In recent weeks, this blog has focused a great deal on the concept of local SEO—and not without reason. Just consider some of these statistics: An astonishing 97 percent of all consumers search for local businesses on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Meanwhile, somewhere around 69 percent of all search queries are affected by geographic data or by the searcher’s location—and that number is only going up all the time. In other words: It is imperative for businesses to get local SEO right. This means knowing some of the most common local SEO mistakes, and how to avoid them.
Using Bad Keywords
What happens if you construct an otherwise-superlative local SEO campaign, but implement poor keywords? The short answer is that you end up getting a lot of traffic, but that traffic is not comprised of qualified leads. It is vital to use keywords that denote not just industry generalizations, but specific products and services that you have on offer, as well as the specific geographic areas in which you’re seeking customers and clients.
A related note is that businesses should strike a balance between not localizing their keywords enough, and localizing too much. If you don’t include any keywords related to your geographic location, then you’re not really optimizing for local consumers, and the traffic you bring in is going to include a lot of folks who simply aren’t in your target demographic. Putting too much emphasis on your location, and not enough on your products and services, will have a similar effect of bringing in traffic, but not necessarily hot leads.
What does keyword stuffing mean, in relation to local SEO? In a nutshell, it means that you’re including as many keywords in your title and meta tags as you can, paying no heed to whether these tags actually make sense. Your title and meta tags are great places to include some keywords, but these pieces of content should also be helpful and readable, to users and to search engines. A North Carolina florist might have a title tag that reads, “North Carolina Florist & Flower Delivery.” A keyword-stuffed alternative would be, “North Carolina NC Flowers NV Florist Carolina Charlotte Asheville.” The latter is simply cumbersome, and will not only cause your site to lose credibility, but Google rankings, as well.
Neglecting to Build Links
The recent Google Penguin update was designed to penalize sites that implement duplicitous or dishonest link-building, which has got many business owners thinking that link-building is no longer a viable local SEO tactic. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The important thing is to go about link-building through totally legitimate and above-board methods.
As you build links, make sure that not all of them are going to your homepage. Some of your links should be directed to specific product and service landing pages—or else, those specific pages may not show up in Google search results the way you need them to.
Not Utilizing Headings and On-Site Navigation Tools
Here’s a secret of local SEO: The easier it is for a user to navigate your site and to quickly find desired information, the more accurately the search bots will be able to crawl, categorize, and index your site. As such, easy navigation is key. One approach is to use plenty of headings and subheadings within your content, which clearly denote what the content is about, what information users can expect to find, and how search engines should classify the content.
Not Including Contact Information on Each Page
Would you believe that we have come across companies who put the wrong phone number on their website—or else don’t include a phone number at all? This is a major local SEO error, because the phone number included on your page is one of the main ways in which Google determines the specific geographic location of your company. Include a phone number on each page of your site, not just the contact page.
The bottom line is that local SEO is vital for businesses, but also easy to get wrong; make sure you know what the most common pitfalls are, and that you do everything you can to avoid them!