The 6 Mistakes Most Small Businesses Make with Local SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | December 13, 2016
Small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs don’t have the budget of a corporation, but they also don’t have the ability to hire experts and entire marketing departments. They’re left to try to understand function in every capacity in their business. This leads to misinformation and confusion when it comes to complicated strategies like SEO.

With the many changes to search engine algorithms, the small business owner often finds that she doesn’t fully understand the changes or the impact it’ll have on her business. Sometimes, they believe that keywords aren’t even relevant to local searches at all, which is a huge mistake.

The Wrong Category
Many owners believe that they should target all categories to ensure that customers can find them in the search results. This can actually have a negative impact on your rankings. Google states that using as few categories as possible will actually be better for describing your business. Focus on the categories that make the most sense for your business, and what you want to rank well for in the search engines.

Ignoring Online Reviews
There are various studies that show online reviews to be vital for the health of your business. Negative reviews can turn potential customers away from your business while positive ones can sway consumers to your business. Often, businesses think that because they’re local, reviews aren’t as important. They believe their customers know them to provide value. That may be true, but new customers matter as well. You want to bring in new business, and that can’t be done by ignoring reviews. Reviews are visible when people do local searches too.

Duplicating Your Online Content
Many business owners know they should put up fresh blog posts if they have a blog at all. They might not understand that all content has to be unique. Duplicate content can hurt your search engine rankings. Google can penalize content when it’s been plagiarized from other sites. What business owners might not know is that includes reviews taken from other sites as well as product descriptions. When you have too much duplicate content on your site, Google can push your website far enough in the rankings that customers won’t find you at all.

Picking a Large Radius
When you’re a service-based business and you’re setting up your Google business map, you might be tempted to make the radius as large as possible. A huge radius will not help your local business though. While it shows your customers how willing you are to travel, it’s not used as a method for ranking your website. You’ll most likely only rank for the city where the business resides, not with the other cities surrounding yours.

Closed Locations
Claiming your business on Google My Business as well as other listings like Yelp or Yahoo is vital for your local SEO efforts. When you’ve verified your information, customers are able to find you easily. One thing that some business owners do when they move is to close down their listing. This means that there will be a permanent red notice on the page that says “permanently closed”, which doesn’t point customers to the new location. Instead of closing your listing, have it redirected to your new location.

Displaying Name and Address
Business owners believe that any address and phone number information they add to Google My Business will be what’s listed. This simply isn’t true. It’s one of the many places that Google uses as a source for your information. It’ll also grab data from your website, third-party sites and Google Maps. This will cause your website to rank lower in the search engines, but it will also give your customers varying information, which can be incredibly confusing. If you have a change in phone number or different business operating hours, you’ll have confused searchers. Google can penalize your website for incorrect information.

These are just a few of the mistakes business owners make when they’re trying to do their own SEO marketing. It can be quite confusing since there’s a variety of myths out there too.