Ranking in the top three local Google searches can be a big win for businesses. A person who searches “near me” on Google is looking for a product or service that you are selling, and they want it now.
Strong ranking in local Google searches or Maps can generate significant local traffic for your business – if handled properly. It should go without saying that ranking among the top search results is a huge economic boost for your company. Consequently, some dishonest business owners resort to more unethical means of ranking. However, as Admiral Akbar said in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, “it’s a TRAP! ”
Here are six common mistakes businesses make when optimizing their local search rankings on Google and how to fix them.
1. Lack of Customer Reviews and No Responses
Reviews are one way Google ensures they are recommending credible businesses on its platform. Your business might not be ranking on local searches because you have too few reviews and are not replying to the ones you do have. You can build confidence in your business by responding to reviews. Your potential customers will see that you are engaged in fixing issues or thanking customers for their positive feedback. By responding to reviews, you build trust in your brand and improve your SEO.
Many business owners have trouble getting customers to leave reviews. The solution is two-fold: 1) ask them, and 2) make it easy for them. Getting more reviews is as simple as engaging with your customers. You should ask your customers to review your business after you collect payment if you’re a brick-and-mortar store. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help if they value your services. Displaying a QR code next to your register can make it easy for them to review your business on Google quickly.
2. Not Verifying Your Google Business Profile
Don’t forget to verify your Google Business Profile. Businesses with verified profiles get more trust from Google, so keep yours up to date! You are more likely to rank on the top three search results if your business is verified, which increases your SEO. Once you have completed the Business Profile verification process, you will be able to add branding images, edit content automatically generated for your business, and correct discrepancies. Maintaining a sharp, clean profile is one of the best ways to boost your SEO rankings.
3. Missing Google Business Data
Incomplete or incorrect name, address, phone number, and website (NAPW) data can negatively impact your business ranking. This data is considered when Google Maps generates the top three results. Incomplete listings have little chance of ranking in the top three. Additionally, consistency is crucial across all of your platforms. Let’s take your address as an example. A business located at “123 Oak Street” but listed as “123 Oak St” on your website can hurt your Google ranking. Verify all of your NAPW data is accurate and consistent.
4. Keyword Stuffing
Stuffing keywords into your text is a classic SEO mistake, though it used to be the main way to rank. Previously, Google’s algorithm took into account how many times a keyword appeared on a website. The more often the keyword was used, the more likely the site was to appear in the top search results. However, Google has since changed its algorithm to look for keyword stuffing and penalize websites that do it. Now, Google looks at the readability of the content as well as certain keywords.
Here’s an example of keyword stuffing:
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5. Identical Business Listings
When it comes to your Google Business listing, it might seem tempting to post multiple identical listings. There’s no doubt that the mantra “less is more” applies here. Businesses that are identical and all represent the same company will have difficulty ranking on Google (or any other search engine). In other words, Google won’t rank businesses with duplicate listings, causing your SEO and organic traffic to suffer. One business listing per company is enough, so don’t feel tempted to make duplicates and damage your ranking.
6. Violating Community Guidelines
Nobody likes a cheater! All search engines, including Google, have guidelines for managing the sites and businesses they recommend. Violations of these policies will seriously hurt your company’s visibility. In the event that listings violate community guidelines, they may have their SEO scores significantly reduced – or their websites might disappear from search results entirely. It’s imperative that you follow all Google guidelines when 92.96 percent of web traffic comes from Google searches, Google Images, and Google Maps.
Wrapping It All Up
The best way to drive organic traffic to your business is to consistently rank as high as possible in Google search results or on Google Maps. The result is a bigger revenue stream, which is what every business owner wants. Try to avoid playing the system, as it can (and often will) adversely affect your Google ranking and hurt your business.
On a constantly evolving playing field, mastering SEO is a time-consuming task. If you want to get an edge on your competition, then speak with the Arvig Media SEO Team today. If you would like to improve the ranking of your website quickly, we can help!