Small businesses are investing more in online marketing than ever before. They have built a strong presence on Facebook, FourSquare and other social media platforms. However, most of their online traffic still comes from Google.
Unfortunately, local businesses don’t know how to optimize their websites and other online profiles properly. Here are some of the biggest local SEO mistakes (and what should be done differently).
Poor Keyword Research
Keyword research is the most important part of search engine optimization. It is also the part that most small businesses get wrong.
Most people use the Google Keyword Planner to find relevant keywords. Unfortunately, they don’t look at the keyword data by geography.
By default, the Keyword Planner will tell you how many searches each keyword receives from users all over the world. This data is useless for locally owned businesses.
It is important to adjust your location to see how much traffic is coming from the regions you are targeting. You can drill down by individual cities or the entire state.
Never assume that the keywords that receive the most traffic globally will be the best in your area. People in different regions tend to have different vocabularies and use different words.
Not Monitoring Rankings
Too many brands only check their keyword ranking once every couple of months. This is a huge mistake, because your website may be dropping in the SERPs.
It is important to track keyword ranking of your site regularly. If your ranking is dropping, it is important to use Google Webmaster Tools or pay for an SEO audit. You may find that you are being penalized for an unnatural link profile and need to disavow some of your links. You may also need to scale your linkbuilding efforts, because aggressive competitors may be surpassing you.
Inconsistent and Inaccurate Listing Data
Google ranks national brands primarily on their link profiles. They take another factor into consideration with locally owned businesses – co-citations.
Google looks at your business listings on Yelp, Google Places and other listing services. Your site will rank higher in the SERPs if the information on your website is consistent with your other profiles. If you moved or someone else listed your information correctly, it is important to claim the listings and make sure all information is updated.
Stuffing Too Many City and Zip Codes in Your Content
When you are optimizing content for a locally owned business, you need to make sure the cities you are operating in are listed on your website. If you are targeting people in an entire state, it can be tempting to add all of the cities on every page.
You need to refrain from doing this. Google will quickly penalize your site for keyword stuffing. Here is a better approach:
- Do not list more than eight cities on a single page.
- Only list the primary city in the footer at the bottom of your website.
- Create separate pages for each city you want to target. Make sure they are unique and don’t use spun content.
You may rank well for every city that you want to target. However, you should be able to rank for at least the five most important ones.
Too many websites don’t have images. Not only does this hurt the user experience, it can also affect your SEO rankings.
Photos have become a very important part of SEO. You should incorporate visual content on your site as much as possible.
Make sure that your images use the “alt” tag. You want to create a detailed description, which includes the keywords and cities that you want to target.