Local SEO Mistakes and How To Fix Them #SEMrushchat Recap

Posted on Oct 31, 2019


82% of smartphone users are turning to search engines to identify local businesses, and this is just one reason why it is essential for businesses to nail their local SEO strategy to improve foot traffic that will eventually lead to sales. This post by Paul Paquin offers quick hacks to win at local SEO, but if your site still doesn’t rank, then you may be making mistakes that need to be corrected.

To get expert insights on this topic we invited a special guest, Greg Gifford, to join us in our latest #SEMrushchat. Greg is a pro at local SEO and has assisted more than 2,000 businesses across the US and Canada to improve their sales. Greg, along with our chat participants, shared some great insights with our community on the usual mistakes with local SEO and how to rectify them. Here is what they had to say:

Q1. What is the biggest mistake you see all the time with local SEO?

With local SEO, it is not just enough to do it – it is important that you do it right! For instance, having reviews about your company on Google gives you a huge local SEO boost, but, if your reviews are fake, this mistake can cost you when you get caught.

SEMrush

@semrush

Q1. What is the biggest mistake that you see all the time in Local SEO?

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Kim Doughturkey 🦃@Howdy_Doughty

A1. Clients who make fake reviews for their own business. 😐

See Kim Doughturkey 🦃‘s other Tweets

Our chat participants also discussed certain mistakes that, according to them, are absolutely unacceptable. Check to see if your business is guilty of any of them:

Content Related Issues

The content you put on your website for local SEO can sabotage your rankings or reduce your store visits if it has these three major flaws:

1. Content that isn’t geo-specific – Nearly 2/3 of smartphone users are more likely to buy from stores that customize information to their location. So, ensuring that your content is geo-specific is extremely important.

2. Location keyword stuffing – Inserting a city or pin code in the header or footer is easily picked up by Google’s algorithm. It is now more likely to get you a penalty than a boost in ranking. It is also important to remember that the location-specific keywords you target should not include areas you don’t serve.

Tim Capper@GuideTwit

A1. Targeting cities that you literally dont and cant serve.

See Tim Capper’s other Tweets

3. Poor quality or unhelpful content – 7 out of 10 customers visit a business or make a purchase based on the information that they find online. If they do not find your content helpful, they probably won’t buy from you either.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

Q1. For me, it’s seeing location-keyword stuffed content. And crap content. Never REALLY good useful/relevant localized content

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Inconsistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)

Having your contact details searchable in the SERPs is essential, as most of us know. For local businesses, however, it is even more important to have the same contact information across all directories and platforms. Citations are considered to be one of the most important signals to Google; it shows that your business is authentic and that you are providing accurate information to your users. Inconsistent listings confuse users and search engines, and therefore, trust is lost.

Simon Cox@simoncox

A1 Inconsistent NAP – Name Address Phone number across all media.

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Heather Harvey@Fizzle_Up

A1: I think a lot of people will agree on inconsistent information (including NAP etc.) across different platforms/ listings. And does anyone ever have the logins to be able to access & update the stuff – NO!!

See Heather Harvey’s other Tweets

Not Using Your Location in Keywords at All

As stated earlier, you shouldn’t be keyword stuffing with cities all around you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your location in your keywords. Customers are more likely to visit stores near them than those that are farther off. So, just including your location on your website may not be enough. Instead, optimize for keywords like ‘Florists in Trevose’ rather than just ‘Florists.’

David Gossage@dgossage1983

A1. Having a generic 500 word block of text about the location with the odd smattering of the word “plumber” https://twitter.com/semrush/status/996768734843953152 

SEMrush

@semrush

Q1. What is the biggest mistake that you see all the time in Local SEO? #semrushchat

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See David Gossage’s other Tweets

Not Claiming Google My Business (GMB)

“While most local SEO pros think claiming a GMB listing is an important step in their SEO strategy, a surprising 56% of local retailers have yet to claim their Google my business listing, according to Brandmuscle’s State of Local Marketing report. This is a serious oversight in the local SEO efforts.

Not Using Structured Data Effectively

Using schema markup communicates to the search engines where your office is located, which then allows the SERPs to serve the most relevant content to your users. This is especially important for multi-location businesses with a single website, since results will be based on structured data, as opposed to websites.

Bill Slawski ⚓@bill_slawski

A1 Biggest Mistake seen in is not using Structured Data effectively or correctly

See Bill Slawski ⚓‘s other Tweets

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A1: The biggest mistake is not using schema markup for location citations and entities

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

Not Tracking Attribution and Not Optimizing

Taking advantage of ways to track attribution to find out where your customers come from, and why, will help you to optimize your site’s content. This will also give you great insights on your customer’s search behavior, thus helping you to identify top performing channels.

CallRail@CallRail

A1: Not taking advantage of ways to track attribution–it’s just as important for local businesses and the agencies who serve them as it is for the big guys. Figure out where your leads are coming from + optimize those channels.

See CallRail’s other Tweets

@greggifford said that DealerOn has started using Google Posts for car dealers and has gotten a ton of visibility and click-throughs to their sites, but only if they are done right, like this example that he shared:

Bill Slawski ⚓@bill_slawski

A2 Specials or Events seem like ways to capture people’s attention with Google Posts

See Bill Slawski ⚓‘s other Tweets

Kim Doughturkey 🦃@Howdy_Doughty

A2. We aren’t using Google Posts currently, but in my previous job I dabbled with it. Specials and events were the most successful use cases, like others have mentioned.

See Kim Doughturkey 🦃‘s other Tweets

Similarly, in the hospitality industry and co-working spaces, Google Posts can be used to promote different offices, tours, and events for greater visibility.

Marccx Media@marccxmedia

A2: We’ve helped a hospitality/co-working client use Google Posts to promote their offices, tours, and events. Another hospitality client uses them for their restaurants (food, events, etc.). Great visibility, but middling interaction.

See Marccx Media’s other Tweets

@Ashok83 stated, remember to keep your posts short and to the point.

Q3. Q&A is a minefield that most businesses don’t even know about – what should business owners and marketers know about Q&A and how to use it?

The minute you have a GMB listing, your business automatically has a Q&A section that displays on Google Maps. This feature allows anyone to ask and respond to questions in regards to your business. Unfortunately, not many businesses are aware of this feature and even fewer bother to check it regularly.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3 – OMG, Y’ALL – it’s SO BAD out there… business owners should be checking Q&A daily (but really, shouldn’t they be checking their listing daily anyway?)

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Simon Cox@simoncox

A3 Own Q and A – make checking it someones responsibility and don’t skimp – it is a front line interaction with customers. Can damage brand if you are not careful. Anyone remember Exxon – I’m sure it was Q and A that did for them. Probably

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Here are few reasons why you shouldn’t ignore Q&A and how it can be used to help your business:

It Can Help to Build Your Brand Reputation Online

Q&A is a great opportunity to build and maintain your business’s brand reputation. Make sure you check your listings every day and respond to questions quickly and politely.

Express Writers | Your Content Writing Team@ExpWriters

A3: It’s worth checking regularly. You don’t want questions from people going unanswered.

Respond swiftly and politely!

See Express Writers | Your Content Writing Team’s other Tweets

How you respond to these questions can help many future customers make their buying decision. Since the questions are ranked from most recent to older, time is of the essence when you respond.

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A3: Businesses need to treat Q&As like reviews, these can play a major influence in a perspective client’s decision process. Since Questions are ranked from most to least recent, always try to answer the most recent questions in a timely manner.

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

Heather Harvey@Fizzle_Up

A3: Remember to read & respond accordingly! Put some thought into it as potential clients read this stuff. It’s more valuable than a lot of people realise.

See Heather Harvey’s other Tweets

It Can Help You Control the Conversation

Remember, anyone can post questions on the Q&A section, including you as a business owner. So, if you understand your target audience well, you can control the conversation by posting questions that you think are relevant.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3 – also, business owners need to know that they can ask their own questions, then answer them – people are reading this BEFORE they get to the site… control the conversation!

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

It Can Help You Discover New Content Opportunities

The kind of questions asked can highlight new opportunities for you to write specific content based on the answers to these specific queries. Jim Fuhs – @FuhsionMktg also mentioned that businesses using chatbots can also incorporate these questions for FAQs.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3 we’ve also had a lot of success using the questions asked in Q&A to figure out what sort of content needs to be added to the website (HUGE opportunity here)

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

 You Can Use It As An Engagement Channel

By simply making your customers aware of the Q&A section and encouraging them to post questions there, you have a new place to interact and engage with your customers. If you have a set strategy in place for certain questions, you can easily improve the quality of questions and the engagement.

Joshua Delbert Hermreck@thisisdelbert

A3: Make your clients aware of the Q&A section. Discuss strategy for certain question types (silos) and respond as the owner when relevant! If you know a Local Guide those answers might be useful too 😉

See Joshua Delbert Hermreck’s other Tweets

SEMrush

@semrush

Q3. Q&A is a minefield that most businesses don’t even know about – what should business owners and marketers know about Q&A and how to use it?

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Carolyn Lyden@CarolynLyden

A3: Make sure to check it regularly. Answer all questions POSITIVELY and honestly and transparently (don’t go in and pretend to be someone you’re not). And just accept that ppl will probably use it to leave reviews bc ppl are … human.

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See Carolyn Lyden’s other Tweets

They Can Help You Identify Misplaced User-Reviews

If you don’t make checking your Q&A section regularly a thing, you can run the risk of missing out on reviews that a less-than-savvy user has posted.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3. The worst part is when less-than-savvy users leave reviews in the Q&A section and dealers have no idea they’re there…

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Simon Cox@simoncox

A4 Setting expectations to clients, especially if they have tried to some of this themselves, is possibly the hardest part of Local SEO. Diplomacy is the key word. But give them other solutions they can work with.

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Heather Harvey@Fizzle_Up

A4: I had to do this in a meeting earlier today. It’s not easy but you have to break it down into a context the client will understand e.g. they wouldn’t be put in the phone book for the metro area so why would they show up in that area listing online?

See Heather Harvey’s other Tweets

And, they have had to explain that, due to Google updates, many hacks that have worked in the past simply will not anymore:

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A4 – this is a really tough one. You have to really be good at explaining that Google has made updates, and what you could do 3 years ago won’t work anymore.

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See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A4: This is tough, but I always felt the need to educate clients on new updates. You can tackle this issue in a few ways; blog posts, client newsletter, or a simple Local SEO packet your agency develops to give out to new and prospective clients.

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

However, the popular consensus was that it was easier to explain using an example, similar to this one from James Scroggie – @seoscroggie:

James Scroggie@seoscroggie

A4/1: I would try and make it simple for them. If you were ordering lunch, and the sandwich shop would only deliver within a 2 mile radius, why would you want to see sandwich shops over 5 miles away?

See James Scroggie’s other Tweets

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A4 – we use the “pizza delivery” example to help here – have people Google those 2 words at work, and then explain that the EXACT same search at home brings up 100% different results. Easy way to demonstrate proximity factor

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Geeky Fox@TechKitsune

A4: Yeesh, well, I liked @GregGifford answer about pizza. I think that is a great example of a way to let a client know about mapping in Google as simplistically as possible.

See Geeky Fox’s other Tweets

Another tip was to have your clients try out the service results for GMB in a particular area. This can help them to understand that distance is an important factor when it comes to purchase decisions or store visits. Therefore, targeting people who are more likely to buy from them (or use their services), due to proximity, will eventually work better for the business.

Bill Slawski ⚓@bill_slawski

A4 Explain how distance is an important aspect of ranking in Local Results, and that the most success will come from targeting people who might visit them in person (those suburbs are filled with people!)

See Bill Slawski ⚓‘s other Tweets

Netvantage Marketing@netvantage

A4: That’s tough! We always recommend using service areas for GMB if they are in the suburbs. Doing that sometimes helps them understand.

See Netvantage Marketing’s other Tweets

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A4 – we also point out that it’s important to “own your own back yard” first – many times, the businesses asking for this don’t even show up well in their own town. They have to get the foundation right first.

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

SEMrush

@semrush

Q4. Clients in the suburbs think they should show up in the map pack for the metro, but marketers know it’s not possible – how do you educate your clients so they don’t have misaligned expectations?

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Carolyn Lyden@CarolynLyden

A4: Try to explain service areas and zip codes. If you wanna show up for the city, move to the city. People (aka leads) live in suburbs too. So don’t forget those potential leads and customers just bc it looks like there’s more grass on the other side of the fence.

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See Carolyn Lyden’s other Tweets

Marccx Media@marccxmedia

A4: “You’re outside of the search radius in question. We can get you to rank in the map pack locally in the suburbs, though, and increase awareness of your suburban location within the metro area.”

See Marccx Media’s other Tweets

important to highlight in monthly reports, others argued that more important metrics should be reported. Others stated that their report will completely depend upon their client’s requirements and/or their business objectives.

Here are some examples of what you could include in your monthly reports:

Netvantage Marketing@netvantage

A5: Absolutely! We use the tool @UnamoHQ to track keywords rankings and GMB listings. We show how the keyword changed in ranking from month-to-month in a report.

See Netvantage Marketing’s other Tweets

SEMrush

@semrush

Q5. in Local SEO, keyword rankings are drastically impacted by location and proximity – do you include ranking data in your monthly reports, and if so, how do you do it?

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Sam Charles 🌱🔎@SamCharlesUK

A5 My *lovely* ranking software exports the list of terms we’re targeting, where they appear in search and where they rank locally in brackets i.e. 5 (3). I provide a mini local report too with more details, if it’s a high priority for them

See Sam Charles 🌱🔎‘s other Tweets

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A5: No, you shouldn’t make keyword ranking a priority in Local SEO, focus on top traffic sources, top landing pages and entry pages. You can use a search term report to build out a content bucket list, but keyword ranking should not be a priority IMO

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

Keep in mind, despite what your reports show, when it comes to local businesses, foot traffic and final sales are ultimately what matters the most.

Simon Cox@simoncox

A5 Yes but footfall in the shops and till takings is ultimately what counts and I have received great feedback about both when we have optimised for local.

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Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

a5 – plus, think about why clients pay us…

They don’t pay us to get them to rank better.

They pay us to get them more traffic and more leads.

Ranking reports don’t show anything about that objective…

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This is why many of our chat participants prefer to leave local SEO keywords out of their reports. However, here are some pointers to keep in mind for keyword ranking, if you do choose to report on it:

So, if your client wants you to show keyword rankings in your reports, go ahead and include it in your report. But, you can explain to them that, in the long run, building more local authority and optimizing your business listings are a better use of your time.

SEMrush

@semrush

Q5. in Local SEO, keyword rankings are drastically impacted by location and proximity – do you include ranking data in your monthly reports, and if so, how do you do it?

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Sean Bucher@spbucher

A5: It depends on the client and their objectives. I think showing results of opitmzing a listing and building authority over time warrant more attention. GMB’s API allows for 16 month lookback on location data, so you can show growth YoY in calls, clicks, etc.

See Sean Bucher’s other Tweets

https://www.semrush.com/blog/local-seo-mistakes-and-how-to-fix-them-semrushchat-recap/