Ronak Kothari is the founder of RONKOT, a full-service digital marketing agency.
The internet has proved to be a game-changer in the way businesses operate. Gone are the days when TV and radio commercials were the only marketing tactics. With the advent of the internet, there are now a host of possibilities to win customers.
Search engines, social media, and email are three online channels that offer massive potential for business growth. But if there is one thing that most businesses get wrong about the digital space, it is search engine optimization (SEO).
While they create a site for commercial use, they do not fully understand the benefits of optimizing it. SEO is crucial for any business website. It is not a set of temporary tactics that can make a site compete in the online market.
Rather, SEO is a method that strategically builds and develops a website for search engine results pages (SERPs). A good rank on the SERPs drives traffic and wins valuable leads, thus giving businesses a chance to convert them into repeat buyers.
However, there are a few best practices for acing the ranking game of SERPs.
Statistics by HubSpot show that 97% of users first discover a business on the internet. Further, 46% of them use Google to search for information about local stores and services. This means that businesses must optimize their sites for local searches. Else, they will fail to get users to visit them on-site.
In this post, we discuss the six most common local SEO mistakes in detail. Further, we offer tips on how you can fix them to improve your website’s rank in the SERPs.
1. Not Leveraging Google My Business Profile
Image Source: Google
Google searches have become location-specific to help users find businesses that are nearby and can be easily reached. In fact, according to the HubSpot statistics we mentioned earlier, 72% of users who did a local search visited a physical store within five miles.
If you don’t use Google My Business Profile (GMB), it can limit your chances of being found by potential customers on the net. However, not having a GMB profile is as harmful as having duplicate listings.
Multiple listings on directory profiles like GMB can come up due to change in address or phone numbers. In such a case, it can be confusing for users and search engines bots to know where exactly your business is and which one is a reliable listing.
Further, Google regularly updates its algorithm to offer the users best search results. One of these updates introduced the option to leave feedback, ratings, and reviews on a business’s GMB profile. This feature allows people to rate a business depending on their experience.
In fact, according to a Deloitte report, upto 81% of users read reviews before making their purchase. Thus, it is necessary to use all GMB features that strengthen your business’s credibility.
Without leveraging a GMB profile and its features, you will find it difficult to attract new customers.
How to Avoid It
- Google My Business (GMB) carries important NAPW information like name, address, phone number, and website. Make sure you have a GMB profile with an updated NAPW, map location, and a single correct listing. Follow this guide to optimize your GMB profile for a better reach.
Check out the search results below for ‘AC repair services in Texas.’ Besides the location and NAPW details, they also show the number of years that a business has been active. What better way for a business to showcase its expertise?
Image Source: Google
- As you start to build your brand on the SERPs, ask for customer reviews to boost trustworthiness. If you receive negative feedback, take in your stride and respond professionally.
2. Not Integrating SEO with Other Marketing Channels
Building your site for organic traffic in search engines is great. But your online visibility will not improve without making the best of each marketing platform. Oftentimes, businesses fail to link their social media accounts with their websites or leverage email marketing.
The result is a significant loss in the number of customers that could be gained by social media platforms like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
While there is no definitive study on how social media boosts SEO, marketing pundits believe that businesses need to expand their understanding of SEO. If you succeed in diverting the traffic from social media to your website, search engines will take notice.
Enhanced traffic will signal to the search engines that your site publishes value-adding content. This will push the search engine bots to crawl your site and index its web pages. The result? You get a higher rank in the SERPs.
Email marketing is an equally powerful marketing channel. There are around 4 billion email users around the world. Yet, businesses often fail to prioritize email for marketing purposes. In fact, research reveals that email marketing has a 3800 % ROI when compared to social media.
Thus, a local SEO strategy is incomplete without linking it with all your digital marketing channels.
How to Avoid It
- Integrate your social media accounts with the website so that users can find you on the web. This will help make people aware of the range of products and services you deal in.
Image Source: Instagram
The image above from the Houndstooth Coffee Instagram page illustrates the point well. Notice how they have integrated their social media account to the website within the bio section.
- Take care to use a consistent brand image and voice across all channels. You want the users to be able to distinguish your business from duplicate or competing profiles.
- Leverage email newsletters to keep them updated about any developments in the company or your website. It could be something as simple as an announcement about a new blog post.
The idea is to use all marketing platforms optimally to keep the audience engaged.
3. Not Optimizing for User Experience
Driving traffic to your site will not reap any benefits if it is not optimized for user experience. Research shows that 1 in 4 users leave a site that takes forever to load. A high website load time results in a high bounce rate and consequently a lower rank in the SERPs.
The same is valid for website design. If your site’s design does not ensure easy navigation, users will find it hard to move between the web pages.
Check out the landing page for Industrial Strength Marketing. While it is crafted to convert leads, most landing pages do not.
Image Source: HubSpot
A landing page is built to obtain your site visitors’ contact details. But it may not serve its purpose if it has:
- Unclear call-to-action (CTA)
- Too many blank spaces to fill
- Non-functional submit button
Designed right, landing pages can do wonders for business growth. Thus, it is necessary to create them keeping in mind your audience’s preferences.
More often than not, people go online to find answers to a query. It may be related to either buying a product, exploring nearby services, or looking for self-help guides. This is where a blog comes in handy.
A blog is a great place to offer users helpful tips. But it will do more harm than good if it doesn’t feature quality content or is not optimized for local keywords.
Moreover, since people are increasingly using their mobile phones to find content online, a business website needs to be optimized for mobile devices. In fact, mobiles generate half of the global web traffic.
If your site is not built for mobile browsers, it will fail to rank in the SERPs.
How to Avoid it
- Ensure that your website loads super fast and is optimized for mobile devices. If you are using multimedia content like images and videos on your homepage banners, compress them for faster loading.
- Design your site to be user-friendly. Link its pages in a way that makes it easier for the audience to find the content they need. All elements of your website design should improve navigation and engage people on the site.
- Publish high-quality content on your blog regularly. To optimize them for local SEO, look for geo-specific keywords to target in your articles.
For example, if you run a restaurant in Texas, use ‘best Texas restaurant’ in your blog posts. Other formats for geo-specific keywords include:
— [business type/service] in Texas
— Texas [business type/service]
Using geo-specific keywords in your articles will help you to deliver accurate content to users.
4. Not Analyzing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Not measuring performance is perhaps one local SEO mistake that most businesses make. KPIs allow you to assess the reach and impact of your SEO strategy. They reveal key insights that could be used to tailor marketing campaigns across search engines, email, and social media.
Without having a clear idea on which tactics pulled traffic or tanked on the SEO front, you cannot optimize them for a better reach. It both results in wastage of resources and missed opportunities for converting leads.
How to Avoid It
- Draw up a custom list of KPIs to help chart your business performance. For example, if you leverage SEO and email marketing, then bounce rate, click-through rate (CTR), and crawl rate can be a few metrics to keep an eye on.
- After you have fixed your KPIs, leverage tools like Google Analytics to carry out regular performance audits. There are also Facebook Page Insights and Twitter Analytics to monitor traffic activity on your social media pages.
5. Not Following Best Practices
A site’s authority is governed by its organization and structure. If your website does not have a sitemap, robots.txt, or 301 redirects, it will not perform well in the SERPs. They are indispensable elements to dominate in the search engine rankings.
Similarly, having a lot of content is of no use if it has not been organized using anchor texts, tags, and categories. No matter the content management system (CMS) you use, your site needs to be well-linked and structured to stand out in the online market.
How to Avoid It
- A sitemap tells search bots which pages to index and the hierarchical relation between them. It is especially useful for pages that lie two or three levels deep on the site. Thus, create a sitemap in XML format to ensure search engines bots index your site deeply.
- A robots.txt file stops search bots from indexing the pages that carry internal data on your domain name. Follow this guide to make a robots.txt file for your site.
- A 301 Redirect informs search engines about the shift in URLs of a content page. While a 404 HTTP code (broken link) is bad for user experience, a 302 HTTP code (temporary redirect) is, for bots.
Hence, use a 301 redirect to pass on the link authority for the old page to the new URL.
- Link your pages using anchor texts. Research for long-tailed keywords and embed them as anchor texts in your blog articles. However, make sure to place them in your sentences naturally and not stuff them for the sake of SERPs.
Not optimizing sites for local users can rob businesses of a chance to win new customers. Therefore, they must always be on the lookout for the latest practices that could help them to win and convert leads.
We hope our article helped you identify common local SEO mistakes that affect the ranking in the SERPs. Use the solutions and tips shaped in this blog post and stay a step ahead of your competitors.