The other day, I was consulting with a new client who wanted to boost local visibility for all of his business locations. This new client’s main business office is in NYC, but he told me he has smaller offices throughout Long Island, Fairfield, CT, and Hackensack, NJ. His goal was to rank #1 for all of these areas. At first, this didn’t seem difficult to do with some local SEO work, such as optimizing his Google My Business accounts for each location, citations for each one, and then content to support the different offices. However, as I dug deeper into his current local SEO status, I discovered he had made some big local SEO mistakes.
Common Local SEO Mistakes
Most of the mistakes I identified for this client are ones we’ve seen many times, and have helped clients correct, so they could move on to better exposure for their local areas. In an attempt to help others avoid those mistakes, I wanted to explain what these common local SEO mistakes are and why they can end up hurting your online marketing efforts.
Mistake #1: Setting Up Fake Office Locations
Many people set up Google My Business pages for locations where they don’t physically have an office. This includes using P.O. Boxes, employees’ home addresses, and even addresses of other businesses. As long as you have an address, Google My Business allows you to open a page for it.
While this may seem like a good idea because it makes it possible to rank for different local areas, if or when you get caught, it could ruin your online visibility for all locations. Yes, this includes your real office location. Google doesn’t stand for people trying to scam the system, and will penalize them when caught.
Competitors of businesses have turned in Google My Business pages to Google for investigation. Also, frustrated customers who thought a business was in their local area and then found out it wasn’t have reported it to Google.
The risk isn’t worth it. You may be leading in many local areas one day, and then vanish from all search results the next day if you’re caught using fake addresses.
Mistake #2: Using One Phone Number for Multiple Locations
Having one central number to capture your online leads makes sense, but it’s not what Google wants. They want business locations to be separate entities with different phone numbers. To Google, having one phone number listed for more than one business is considered as duplicate or incorrect information, which could decrease your ranking for local SEO.
If you don’t want to use your main number for each of your business locations, consider getting a different line for each one just for online leads. You would then be able to satisfy Google and still be able to have a way to keep track of calls from people who found you online.
Mistake #3: Stuffing Google My Business with Keywords
When Google Places was first introduced, marketers quickly determined that adding keywords to the business name and description helped the profile rank higher in the search results.