As the old saying goes, “Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.” Same goes for Local SEO advice given these days. I’ve heard a lot of different advice on what should be done for Local SEO. “Get as many citations as possible”, “Just markup your website with Schema to rank higher”, or my favorite, “Claim your Google+ business page to improve your rankings”.
It’s not that easy, and thankfully it isn’t, because everyone would be doing it. Local SEO is a strategy, rather than just a one quick, fix-it-all approach. Many factors go into developing a higher ranking, and it takes a well, thought out strategy to achieve those results.
Horrible Local SEO Advice
Whoever has the most reviews wins
Sadly, this is not the case. You can clearly see below that has more reviews than the other but ranks lower. And, it doesn’t necessarily mean that just because a business has a higher rating, that they will rank higher.
On the SERP, only Google reviews are shown, but what Google is looking for is a diverse mix of reviews from the different online sources in a consistent manner (not 100 reviews in 5 days). However, a few initial reviews on your Google+ page will boost your rankings, but you want to aim to get reviews from other sources as well.
More citations means higher rankings
Well, if this were true, then it would just be a race to see who can cite their site more. Can you imagine that?
Let’s look at two different companies from the SERP image above. The first one has less citations (according to the Moz Local Tool) yet it still ranks higher, so more citations does not mean your website will rank higher.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do citations at all because you definitely should, but more is not better.
Quality is better than quantity, and you should focus on those high quality citations. There are citations by city and citations by industry that provides you a good starting point as to where your business needs to be cited.
NAP must be 283% EXACT
I’ve heard people say NAP should be 100% matching, and while it should match, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
For example, you can have your business listed as Rucker Road in one listing and Rucker Rd. in another. I’m giving Google enough credit to know that “Road” and “Rd.” mean the same thing.
What I mean by NAP should be matching is that the city should be the same, the zip code should be the same, the address should be the same, the phone number should be the same, and the business name should be listed the same.
Here an example of NAP inconsistency:
Claiming your Google+ Business page will increase rankings
Claiming your Google+ Business page will not improve your rankings by itself. It will help point you in the right direction, but I’ve come across companies that haven’t claimed their business page, and they rank higher than someone who has claimed their business page.
Here’s an example:
Optimizing your business page and being active on your business page will get you started, but the factors of a company ranking higher than another is beyond the scope of just “Claiming your Google+ Business Page”.
I can do local marketing through the phonebook and newspaper
Good luck. Through a study at BIAKensley, 97% of consumers are turning to the internet to search for products and services. If that doesn’t make you want to start advertising your business on the internet, I don’t know what will.
You’re basically wasting your money if you advertise through the 1990’s advertising channels. It’s 2014, and the majority of the world is equipped with the internet and smartphones, especially the United States, and no one is saying, “Do you have a phonebook so I can look up a good dentist to go to?”
What do they do? They hop onto Google and type “Dentists in [city name]”. What do they find? They find your competitors. So, think about that next time you want to spend $1,000 on a YellowPage ad.
Implementing Schema will improve your rankings
The search engines will like you better if you do this because they will be able to communicate with your site better and determine who you are and what you do.
Matching your NAP with the Schema implemented on your website is the ultimate goal, and this increases the search engine’s confidence in your site. This will improve your rankings somewhat, but implementing Schema without an overall strategy of improving your rankings is not going to do much for you.
You can check to make sure have have Schema implemented correctly with the Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
Implementing Google Authorship will increase rankings
This definitely shows you’ve done your homework and went out of your way to claim ownership of your site or just the article you’ve written. However, it’s not going to ensure you rank better. It does give the searcher confidence when they search for a particular topic and your face shows up beside the topic they searched for, but Google Authorship doesn’t guarantee a boost in rankings.
Furthermore, Google doesn’t have to show your picture in the SERP. You can test to make sure you’ve implemented your Authorship correctly along with Schema with the Structured Data Testing Tool.
I originally had my Google+ picture show up next to my website in the SERP, but now it’s disappeared even though the Structured Data Testing Tool shows it’s working.
The actual SERP of my article
What the Structured Data Testing Tool shows
So just keep in mind, it might not show your picture, even though you’ve implemented Authorship correctly.
More links means higher rankings
Since the beginning of time more links has equaled higher rankings. I will say a link profile is the ultimate factor to determine your PageRank and Domain Authority, but having more links doesn’t mean that you will outrank your competitors
What matters is the quality of the links that link to your website. You can have 10 PR2 links to your site, and I can have 2 PR8 links linking to my site, and I will outrank you. The link juice that is passed by the higher authority websites carries more weight than those passed by the less trustworthy sites.
However, people get carried away by thinking more is better (and in a sense, it is). Water is good for you, but if you drink too much water at once, you can die. You need a steady balance of water everyday to maintain good health. You can’t drink water like you should one day, then quit drinking it for a few days, and expect to have that “healthy body” you want.
As it applies to your website, if you have too many links point to it at once, it dies (or gets penalized). You can’t obtain links one month, and then not continue to keep getting links. You won’t have a healthy website. So supply your website with the water it needs.
For Local Businesses, 800 numbers are better
I don’t think I need to spend much time on this one. If you are trying to rank better locally, then it would only make sense to have a local number listed on your website. And that local number needs to be displayed prominently and proudly at the top of your website or at least in the footer. People want your services/products and need to be able to contact you so scrap the 800 number and give people confidence with a local phone number they trust.
For better rankings, a business has to be at the center of the city
I’m guilty of this one. I’m not saying I all the way believed this, but I did have suspicion of it until I got a website to rank that was outside of the city limits. Boom, myth debunked.
This issue was brought up probably because of many tests being ran on determining the local SEO factors, and I still have a small belief in that it does play a role in determining the rank of a business. However, it’s not impossible to overcome.
You don’t have to do social networking
With over 1 billion people on Facebook and hundreds of millions on the other social networks, what do you mean you don’t have do to social networking? Sure, it doesn’t directly impact your rankings. Google doesn’t go on a page and say, “This page has 40 Facebooks likes, I’m going to rank them higher.”
But, it does indirectly impact your rankings because you can have more visitors come to your site, more interaction, more engagement, a higher possibility of getting links back to your site and mentions of your business.
So be the little social butterfly you are.
Google+ pages can’t pass PageRank
Well, I’ll be the first to tell you that it most certainly can pass PageRank. Your Google+ page is just like any other page on the internet. It has a PageRank and passes some PageRank off to the links listed on that page.
Let me show you where you can list a link to your website.
Many people list their website and links under the “Links” section on their Google+ Business page. However, those have turn into “nofollow” links. But, what a lot of people don’t think about, is you can link back to your site in the “About” section:
Just click on “Edit” to edit your About section, and insert a link with the toolbar provided.
Local SEO is easier than Regular SEO
In normal SEO, you have to worry about all the factors that determine your ranking such as your link profile, page speed, the mobile user experience, and hundreds of more factors.
In Local SEO, you still have to worry about those things, but now you have other things that have been added to the list such as finding the correct citations for a business, a consistent NAP of your business listing, getting reviews for your business, etc.
SEO can be more competitive, but depending on the city, Local SEO can be just as competitive as organic SEO.
Citations are business listings
As the defined by the top Google result when I type, “What is a local citation”, this is what I found: “In simple SEO terms a Local Citation is simply where your company is mentioned on other websites and places found on the Internet.”
This is different than a local directory where directories just list businesses, usually in alphabetical order and/or by category.
I will sum it up in my own words. A local citation is a place where your business can be listed and have a profile. It’s where people can come to learn about your business further and most of the time, leave a review.
A local directory is just a place where businesses can list their website. Most of the time, businesses don’t have a profile there and people cannot leave a review.
I can optimize my site to the #1 position and I’m done
You’re never done. The optimization can never stop on your website because your competitors are never going to stop.
Google and the other search engines look at how often your site is updated. That’s why it is favorable to have a blog on a website. Not only do you get the content marketing benefits of having a blog, but your site is updated frequently, and the search engine spiders have to come back to your site to crawl it more often.
This throws a sign saying, “Hey, this website is updating quite often so that must mean they’re pretty active. Let’s pay more attention to them.” Once you have that attention, you can maximize it by optimizing your website so you appear more relevant to search engines and more popular to users.
As you can see, I’ve heard a lot of bad advice on Local SEO, and I’m sure you have to. Before taking advice from someone, learn more about who they are. Do they have an active blog? What’s their LinkedIn profile look like? Oh, they don’t have hardly any connections on LinkedIn, followers on Twitter, and a good amount of people has not circled them on Google+? Do they provide a “one-event” higher ranking solution? As with anything in life, there’s no “one-event” solution. A strategy must be made for anything to be greatly successful.
What’s some bad advice you have received? Tell me in the comments below!