What Is An Ineffective Use of Local SEO? 11 Examples.

Think about your ideal client or customer. Not just an okay client… But your best, highest-paying client avatar.

Now, imagine them pulling out their smartphone and typing in:

“[service] near me”

And that [service] they’re typing in aligns with what you offer. They’re looking for you!

Now imagine your competitors showing up in Google for that search. And your ideal client spending a ton of money with them. You missed out since you didn’t rank.

This happens more often than you think. It’s due to ineffective uses of local SEO (AKA common mistakes people make). In this guide, we share what those are and how you can go about fixing them.

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What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is any action that you can take on or off a website that will help it increase its rankings for local searches.

Local SEO usually involves optimizing for two different types of results in a search engine results page (SERP).

See below for the two types of results.

Local SEO for Google Local Pack Rankings

To share what a Google Local Pack is, we will use a short example:

Let’s say that somebody is standing in downtown Portland, Oregon and is looking for a tailor or an article of clothing.

What are they likely to do? They’re likely to pull out their smartphone and type something like this into Google: “tailor near me,” “best tailor in Portland,” or something similar.

When users type in local searches like this, oftentimes the first thing that shows up is what’s known as the Google Local Pack. See below:

And here’s where it gets really interesting:

Over 50% of initial clicks for a local search such as “tailor near me” would go to one of the three businesses in the Local Pack.

Basically, if you were able to rank in the Local Pack, then you’ll drive interested visitors to your website.

Local SEO For Organic Rankings

There’s also another type of SEO for local searches. And that’s ranking organically underneath the Google Local Pack. 

Let’s use the same example as above. The person in downtown Portland, Oregon searching for a tailor near them.

The organic results are what populate directly underneath the Google Local Pack. See the screenshot below for an example:

While businesses still want to rank in the organic results portion of the SERP, It’s much more challenging to rank well.

Why? Well, as you see from above, very authoritative websites such as yelp.com and thumbtack.com are dominating the top of the results. The average local tailor from Portland, Oregon cannot out-compete them.

Also seen in the example above, the first actual local business ranks fourth in the organic rankings section of Google. That’s why the Google Local Pack is so valuable.

11 Examples of Ineffective Uses of Local SEO

There are many local SEO strategies that can help businesses rank in both the Google Local Pack and the organic rankings portion of the search engine results page. 

However, there are multiple ineffective uses of local SEO that many businesses succumb to.

See the list below:

1. Multi-Location Businesses Don’t Create Local Landing Pages

Many multi-location businesses would like to rank locally where each of their locations is situated.

Below is an example:

Let’s say that there is a physical therapy clinic in Oregon whose business name is Oregon PT Centers, and their website is oregonptcenters.com.

This business hypothetically has locations across Oregon. They have locations in Portland, Gresham, Lake Oswego, Beaverton, Hillsboro, and Bend.

Here’s the problem:

They don’t have landing pages on their website for each of these locations. Therefore, when people type into Google things like “physical therapist in Beaverton” or “ Lake Oswego physical therapy near me” they don’t rank.

How To Do Local Landing Pages Correctly for Local SEO

Each location that your business has needs its own landing page with certain information for Google’s algorithm to pick up.

Let’s use the same example from above.

Oregon PT Centers would need a landing page for the following cities:

  • Portland
  • Gresham
  • Lake Oswego
  • Beaverton
  • Hillsboro
  • And Bend

These landing pages would be organized on the site so that it’s easy for users to navigate to, but also easy for Google’s algorithm to crawl.

So, those landing pages might have URL structures like below:

  • www.oregonptcenters.com/our-locations/portland
  • www.oregonptcenters.com/our-locations/gresham
  • www.oregonptcenters.com/our-locations/lake-oswego
  • www.oregonptcenters.com/our-locations/beaverton
  • www.oregonptcenters.com/our-locations/hillsboro
  • www.oregonptcenters.com/our-locations/bend 

These landing pages need to be optimized properly, which we will get to in the following section.

2. Multi-Location Businesses Don’t Optimize Local Landing Pages Properly

 Every local landing page on a website needs to be optimized properly for two reasons:

  1. So that users can easily navigate the website and get the information that they need in order to take action
  2. So that Google’s algorithm and Bots can easily crawl the website to understand what it’s about, where each location is located, and more

Most local landing pages are not optimized properly. There are a couple of ineffective uses of local SEO when it comes to local landing pages. 

Here are a couple of things that many businesses miss:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc)
  • Embedded Google My Business
  • NAP
  • Localized content such as FAQ
  • Structured data
  • And more

How To Optimize Local Landing Pages Correctly for Local SEO

Local landing pages need certain information that gives context to Google so that when a user is searching locally, Google sees your website and local landing page as the best solution.

When optimizing a local landing page, it’s important to add relevant keywords in context to that page. This is especially important when you’re optimizing the title tag, meta description, and header tags.

One of the big things that businesses miss is embedding the Google My Business map onto the page. Also, adding the name, address, and phone number to each local landing page.

Below is a screenshot of what an embedded Google My Business looks like on a local landing page.

3. Businesses Don’t Create Google My Business Properties

A Google My Business property is a free listing profile that Google offers to local businesses.

A Google My Business is extremely important for local SEO for one reason:

Without a Google My Business property, it’s impossible for your business to rank in the Google Local Pack for localized searches. We would argue that this is the LARGEST ineffective use of local SEO.

And remember, over 50% of initial clicks goes to one of the three businesses in the Google Local Pack. So, without having a Google My Business listing created, your business will automatically miss out on at least 50% of clicks. That’s potentially a lot of revenue.

How To Create Google My Business Properties Properly For Local SEO

Creating a free Google My Business property for local SEO is very simple. 

Below are a couple of steps that you’ll have to take:

  1. You’ll need a physical address
  2. You’ll need to login to Google My Business and create a profile
  3. You’ll need to build out your business profile within Google My Business, adding in relevant information like phone number and hours of operation
  4. You’ll need to request a postcard from Google My Business to verify that your address is legitimate and that’s where you operate

The entire process only takes a couple of days.

4. Businesses Don’t Optimize Google My Business Properties

Just because you have a Google My Business property does not mean that it will rank well in Google.

There are certain things that you need to do to optimize your profile in order to give it a better opportunity to rank in the Google Local Pack.

Many businesses have an ineffective use of local SEO when it comes to optimizing their Google My Business property. They simply don’t optimize it at all.

How To Optimize Google My Business Properties for Local SEO

What are the most important things that you need to do in order to optimize your Google My Business?

Here is a list of the three most important things:

  1. Make sure your phone number and hours of operation are accurate
  2. Make sure you have a well-written description with necessary keywords added in. For example, if you’re a physical therapist in Portland, you should probably have keywords like “Portland physical therapy” or “physical therapist in Portland” within your description
  3. Add additional services under the “Services” tab of Google My Business – for example, if you’re a physical therapist you could add things like “stability training,” “physical therapy consultation” and more

5. Businesses Think About Site Architecture Incorrectly When It Comes To Local SEO

When Google is crawling a website, it’s looking at the site architecture to determine exactly what the website is about. And many businesses ineffectively use local SEO when it comes to site architecture.

One thing that Google does not like is “orphan pages” — and many businesses, when creating their local landing pages, organize them as orphan pages.

How To Think About Site Architecture Properly for Local SEO

For a multi-location business, site architecture is really important when it comes to each location of your business.

It’s recommended to have a parent page for all of your locations, where users can learn exactly where you’re located across the city, state, or country.

What does that parent page look like? 

That parent page would simply have all of your locations listed to allow your users to click to each location and learn more about that location.

If we go back to the physical therapist example above, that parent page might have a URL structure of:

www.oregonptcenters.com/our-locations or www.oregonptcenters.com/locations/

6. Businesses Ask For Reviews On Platforms That Buyers Aren’t Looking At (Like Yelp)

A crucial ranking factor for local SEO is reviews. It’s important to have: 

  1. A large number of reviews; and 
  2. High-quality reviews (at least 4.5 stars or higher on average)

Which online platforms matter the most for local SEO?

Well, think about it, Google owns Google My Business – and the Google Local Pack (A.K.A. the most coveted spot on the internet for a local business) is linked to your Google My Business.

However, many businesses are still asking for online reviews from Yelp instead of from Google.

We are NOT arguing that online reviews from Yelp aren’t valuable. For many industries (such as restaurants and bars), many users still put a lot of clout into these platforms. 

But, if you’re a lawyer or dog groomer, Yelp likely isn’t as valuable as Google.

How To Ask For Reviews on the Correct Platforms for Local SEO

There’s a really, really simple way to ask for online reviews. It’s how we’ve gotten 60+ reviews for our business (at the time of writing it). Click here to our Portland SEO Growth page to see how many reviews we have now.

Step 1: Write the review for the customer (this can be done in the form of an example, or, if you have intimate relationships with your clients, you can actually write it for them).

Step 2: Send them the link to leave a review via email (to make it extra easy for them)

Step 3: Included in that email, send the example review(s) or the review you’ve written for them. Let them know that they can add/subtract/delete/edit any part of the review you’ve written for them.

We have about an 85% success rate in getting online reviews using this strategy. And, most of the clients simply copy and paste the review we’ve written for them (and then usually add another personalized sentence).

7. Businesses Have a Google Site and Website, Which Confuses Google

Google has allowed businesses to create a microsite within Google My Business.

While this may seem like a great option, businesses often use this ineffectively for local SEO purposes.

Why? Well, Google built this feature into its platform in order to help businesses get websites that couldn’t afford them. 

However, many businesses already have a website. So when they build this second website through Google’s microsites, it’s confusing to Google since now this business has two separate websites.

How To Build A Google Site Properly for Local SEO

You would build a Google site just like you would any other website. 

Make sure it:

  • Has calls to action that encourage users to call or submit a form on the website 
  • Has contact information clearly laid out
  • Shares exactly what services you offer that can help the user on the other end of the screen

8. Businesses Don’t Optimize Their Title Tags And Meta Descriptions Properly

When Google is crawling a website, it pays particular attention to the title tag and meta description of each page. 

However, many businesses ineffectively used local SEO by forgetting to optimize their title tags and meta descriptions.

How To Optimize Title Tags and Meta Descriptions for Local SEO

For every page on your website, you need to have an optimal title tag and meta description that clearly articulate what that page of the website is about. This is particularly important for the homepage of your website.

Let’s say that you’re a clothing tailor who needs help with local SEO in Portland, Oregon.

What would an optimal title tag for your homepage be? Something like “Trusted Tailor in Portland, Oregon”  would adequately describe what you do and also hit necessary keywords.

You could do something similar with your meta description.

Something like “If you’re looking for a tailor in Portland Oregon, then we can help you. Click here to learn more.”

9. Businesses Don’t Create High-Quality Listings

What is a listing and why is it important for local SEO? A business listing is anywhere online that shares information about your business. Yelp is a great example of a listing page.

There are hundreds of different listing websites that you can place your business on.

Why is this important?

It shares information with Google that shows that you’re relevant and authoritative in your space.

Lots of businesses ineffectively use local SEO by forgetting to create these high-quality listing profiles.

How To Create High-Quality Listings for Local SEO

There are two different options to create listing profiles in order to effectively use local SEO.

  1. Manually creating profiles on all of these websites. You can easily go to each of these websites and create a profile with information about your business.
  2. Use software that automatically creates these listing profiles based on information that you input into the software’s system. This second strategy is recommended because it’s much faster and easier to do at scale.

10. Businesses Don’t Focus on NAP Consistency

What is a NAP and why is it important for local SEO?

A NAP simply stands for name, address, and phone number.

It’s an important ranking factor that Google looks at when determining which websites should rank. 

However, most businesses incorrectly think about NAP consistency.

Here’s a story that explains:

Let’s say that there is a clothing tailor in Portland, Oregon.  Their business name is the Oregon Tailor Company, their phone number is 503-111-1111 and their address is 123 Main Street.

On Google, their name, address, and phone number are identical to the example above. But, on Yelp, their name is not listed as “Oregon Tailor Company”, it’s listed as “Oregon Tailor Company – Portland Location.”

This inconsistency is problematic to Google. It’s basically an error and diminishes Google’s trust that you are who you say you are, located where you say you’re located and do what you say you do.

How To Do NAP Consistency Properly for Local SEO

It’s pretty straightforward. To avoid ineffectively using local SEO when it comes to NAP consistency, you just need to ensure that your name, address, and phone number exactly match across the internet.

11. Businesses Forget About Local Business Structured Data

What is structured data and why is it important for SEO?

Structured data is code that is embedded on the back end of your website. Users that are viewing your website online cannot see this code, but Google’s algorithm and bots are able to read it. It gives them more context as to what your website is about.

There’s a particular type of structured data that is specifically used for local businesses. However, most local businesses do not add the structured data to their website.

How To Do Structured Data Properly for Local SEO

There are many structured data generators that will create the structured data for your website for free. They’re quite easy to use. 

Or, you can hire somebody to do it for you.

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Picture of Joey Randazzo

Joey Randazzo

CEO of Becoming Media