There’s an abundance of reasons why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is so popular with digital content marketers. High search result rankings can boost any business’s web traffic and sales and let it thrive. However, there are substantive differences between SEO and local SEO – and different approaches to either. Local SEO comes with local factors that many tend to ignore, perhaps believing that regular SEO best practices suffice. That’s far from the case, however. With this in mind, let us distinguish the two and then explore the five biggest local SEO mistakes to avoid.
SEO vs Local SEO
First and foremost, let us distinguish between SEO and local SEO. Even articles on this subject may fail to make this vital distinction, so some caution is always advisable.
SEO seeks to optimize websites and content to achieve higher search result rankings. This includes the following factors, among over 200 others:
- Keywords and keyword density
- Content structure: headings, alt. tags, and length
- Images and other content
- Mobile-friendliness and loading speeds
- Security certificates
- Website structure
- Content quality, engagement, and social signals
Furthermore, due to its sheer scope, SEO is divided into three main types:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
Of course, you should not ignore any of these factors or SEO types, regardless of your marketing scope. Optimizing your content for search engines can only be beneficial, whether you’re a local or international business. If you lack the skills or the time to devote yourself to SEO, you should seek reliable help in your efforts whenever possible.
2. Local SEO
Conversely, local SEO seeks to optimize content based on local factors, as the name implies. With the advent of mobile browsing, Google and other search engines prioritize user proximity in search engine result pages (SERPs).
As such, local SEO delves deeper into local factors and signals, such as the following:
- Localized content and locally relevant keywords
- Local link popularity
- Local reviews and citations
Evidently, then, the same best practices that apply to SEO apply to local SEO in many ways. However, local SEO intends to let pages rank higher locally, based on local factors. That’s a vital distinction to make, as it often lies behind the biggest local SEO mistakes to avoid at all costs.
The 5 biggest Local SEO mistakes to avoid
On this subject, then, let us explore the five most common, harmful, or avoidable mistakes to avoid in local SEO.
#1 Not setting up, verifying, or optimizing a Google My Business (GMB) profile
The aforementioned proximity factor, as well as “near me” searches, make GMB profiles invaluable. Still, it’s a common mistake not to set up a GMB profile or to verify or optimize it afterward.
Setting up your GMB account doesn’t take long, and neither does verifying it afterward. By creating one, you’ll let local search results pull information from it since such information isn’t automatically pulled from your website. Verifying it as yours also ensures you claim your business listing so that no third parties can edit it in the future.
Most importantly, Google uses such listing information to list your business in “near me” and local searches, above SERPs. They also use it, along with other local SEO factors, to rank the top 3 results in that search result area, as well as on Google Map searches. By avoiding this common local SEO mistake, you ensure that you don’t miss out on this high-visibility area and that you get exposure to a larger potential local audience.
#2 Missing or inaccurate Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) information
Similarly, your NAP information should always be full, accurate, and up to date. Consistency and accuracy are both key factors in all circumstances, but it’s a typical local SEO mistake to overlook citation NAP.
This most commonly occurs when a business relocates or otherwise changes contact information. Of course, accurate NAP information helps potential customers contact you, but it’s equally vital for local SEO. Google and other search engines cross-check your NAP information from various sources, and omissions and inaccuracies can hamper your local SEO score. Consider all citation and directory sources where it might be listed, such as:
- Your GMB profile
- Internet Yellow Pages
- Local directories
Luckily, Moz and other vendors offer tools that can help you avoid this big local SEO mistake.
#3 A lack of local reviews
Finally, on the subject of your GMB profile, local SEO mandates that you have local reviews of decent quantity and quality.
In much the same way as SEO gauges engagement and social signals, local SEO does the same in a local sense. Local engagement and reviews let Google know your website and GMB profile offer substantial value to local audiences. In turn, these signals allow your business to edge ahead of the competition and rank higher. Thus, you should try to elicit reviews in every way possible.
#4 Ignoring mobile-friendliness for your website
The factor of mobile-friendliness is equally valuable for local SEO. As more and more web users browse and search on mobile devices, ignoring the mobile-friendliness of your website is one of the biggest local SEO mistakes to avoid.
This is an established SEO best practice, to begin with; Google itself offers a mobile-friendly test. However, it’s equally significant for local SEO specifically. An increasing number of people conduct searches on their mobile devices, whether on the move or otherwise. Thus, ignoring this factor can cost you in terms of local visibility and outreach.
#5 A lack of local content on your website
Finally, local SEO hinges on content optimized for local factors – since that is what local SEO is, in essence.
You should thus ensure your website offers locally valuable content, as well as other local signals such as the following:
- Locally valuable keywords and phrases
- Geographically focused content subjects
- Valuable local backlinks
- Local NAP citations
Thus, while SEO best practices are always essential, you should never neglect local signals and identifying factors. Local SEO requires that your website and GMB profile provide local value, after all.
With the above in mind, you should now be familiar with five of the biggest local SEO mistakes to avoid. While local SEO is still SEO, making the vital distinction between the two and remembering the local factor will save you needless grief and allow you to attract more local audiences.
Author bio: William Johnson is a freelance digital marketing consultant by profession and an amateur author by hobby. For over a decade he has contributed articles to various publications, discussing the intricacies of SEO, PPC advertising, and other digital marketing endeavors.