Before the advent of social media, search and email have been the top Internet activities people do online. Search engine optimization then ‘til now is still considered a primary marketing tool utilized by at least 78% of digital marketers. Aside from generating organic traffic (which accounts from 70% to as high as 94% of clicks from Google search results), SEO builds brand awareness, improves online reputation and generates conversion that will lead to sales.
While global SEO can be good for many businesses, small and medium businesses catering to a targeted local market can have even better results if they focus on local SEO. As much as 43% of search queries now make use of locally-focused keywords. Looking at this from a mobile web perspective, 50% of search made by people using their smartphones or tablets are focused on finding a local store or business. The great thing here is that as much as 61% of these types of searches will eventually result in a sale!
In as much as local SEO presents high potential, it can actually deliver great results as outlined above but not without presenting potential problems that digital marketers may encounter. These problems are presented in the following which also highlights some tips and solutions as to how business owners can deal with such problems.
1. The Site Has No Location-Specific Content
The importance of high-quality content applies to global SEO and to local SEO as well – but with a local flavor. With changes to search algorithms that focuses on good content, a small website can compete head-to-head with heavily-funded corporate websites if they have better location-specific content. This is where many local businesses fail with their SEO efforts, as they lack or have no location-specific content that can attract targeted customers.
- Business owners should focus on content marketing using location-centric keywords and other content specifically intended for a local audience. Content should be original and relevant to target audiences and should have no duplicate within your pages or anywhere else in the Internet.
- Aside from main contextual content, location-specific content should also be incorporated with the Alt tags of photos and images used in your pages.
- The Meta description is another important page attribute that should embed location-specific content.
2. The Site Has No Location-Specific Pages
Aside from the lack of location-specific content, local business websites usually lack good local SEO mileage from search results, particularly from mobile searches, because there are no location-specific pages within their sites. This includes problems on how page titles and page URLs are constructed.
- Many websites have page titles that only indicate the name of the business which is not good for local SEO. Optimize your page title by including local elements together with your brand and the products/services you offer.
- Many websites focus only on generic page titles like “Home”, “About Us” and “Services” – which millions of other websites have. Optimize your page titles by adding specific local-centric elements, your brand and these generic page terms.
3. The Business has Inconsistent NAP Details in Local Search Results
Your NAP details, or your Name Address and Phone numbers, are some of the most important locally-centered content elements that you should use extensively on your local SEO campaigns. Inconsistent NAP details across all references to your brands or businesses online will cause problems for your local SEO efforts.
- Search major directories to check if your business is already listed. Claim or create a new listing as necessary but first check if there are duplicate listings.
- If you find inconsistent NAP details in any of your online listings, it would be best to contact the support representatives and request for your information to get corrected.
4. The Business Has Multiple or Incorrect Listings on Google
Your Local SEO efforts will be affected considerably if there are multiple and even incorrect listings in the major business directories, particularly Google Places and Bing Business Portal. Search engines return and rank business listings results for a particular search query depending on how accurate and consistent listings are. Multiple and incorrect listings will not be included.
- Claim your listings on all major business portals like Google Places.
- Make sure all the home page entries in all your listings point to only one URL.
- If your business has multiple locations, create separate landing pages for each at Google Places and other directories.
- Blended results are additional related links and information search engines include with website search results. This includes images, new items, related videos, book results, blog entries and other local results. You can capitalize on this by selecting multiple categories in your listings and creating separate web pages for each category.
5. The Business Has No Good Social Media Presence
Social media has penetrated almost every aspect of modern people’s lives, even to how to select local stores or businesses where they could buy goods and services. Social media has been influential in this area that up to 63% of users will choose a local business based on their social media presence and up to 35% of these people will do so on a daily basis. If your business does not have this strong social media presence, it will create big problems on your local SEO efforts.
- Increase your Twitter presence by following the guidelines and best practices in the Twitter for Small Business outlines.
- Learn how you can maximize your Facebook presence like building communities and leveraging on paid social ads through Facebook Marketing Solutions
- Interact and communicated well with local customers using tools available and are offered through Google+ for Business
- Business with physical stores and offices can increase foot traffic and customer engagement by following the guidelines set in Foursquare for Business
6. The Business Receives No Good Citations
After NAP details, claimed local business listings and presence in proper listing categories, industry experts point to the volume of good citations as among the top important ranking factors for local search. Basically, a citation is generated whenever an online source “mentioned” your NAP details in their websites. Without these citations, your local SEO will be considerably affected.
- There are many potential sources where you can generate citations from. The key here is to develop relationships with these sources so they can know your business well enough to cite in their pages. SMX West shared potential citation sources that you can focus on.
- The quality of citation in the eyes of search engines will depend also on how Google sees the source website in terms of: their Authority, content, relevant keywords, how often the search engine crawled the page where the citation is present, and if there are backlinks to the cited local website or business.
7. The Business Has No Good Reviews
Trust from customers is an important attribute businesses need to have good local SEO. Reviews are important factors that can develop such levels of trusts and more than 50% of consumers will trust a business if they have read positive reviews about it online. The greater the number of reviews (ideally a minimum of 6 to 10 reviews) the higher your chances of generating trust. Without good reviews, your local SEO visibility may be affected.
- Do not make fake reviews and post them online. This will have severe repercussions if its proven you are doing so.
- You can actually ask your customers to write and post reviews for you, but make sure you follow Google Places guidelines when generating such requests.
- Include review systems in your websites to make it easier for visitors or customers to make reviews for you.
8. There Is No Good Local SEO Service Provider Working with the Business
Lastly, many businesses suffer from getting poor results from their local SEO efforts because they do things themselves or through DIY mode without really knowing much about how the process works and what they should do
- Work with a digital marketing expert that is very knowledgeable in performing local SEO services for your business. The provider should have a good track record in digital marketing and providing SEO services.
- The provider should also be well adept in other digital marketing tools like content marketing, social media marketing and mobile marketing which can help boost not only your local SEO efforts – but your marketing as a whole.
Not all business really need to do SEO on a global scale. Most, particularly small to medium enterprises, target customers from within their locality and vicinity, and this is where local SEO comes in. However, problems abound that business should handle and address properly and the tips and solutions presented above can help boost your efforts – and help your business towards local SEO domination.
Jomer B. Gregorio is a well-rounded expert when it comes digital marketing. Jomer is also known as a semantic SEO evangelist and practitioner. Check out our Digital Marketing Services today and let us help you in achieving positive and profitable results for your business.