What local SEOs tell you to do: local businesses need a Google My Business page, and they need it filled out completely. As long as that local business is consistent on its citations (the local directories where it’s listed), the local rankings should take care of themselves.
Analyzing local seo campaigns I’ve run in the past year and a half, I’d say this is true for about 60% of clients. The other 40% tend to make one or more of these mistakes:
- Not having consistent NAP across local listings
- Having bad reviews posted on their GMB
- Not submitting sitemap(s) to local search engines such as Google+ Local / Yelp etc…
- Bad local on-page markup
1. Not having consistent NAP across local listings
Google local listings do not accept more than one phone number and one physical address per listing, so if your local business has multiple variations of its name or NAP (Name / Address / Phone), then you need to consolidate under one set of data.
How to avoid: A local seo campaign starts with a google my business page and local citations – these local directories are where most local businesses start their citation building process. So make sure all the listings from those directories have the same Name, Address & Phone Number! Also double check for consistency across all major local search engines such as Yelp, Foursquare etc… If any of these local directories don’t accept your local business’ NAP information, then ask them to update it. If you’re unable to get in touch with the local directories, then consider purchasing a local citation building service such as Moz Local or Whitespark.
2. Having bad reviews posted on their GMB:
Google local listings show up to 3 lines of customer reviews next to your listing’s name and address ( see example here ). So if you can’t keep negative reviews off your local google my business page, the only thing people who search for your local business will see is ‘this place sucks’ + whatever other positive reviews there are.
How to avoid: There’s not much you can do when customers post bad reviews on your GMB without contacting Google or filing a complaint to whatever local search engine your local business is listed on. So stay proactive and monitor what people are saying about your local business online, especially on local listings such as Google local listings, Yelp etc…
3. Not submitting sitemap(s) to local search engines
Unless you’re actively managing a local SEO campaign for your local business (which 99% of the businesses out there aren’t), most local search engines will stop crawling your site after a few months. This means if any new content has been added since the last time they crawled your website, it won’t be found in their search results anymore.
How to avoid: Every major local search engine (i.e Google local listings, Yelp etc…) has a webmaster tool where you can submit sitemap(s) for your local business. Make sure to do this once every 1-2 months.
4. Bad local on-page markup:
When local search engines crawl your website pages, they look at the code of your pages for additional local content that might help them understand what your page is about more thoroughly (i.e phone number, address etc…). These are called ‘Schema Markup’ and need to be implemented correctly in order to get the algorithm juices flowing!
How to avoid: Schema markup is very simple once you get down with it – I recommend using a plugin such as JSON-LD or Yoast local business schema to help you get started. If you are using local SEO software such as Moz Local, then this should be taken care of automatically for you.
Please keep in mind none of these local SEO mistakes will guarantee your local business a #1 local ranking, but they will definitely prevent it from showing up on the first page! Follow all 4 local SEO mistakes and your local SEO campaign is guaranteed to fail!
I hope this helps those who were thinking about giving local search marketing a shot look into what makes a good local SEO campaign and avoid costly local SEO mistakes that could potentially damage their local brand’s reputation.