Top Local SEO Mistakes

Written by: Jason Bayless | September 01, 2015

Targeting local markets with search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns can be a valuable online marketing strategy for businesses of all sizes. A strong presence in local search results will help lead to a higher conversion percentage than a broader campaign.

Local SEO marketing shares many of the same keystones as larger and broader campaigns, though there are a few elements that are different. When targeting a local market, be sure to avoid these common mistakes.

Name, Address, Phone Number — NAP

NAP information is a local business’s Internet fingerprint. It’s essential that this information is consistent across the web, including social media pages and map listings. Inconsistent or outdated information can confuse search algorithms and return misleading results.

When beginning a local SEO campaign, be sure to verify that all of the business’s NAP information is identical wherever it’s posted. Pay special attention to the business’s Google+ Local listing, which is used to show the small map, hours, address and phone number on the right side of Google search results.

Reviews

Reviews are critical for local SEO campaigns. Businesses with a greater number of high quality reviews tend to rank higher in local search results. Ratings matter, and businesses that cultivate positive reviews are rewarded.

Getting customers to write reviews can be challenging, but it’s an area of local SEO that can’t be neglected. The most effective way to get reviews is by emailing your customers with links to sites where you’d like them to leave a positive review, such as Facebook, Google, or Yelp. It takes time to build up a volume of online reviews, so it should be a focus of your campaign from the very beginning.

Content Quality

Much of the work of local SEO happens off-page, but website content quality is still extremely important. Thin content, such as a weak landing page, placeholder pages, or identical pages with different URLs, can hurt search result rankings. Content should be unique, useful to readers, and easy to navigate.

A common challenge for content creators is getting the correct keyword balance. Keyword stuffing is penalized by search engines, but using too few or the wrong keywords means that search engines can’t accurately categorize pages for ranking keywords.

Image Tags

Keep in mind that search engines can’t categorize images without tags. Images and infographics are huge assets to website readability, and they are attractive to visitors. Using image tags to describe your images allows search engines to use them to categorize and rank your pages, just like they can with text. These tags can be keyword-rich, including your geographic keyword, and are an excellent way to improve the quality of your page’s content.

Inbound Links

One of the most important factors in page ranking is the number and quality of inbound links. Getting inbound links can be as challenging as getting positive reviews for a business, but the payoff is immense, and no local SEO campaign should neglect them.

Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to inbound links. Getting a mention from an industry-leading website or blog is more valuable than a link from a forum, for example. There are two kinds of links: nofollow and dofollow. Nofollow links don’t contribute to your page’s rank, but they do contribute to word-of-mouth marketing and website traffic. Dofollow links from reputable websites are a huge boost to local SEO.

Launching a local SEO campaign can be a valuable marketing effort for any business, large or small. Targeting a geographic area results in more relevant website leads and higher conversions than broader campaigns, and the keywords involved are generally cheaper and easier to target. Be careful to avoid these common mistakes, and a local SEO campaign is sure to be more successful.