A startup owner learning how to avoid common local SEO mistakes for her business.

Common local SEO mistakes you need to avoid

Working on your general SEO is one of the best ways to increase your online visibility and drive traffic to your website. But, for businesses that operate in specific geographical locations, local SEO can be even more important. This is especially true for small to medium local businesses that drive customers from the local area. In general, local SEO will make it easier for the local audience to find you on search results. More specifically, they will be able to acquire important contact information, find your location, and get directions on maps. Despite the importance, many businesses are making some of the most common local SEO mistakes that they could easily avoid.

The most common local SEO mistakes businesses make

Many businesses with physical locations focus primarily on broader SEO activities. They are trying to increase their online presence, brand visibility and rank higher in searches for specific terms. Yet, many fail to understand the importance of local SEO. Showing on top of results for someone on the other continent can be a futile effort. They might never be able to make a purchase or hire your services. But, potential clients from your local area are a completely different story. Usually, they are your target audience, and local SEO can help you approach them. In simple words, owning a local store without focusing on local SEO is a sure way to miss numerous opportunities.

To help you improve your local operations, here is the list of some of the most common local SEO mistakes you should avoid:

  1. No Google My Business profile
  2. The absence of listings
  3. Inconsistent NAP information
  4. Not using localization in your keywords
  5. The wrong approach to reviews
  6. Not enough backlinks
  7. Not placing contact information on your website
  8. Being inactive or completely ignoring social media
  1. No Google My Business profile

Google is the largest and most popular search engine in use today. Millions of people use it to search for different terms daily. Because of this, not claiming the Google My Business (GMB) profile is only a missed opportunity for any local business. It can help people easily find you and all the relevant information about the services you provide. This is a pool of numerous untapped opportunities you might be missing if you don’t claim your profile. To fix this, create or claim your GMB profile, optimize it, and you will significantly increase your visibility in your area.

Using Google Maps to find a local pharmacy store.
People often use Google maps to get directions to local stores.
  1. The absence of listings

GMB is not the only place you can list information about your business. There are numerous online places where you can submit essential information about your offers. For example, some of the most popular options are:

  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Yellow pages
  • White pages
  • Yelp
  • BBB
  • Foursquare
  • and many more

All these listings can help you rank better for local search results. While having a GMB is essential, you should not underestimate others. Any reputable listing or directory that can help you find customers is important. However, finding, submitting, and managing all the different types of listings can be quite an effort. That’s why many businesses turn to experts like AZ Citation Services for help because they don’t have the time nor means to do it properly themselves.

  1. Inconsistent NAP information

Speaking of listings, one of the most critical tasks is to keep all your information consistent. Your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) information has to be the same everywhere. And it’s not only about these three. All the other information, like website address, working hours, categories, etc., must be correct. For example, let’s say you have multiple listings. If some of them contain the wrong or old number, people who call it won’t be able to reach you. It’s even worse in the case of the address. It will mislead people to the wrong place. All of this makes you miss potential customers. Not to mention the effect it can have on your business reputation and credibility.

  1. Not using localization in your keywords

Another common mistake for local SEO is forgetting about your geographical location when targeting keywords. This is wrong for numerous reasons:

  • Search engines won’t classify your website for the specific area
  • People in the same area won’t see you as a local business if there is no mention of location
  • There is much more competition while trying to rank globally

For example, using the “pet shop” for a keyword is too broad. However, using the “best pet shop in Chicago” has a geo-specific segment in it. Anytime someone in Chicago looks for this type of service, you will compete for local results.

A dog in front of a store.
Make it easy for your customers to find your location.
  1. The wrong approach to reviews

For local businesses, reputation is the crucial element for success. That’s why you should consider reviews in your local SEO efforts. The absence of reviews will not show if your business is credible and trusted by people. This is important because most potential clients will first look for what others have to say about your business. In general, they will look for previous experiences and opinions about the quality of your service. So, don’t be afraid to ask your customers to leave them.

Another problem here is how to approach negative reviews. First, you should realize that they are common. For whatever reason, there will always be someone who is not satisfied with a particular service. Fortunately, this is not an issue but an opportunity. If you show you can solve any problem, others will place more trust in your business. And, you will not lose a valuable customer.

  1. Not enough backlinks

In general, backlinks are an essential factor for overall SEO. However, it doesn’t mean you should ignore them for your local SEO. Having a highly optimized website with plenty of quality backlinks still adds to your local ranking potential. Combine it with all the backlinks you are getting from listings, and you have a winning combination. An excellent approach to this for your local SEO efforts is to focus on obtaining backlinks from local authoritative websites. For example, a backlink from local newspapers or blog posts can highly influence your local area and its market.

  1. Not placing contact information on your website

You can probably find plenty of websites without contact information besides email. While it can work for specific cases, for local SEO, this is a huge NO! Logically, if you are missing contact information on your website, how do you expect customers to contact you. Email might work, but that’s just a segment of communication you might be utilizing. If you want everyone to reach you without much trouble, NAP information should be present on your website as well. Furthermore, a good practice is to create a separate “Contact Us” page. It would be best if you placed everything there, including your address and Google map for directions.

  1. Being inactive or completely ignoring social media

While this is a burning topic in some SEO circles, every business should be actively present on social media. It’s not exactly clear up to what degree social media influences ranking positions. Even some of the most influential SEO experts can’t find common ground on this.

A yellowish illustration of megaphone with social media marketing writing and icons.
Don’t underestimate the power of social media. Your competitors are using it.

Nevertheless, don’t make one of the common local SEO mistakes like not using all of the benefits social media can provide. In essence, regardless of its influence on SEO, social media definitely increase your online presence. And being active can only help you establish quality relationships with existing and potential audiences.