For small businesses or brick-and-mortar firms like yours, local SEO can be a huge asset in increasing your visibility online. It’s an effective way to find and connect with your local audience, which is important because they’re most likely the ones who will be converting into clients. And while you’re eager to take full advantage of everything local SEO has to offer, there are a few common practices you should always try to avoid when implementing local SEO into your firm’s marketing strategy.
Mistake #1: Creating a Google My Business Listing With An Ineligible Address
Google offers straightforward guidelines on what they allow and don’t allow on a Google My Business (GMB) listing. In general, you should represent your business online as you do in person. For example, the name, address, phone number (NAP data) on your GMB listing should be the same as it is on your business cards, billboards, flyers, etc.
That being said, do not list a fake or ineligible address on your GMB page. This includes P.O. boxes or cross-street intersections. If you’re an RIA operating out of a home office, it’s understandable that you may not want your home address listed on Google. Luckily, there are a few options for these special cases. In this instance, we recommend setting up your listing as a “service-area business.” According to Google, these are businesses such as plumbers, landscapers or electricians who may not have a physical office. Instead, they conduct business by visiting their clients.
For service-area businesses, you can list a specific area in which you service, rather than the physical address of your business (i.e. your home office). Here’s how:
- Sign into your GMB account and click on the location (if multiple) you’d like to edit.
- Click on Info from the menu, and select Edit in the service area section.
- Set your service area based on postal codes, cities or any other criteria you choose to use. Click Apply.
As you’re going through these steps, it’s important to note that Google no longer allows businesses to simply input a specific distance around their business.
Mistake #2: Using Non-Local Phone Numbers
If you operate multiple locations across an area, you may be tempted to set one 1-800 number to streamline your firm’s contact information. But when it comes to local SEO, this can be a big mistake. By lumping multiple business entities together under one shared phone number, you’re causing confusion two ways. Google doesn’t understand why two separate business listings are showing the same phone number, and your prospects or clients may not understand how best to get in contact with you or any of your specific locations.
In addition to the above, incorporating a specific phone number for each business can help you track important key performance indicators (KPIs). Think about it: how often do you do a quick Google search for your favorite pizza place and simply click on the phone number in the listing to give them a call? Almost everyone’s doing it, so why not measure how often prospects are giving you a call right from your Google listing? Set up a call to click KPI for each of your locations, as this can help you determine how effective your Google listing is at targeting the right audience.
Within the Google My Business Insights section, you are also able to see how many people have called you directly, requested directions, visited your website and messaged you via your listing on Google.
Mistake #3. Neglecting To Incorporate Local Keywords
This is something we see quite frequently when working with advisors. Many are fearful of pigeonholing their site by including location keywords such as “Boston, MA” or “Cleveland, OH” in their website header or other prominent location. But the truth is, you’re likely not scaring prospects away by doing so. Instead, you’re helping your site rank higher in Google’s SERP (search engine results page) for queries that have been searched in those particular areas.
Neglecting to add in these locations doesn’t mean you’re freeing your firm up to appear to anyone anywhere, it means you’re likely not showing up at all because your competition has suddenly increased tenfold. Not only do local keywords help your local audience know where you are, but it can cut down on the keyword competition by honing in on your specific target audience.
In general, we believe that the homepage of your website should say your metro area name, business category and business name. This important information should also be repeated on your pages’ title tags and meta descriptions, as these are big SEO powerhouses.
Mistake #4: Keyword Stuffing Your Google My Business Listing
As we’ve mentioned before, your GMB listing should reflect any piece of literature you’d hand to prospective clients. Only fill in the information that has been asked of you on your Google listing. One mistake that can land you in hot water with Google is using your GMB listing as a last-minute keyword stuffing opportunity to rank a little higher in the SERP. And unfortunately, some businesses may not even know they’re doing it. Keyword stuffing can be as simple as adding your location into the field for your business’s name. But if your location isn’t really a part of your firm’s name, don’t try to include it.
Mistake #5: Ignoring Reviews On Google
In recent years, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has relaxed their rules on allowing financial advisors to cultivate reviews – although strict guidelines still apply. For example, you may not have any control over the content of the review or compensate the reviewer in any way. Additionally, all reviews must be published (whether they’re good or bad), and reviews cannot be shown on the same page where services are listed or promoted. With that being said, it’s easy to see why advisors tend to shy away from collecting reviews. However, as a third-party service, Google is a great and compliant way for clients to leave reviews for you and your firm!
Did You Know…
According to ReviewTrackers, 63.6 percent of consumers said they’re likely to look at Google reviews before visiting a business.
The numbers don’t lie – having reviews of your firm on Google can make or break a prospect’s decision to give you a call or swing by your office.
As a local business, you can’t ignore the effectiveness of local SEO. Take full advantage of your Google My Business listing to draw in prospects and boost your visibility on Google. Just make sure you’re aware of some of the most common mistakes small businesses make, as these can likely hurt your chances of ranking well, or worse. They can land you on Google’s spam list, which is somewhere no legitimate business wants to be!