You may be sabotaging your local Google Ranking without even realizing it. There is a pretty good chance that you are making at least one of these common mistakes. If you have made any of these mistakes, they are fixable! This list with help you Identify the mistakes that are preventing you from ranking higher in local results. However, you will then need to take action or email your webmaster to clean them up.
No Google My Business Profile
If you are a local business without a Google My Business (GMB) profile, you are missing out on significant local traffic. Local SEO (search engine optimization) is a bit different than traditional SEO. If you search “pet sitter near me” you will see a map result show up with the three top results. Well, these results are determined by your Google My Business profile. Google is showing these results based on the information pulled from the GMB listing and not your website. This means you need to prioritize your Google My Business listing to ensure it is kept up-to-date. In addition, use Google Posts and ask for and respond to reviews. Google My Business is free to set up and essential for local businesses. Don’t forget to verify your business to claim that you own the page so only you can make edits in the future.
Duplicate GMB Listings
Another common mistake is having more than one Google My Business listings. Perhaps you created a profile a few years ago and forgot, but then went and created a new one recently. This common mistake will hurt your local search rankings because Google doesn’t like duplicate content and it is against their terms of service. If you have two listings for your business, you will confuse not only your potential customers but Google as well. You should just have one listing for each business location. Worried that you might have more than one listing Type your business name into the Moz Local Search, and the tool will let you know if you have a duplicate profile. If you find an additional listing, contact Google ASAP to remove the duplicate.
Leaving out Relevant Categories
Earlier on you could only select one category in Google My Business. Today, one selecting one category could be one of the most costly mistakes you could make on your GMB profile. Adding the correct categories is a critical step when setting up or updating your listing. With the categories, you are telling Google what services your business offers. Choose your primary category and add all relevant secondary categories. For example, if you only add “pet sitter” but you also offer “dog walking,” Google may only show your listing under “pet sitting” because they don’t know what else you offer. Take some time to go through the categories to make sure you have all of your services covered. But, keep in mind that it is against Google’s terms of service to list irrelevant categories. Be smart. Review the categories that your competitors or top-ranking local businesses list to describe their business to make sure you don’t leave an important categories out.
Missing Contact Information On Your Website
Is it difficult for your potential customers to contact you? If you are missing relevant information on your website like phone number and email address, you may be losing out on organic traffic from Google Search. Go to your contact page and ensure that all of your information is correct and up-to-date. If the data is missing, then add it immediately. It is crucial that your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) is listed as text on your website. This ensures that Google can read your contact information easy to verify its accuracy. Please do not add this contact information as an image; Google will not be able to read it. It is essential to Google that they display correct information in their search results. If they constantly displayed incorrect information they would lose credibility and users. Be sure the information on your Google My Business listing matches the contact details on your website exactly.
Inconsistent NAP Information Across the Internet
As we mentioned in the above mistake, your NAPs must be consistent throughout the entire internet. This means your website, your Google My Business listing, your social media accounts and other online directories all need to have the same NAPs. Have one general email address that you use for online communication. Make sure this is the email address used everywhere! Are you listed in directories that you joined years ago? Check public directories to ensure your information is accurate. Modify the listings that are old and not consistent. For example, change your email address from a Gmail if you have recently switched to professionally branded email addresses. Moz Local Search Tool will also tell you if your NAPs are inaccurate.
Little or No Customer Reviews
I know many business owners don’t like asking for reviews. However, if you aren’t getting reviews on Google, then your local Google ranking will be affected. It does take an effort to get reviews, and there is no easy solution other than just simply asking your customer to write a review after they express gratitude for your services. You are most likely to get a review immediately after your customer is happy with your service. Make it as easy as possible for your clients to leave a review. Try adding a link in your thank-you emails. Something simple like, “Are you happy with our services? Please leave us a review on Google”. Add a link or button that takes them right to the spot where they can leave the review to make it as easy as possible. It might be a slow process, but the positive reviews will add up and help you develop a competitive advantage. Remember to reply to all review, good or bad.
Title tags help explain to Google what each of your pages is about. Page titles are one of the most critical elements on your page for SEO. Titles need to be unique and descriptive so that it is easy for the reader to find what they’re looking for quickly. Each page should have one H1 tag, and you can use H2 tags to organize the following content to make it easier for the reader. If pages have multiple H1 tags, you will confuse Google. In some cases, it is helpful to include location (city/town) in the page titles to help Google better serve your content to nearby users.
Thin or Low Quality Website Content
Google is becoming more interested in user experience and content than keywords. They want to send users to a website that will answer their search query best. The material on your site can play a significant role in how Google ranks your Google My Business profile ranks in search results. A beautiful website with little content won’t be as helpful as we would think. It is best to have high-quality content AND a modern site to rank high in Google. Each page on your website should have over 500 words. If your pages have less than 500 words, it will be a struggle to improve your ranking in Google. If you have pages with thin content, take the time to review and update the content on each of those pages.
Content is essential. It is so important that we are thinking about adding content writing to our service offering. Google is only interested in ranking pages with high-quality content, not mediocre content. Google’s goal is to find the absolute best webpage to serve for every single search phrase typed into Google’s search engine. The don’t pay much attention to mediocre or thin content. Please take a look at your pages and compare them to the pages that are ranking ahead of you in Google. Next, make your page better and add more useful and relevant content than your competitors.
No Service Area or Location Pages
If you provide pet sitting or dog walking services in multiple towns/cities/neighbourhoods, consider building a service area page for each area instead of one single page. A unique and robust location page for each service area will give Google a relevant page to rank in search results for location based queries. Although, it is vital that each location page is well thought out with at least 500 words that focuses on your service in each specific area. Don’t build a bunch of pages with little to no content or duplicate content. You would be better off with one service area page if this is the case. A few mistakes that we notice are pages with an embedded map and one sentence with a few zip codes or multiple service area pages with identical copy and pasted content. You aren’t giving Google enough information to rank your page and duplicate content could get your ignored or even get punished by Google.
Low Domain Authority and No High-Quality, Relevant Links
One of Google’s most significant ranking factors in domain authority. Domain authority is like your websites online reputation. If your site has a good reputation with Google, they will rank your content higher. The best way to increase your domain authority is links from high-quality, relevant websites. Link building isn’t simple, but it is important to follow Google terms of service guidelines. A good first step is to get your business listed in local, quality, and relevant directories. Make sure to include your NAPs (Name, Address, Phone Number) and check they are consistent across the internet. The best way to attract high-quality links is to publish and promote great content. Create content that other relevant and local business will want to link back to their website. Don’t just post a blog and hope someone will find it passively. You must promote it and share it. Avoid sketchy backlink techniques, like link swapping or paying for links. These will only get you in trouble with Google. Links to low authority or spammy websites can also negatively impact your domain.
Ignoring Social Media
Social media has more impact than you think on your SEO. Social media is a great way to create interest in your business and content. When you share content on social media that generates traffic to your website, this shows Google that people are interested in your content. Sharing on social media can also get your content more exposure to businesses that will potentially find your content interesting and link to it. When your social media followers engage with and share your content, you will be reaching new audiences. If you get high-quality content in front of the relevant target audience, you will see traffic increase on your website which will increase leads. However, remember, it needs to be an active process and not just post a link and hope someone will click. Make it personable to connect at an emotional level to generate interest that creates a conversation.
No Mobile-Optimized Website
Not having a mobile-optimized website is the last mistake on our list that will sabotage your local Google ranking. With Google’s algorithm shifting to mobile-first, the mobile version of your site is more important than the desktop version. Additionally, with more and more people accessing the internet from mobile devices, you will be losing business if your website isn’t mobile-friendly. Personally, if I go to a website that isn’t mobile-optimized, I will immediately bounce. Your prospective customers will expect a mobile-friendly site, don’t lose business because your website is old. If you haven’t updated your website recently, make updating your website a priority in 2019 to better compete in local search results.
Good news is that these mistakes are all fixable. If your website is out-dated, it is essential to invest in a new site. We offer affordable website packages that will solve many of these issues. However, many of these local Google ranking mistakes are not directly related to your website. Your website is one tool that you need to rank higher in Google search. However, you also need to ensure your Google My Business is optimized and that you are actively promoting your business through many different methods like social media and email marketing.
Erika Godwin is the President of Barketing Solutions and the Co-Founder and CMO of ProPet Software, an industry-leading kennel management software. Erika has over 8 years of experience with WordPress and graduated from Elmira College in 2009 with a BS, Business Administration- Marketing and Management.