In an increasingly digital age, the need for businesses to stand out from the crowd on the World Wide Web has never been greater. As a localised operation, you don’t necessarily need to gain a big global presence. Instead, you should be focused on leaving your mark on the key demographic.
Building a strong local SEO strategy isn’t easy, though, especially as there are so many common pitfalls and reasons why you’re failing at local SEO. If your attempts have only had limited results, there could be many reasons behind those struggles.
Local SEO V Organic SEO
First and foremost, you need to appreciate the difference between local SEO and organic SEO. Essentially, it all boils down to the geographic parameters. If the website offers general info or is for an online business serving a worldwide audience, those components aren’t needed. Conversely, any company primarily focused on a specific town, city, or region needs to build that local presence.
Adopting an approach that is better suited to generalised search engine optimisation is a very common mistake. If your company is looking to master the local area, it must be accordingly tailored. However, local SEO is a complex arena, where it’s very easy to do more damage than good.
4 Reasons Why You’re Failing at Local SEO
Here’s are some of the most common sources of those pains.
#1. Keyword Overload
When a user conducts a search, the list of results is essentially a collection of short adverts for the individual websites. The appearance of that text ad is ultimately dictated by the Titles and Meta description elements of the page’s backend. Whether your site is powered by a simple CMS like WordPress or a more complex framework, perfecting those elements is pivotal. Choosing the right keywords is undoubtedly one of the most important factors.
The available space allows for Title tags of roughly 60 characters. Meanwhile, descriptions are usually around 180 characters long. Consequently, every word counts. As such, you may be tempted to focus on shoehorning as many keywords as you possibly can. The algorithm used to rank pages will detect this, though, which makes it a big mistake.
Too many keywords essentially lead to them having the completely opposite impact of what you’re aiming for. Stick to one or two and keep them as close to the beginning of those adverts as possible. Likewise, you should include the primary location of your services in both the Title and Meta description.
On a separate note, many inexperienced SEO teams see the footer as a great place to add multiple place names and locations. Unfortunately, this saturation will be penalised by the Google algorithm. Leave those keywords for on-page body text on the appropriate pages.
#2. Not Using (Or Misusing) Google My Business
GMB, which stands for Google My Business, is a crucial tool in the arena of local SEO. It’s essentially a directory but is far more important as it is directly a part of Google. Capitalising on the opportunities it offers is essential. Sadly, failing to do this is one of the most common mistakes of modern SME.
Most consumers search for local businesses and services using Google. A strong GMB presence ensures that your company appears on those searches. Not only does it increase awareness, but it can allow customers to call without even needing to visit your site. By failing to list your operation on the GMB platform, you are essentially missing out on your share of that vast and growing audience.
Using GMB doesn’t guarantee success, though, especially if you use it badly. It may be tempting to promote the business in locations where you don’t have a physical presence. However, the Google algorithms are smart and will punish you for trying to manipulate the system. Worse still, this will see you suffer in the territories where you do operate.
On a similar note, many fall into the trap of adding their business to too many categories on the GMB platform. This only waters down your impact in the primary fields of operation. The best local SEO strategies focus on one or two categories — yours should too!
#3. Failing To Embrace Other Directories
Google My Business is the most important directory on the market, especially for local businesses. However, that shouldn’t be an excuse to ignore the need for utilising other directories. Many potential customers will still use those, especially when looking for services over products.
Appearing on those platforms doesn’t only bring direct benefits. The backlinks created can also boost your ranking on localised Google searches. Many businesses put a lot of emphasis on building links but miss out on these crucial resources. Whether it’s an industry-specific board or a nationwide directory doesn’t matter. Ignoring them simply isn’t an option.
Customer review platforms are also very useful for local businesses. In addition to boosting visibility, they can put a potential new client’s fears to bed. Failing to embrace them fully is another common mistake that could be costing you dearly.
#4. Duplicating Location Content
While being too diverse isn’t always a great idea, it makes sense to target your main focus points with aggressive SEO strategies. With this in mind, duplicating content so that it appears with great power seems like the perfect solution. This is especially true when dealing with location-related content. In truth, though, this could be doing more damage than good.
Your website wants the best chance of standing out from the crowd. However, you don’t want pages to be in competition with each other. Aside from impacting your index rating, the attempts at manipulation can lead to Google removing your site from their results. After all, their commitment is to the end-user.
One of the most common mistakes relating to this is to create pages that are basically identical apart from the names of villages and towns. Businesses think this is a great way to target multiple areas within the same region. In truth, though, unique content is the only option — for both the customer experience and your search engine ranking.
Those tips on the pitfalls should help you clean up your website for slightly improved results.
However, the complex algorithms of Google rankings can only be mastered by experts in the field.
For a truly successful localised strategy, embracing the expertise, knowledge and support of professional SEO marketers is the best option for long term growth.