It’s important to treat local business websites differently than those focusing globally. Even though local websites are a lot easier to rank for because of the “targeted” keywords used by these businesses, I’m surprised at the common mistakes seen when skimming through their SEO campaign. You have to treat local websites completely different than general websites because your main focus is much narrower. The keywords you choose have to be more specific and the on-page SEO elements are setup differently.
Before jumping into the common local website mistakes observed by my team, it’s important to note a few important things…
- Local websites are mainly service orientated, meaning they use websites to build brand awareness and often have a physical location. For example, “Toronto immigration lawyer”, “Arizona online schools”, “Markham mechanics”
- The use of local directories is much higher compared to any other type of websites online.
- Keywords are more targeted, often containing geographical location
- They don’t tend to be large websites, but simple “5” pages to entice the visitor to call
If you own a local business and have an online presence, then avoid these local website mistakes…
Worry About Brand Too Much
I think brand is the most important element when building a credible business, but how important is it when you have a local website? You have to understand that as a local business, your competition is very slim and building a brand isn’t hard at all. Unlike when you’re focusing on the entire web, a local website doesn’t have too much competition and in most cases, you’ll be the only website within your niche. Many SEO experts will say instead of promoting your brand, you’re better off spending time targeting the right keywords and making sure you get listed in the right places.
Personally, I think brand awareness is very important, however, it’s important to check your competition and analyze if it’s going to be difficult for people to know who you are. If not, then work on people finding out what you do and they’ll eventually find out who you are later on.
Using Wrong Keywords
Google is a very sophisticated search engine but this doesn’t mean it can determine your objective. If you’re a local business looking to gain some extra exposure, then make sure you have the right elements in place when performing on-page optimization. For example, if you’re a local lawyer and have a law firm close by, then don’t focus on the keyword “lawyer” because by using it, you’re essentially optimizing for the entire web. You have to be more targeted so search bots know you’re a local business. For example, here are some amazing keywords for a law firm in Los Angeles.
- Los Angeles immigration lawyer
- Los Angeles criminal lawyer
- Los Angeles divorce lawyer
You should always include the type of law firm you operate and narrow down even further to district within Los Angeles. If you live in “Orange County”, then use the keyword “Orange county lawyer”
If you are way too general, then it’ll be that much more difficult to gain traction. Don’t focus on areas you don’t need to and always perform keyword research before adding keywords. You don’t want to use keywords that no one is searching.
Content Home Page
One thing I’ve noticed about visitors who are searching local websites is they are looking for information right away. Unlike non-service related searches, where people take the time to skim through websites, finding valuable information to gain knowledge, local searches are performed to obtain a price, contact number, or address. This is why your main home page should have a complete business profile including your services, contact information, pricing, etc. You should use your homepage as a full page advertisement for your business.
Many local businesses don’t add the most important information to their home page and people leave simply because they don’t immediately find the information they’re looking for. Always keep the customer in mind and remember that their probably NOT living too far from your business so get them to your door as quickly as possible. This means providing them with what information they need. Here’s a quick example,
If I’m looking for a local mechanic, then I’m looking for a phone number, price list, or even an address. It’s that simple! Avoid adding the unnecessary elements to your homepage.
If you’re a local website, then don’t forget to add your business to popular directories. Over recent years, Google has put enormous effort in ranking directories higher within the SERP’s. Why? Just like search engines organize information, directories are an effective way to organize businesses. Google also has its own form of directory called Google Places, which has been gaining in popularity over the last two years. I recommend taking time each week to skim the web, looking for popular local directories and then adding your business within them. Keep this in mind…
Make sure you add your correct information and if anything changes, be sure to update it right away. Some of these directories take time to update information so any delays can be harmful to your business.
Here’s the recent trend in local directory searches…
Add a Google Map
Google has provided an awesome interface to easily add a map to your website. However, I’ve seen local websites not fully make use of this feature. You cannot underestimate the benefits of having a map embedded on your website. Having a simple map will enable your business to easily be located by people searching on your website. They can even quickly design a route to arrive at your destination more quickly.
Personally, whenever I see a map on a local business website, it definitely adds that professional touch. Next, it gives me confidence that a physical location actually does exist and I can quickly find out how long the commute is to the establishment.