Ranking locally is not always the easiest thing to do. In fact, it’s easy to fail even when you think you have a fail-proof strategy for local SEO. However, you need to remember that even if your strategies for local ranking fails, it’s not the end of the world. The art of ranking is mostly a puzzle that only a very formal and competitive audit can decipher. At times, it’s something you can solve within 15 minutes as long as you have the right checklist of the most common problems that can cause rankings to dip low.
What are the top problems that cause low rankings for Local SEO?
- Google Updates – if you see that there have been sudden changes in your rankings, chances are, Google has released something new. Hence, when you notice some ranking changes, it would be a good idea to check out the sites that release news about the latest updates on SEO and Google. Once you know what the change is all about, you can also try to find the solution, like how you can tweak your current strategies to kick your local ranking back on track. If the issue is caused by a bug, you may have to wait until Google fixes it so the ranking will be normalized again.
- Eligibility Issues – If your concern is your local listing, there are a few things that you need to get on point before you can even dream of ranking. Is your business having eligibility issues? To be eligible to rank successfully locally, your business should have an actual office address and it should not be a virtual business. It should be a type of business that deals with customers face to face on a daily basis. If you don’t have these qualities, your business won’t work on Google My Business. You also need to specify which city your business is in, and you should know what keywords you want to rank for. These two factors work hand in hand in order to give your business a boost in the local SEO game.
- Spam – Breaking Googles guidelines against spam is like a plague you must avoid. Common violations include keyword stuffing in the business name, incorrect business name, ineligible locations, incorrect category, incorrect phone number and incorrect website URLs. What can you do to avoid these spam guideline violations? First, be well-versed with the guidelines. Then, review your listing to spam-proof it. When you know the guidelines well, you’d spot the violations right away. Keeping the spam factors on your local business listing will not only mess up your rankings, it could also get you a suspension!
- Suspensions – Suspensions can be a huge factor that will silently kill your ranking. For instance, if your listing has already been verified and becomes unverified all of a sudden, you should expect that a suspension has occurred. This can happen when you stuff your listing with too many keywords, so it’s best to stick with the guidelines. When your listing has already been suspended, you can really expect an unsatisfactory ranking. There are two types of suspensions and you should be aware of both. One is a soft suspension like the example we mentioned above, and the other is a hard suspension – it’s when your listing disappears completely.
- Duplicate Listings – Duplicate listings can pull your ranking down because they will divide your listing’s ranking strength. This happens especially when there is more than one verified listing. When this kind of situation happens to your business, make it a point to check for duplicates. If there are any, get rid of them. You can use various SEO tools online to check whether there are duplicates of your listing or not. If it’s possible to merge your listings, you can try to get Google to get that done. However, if the listings do not match exactly you can get rid of the listing by tagging it as ‘never existed’ on Google Maps.
- Missing Information on Listings – If there are any inaccuracies in your listing you should get it straight. You can check out some SEO tools online to check if your listing is complete and accurate enough. The reason why you should pay attention to this is because of the fact that inconsistency in your listing can indirectly impact local rankings. If you have wrong information on your listing, customers could end up getting lost or angry and you’d lose many potential transactions. This will affect your online reputation and your ranking too.
- Local Service Ads – Have you ever heard of Google’s Local service ads? This was previously known as Home Service Ads, which made Google the middleman between businesses and customers. This resulted in several issues in the past, such as home-based businesses disappearing from local results, messing up the spam listings and many others. This can mean bad news for your business because there’s a possibility that it would decrease your ranking significantly. On the other hand, it decreases spam, so it’s also beneficial. The best thing to do to prepare for the impacts of these Local Service Ads is to make sure to qualify for the program once it rolls into your area.
- Neglecting GMB – If you neglect your Google My Business listing, what can you expect? It doesn’t take a genius to know that your local ranking will suffer. There are many factors you will have to mind if you want your GMB listing to be kept up to date. These include verification, the accuracy of the listing, appropriate category listing, reviews and responses, images on the listing, updated hours of operation, URLs, Google posts, and management of the Question and Answer area of the listing. If you want to succeed locally, you should make it a point to pay attention to every nook of your GMB listing.
Once you are aware of the most common problems that affect local rankings, you would be able to easily point out what is causing your local ranking to plummet. Identifying the problems is the first step, but finding the solution will be much easier. With this, you might even be able to fix the root of your local ranking problem within a couple of minutes