Local SEO is getting a lot of attention right now because of the growing power of local searches. We love local SEO because it’s simple to implement and can have profound advantages for search visibility. However, some brands are getting a little too careless with their local SEO, and that can lead to big problems, especially if you catch Google’s attention. Here are the top local SEO mistakes to avoid!
Make a mental note: After reading this, head over to your Google My Business profile and double-check your categories. Currently there are two options, your primary category and additional related categories. Many brands are too lazy with these choices, or get intimidated by the long list and choose something too quickly. Your primary category needs to be as precise as possible (Google has a basic guide here), and you need to include all associated categories based on your value offering. These categories make a massive difference when local users are searching for businesses to help them out.
This happens when website and social media management grows too messy: Something about your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) changes, and you update some of your contact information. But other NAP sections on your website, social profiles, etc. do not get updated. As a result, two different NAPs exist online, confusing people trying to find out where your business is while also lowering your page ranking. Not good! When the NAP needs to be updated, update it everywhere.
Even if your business drastically changes, you shouldn’t be creating multiple business profiles online. This confuses search engines, and may earn punishment from Google as well. Lazy SEO management leads to duplicate listings, especially for young companies that move quickly through multiple content strategies as they go. Give your profiles high priority and make sure you only have one listing per platform. If you aren’t sure about duplicate listings, an easy Moz search will show you everything you need.
Some marketing teams get a little too ambitious and try include keywords throughout their business profile. Sometimes they will even throw keywords up on their business name, like “Tom’s Trucks trucking storage rental solutions.” There is a place for keywords in the “About Us” and “Description” sections. But don’t jam them into other areas. If Google sees this, you may get penalized for shoddy SEO techniques, and even if you get away with it, people will get annoyed when they are searching for your company get a bunch of distracting descriptors instead of a clean-cut profile.
Google in particular ties business profiles to website rankings, so it’s important that your website stays in peak condition. That means no bad links, no slow load times, and mobile optimization that really works. Remember, your profiles link back to your website, and this is one of the most popular sales funnel avenues for those viewing your profile.
This isn’t as common as it once was, but sometimes brands try to lie about their physical business address on profiles (B2B brands in particular may be tempted to try it). Companies do this so that it looks like they are in a better location than they are, or so that SEO will geo-target their company in a better area. The problem is that Google notices this tactic and immediately bans profiles that try it: Don’t tank your profile ranking by lying about it.
Reviews both impact profile SEO and help lend legitimacy to those profiles (they’re also useful from a customer service perspective, of course). Ask happy customers to visit your online profile and write a good review so you can start stacking up reviews and benefit from the results.