And ways to correct them.

The other day, I was consulting with a new client who wanted to boost local visibility for all of his business locations. His goal was to rank #1 for all surrounding areas.

Common Local SEO Mistakes

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.

The only problem is that this practice of keyword stuffing is against Google’s terms of service.  That means once Google catches you adding keywords to your business name, you’ll likely lose rankings fast.

To make matters worse, if you followed local SEO best practices and created online citations (mentions of your name, address, and phone number on other websites and directories), then editing your business name across dozens or even hundreds of websites will be a huge project.

The solution is simple.  When you set up your Google My Business profile, make sure you use your business name without any extra keywords.

Correcting Your Mistakes for Better Local Visibility for Your Business

If you’re just starting out with local SEO for your business, you now know what NOT to do.

Don’t create fake locations,

Avoid using the same phone for multiple locations,

And do not keyword stuff.

Business owners who have already made these mistakes will be happy to know that there are easy fixes for all of them to improve local visibility. You can delete Google My Business pages with fake locations, change the phone numbers for each location, and edit the business name to take out extra keyword phrases.   As noted above, if you edit your business name, then don’t forget to edit all the other mentions of your name, address, and phone number because those citations will impact your rankings.

Get started today.

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