In the coming months, local SEO and search marketing will become invaluable for small businesses everywhere. In order to remain competitive within your industry and capitalize on local traffic, it's important to not only focus on best practices, but also to avoid costly mistakes. Let's take a look at a few of those errors and show you how to stay on the right path.

Avoid These Local SEO Mistakes

While there are potential mistakes around every corner, an overly cautious marketer won't be a successful marketer. Instead of worrying about things you can't control, work on the things you can - like avoiding the following: 

1. Posting thin content. Quality content is still one of the key driving factors for local SEO. While quality content alone - without optimization - may not attract the right SEO traffic, you won't acquire any leads without it. Focus on posting content that's easily shareable and relevant to your industry. 

2. Listing the wrong NAP info. In local SEO, NAP stands for, "Name, Address, and Phone." Whether it's a local directory, social networking site, or your website, NAP information needs to be complete and accurate - as well as present across a wide variety of local directories and publications. Yext is a great way to synchronize NAP information for local directories, but other directories exist which are crucial as well. Crunchbase is a powerful and popular business directory (here's an example of Park View Legal's CrunchBase page, which is well-done). Other popular directories include the Open Directory Project, and the Yahoo Directory. Furthermore, you need to ensure there's 100% consistency across each one. Google will notice if you have inconsistent information and won't rank you as well as it would otherwise.

3. Not using page title tags. One of the most influential SEO page factors is the title tag. However, despite this, many businesses either don't use a title tag or leave it set as a default term like "home" or "about us." This is wasted real estate and should be named something like [City], [State], [Title].

4. Failing to invest in inbound links. Links have been, and always will be, an integral factor for Google and other major search engines. Thankfully, Google clearly explains the process of crawling and indexing so you can fully understand the value of attracting inbound links.  

5. Not seeking social reviews. While it's against Google's policy to require anyone to review your business or brand, you can encourage clients and customers to leave reviews on Google+, Foursquare, and Yelp. Google+ is arguably the most important, as these reviews show up in search results and provide added confidence for users. According to Neil Patel, "Reviews are so essential for local search optimization that it's worth it to go the extra effort and beg for these things (in a tasteful way, of course)."

6. Ignoring niche directories. While you likely have your NAP information published in, Yelp, and your Google "My Business" page, you can't afford to ignore specialty niche directories. These are invaluable sources of highly-targeted traffic - especially if they're tied directly to a zip code. 

Stay Up to Date With Changes and Trends

Few aspects of internet marketing undergo as much rapid and ongoing change as search engine algorithms and local SEO techniques. By staying current with recent trends, and continually educating yourself on what does and doesn't work, you can ensure that you always make the right decision.  

April 1, 2015

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.

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Search Engine Guide > Jayson DeMers > 6 Local SEO Mistakes Small Businesses Make