If you own or work for a local business within your community, you simply can’t ignore local SEO if you want your business to stay competitive. People need to be able to find you in local search results, and businesses near the top of the search engine results pages don’t show up there by accident. They put in the time and effort to make sure they get found.
If you have started implementing local SEO tactics but still aren’t where you want to be in search results, you may be missing some key elements. Below are a few common reasons businesses may be missing the boat when it comes to local SEO.
You’re ignoring the importance of on-page elements
On-page factors are important for SEO in general to make sure you get found online, but there are a few things you really need to be paying attention to when it comes to local search. If you want to reach local prospects and customers, you should include the name of the city or area your business serves within your page title and meta description. This will help notify both Google and prospects of where you are. Including your location within your website content is important as well. Be sure to also include your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on the homepage of your website as another area that can alert Google where you are located.
You’re not paying attention to your citation profile and inbound links
The majority of consumers use search engines to conduct local searches, but many businesses don’t claim a single local business listing online, which is a problem.
Google relies on hundreds of data aggregators and directories to help them keep all the local businesses straight. Getting your listing right on search engines is essential. If you’ve moved or changed your name, address, or phone number (NAP), or just listed it in numerous ways across a bunch of directories, there’s a good chance Google isn’t sure which listing is accurate, which can hurt you in terms of getting found online.
Google wants to send people to the right physical address. I’d recommend investing in a tool like MozLocal  to see where your business stands. If you find that there are a few inaccurate, inconsistent and incomplete listings use MozLocal, BrightLocal , WhiteSpark  or Yext  to clean up listings and get rid of inaccurate duplicates.
In addition to being listed on directories, such as Yelp, make sure your business is included in local directories, such as with your chamber of commerce or tourism associations, as well.
Your Google My Business listing isn’t optimized
While Google My Business is technically a listing, it’s a big one and comes with its own set of optimization requirements. It is imperative that you pay attention to, claim, and optimize your Google My Business Listing. To get everything set up, visit google.com/business .
Unfortunately, there’s a chance you may have some cleanup to do. Confirm you only have one listing for your business and that it’s the one Google thinks is yours.
Once the right listing is claimed, take full advantage of the real estate and linking options available. This is essential for your business to show up in the desired Google 3-pack for local searches.
Your Google My Business Listing must be optimized and include the following:
- Solid information including a description, business hours, and so on
- An accurate category
- Photos or videos
- 5-star reviews
Note the exact way your NAP appears in the listing. Whatever is listed as the NAP on the listing, you’ll want to use it consistently on your website and across all directories and online mentions. If you don’t have a location customers or clients can visit, you can hide your physical address as you’re setting up your Google My Business listing.
Online reviews aren’t a priority to you
Google sees reviews as one of the elements that help determine what businesses show up in the 3-pack, but as you may be aware, reviews aren’t always easy to get. Even a business with loyal and satisfied customers must work to get them.
The key is to ask often and make it as easy as possible for happy customers to log in to the sites that matter and leave a review for you, such as on Google My Business listings and Facebook. You can always repurpose these reviews in other areas such as in email newsletters or on your website.
If you run a local business, it’s important to make the steps above a priority. You may find that local leads drawn from organic search can become your most effective lead generation channel.
Remember, whenever a review is left about your business, positive or negative, it’s important to respond to it. It shows others reading the reviews that you care what your customers think and that you are willing to dedicate time to their own unique experiences and needs.
You don’t understand schema markup and are not using it
If you’re not familiar with schema markup, it’s a good idea to brush up on this topic so that you know how to use it. You should be conversational and knowledgeable on the topic, but you don’t really need to know anything about the underlying code to get markup right. Just visit Schema.org’s Local Business NAP generator  and fill it in – the tool will produce the HTML code you need to add to your client’s site in place of their current address.
In a nutshell, search engines are trying to adopt a consistent markup protocol to help use HTML code to identify things such as businesses, reviews, addresses, movies and so on. However, few businesses are using this on their websites, and if they are using it, they aren’t using it to its fullest potential.
Here’s the thing, by using schema markup, you’re not being sneaky. Google actually wants you to use it because it helps them better determine what the content on your website is all about.
You’re not creating local content
When you create content, you need to go above and beyond to let local customers know where you are.
It’s easy to get spammy when a lot of local content is listed and this can hurt you, but you can absolutely talk about where you work. Consider creating specific pages with case studies for specific neighborhoods that you cater to. It’s important for you to use your blog to talk about local events, the community, your customers, and employee-related local news. By doing so, you are able to mix up your content in unique ways.
Are you implementing all of the recommendations above? If not, identify the areas you need to work on and really try to optimize them. This should help improve your rankings in search engine results pages and properly compete with your local competition.