Local SEO is a powerful way to get quality traffic to your online business, but it’s often a strategy that is implemented poorly or downright exploited in all the wrong ways. Here are a few tips at what not to do when implementing a local SEO campaign, some of which you may already be doing without knowing about it!
Using Ineligible Addresses for Google My Business Listings
It’s more common than you think for people to create GMB listings using P.O Boxes, virtual offices or even employees’ residential addresses. This goes completely against Google’s guidelines which state:
- Make sure that your page is created at your actual, real-world location
- PO Boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.
- Service-area businesses—businesses that serve customers at their locations—should have one page for the central office or location and designate a service area from that point.
In summary, Google doesn’t want you to create GMB listings for anything but a “real” business location. If you’re doing this already, it’s better to self-report yourself to Google than risk letting your listing run its course until you are found out. This won’t effect your legitimate, eligible listings.
Using One Phone Number Across Several Entities
It may seem tempting, if you run multiple businesses but don’t want to pay for more phone lines or if you have multiple business locations but want to only use a head office number, but it is another no-no in Google’s guidelines:
- Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, and provide one website that represents your individual business location.
- Use a local phone number instead of a central, call center helpline number whenever possible.
- The phone number must be under the direct control of the business.
Not only is it going against Google’s guidelines, it can also lead to confusion from your audience. If you are currently using one phone number for multiple business listings, you should weigh up the cost of another phone number against the potential to lose confused customers or have your listing removed by Google.
Keyword Stuffing Your Business Name
Keyword stuffing is never a viable tactic in SEO, and Google My Business is no exception. In fact, it is a direct violation of Google’s guidelines to use unnecessary keywords in your business name:
- Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers.
- Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your listing being suspended.
Consider your brand at all times – you want to build a long lasting and trustworthy brand rather than cash in on tricks. It’s a far more sound strategy to build your listing organically than to potentially have it removed for violating guidelines. Keep your business name accurate and concise!