Why Most Brands Are Getting Local SEO All Wrong (And How to Get It Right)

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May 27, 2024

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Why Most Brands Are Getting Local SEO All Wrong (And How to Get It Right)

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Why Most Brands Are Getting Local SEO All Wrong (And How to Get It Right)

As an SEO agency in Manchester, UK, we’ve seen brands of all sizes struggle with the complexities of local SEO. It’s a common problem, and one that often stems from misconceptions about what really drives success in the local search landscape.

Too many brands approach local SEO as an afterthought – a box to check off rather than a strategic priority. They create basic Google My Business listings, add their NAP (name, address, phone number) to their website, and call it a day. But true local search dominance requires so much more.

In this in-depth guide, I’m going to break down why most brands are getting local SEO all wrong, and share the proven strategies and tactics you need to get it right. Whether you’re a national brand with local presences or a small business serving a hyperlocal community, the principles I’m about to share will help you outrank your competitors and drive more high-intent traffic to your doorstep.

Let’s dive in.

The Biggest Local SEO Mistakes Brands Make
There’s no shortage of local SEO “best practices” and “must-dos” floating around the internet. From claiming your Google My Business listing to optimizing your website for local keywords, the advice is endless. But following generic tips without a deeper understanding of the local search landscape is a recipe for disaster.

The truth is, most brands make the same critical mistakes when it comes to local SEO. Let’s take a look at the biggest offenders:

Mistake #1: Treating Local SEO as an Afterthought
For many brands, local SEO is an afterthought – something they know they “should” be doing, but don’t prioritize until it’s too late. They might create a basic Google My Business listing, add their NAP to the website footer, and call it a day.

But local search is becoming increasingly important, especially for brick-and-mortar businesses. 46% of all Google searches have local intent, and 88% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week. If you’re not making local SEO a core part of your overall digital strategy, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to connect with high-intent customers in your area.

Mistake #2: Ignoring the Importance of Citations
Citations – online mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) – are a critical local SEO ranking factor. They help search engines verify the accuracy and consistency of your business information across the web.

Yet, many brands either neglect citations altogether or fail to maintain their accuracy and consistency. They might have outdated or incorrect NAP information on directory listings, or be missing from key local directories altogether. This sends a confusing signal to search engines and can tank your local rankings as a result.

Maintaining a comprehensive, consistent citations strategy should be a top priority for any brand serious about local SEO success.

Mistake #3: Overlooking the Importance of Reviews
Online reviews have a huge impact on local search visibility and consumer trust. 93% of consumers say online reviews influence their buying decisions, and businesses with positive reviews are more likely to rank higher in local search results.

However, many brands either ignore their online reviews or fail to proactively manage them. They might not respond to negative feedback, or neglect to encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews. This can lead to a lopsided review profile that turns off potential customers and sends a negative signal to search engines.

Actively monitoring and managing your online reviews should be a core part of your local SEO strategy.

Mistake #4: Failing to Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially on mobile devices. 27% of the global online population is using voice search on mobile, and 58% of consumers have used voice search to find local business information.

Yet, many brands are still optimizing their local SEO efforts for traditional, text-based searches. They’re focused on ranking for specific keywords rather than the natural language queries that voice users are more likely to use. This can put them at a significant disadvantage in the local search landscape.

To succeed in the voice search era, you need to optimize your local listings and content for the way real people actually search.

Mistake #5: Neglecting Mobile Optimization
In the age of mobile-first indexing, having a mobile-optimized website is table stakes for any local business. 61% of consumers say they’re unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing, and 40% will choose a competitor if a business doesn’t have a mobile-friendly site.

Yet, many brands still have clunky, difficult-to-navigate mobile experiences that turn off potential customers. They might have slow load times, poor user experience, or key information that’s buried and hard to find. This can not only hurt their local search visibility, but also their ability to convert mobile users into customers.

Ensuring your website is fast, user-friendly, and optimized for mobile should be a top priority.

The Keys to Winning at Local SEO
Now that we’ve covered the biggest local SEO mistakes that brands make, let’s dive into the strategies and tactics you need to get it right.

Here are the keys to dominating local search and driving more high-intent traffic to your business:

  1. Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
    Your Google My Business (GMB) listing is the foundation of your local SEO strategy. It’s the primary way that customers find and engage with your business in local search results, so it’s crucial that it’s claimed, verified, and optimized to the hilt.

Start by claiming your GMB listing and verifying your business information. Make sure your NAP data is 100% accurate and consistent across all your online listings. Then, take the time to fully optimize your listing by adding high-quality photos, relevant business categories, service area information, and detailed business descriptions.

Don’t forget to also keep your GMB listing up-to-date with accurate business hours, holiday schedules, and any COVID-19-related updates. The more complete and accurate your GMB listing is, the better it will perform in local search.

  1. Build a Strong Local Citations Strategy
    As I mentioned earlier, citations play a crucial role in local SEO. They help search engines verify the accuracy and consistency of your business information, which can have a big impact on your local rankings.

To build a comprehensive citations strategy, start by identifying the top local and industry-specific directories where your business should have a presence. These might include sites like Google My Business, Bing Places, Apple Maps, Facebook, Yelp, and industry-specific directories relevant to your business.

Then, ensure that your NAP data is 100% accurate and consistent across all these listings. Any discrepancies, even minor ones, can confuse search engines and hurt your local visibility.

You should also regularly monitor your citations to ensure they’re up-to-date and maintain their accuracy over time. Tools like BrightLocal and Moz Local can help automate this process and make it easier to manage.

  1. Encourage and Respond to Online Reviews
    As I mentioned earlier, online reviews have a huge impact on local search visibility and consumer trust. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely you are to rank higher in local search results.

To build a strong review profile, make it easy for satisfied customers to leave reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. You can do this by adding review call-to-actions on your website, in your email signatures, or even on printed materials.

It’s also crucial that you actively monitor and respond to both positive and negative reviews. Thanking customers for their positive feedback and addressing concerns from unhappy customers shows that you care about your customers’ experiences and are committed to providing great service.

Remember, reviews don’t just impact your local search rankings – they also influence the trust and credibility of your brand in the eyes of potential customers. Investing in review management should be a core part of your local SEO strategy.

  1. Optimize for Voice Search
    As voice search continues to grow in popularity, it’s essential that you optimize your local listings and content for the way real people actually search.

This means focusing on natural language queries and long-tail keywords that reflect the way your customers might ask for your products or services. For example, instead of optimizing for “plumber in Manchester”, you might target “best plumber near me” or “emergency plumbing services in Manchester”.

You should also ensure that your business information, like your NAP data and business descriptions, are clear, concise, and easy for voice assistants to understand. Avoid jargon or overly complex language, and focus on providing the most relevant and helpful information for your customers.

Finally, consider creating content specifically tailored for voice search, like FAQ pages that answer common customer questions. This can help you rank for voice queries and position your business as an authoritative source of information.

  1. Prioritize Mobile Optimization
    In the age of mobile-first indexing, having a fast, user-friendly mobile experience is essential for local SEO success.

Start by ensuring your website is mobile-responsive and optimized for small screens. This means using a mobile-friendly design, optimizing images and videos for faster load times, and making key information and calls-to-action easily accessible.

You should also consider creating a mobile-specific version of your website or a dedicated mobile app, if it makes sense for your business. This can provide an even more streamlined and tailored experience for your mobile customers.

Finally, don’t forget to test your mobile site regularly to identify and fix any issues. Tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test can help you identify and address any problems that could be hurting your local search visibility and conversion rates.

  1. Leverage Local Content Marketing
    Content marketing is a powerful tool for local SEO, but many brands struggle to create content that resonates with their local audience.

To succeed, you need to create hyper-local content that speaks directly to the needs and interests of your community. This might include blog posts about local events, neighborhood guides, or even content that highlights your involvement in local charities or community organizations.

You should also optimize this content for local keywords and ensure it’s easily shareable on social media. The more your content gets engagement and shares from people in your local area, the more signals it will send to search engines about your relevance and authority.

  1. Track and Analyze Your Local SEO Performance
    Finally, don’t forget to regularly track and analyze your local SEO performance. This means monitoring metrics like your Google My Business listing views and actions, local search rankings, website traffic from local searches, and customer reviews.

By keeping a close eye on these metrics, you can identify areas for improvement, test new strategies, and make data-driven decisions about where to focus your local SEO efforts. Tools like Google My Business Insights, Google Analytics, and Moz Local can be invaluable for this process.

Remember, local SEO is an ongoing process, not a one-time task. By continuously monitoring your performance and making adjustments as needed, you can stay ahead of the curve and maintain your local search dominance over time.

Conclusion
Local SEO is more important than ever for brands of all sizes. But too many are still getting it wrong, treating it as an afterthought rather than a core part of their digital strategy.

By avoiding the common mistakes I’ve outlined and implementing the proven strategies and tactics I’ve shared, you can position your business for local search success. Claim and optimize your GMB listing, build a strong citations strategy, encourage and respond to online reviews, optimize for voice search, prioritize mobile, leverage local content marketing, and track your performance.

Do all of this, and you’ll be well on your way to dominating local search in your market. Good luck!

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