If you're a small business owner with locally based customers, you're in a superb position to take advantage of local SEO (search engine optimisation).
For these kinds of services, Google wants to show results in the exact same geographical area as the searcher, right at the top of page one. This could and should be you.
Many small businesses, however, fail to take the steps necessary to benefit from local SEO. The following five mistakes are surprisingly common, but they're also easy to fix.
Mistake 1: Failing to Optimize Your Google Business Profile Listing
When it comes to Local SEO, Google really gives you a helping hand. Each local business is provided with a free business account, which shows up when someone searches for your particular service. And yet so many businesses never claim their listing.
To see this in action, try Googling "computer repair near me," and notice the three results beside a nice big map that appears at the very top of page one. Now try the same search for your own product or service. Is your company in those top three results? If not, make sure to claim and optimize your Google Business Profile listing.
You can claim your listing at google.com/business. To optimize it, fill out all the details with care. Also, add a few compelling images. According to Google, a good picture increases requests for directions by 42 percent.
Pay attention to reviews as well. Ideally, you should eventually have more reviews than your competitors. Encourage your customers to leave a review, and monitor reviews over time. If there's ever a negative one, respond quickly and politely, perhaps even offering a refund.
Mistake 2: No Directory Listings
For local SEO, Google pays a great deal of attention to business directories, or websites that serve as directories, such as Yelp, Manta, Tripadviser, Local, Facebook, AppleMaps, Bing Places, The Yellow Pages, The White Pages, and LinkedIn.
Despite the importance of getting into these top listing sites, most small business owners leave it up to chance. Make sure that doesn't include you. Proactively try to get yourself listed in as many directories as you can.
What are the benefits? Some people search directly in directories, which is highly targeted traffic. These directory sites also help your SEO rankings by sending you high authority backlinks. For many local searches, Google even displays the directory results themselves on page one.
Mistake 3: Inconsistent or Unreadable Contact Details
As you set up your Google Business Profile listing and directory pages, make sure that your NAPW (name, address, phone number, and website) data is always exactly the same in every location.
This may seem obvious, but every business sometimes changes its address, name, URL, or contact details, and fails to update it on every directory. Google doesn't like to see discrepancies and can punish the company's rankings as a result.
Your NAPW details also need to be readable by Google's bots. Make sure it's written in regular text, so it can be crawled. If you display your address as an image, for example, visitors will be able to read it, but Google will not.
Mistake 4: Not Optimizing for Mobile
According to Statista, over 60 percent of Google searches are now carried out on mobile devices. For local SEO, this figure may well be higher. People often search for things like restaurants, mechanics, doctors, and plumbers while on the move, going about their day, using their mobiles.
Most small business owners aren't really aware of this. Their sites are designed to look great on laptops and desktop computers, nothing more. If this is the case, then visitor experience on mobiles is left up to blind luck. As a result, rankings almost always suffer.
You can leap ahead of your competition by ensuring your visitors have a fantastic experience when they find your website on their smartphones. Make sure it all resizes well, and that it's fast, easy to navigate, with large, easy-to-read text.
Mistake 5: Poor Quality Content
Local SEO is, by and large, less competitive than nationwide SEO. But this doesn't mean you can put out subpar content, as many small businesses unfortunately do.
As we move into 2022, Google is more focused on the genuine quality of content than ever before. Short, poor-quality posts that are overly stuffed with keywords will only hurt your local rankings.
For every page of your site, focus on providing a wonderful user experience, with excellent content. At the very least, hire better writers and create longer content than your competitors. If possible, you could also add images, infographics, videos, and links to valuable resources.
For small business owners who understand Local SEO well, it can be a goldmine for traffic, leads, and sales. Make sure you avoid the above five mistakes, and you're very likely to be rewarded with a page one position.