Writing this is therapeutic for me. We’ve worked with multiple businesses as their local search engine optimization (SEO) partner, and we talk to dozens of other businesses about it.
When you’ve focused on local SEO as much as we have, certain patterns emerge.
In concept, local SEO sounds great: your business comes up on the first page in the local search results or the Google Map when people in your area search for you. However, as with most things in life, you have to work hard to get the results you want. This is where partnering with a local SEO company becomes very important.
With proper education, I believe that local SEO is a powerful tool. More people than ever are using mobile devices to search for nearby services and products, meaning the importance of having a good local SEO partner to help you with your online presence will continue to grow.
Common mistakes your local SEO company should fix:
Many business owners don’t know their local footprint.
If you’re a business owner reading this blog, then you are actively trying to learn how local SEO can help your business. I applaud you. You wouldn’t believe how many businesses do not know much about their companies’ local SEO footprint, which is a how the business is represented across the web and ranges from directories to local media. There are some simple ways to figure out how well you’re doing:
- Get a brief snapshot of your overall status by going to Moz Local to check your listings. The service will take a look at the major directories and other online places where you might be listed and give you an overall score on how well you’re doing.
- Do some searches on Google with keywords you think clients are searching when it comes to your industry, plus the name of your town. To get the most accurate reading, make sure to open up a private window, or an Incognito window in Chrome, before you search so that you get unbiased results.
If you move locations, then things can get wonky.
If you have ever changed the physical location of your business, it’s probable that you will have an inconsistent address or phone number listed across the multiple local directories out there. When I was doing some research for a dentistry client, I came across many local directories that had either the office address or phone number published incorrectly. Just imagine a situation where the patient found that client online, obtained the incorrect address and went to the wrong place. It’s possible that client never even found the real location, and likely wouldn’t have gone looking for it at all.
Having a consistent NAP is extremely important.
Have your local SEO partner check if you have a consistent NAP. I love taking naps, but this is slightly different. NAP stands for name, address, phone number, and it should usually be found in the footer of all your pages on your website, matching whatever you have chosen to list in the directories. This will not only let potential clients know where to find your physical business, but also help Google and other search engines to find and verify your directory listings, thus boosting your Local SEO presence.
A Google+ My Business page is a must, but business owners don’t fully cultivate it.
You’re busy running your business, we get that, but this is equally as important if you want to grow that business. When you do local searches on Google, you will most often see a box of a few local results on the first page. Those results are tied very much to a company’s Google+ My Business page. To start fully optimizing yours, make sure to have your local SEO partner verify your business location. Google will send you a physical postcard in the mail to verify that you are indeed at this address, solidifying for them that you are taking your company’s presence in their system seriously. Once this is done, have your local SEO partner design a campaign to gather Google+ reviews so that the strength of your profile grows with time.
Reviews are transparent and here to stay.
These days, anyone can leave a public review about your business, which is both fantastic and horrible. Even if you do not have many reviews right now, start thinking about cultivating lists of your best clients and asking them to give you reviews on the most popular directories. We recommend Google+ and Yelp as a starting point. Sooner or later, you are going to need positive reviews to either help you get found, or to offset any negative reviews. Remember, the highest percentages of unsolicited reviews slant towards being negative, so encouraging your happy clients to post positive reviews is extra important.
Updating a single service does not update all of your online listings.
I’ve talked to many business owners who sign up for services like Yext and assume that all their local directory listings will get updated. That is not the case and is a good reason why partnering with a good local SEO company can provide valuable insights. Yext, for example, is a good tool, but it only updates directories in its network. There may be other critical ones you should pay attention to, and your SEO partner will be a great help in finding these for you.
There are multiple actions that business owners can take with their local SEO partner to improve local SEO efforts. Don’t let the number of things you have to do bother you – just pick one from the list and get started on it and just keep improving. Like most good things in life, strong local SEO will not happen overnight. Over time, though, you will develop a local SEO presence that brings in increased numbers of local clients and measurable growth to your bottom line.