Optimizing your website for local SEO is one of the best ways to help your business get found more often in relevant local search results by customers who are looking for the products or services you offer. But there are a lot of misconceptions about local SEO that can trip business owners up and potentially hurt their visibility. To help you separate fact from fiction when it comes to local search, here’s what you need to know!
Fact: A Google Business Profile Listing Is a Must-Have
Nearly half of Google searches today have local intent (e.g., restaurants near me), making it imperative for all businesses to establish a Google Business Profile listing (formerly Google My Business). Doing so can help you show up in the correct location on Google Maps, within Local Packs within local search engine results pages (SERPs), and get more business reviews directly in Google. Best of all, it’s free and easy to set up a Google Business Profile listing!
Fiction: You Can Achieve the Top Spot in Local Search Results
While ranking well in local search results should be a goal since it can help your business get seen by more customers in your local area, it’s important to know that you won’t always have the #1 spot in Google. Local search rank depends on several factors, including consistent data, relevancy, proximity, and reviews. So if a company offering local SEO services guarantees they can get you top placement, it’s too good to be true.
Fact: Correct Local Citations Lead to Better Visibility
Local citations are instances where your NAP data (i.e., name, address, and phone number) is mentioned online. The more often Google finds this information listed on your website and in online business directories like Yelp and Foursquare, the more likely it is to trust that the information is correct and trustworthy. Of course, just having your information found in as many places as possible won’t be enough. It’s imperative that your local citations are also consistent across all directories. Inconsistencies can hurt your credibility or lead Google to share incorrect information, which could have a negative impact on customer trust.
Fiction: You Don’t Need to List Hours of Operation or a Website
While NAP data is important, you should also include hours of operation and a website URL in your Google Business Profile listing and other local listings across the web. This provides customers with quick information about when they can visit your location or contact you, and it gives them a place to go online where they can find additional information about your business and its services.
Fact: A Website with Good User Experience Is Valuable
When displaying websites in SERPs, Google prefers websites that will give its searchers the best experience and the best information. That means you should have a business website that is both user-friendly and mobile-friendly, as nearly 60% of Google searches are conducted on mobile. In addition, your website should provide high-quality information that answers customer questions about your products or services.
Fiction: Backlinks Are Overrated for Local SEO
Backlinks serve as a vote of confidence from one website to another, making them a critical piece of your digital marketing strategy. Google views high-quality backlinks—from websites with high domain authority scores and relevant anchor link text—as a trust signal, so these are linking opportunities you should pursue. It’s good to monitor the quality of your links, though. Your business is better off with having a few backlinks from trusted sources than hundreds of toxic backlinks from spammy, questionable websites.
Fact: Customers Pay Attention to Reviews
Getting more customer reviews should be a big part of your local SEO strategy. Reviews and ratings are far more important than most businesses realize. In fact, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 88% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Also, one-third of consumers read reviews of local businesses every day. Responding to both positive and negative ratings and encouraging satisfied customers to review your business online should be something your business does regularly.
Fiction: SEO Is Just a Box You Can Check-Off
Local search optimization isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. It’s something that must be constantly updated and managed. You should consistently be creating and managing citations, reading and addressing customer reviews, building your backlink profile, creating new content for your website, and doing your best to stay active online. Google’s algorithm is constantly changing, so even if you rank high in local search results or are featured in the Local Pack one day, it doesn’t mean you’ll stay there forever—especially if you do nothing. Don’t have time to handle a local search strategy yourself? Hire a local SEO company to help you out!
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