potential customers is by taking the “mobile-first” approach. Your developer will code a website solely for mobile users in this strategy. You will end up with a perfect website that runs fast and is very responsive on small screen sizes. One major Local SEO factor is mobile-friendliness, and for the past several years, people have been using their mobiles to shop, and the number of mobile users is increasing as we speak.
As the name suggests, duplicate listing happens when you have more than one listing for your business in a directory site. For example, you run a restaurant that also provides takeout services. You would be making the mistake of listing your restaurant and takeout services in two different accounts, aiming to get more local SEO traffic. Still, in this case, you’re making a duplicated listing.
Either intentionally or unintentionally, duplicate listing negatively influences your overall local SEO progress and can make your potential customers feel a bit confused or even lose trust in you. There are a few ways to see if you have duplicated listings on the web. Manual listing check, business listing site check, or the most time saving and less tedious way is to invest in a tool. There are several citation tracker tools online that you can choose from.
No Contact Information on your website or in the footer
The most common place to put your contact info is in the footer of your website. I’d always go there to find an email or phone number. Also, you need to have your dedicated contact page in your navigation bar so that people can quickly get in touch with you. Not having this information easily accessible for your viewers can increase bounce rate and ultimately makes you lose potential customers.
Fixing this problem is pretty easy. Ask your web developer to implement your contact info in the footer or add an additional contact me page to your navigation bar.
Poor Technical SEO
Technical SEO is all about the infrastructure of your website that needs updates regularly. Things like your server, site map, 301 redirects, 404 pages, meta descriptions and metadata, XML and HTTPS. So, technical SEO is everything under the hood of your website that needs maintenance on the clock.
To get the best result in local SEO, your website’s technical side should be spot on. An up-to-date website shows your customers that you are a reliable source for the services they want to acquire.
Some of the major technical SEO problems that you might face are the following:
Website HTTPS security: site HTTPS security is very important if you want to be ranked in Google. If your site is not secured, when someone searches for your domain name, he or she will be faced with a gray background or a red “not secure” warning. This will make users lose trust in your website, and they might leave looking for another service provider. To implement HTTPS on your website, you need to acquire an SSL certificate. Once you pay for it, you will get your website secured.
XML Sitemap: XML sitemaps will enable Google search bots to understand web pages a lot easier. Which would lead to better crawlability and faster indexing.
Site speed: users don’t tolerate a slow site. As a matter of fact, the average waiting time for a site to load is as low as three seconds.
One of the major black hat SEO tricks back in the day was keyword stuffing. Google algorithms weren’t as intelligent as today, so they would rank those keywords even if they were unrelated to the topic or the webpage. But today, Google instantly identifies any content using keyword stuffing tricks.
For example, you want to rank for a specific keyword, and in hopes of ranking faster, you would overuse that keyword in your content. Not only it’s not going to help you, but it will backfire on you and ruins your SEO progress.
To not fall into the trap of keyword stuffing, we need to always keep an eye on keywords density. Every SEO content online is written to rank a specific keyword. According to the word count of your content, you are allowed to repeat your keyword naturally throughout your content.