7 SEO Mistakes Local Businesses Are Making in 2024

Written by Explore Digital May 6, 2024

If you’re a local business owner, then you already know that showing up in search results matters. When customers can find you easily, they’re more likely to call or drop in. Using local SEO tips to improve visibility can help ensure you’re not missing out. 

Local SEO Tips: 7 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Want to learn how to rank higher on Google? Find out what not to do first:

1. Forgetting to claim and optimize your Google Business Profile.

Your Google Business Profile is one of the top local ranking factors. If you want to establish credibility, setting up and verifying your listing is a must. Acting as a virtual business card, your Google Business Profile anchors your local online presence. A verified listing makes it easy for users to confirm you’re in business and that you match search criteria for a product or service.

But many businesses don’t take full advantage of all it has to offer, including:

  • Business name, address, and phone number
  • Business category and attributes
  • Photos and virtual tour
  • Products/services and descriptions
  • Questions and answers content
  • Business hours

Simple as it sounds, completing your profile is one of the best SEO marketing strategies for a local business. Doing this can be enough to significantly boost local rankings, drawing traffic to your store. As many as 60% of mobile customers contact a business directly from local search.

2. Having a slow loading, mobile unfriendly, and outdated website.

In recent years, mobile and desktop searches have been mostly even, but now, mobile searches are taking the lead. Roughly 58% of all searches are conducted on a mobile device, compared to 40% on a desktop computer.

That said, if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re delivering a poor user experience. This can lead to higher bounce rates when customers can’t access your site. Implementing mobile responsive design to improve site speed can help your local business website rank better locally.

3. Failing to get legitimate online reviews.

The majority of consumers read online reviews before visiting a local business or choosing to select their product or service. Authentic, positive reviews lend credibility. As a business owner, you can turn the tide by actively encouraging–and replying to–reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and other platforms. 

You can also work with us to create and send out branded Google Review postcards that walk customers through the steps of leaving a review. We’ve used this practice successfully for many of our clients, including dental offices, fitness studios, and more. Google has confirmed reviews are now a primary factor influencing local search and map rankings. 

Replying to customer reviews can help to draw even more reviews. When a business takes the time to thoughtfully respond to reviews, both positive and negative, it shows that they’re attentive and care about the customer experience. This responsiveness builds trust and can encourage more customers to leave reviews.

4. Not optimizing for local keywords.

To rank locally for phrases like “plumber in Kansas City” or “Kansas City car repair shop” requires optimizing your website and content. Too many local sites only optimize for broad keywords without adding in their geographic location. 

The fix is easy enough: Do some keyword research for your primary offerings and localized phrases or hire a digital marketing agency to do this for you.

5. Having messy citations and directory listings.

Online directory listings, map apps, and local business aggregators, like Yelp, Bing, and Apple Maps, all index official business name, address, and phone number (NAP) data. If that NAP data is inconsistent across different platforms, you’ll probably see a hit in your rankings. 

To mitigate this, audit for any inconsistent citations, duplicate listings, and missing directory info. Then correct or remove any issues. Using a service or software to monitor and clean up local business data can also be helpful.

6. Lacking local links and engagement (this is the most common mistake we see!)

As it turns out, links from other local and industry-relevant websites carry more weight for local maps and search rankings. If you’re wondering how to rank higher on Google, look for opportunities to gain links through local sponsorships, community involvement, regional listings, locally-authored guest posts, and interviews. Local social engagement also factors in.

Earning high-quality backlinks from other local sites sends powerful signals about your business’ relevance.

Avoiding these pitfalls—and using strategic local SEO tips—gives a local business a much better chance of showing up for “near me” queries and drawing in customers.

7. Not Monitoring & Analyzing Your Website Organic Ranking Performance

SEO is not a one-time task but an ongoing process that requires monitoring and analysis. Many local businesses make the mistake of setting and forgetting their SEO strategy, without regularly tracking its performance. By monitoring key metrics such as organic traffic, keyword rankings, and conversion rates, you can identify what’s working and what’s not, allowing you to make informed adjustments to your strategy.

Bonus Local SEO Tips: 4 Up-and-Coming Trends

Following the local SEO tips above can help improve visibility for most businesses. 

If you have the capacity to take on more, you can try one of these emerging SEO trends:

  1. Optimize for voice search. With smart speakers and voice assistants becoming commonplace, more people are turning to voice to conduct local searches. To increase discoverability via voice search, it helps to optimize for more conversational, question-based keyword phrases, like “Where is the closest Indian restaurant in downtown Seattle?” 
  2. Run local service ads. Local Services Ads are paid ads that appear at the very top of Google local search results for service-based businesses. Eligible service categories include locksmiths, plumbers, lawyers, pet groomers, and others. Since Local Services Ads offer top visibility, they appear above the maps pack, organic results, and regular paid ads.
  3. Social media for local audiences. It’s becoming more important to have a social strategy with local reach. Many businesses have found new opportunities for local exposure on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and X. Organic social media posting, community building, micro-influencer marketing, and targeted social promotions should be part of every local search strategy.
  4. Integrating social media into your website’s homepage can significantly enhance your SEO efforts and bolster your rankings. By incorporating social feeds or sharing buttons, you not only provide engaging visual content for your visitors but also increase the time spent on your site, which is a positive signal to search engines. Moreover, user engagement through likes, comments, and shares can generate valuable social signals that contribute to improved search visibility. Additionally, featuring social media content can enrich your website with fresh and dynamic visuals, potentially attracting more backlinks and referral traffic, further strengthening your SEO strategy.

Whether it’s searching for “coffee shops near me” or browsing Google Maps, localized searches represent a massive opportunity for small businesses. When you prioritize local SEO, you can also manage marketing spend by helping to increase foot traffic naturally.

Can Explore Digital lend a hand? We’re a digital agency with a stellar team offering some of the best SEO marketing in the business. If you want to boost visibility and expand local reach, let’s talk. Reach out to explore SEO solutions.

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