45 Local SEO Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
Do you remember Classic 1982 Activision game Pitfall! It was so difficult to play that the majority of the players thought that they can only win by running for the entire twenty-minute clock time. The main feature of this game was to collect every treasure in the game prior to finishing time.
Do you think it is just like the business?
You have started a local enterprise with a mission to earn enough money prior to retirement and you are fully dedicated to generating adequate success for securing some dignity in your best years. I may not be a professional economist, but I have check out the statistics on the way the majority of American companies didn’t stand in this business more than five years. I am a professional SEO expert and all the things that I have learned are that you should be capable enough of beating the obstacles. The owners of the local businesses have to come over the obvious pitfalls in which the less competitive companies trapped in. For example, a web development company hired a marketing agency that pays worldwide workers for giving fake reviews, a plumbing firm faking a range of offices by using the houses of their relatives for building citations, a car dealership company using instant link building tools, but all that results in a penalty by the search engines. These types of steps can have harmful effects on the local businesses and coping with cleaning up the mess instead they make a step forward towards success. I am a long-time fan of the local business and desire them to be successful. So, you should read this article carefully. We have created this guide for helping you in overcoming those bottomless pits. Business Plan It is all about putting your step on a right location before the day of starting a business.
You should avoid these general mistakes before they can transform into a deep-seated liability:
The consumers can reach to you with the help of a branded search by looking out at your business through name immediately after hearing it somewhere. For example, if you own a local food chain named “Burger Queen”, then you shouldn’t be surprised if Google starts to show details about local brands instead of a branded company for your business. At that time, there is a need for a planning to create the type of authority that allows Google to get details that individuals searching “Banana Republic” are looking for clothing, not a lesson about political science. In the early days of your business, the growth of your brand recognition and rankings can slow down due to vague name.
If your plan is to include the growth into a different service offering or geographic locations, then don’t choose a name that can limit your business. For instance, if a new web development services company in New York desire to offer a complete range of web services and open a second office in Denver. If they named their business New York web services, then they will find it difficult to do that. You should ensure your name can boost your future growth. While it is really a smart move to utilize main keywords in your company name, make sure they don’t hold you back for the upcoming future.
If you are thinking about the market a local business with an unstaffed virtual office or PO Box as your main address for the public, then you are completely wrong. Your company will be ineligible to limit your visibility on the internet and creating local business listings. If you don’t own a real office, mention your home address and then starting listing your company on the directories where you are allowed to hide address if you are dealing with privacy issues.
There are strong chances that you will rank in the local packs of Google for the location where you are located physically. You can expect to rank high in the local searchers if you are opening an office that is far from the borders of a large city that you are looking to serve. If your business can only become successful by serving a big city nearby, then opening an office in that locale is very important. In order to check the concept of Google for the borders of any city, you should check it in the Google Maps. All the things that you will see outside the red boundary will likely be out of the running.
When we talk about the past times, locating your business next to your competitors was known as an ideal practice, think about (auto rows and doctor parks). Following this industry centroid was thought to be quite incredible for the rankings. However, due to the Possum update of Google rolled out in 2016, a new company situated within the same block or building as other businesses in the same industry may find itself out of the local results in the rankings. Due to this, you may be looking to set the base of your business at some distance away from the competitors if possible. However, it all depends on the layout of your city or town, it may be or may not going to happen.
There are great chances that you will get lots of negative reviews if there is a lack of clear customer service policies or staff training documentation. If there is an inadequate user-generated content policy for your site, then it may result in the abusive or spammy use of the testimonials on the site or blog / comments.
If you are expecting that you open a door on the first day and unseat each established competitor from the second day, then you are on the wrong track. Don’t believe the fake promises of any agency who say it will be easier to top the local organic results. All your competitors have worked hard for a long time and reach to this position. So, you have to do the same thing in a planned manner. You should create a realistic plan to survive in the financial world until you reach to a position where a great part of your traffic and transactions comes as a result of your presence in the web. If you are looking early traffic, then start investing in PPC.
No company in the world can make a profit out of the business that is a non-starter. Does your town another Italian restaurant with 10 already in your locality, a Chinese restaurant and a McDonalds when there is only 1.5% local population who dine this way? Maybe no, maybe yes. There are chances that you can create a demand for your superior service and marketing technique, but if you are thinking that your local SEO marketer can do that for you, then you are completely wrong. The research of the business benefits first and SEO comes after that.
Lack of clarity
You can’t expect that your customers or marketers to buy your service if you can’t communicate the value proposition of your company in some wonderful words. There are lots of agencies who hear from the owners of the business that they aren’t able to verbalize what they are providing that can be beneficial to the customers. There is no doubt that marketing companies can assist you in taking your message to maximum effect, but still, the owners of the local businesses should have to research their own geo-industry to check how their company can become a desirable resource for the community. Maybe their clients can eat Italian food for less, their services are fastest in the city, their rooms are quite tidy. No matter, what is the unique point of your selling, you should be capable to convey your message to the consumer for making profits. Website If you become successful in getting all the things right in your website for the first time, then there are strong chances that all the obstacles about undergoing a whole overhaul of the valuable online asset after some time will be eliminated.
Along with your business name, never limit yourself by choosing a domain name that only features one part of your business if your desire is to expand your services or geography in the future. For instance, don’t select a domain name, such as houstonsun.com if your desire is to open more locations in the New York and Dallas. Select a domain name by considering future of your business.
You must be aware of the fact that .com extensions are still considered the most ideal type of domain name in this industry. So, you should try to find a .com extension for your website so that the consumers can easily remember and reach to your website. If that’s not possible, then choose the most suitable option for getting the maximum benefits.
You must be aware of the fact that longer name of the domain is tougher to speak, harder to type and generally get shortened on the social media sites. So, the owners of local businesses should focus on an appropriate balance between keyword usage, brevity, and branding while selecting a domain name. Checking these factors will help in having a positive effect on your business.
Never sign up for the service of a hosting provider or marketing service who put a limit on the size or SEO chances of the site you build and the ones where a particular provider will hold hostage on your business assets. For instance, there is a website development company who restrict the number of pages on your site or a limit of 400 words on a page, which will stifle the growth of your company. Also, avoid working with an agency that threatens to delete all the work for which you have already paid if you terminate your contract in future. Always make sure that your domain, website, and hosting is in your direct control and you shouldn’t sign any service that limits your growth.
You are wasting your hard-earned investment if you are using any website development technology that creates troubles for your site in getting discovered, indexed, and crawled by the Google. For instance, there are lots of technical issues in the websites that are created in flash for search engines as well as users. That’s why you should simply avoid them. Similarly, you can lose a marketing opportunity by implementing a website development approach that is unable to cater the needs of users on all the devices, i.e. tablet, mobile, laptop, etc. On another hand, you shouldn’t use the unpopular technologies for your website as the future agencies may not want to work with you. For example, your site has been built on Wix that is tougher to optimize and there will be a requirement of SEO agency to switching off to something like Joomla, WordPress so that you can be accepted as a client. Check out some important basics of the SEO friendly design to know more.
Nowadays, the approach to build multiple websites for representing several services or locations of a business is popular in local commerce. This practice often results due to a desire to rank your site in a broader way depending on the basis of exact matching domains. However, there are lots of other reasons on why this approach is still not commonly used by the experts.
Check the major ones explained below:
- The efforts of marketing have expanded too thin that divide across different site instead of targeting on building a single brand.
- There are chances of duplicate or low-quality content due to inadequate resources that are required for managing several sites.
- The confusion in possible NAP can result in creating local ranking problems if the same address, phone number or name is used for more than a single website.
- A dishonest approach where a single company chooses to fool the customers by believing them it is a multi-national company.
Accept some rare circumstances, it is better that you should use all your efforts for creating a single, but superior and powerful brand.
Poor content strategy
The owners of local businesses can’t enjoy advantages if they publish insufficient, poor or unedited website content only for the motive to feed keywords to enter the search engines. The local businesses should create basic pages like home, contact testimonials, about, etc. In addition, there should be a separate page for all the service they offer along with their physical address on their website. The businesses offering services, like electricians, plumbers, etc. should create a page for all their main service cities. All the pages that are created should have an original and intelligently optimized copy that caters a particular goal. Other than basic pages, there should be a plan on each of the local business for the publication of ongoing content, which is proportional to its level of consumer demand and local competition in the industry. It can consist on-site blogging, off-site social sharing and lots of other strategies.
There are greater chances that you are losing a range of opportunities if the complexity, navigational or size options of your site are preventing the customers from reaching to the pages that you have created for their use. The bigger your site, there are more chances that you have to go through research solutions, such as siloing for boosting the discovery of your content by right consumers and results in creating conversions.
Lack of contact details
It is strongly suggested that your name, phone number, and address should be published on all the pages of your site, either in its footer or masthead. Also, there should be a contact us page that features in the major navigation menu. Always ensure that complete NAP is one of the first things that is available on the contact page of your site. Mobile users should be allowed to call by clicking on the phone numbers. Always remember to add driving directions and a map on the site so that the people can reach to you easily. If you are an owner of a bigger company, then contact details should consist of options like after house support and live chat. At last, please be aware of the typos and inconsistencies. All the content of your site should be audited for catching up the NAP irregularities in the design element. Never use “Green Tree Consultants” and “Green Tree Consulting” in your about us page and logo respectively. Your site should be capable to remain the most authentic source of details regarding your business in the eyes of search engines as well as consumers.
A page that doesn’t have a call to action is a page created without any point. The main purpose of creating a website is to support the needs of the consumers along with promoting the goals of the business. Never expect that the people will tell you about the actions that you should take. Instead of that, you should think about telling them about a simple and bold language that you want that they should click for further reading, filling out a form, making a call, attending an event or taking benefits of something special. All pages of your site, ranging from landing page to contact page to home page should have a call to action option for sure.
Link Building Shortcuts
All the local businesses always look for the sources to earn links that can enhance their visibility and ranking strength. However, due to search engines continuously offering extreme value for placing links as a measure to relevancy, the temptation to take shortcuts is too attractive for some business owners. There are strong chances that the local business can accidentally or intentionally catch up buying links or getting up in a link farm. Prior to taking this dangerous step, keep in mind that it can result in costly Google penalty. Please check out the guide about the good and bad linking practices.
There are lots of occurrences where fundamental changes in a business occur. It can be moving to a new website, rebranding its design, failure to follow the particular ideal practices that can result in a great loss of traffic, transactions, and rankings. For instance, a person wants to maintain the majority of their internet visibility while making a transition from the older domain mystech.net to a latest one jonymystech.com. However, they completely failed in setting up 301 redirects between these sites that results in losing all the authority that they built in the past. When there are modifications in foundational characteristics of your business, you should research the proper technical methods that can help in making transition successful and helps your SEO & marketing. There are many forums on the internet where you can find ideal practices. Local Business Listings If managed in a right manner, local business listings can be highly interactive, visible and boost traffic to your site as well as business. However, they can result in undermining your whole operation if managed in an incorrect manner. In order to avoid those prevalent issues, you should have proper control of your citations.
There are chances of suspensions or public shaming if you fail to adhere the guidelines of a local business platform. The violations of these guidelines can be figured out both manually as well as algorithmically. It can be reported to the platforms by marketers, competitors, and the public. The street-level signage can be read by the Google and can show if your business is situated in a set of legitimate commercial offices or in a series of houses owned by friends. Prior to listing yourself on a platform, you should be aware of the policies and ensure that you are sticking to them so that negative results can be avoided.
The fifth most powerful most important local searching ranking factor is to maintain consistency on the primary data sources, which means your address, name, website, and phone number should be consistent & accurate on the majors, such as Ingroup, Factual, Localeze, and Acxiom. In addition, it should work well on the other wonderful platforms, such as Facebook, Apple Maps, Yelp, Bing, Google My Business, and Foursquare. The trust of search engines is weakened by inconsistencies while validating the data of your website, but also potential customers are misdirected by inconsistencies. It is right that Google doesn’t check suite numbers and don’t even care regarding the differences in abbreviation, but still there is need to discover and correct the conflicting versions of your NAP as soon as possible. There are many listing tools available in the market through which you can check consistency instantly.
If we talk about the complete listing of local business, it should feature phone number, name, address, email address, website, driving directions, hours of operation, social media links, images, videos or videos links, fax number, additional phone numbers, attributes, owner responses, reviews, and links to other media, such as menus. Whether you are managing your listings by using software, like Moz Local or doing it manually for automating the distribution of your location data at scale, ensure that filling out as that numbers of variables fields as possible. It makes sure that a chance is given to a customer for connecting with your business in a range of ways. Missing data= missed opportunities.
If we talk about the worst things, there are chances that duplicate listings can result in misdirecting consumers, violating guidelines, and dividing strength your ranking and reviews among different entities. You should have only a single listing per platform for every physical location you are operating unless you can qualify yourself for multi-department or multi-practitioner listings. Figuring out and resolving duplicates is one of the major work in local SEO as duplicates come from a range of conditions (automated creation, accidental creation, rebrands, business moves, mergers, acquisitions, etc.). All the business should lookout on all of these.
One of the most critical infrastructures for all the local enterprises is local business listings, but there are also chances to put a target on the wrong platforms. You should focus on the main rule of thumb: Make sure your site is listed in an accurate way on the main sites in your industry and then hand-picked some additional platforms, which are authoritative for your location and industry. You should also don’t waste your hard efforts on getting listed on hundreds of low-level directories, which get little to no human use or don’t rank for your main items. After making the main set of listings, create a plan that can monitor them on the regular basis, then make edits in them as required, posting updates where needed and respond to the reviews you get. Once this work has completed, you should focus on the other works. If there are about 50 citations between you and your direct competitors, then there is no way that your rankings, conversion or traffic needle will be moved by getting another 25 of them with the help of low-quality directories. So, you should target the things that can do that job.
According to a recent research, the GMB listing with good photos will allow you to get 42% more click for the driving directions and 35% more clicks to the website. Due to that, it is widely speculated that local rankings are influenced by the user actions, but still, these statistics can’t encourage you to choose high-quality local business listing photos. Furthermore, it is very important that your listing photos should be monitored for catching all the things that are not right as the majority of platforms take a crowd-sourcing technique to the imagery that represents your business. You can hire a Google Trusted Photographer or utilize some pro tips for developing the best possible imagery for your business.
Map marker misplaced
Google is popularly known to placing map markers in middle. If this type of peculiar happened to you, then your ideal bet is to report that in their forum because it can start even from a bug. However, there are chances that strange map marketer locations can also occur from an issue on your system or the placement of your marker in the middle of several zip codes that you have written in the GMB dashboard. If the basic method to move the pin in your GMB dashboard doesn’t fix it, then you should definitely reach to support forum and document your issue there. You can totally lose the customers if a pin is misplaced.
Driving in the wrong directions
Your directions must be inaccurate if your map marker gets misplaced, but there are chances that bad driving directions can occur due to other circumstances. Many tragic accidents and litigation are resulted by bad or incomplete mapping on the part of Google, but the incorrect directions should be reported to the forum of Google, even there is no involvement of physical peril. It can also be done through this process for preventing the inconvenience and loss of customers.
Lack of monitoring
Due to the way local data flows throughout the ecosystem and the way by which different listings are subjected to public editing, the citations can’t be considered as a one-time work. There is a requirement of on-going monitoring for catching the wrong data appearing along with the ongoing blend of consumer sentiment and the appearance of new duplicate listings in the shape of reviews. The requirement for ongoing monitoring has resulted to the development of automated programs, such as Moz Local that can notify you if there is a change in your main NAP on your Google My Business listing, like getting a new review or development of a new duplicate. The capability to scale monitoring saves lots of time for bigger enterprises and multi-location businesses.
There are lots of changes like rebrands, moves, mergers/ acquisitions, changes in a phone number, adding new practices, opening or closing branches and much more that occurs in the normal local business. For each one, there are many correct steps that are needed to follow for defending your local rankings. If these changes will be mishandled, then it can create a loss in transactions, visibility, reviews, and lots of other things. You should have an in-depth review of the ideal practices to handle the technical side adequately while there is a transition occur in your business, whether it is a small or big one. Check out a good place for getting started with your Google My Business Listing. Reviews Keep one thing in mind that reviews aren’t opt-in. The story of your business is told by your customers, whether you are creating a profile or not. Rankings are greatly affected by reviews and can result in making a greater effect on the failure or success of your local business. That’s why you should select success with the accurate strategy.
If you ask us, a business that doesn’t have reviews is just same like a job applicant having no references. More than 80% people trust reviews, as well as recommendation by people and there, are very few people suggesting your business, it means an important part of your marketing is severely missing. It looks very bad when the majority of your competitors have a great range of positive reviews. Presently, the reviews that are based on the Google are believed to affect the local pack rankings, due to the sheer numbers but also due to growing emphasis on sentiment. You are missing a great piece of your ranking strategy if there is a shortage of reviews.
There is a need for a review acquisition plan, but you should neglect any technique that can cause a great number of reviews come in a short amount of time on a single platform. They should be filtered out because of the suspicious velocity. Never focus on a flood, instead of a steady trickle of incoming sentiment.
All the review platforms have their own set of guidelines and understanding about them can make lots of difference between a public shaming and a healthy online reputation. It is pretty crucial that you should be aware of the unique guidelines of different sites because some are strict than the others. For instance, the Yelp forbids the owners of the businesses to ask reviews, whereas it is allowed by the Google. Payment is prohibited by the review sites for conflicts of interest and reviews. However, if you are looking for launching a brand new campaign that requests reviews on particular platforms, then ensure that your strategy shouldn’t result to be called out by the public or platform.
No acquisition plan
According to a recent study, more than 90% consumers read reviews online and 82% out of them visits a review site as their wish is to make a purchase. Also, seven out of ten people leave a review if they are asked to do so. It starts with looking at the profiles of many local businesses having neglected reviews so that there should be no plan that can put in place for earning these highly impactful assets. While direct ask for reviews are forbidden by the Yelp, the majority of other platforms are fine with it. Every company should try different types of techniques, like email, social media, time of service, etc. to get reviews for figuring out what suits them best. If there will be no acquisition plan, then the business is choosing to forego their traffic & transactions that could be yielded by reviews.
Lack of monitoring
There is not even a single large company who will be happier to see a 1/3rd decline in revenue or the closure of its 10% stores, but this type of conditions can occur if trending consumer sentiment that shows problems needed to be eliminated are avoided by the businesses. A free quality control data is offered by the reviews to both small & large businesses. It can only be done by tracking this sentiment on an ongoing basis so that you can instantly figure out the emerging issues and step forward with solutions through which brand can be saved. For instance, a grocery store chain can only be aware from reviews that a specific location’s sales are going down and it needs some fixtures. It clearly signals a requirement for intervention at that location. The large and small brands should either automate the process with software, such as Moz Local for tracking incoming reviews or they can monitor their profiles by making a daily or weekly schedule of the reviews they generally get.
Lack of responses by owner
The responses of the owner on the different review platforms can signify free marketing, direct reputation management, damage control, free advertising, and quality control in a single feature. Still, there are lots of local businesses who don’t use the power of this feature that allow the public to only have a one-sided conversation regarding their brands with zero input from the company. It isn’t possible to count quantity of review profiles that show praise and blame it on the brands who don’t answer, without apologies, without thanks or any kind of rectification. If you are one of the business owners who think their customer service is brilliant should integrate with reviews and the responses of the owner in the context of the relationship of modern consumers looking like. An in-store customer who has raised a complaint or congratulated you should never be ignored. Overlooking owner responses is precisely what you are doing in a great way.
Poor responses by owner
We truly appreciate all the business owners who engage with their customer base in an active manner through owner responses, until those responses become a nightmare. The main things included in the poor responses include inappropriate language, dishonesty, blame shifting, lack of apology, and inadequate accountability. One of the best things that you should remember for creating owner responses is that only around 4% of the total customers make their time for complaining a problem that they have to deal with your business. You get a chance to react to complaints, but remaining silence can only give you darkness regarding the true satisfaction rating of your company. Complaints that consist of negative reviews are invaluable so you should talk with all your complainers in an adequate manner.
Poor staff training
According to one latest survey, more than half of the customer complaints are related to the poor behavior of employees and poor service. Here is an obvious fault that sits on the shoulders of the owner who hasn’t performed their required diligence in developing informative employee guidelines, regular sessions of staff training, and clear customer support documentation. As an owner, you should only hire individuals who can represent the brand to the public in an adequate manner. Your business is basically in the hands of your staff, so hire, train and support them by keeping this thing in your mind.
It is a topic of discussion on many local marketing forums that, whether or not it is ideal to set up a device in your shop for asking the customers to review the service or not. Google is partly responsible for this as they have modified their position on this approach over some period of time. The review kiosks and sentiments received in this way are prohibited by the present guidelines of Google that is likely to be filtered. Moreover, there is an anecdotal evidence that support reviews get eliminated when in-store Wi-Fi is used by the customers, even they are using their own mobiles or laptops. While these scenarios can’t be prevented, the formal kiosks should never be included in your marketing plan. It is ideal to collect emails during the service team and reply to the customers within a week. Social Media There are chances where the consumers want to contact you through social media for their suggestions, requests for help, and complaints. If you want to employ modern customer service, then don’t forget to add social media responsiveness and listening. Also, you should take notes from the mistakes committed by other brands so you can neglect them.
Poor Social Skills
Anyone working to represent their brand on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. should be well aware of the less popular social media fails and have the adequate knowledge to avoid them. However, there is a range of cases where the company’s marketing agency insulted a particular city with a tweet that talks bad about their residents. You should only hire those social media experts who can constantly protect against the poor wording or typos that have poor timing, misconstrued, and all the things that can show any kind of insensitivity to the audience.
All the social media platforms have their own set of rules that can cause your specific content to be removed or even result in suspension of your profile. For instance, your local business thought about running a promotion, but the use of personal timelines and friend connections forbidden by the Facebook for that event. If you become fail to familiar your company and social company with the guidelines of each platform, then it can cause public embarrassment and a waste of money.
Each social media platform serves different demographics and it is brilliant to experiment with a range of communities, after getting details about the use of statistics that can assist in selecting the ideal places for connecting with the most relevant audience. For instance, if your company is looking to publicize a discount day for the seniors hosted once a week and there are chances that the number of customers interested on Facebook will be more as compared to the Instagram as the number of seniors on the later one is less. Similarly, specific industries can be ideal matches for different platforms, such as Pinterest for business having a great visual component or Twitter for the technology companies. Always be ready for exploring your options so that your efforts shouldn’t get wasted on a platform that is useless for your industry.
Social media platforms are one of the most important parts of customer service because they are seen as a convenient method for contacting your business by the consumers. You should never neglect a profile on your site where your local community is participating actively. Monitor this account on regular basis for questions & complaints. Also, respond to them quickly.
Selling vs. sharing
If you are a complete beginner to social media, then first of all learn that a loyal brand following can be built by being generous, empathetic, entertaining, and helpful. The hard type of selling should be tried anywhere else. Yes, there is no doubt that you can include the promotion work of your products in your social media campaigns, but you can’t engage any community in a social way only by selling products. If the social media can be managed in a proper way, it can turn out to be extremely powerful for local businesses as it can help in connecting with consumers, becoming a household name in the lives of consumers, and getting information about their preferences. Due to the way, the integration of business itself as a go to resource for a particular kind of experience on Google Posts, Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter. Regular approach and experimentation can show the path to winning blend of sharing vs. selling over the time. Success is waiting for you ahead! Marketers are aware of the fact that an essential things they should teach clients are what they should not do. The local search marketing is getting riddled with lots of pitfalls with its connection to the practical world and its real-time speed. The business owners can prone to make some mistakes as they are human, which is ok!!, especially if you are recovering from with them with a dedication, ideal humor, and grace. You should also be determined that these mistakes will not be repeated. We strongly believe that this article should help you and you will share it with your team and clients so that errors can be avoided. Also, it will become easier to have a good planning. If you know what you should never do, then you have already won half of your battle. Our team wishes you a great success ahead.
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