Synup

30 Common Local SEO Problems & How To Fix Them

Local SEO can become quite complex. Especially with all the specific nuances associated with managing your Google+, reviews and citations.

After running into these issues multiple times, we decided to compile a list of some of the most common local SEO issues along with easy to follow solutions.

  1. Google+ is not showing my Main Category as my primary category.
  2. How do I merge Google+ Local & Google Places listings?
  3. The Google+ verification PIN I received isn’t working.
  4. My business has a bad review from a disgruntled employee who is no longer with the company. Can I flag it and get it removed?
  5. My Google Places listing shows ‘being reviewed’ status even after verification.
  6. PIN on Yahoo verification postcard missing/doesn’t work.
  7. “We Currently Do Not Support This Location” message on your Google+ listing.
  8. How do I setup a Google+ page for a business with a business address which is different from the actual mailing address?
  9. My Yahoo map marker location is incorrect and Yahoo’s help redirects me elsewhere.
  10. What do I do about duplicate content?
  11. How can I encourage people to review my business?
  12. I’ve changed my Name/Address/Phone details.
  13. My site loads slowly.
  14. Do I have to optimize title tags on all my pages?
  15. I have multiple offices in the same city/in other cities, how should I organize that on my site?
  16. I have so many keywords, why am I still not ranking?
  17. Google Analytics has so much information, what should I pay attention to?
  18. Which Social Media platform to use and how?
  19. How should I deal with online reviews?
  20. I’m done with my SEO. Now what?
  21. I’ve heard Google is banning sites for link building.
  22. Will putting other locations in my Meta Content get me business from a wider area?
  23. Visitors to my site don’t contact us even though we have a contact form.
  24. I have a toll-free number and an office number, which do I use?
  25. Can I put keywords in my Google Places description?
  26. Why is connecting my business to Webmaster Tools important?
  27. My content creation methods don’t work anymore.
  28. Since I have a Google+ Page, do I need citations from other sites?
  29. I have duplicate listings on a site.
  30. How to be smart about keyword research.

1. Google+ is not showing my Main Category as my primary category

If you have more than one category selected, Google doesn’t always show them in the order selected (or the order you want).

Solution Steps

  1. Delete your categories (except the one you want as the main one) one by one, saving between each delete.
  2. When all but your primary category is deleted, make sure that one displays correctly.
  3. Now add all the other categories again, but this time at once.

Back To Top


2. How do I Merge Google+ Local & Google Places Listings?

When you migrated your old Google Places account to the new interface, a Google+ Local listing may have also been created. This duplicate needs to be merged with your Google Places Listing especially if you have +1s or a Vanity URL which you want to retain.

Solution Steps

  1. Unfortunately there isn’t an option to merge them yourself, so contact Google Support using the “Contact Us” link. Choose:
    • Your business type.
    • “Another type of problem” in the first screen.
    • Select “There are duplicate results for my business on Maps.”.
  2. In the contact form, enter the URL to your Google+ page as well as the duplicate that has been auto-generated. In the additional details tab, you can enter a short message like this: >Hello There, > >While my Google Places dashboard was upgraded, a new Google+ Page was auto-generated. This page is a duplicate since I already have a page operational at {insert_link}
    > >Could you please merge the newly created page with the old one > >Thanks, > >{Your Name}
  3. If you don’t hear back from them for 3 weeks, you can have a Google rep call you back. I find having someone on the phone gets issues resolved faster.

Back To Top


3. The Google+ verification PIN I received isn’t working.

This is a very common issue that happens with Google+; you are asked to verify your page, you request a pin via mail, but the pin you received on the postcard isn’t working properly.

This could be happening because of multiple reasons but is fairly easy to fix.

Solution Steps

  1. Search for your business on Google Maps. Type in your address exactly as on Google Places and see if your business shows up. If you see “Did you mean…?” or don’t see your business under the search results, there may be something wrong.
  2. Ensure that all of your information is not set to private. Log in to your Google+ page and set all your information to “public”. Make sure you don’t change any of your core information right now to ensure that your pin works properly. Now re-try your pin.
  3. If it still doesn’t work, request a new one. Don’t get an option to request a new pin? Contact Google and they should be able to get it done.

Back To Top


4. My business has a bad review from a disgruntled employee who is no longer with the company. Can I flag it and get it removed?

Yes, you can flag the review at Google, however, a moderator will evaluate it based on some Guidelines and can take several weeks. If it hasn’t been taken down after 2-3 weeks, go to the forums to make your case about why it violates the above guidelines. Then hope for one of the reps reviews it for further moderation.

Back To Top


5. My Google places listing shows ‘being reviewed’ status even after verification.

If you have already waited for 15 days just contact the Places Support team.

Back To Top


6. PIN on Yahoo verification postcard missing/doesn’t work.

All you can do that this point is to resubmit the PIN request after you have tried the existing PIN a couple of times. The best possible option is to verify the listing via a business email or phone immediately rather than choosing to verify by post method.

Back To Top


7. “We Currently Do Not Support This Location” message on your listing.

This is frequent issue that can appear for a variety of reasons. Most of the time it’s just a time or sync issue.

Solution

  • If you have only recently verified your listing it may take up to 2 weeks for the listing to appear on Google. So just wait and check again later.
  • If your listing has been live for quite some time it maybe a synching issue between Google Places and Maps. Use look up your listing on maps.google.com, but if you can’t find it, just go into the dashboard and try editing and resubmitting it once. You should be able to see the listing in couple of days.
  • If none of these help then you will need to get in touch with Google support. Fill out the form and wait for them to contact you.

Back To Top


8. How do I setup a Google+ page for a business with a business address which is different from the actual mailing address?

A number of business owners work from their residence and provide service at the customers’ location. You will be able to set service areas based on zip codes or cities you service. You do have an option to select ‘I serve customers at my business address’, but only select this option if you want your complete address to be displayed on Google and you are staffed to service customer at your business location. Google no longer provides the option to hide your address by selecting ‘Do not show my business address on my maps’ section. They will apply the correct settings based on the selected choices from the maps dashboard.

Need More Info?

Go through the detailed guidelines published by Google for service area businesses.

Back To Top


9. My Yahoo map marker location is incorrect and Yahoo’s help redirects me elsewhere.

There has been an issue with Yahoo redirecting to Nokia’s now discontinued primeplaces.here.com

Solution

The data can be corrected using MapReporter.

Back To Top


10. What do I do about duplicate content?

Duplicate content within a website and across websites can get your into trouble. A lot of local business websites have template driven/boilerplate content with just the location terms switched out.

Avoid duplicate content at all cost!

Solution

If you do find yourself with duplicate content on your hands, utilise tools like Siteliner to search for duplicate content within a website and CopyScape to make sure the content being published on your website is unique.

Use unique URL for location pages if you have more than once location.

Back To Top


11. How can I encourage people to review my business?

Online reviews from happy customers can provide you the much needed boost to your online presence. Most businesses we have worked with are either very reactive when it comes to their review policy and others end up hiring the wrong kind of people to ‘buy’ reviews which do not stick.

Tips

  • Do not pay for reviews/fake reviews. Businesses have and will keep landing into major trouble for doing this.
  • Setup a simpler landing page with a link to online review sites where you want your customers to go and write a review.
  • Try to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket – diversify.
  • Setup a simple email template that you can send to your customers after you have sold them a service of a product.
  • Avoid setting up a customer review kiosk with a laptop/tablet. Instead provide review handouts or cards with link to your major review sites to guide them.
  • Train your sales/service team who interact with customers the most; they’re the ones who build rapport.
  • Plan for negative reviews. Make sure to respond to them and take them up as opportunities to improve your product/service.

Back To Top


12. I’ve changed my Name/Address/Phone details.

As per the local ranking factors survey NAP data consistency had a huge effect on determining your site’s search performance. In fact consistency of Name, Address and Phone data for your business plays a big role in over half of the ranking performance.

Solution Steps

  1. Claim your business listings on all major directories.
  2. Search for your business name, address and phone number on these directories to ensure there are no duplicate listings with incorrect or old information.
  3. Contact the directories to ensure any duplicate listings or inaccuracies are removed.
  4. Keep checking every few months as issues keep propping up.

Back To Top


13. My site loads slowly.

Yes, speed does matter. Especially nowadays when most people don’t wait for more than a couple of seconds before they lose interest. Slow sites provide very bad user experience. While testing for site speed ensure that you don’t just optimize the homepage. Check all your internal and money pages to make sure they are all optimized.

Solution

You can use Google’s pagespeed insights tool.

Additionally install Google analytics on your website to track and measure site speed along with a host of other metrics.

Back To Top


14. Do I have to optimize title tags on all my pages?

We still find a number of business websites where they have not optimized the title tags of the internal pages. Please remember that your internal pages are as important for search visibility as your homepage.

Solutions

  • Make sure to check and optimize all title tags.
  • Avoid duplicate title tags – you can check your Google Webmaster Tools to check for them on a regular basis.
  • You don’t need to keep mentioning your business name on all title tags.
  • Do not just stuff keywords – write titles that are easy to read and makes sense.

Back To Top


15. I have multiple offices in the same city/in other cities, how should I organize that on my site?

If you have more than one office for your business in the same city or other cities, beyond creating separate citations for each location, you need get your on-page SEO right.

Solution

Create a landing page for each physical location each with:

- NAP (Name, Address & Phone Number)
- Unique Content
- Schema markup to display the NAP
- Optimized Meta Tags specific to the location
- Hours or Operations
- A brief list of services offered at the location

Need more info?

Check out this post from Localu.org that includes easy to understand guidelines about location pages.

Back To Top


16. I have so many keywords, why am I still not ranking?

Gone are the times when you could hire a writer, provide them a bunch of keywords along with the amount of ‘keyword density you are looking’ and get ranked. Although it’s still one of the most popular ‘optimization’ (read: spamming) techniques used, search engines have gotten smarter to counter such techniques.

Tips

  • Be wary if you hear your writer or search consultant talking about ‘keyword stuffing’, ‘keyword density’, ‘advanced keyword stuffing’ etc. This will not help you.
  • While developing location specific content make sure that the content used is not shallow or thin. Don’t use that template copy on multiple landing pages for each location with only the location terms being switched out.
  • Make sure to keep your visitors/customers in mind while writing content. It should be natural, interesting and add value.

Back To Top


17. Google Analytics has so much information, what should I pay attention to?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of vanity data available on Google Analytics and start ignoring all of it. However, the analytics can help with major decisions like overhauling the website design, updating content etc.

Tips

Pay attention to the following information:

  • Visits
  • Goal Completion – Can be online form submissions, # of coupons printed, # of whitepaper downloads, visits to hours & directions page, click to call actions etc.
  • Revenue – at the end of the day your bottom-line matters
  • Conversion rate
  • Additionally Pageviews, Bounce Rates & Average Time On Site data can help you track the performance of your content.

Need More Info?

Here is a very useful post from Localu.org that you can use to setup a local search dashboard on your own.

Back To Top


18. Which Social Media platform to use and how?

We hear a lot from experts about the importance of social media today and how can be your key to success. However, starting up too social media accounts which you cannot keep up with actually be detrimental.

Tips

  1. Take a bottom-up approach – find out where most of your customers are, and what platforms they use.
  2. Figure out how you want use the medium to support your customers better and how much time & resources you can spend every day on social media activities.
  3. Now decide on the platform(s) that you can utilize to serve your purpose. You don’t need them all, you just need one or a few well-maintained ones.

There is no one site fit all service when it comes to social media for local businesses.

Back To Top


19. How should I deal with online reviews?

Online reviews can be tough to get. Some sites even have so called ‘review filters’ that may stop a LOT of reviews from even showing up. But reviews are important for attracting customers online and improving your search visibility.

Solution Steps

  1. Respond to reviews online. Especially the good reviews. Take the time to do it.
  2. Use reviews to learn what your customers like or dislike about your business. The negative reviews can be a learning opportunity; unless its from a disgruntled former employee. Then all you can do is flag the review and hope it gets taken down.
  3. If you can afford it use a review monitoring system to receive an alert whenever someone leaves a review on some of the most popular review sites.
  4. Do not put all your eggs in one basket – diversify your online review process and make sure you are getting reviewed on the top sites and not just Google+.

Back To Top


20. I’m done with my SEO. Now what?

Stop right there! Unfortunately, SEO is not a one-time thing, so you can’t really be ‘done’. It’s an ongoing process to ensure that you are on top of search results so you need a long-term plan.

Tips

  • Your competition is not going to sit idle and let you outrank them.
  • Search algorithms change all the time and what worked then might not work (or might hurt you) now.
  • SEO is a lot of grunt work. Keeping up with site reviews, citations, reputation management, content updates and changes in search algorithms can be tricky and time consuming. Someone who knows the field and has worked well for you would be your best bet.

Back To Top


Link building has been probably the one most controversial and at the same time most marketed topic in the SEO world. It has been in the news lately due to the changes Google made that lead to some very popular networks being banned.

Solution

Link building isn’t dead, you just have to do it right. You cannot go to fiverr, order a $20 package for 800 social media links, 30 handmade PR9 links, 10 organic .edu pyramids and expect to rank for your niche. Any link building activity that is generic and can be scaled to benefit anyone is not a good strategy at all. You will need to provide value to your customers, influencers, build partnerships and engage in the community to garner ‘natural’ links.

Back To Top


22. Will putting other locations in my Meta Content get me business from a wider area?

Search engines have gotten smarter and can recognize where your business is located. You cannot expect to rank for all 5 major cities near you just by stuffing the title and description tags with the location terms. They look spammy and do nothing to improve the visibility of your website. If you are a local business chances are that majority of your traffic and sales comes from within 20-30 miles radius of your location anyway.

Solution

  • Make sure that your title and descriptions are optimized in a way that your customers find it easy to read and understand rather than the search engines.
  • Make sure the meta tags on each page is unique.
  • Use keyword variants.
  • Include a call to action in your meta description.
  • Do not use your business name at the beginning or end of the title tag on every page. It is simply not required.

Back To Top


23. Visitors to my site don’t contact us even though we have a contact form.

This is a mistake that we come across on a lot of websites we review. A lot of businesses do not to display their contact details especially the phone number on all pages. Some people even think that it will increase their contact form conversion rate. Filling out a form and waiting for someone to get back to you is just not as appealing as picking up a phone and getting the information immediately (plus you can add a little personal touch to this).

Solution

  • The phone number, in our experience, is probably the most important call to action for any local website. Have it visible on every page of your site.
  • Your business name, address and primary local phone number is also a very good indicator to the search engines that you are a local business. So make sure they are placed in all pages and in a format that can easily be crawled.

Back To Top


24. I have a toll-free number can I use that on my site?

We have seen businesses ranking well on Google+ local with toll-free numbers. However, you need to be consistent with the number you are using across all your citations and the website. So pick one and stick to it. Different numbers on citations and the website will just send confusing signals and can create a number of issues in the long run like duplicate listing, merged listings – especially if you are a national company with local presence in multiple locations etc.

Back To Top


25. Can I put keywords in my Google Places description?

Earlier this year, Google announced an update to their places guidelines that allows business owners to add a description to their business name via the Google+ and Places dashboard. But people went overboard and started using their target keywords/business taglines which included more keywords. This is not a new thing, but it is a strict no-no. Quality guidelines clearly states that their listings can get suspended if they simply stuff keywords with their business name and also in description. It can also mess up citations and mess with the online visibility of the business.

Back To Top


26. Why is connecting my business to Webmaster Tools important?

Google’s Webmaster Tools can provide valuable insights to your website’s overall health and can provide valuable insights and necessary action items.

It can:

  • It will let you know of any errors or duplicates in your meta tags.
  • If Google had any issues crawling certain sections of your website.
  • You can monitor any sitelinks that show up in search results.
  • It shows issues with your schema markup.
  • What queries people are using to visit your site – important for optimizing your content and landing pages.

Pay particular attention to Links To Your Site and Manual Actions. Links To Your Site helps you monitor your links and ensure that they are high quality, and not spammy links (that only hurts your rankings). The Manual Actions page is where Google informs you about any bad practices you may be following – they will send you a warning and you should make sure you fix the issue soon to avoid any penalties.

Need More Info?

Here is more detailed post by Luna Metric on the subject.

Back To Top


27. My content creation methods don’t work anymore.

Remember the days when you could take a 4 word article template, stuff it with keywords and use it on multiple landing pages – one each for every location your business’ primary marketing areas? If you are still spinning articles, stuffing keywords and copying this on a number of pages, you must have seen a drop in traffic already.

Solution Steps

  1. Use tools like CopyScape or Siteliner if you have duplicate content issues on your website and get them resolved immediately.
  2. Work on a regular publishing schedule and create content that will provide value to your visitors (or is at least interesting enough to make them return).

Back To Top


28. Since I have a Google+ Page, do I need citations from other sites?

Time and again we talk to clients who think they have their location citations handled as they have a Google plus page verified and have 2000 fans on Facebook. Citation are very important for your local ranking in Google because they help establish trust that search engines have about your business details. The more competitive the niche, the more important citations become.

Solution

  • Ensure that you have the correct data on major aggregators like InfoUSA, Acxiometc.
  • Claim & optimize at least the top 30-40 citations.
  • You may also want to check to see the niche specific directories that rank well in your region and try to get citations on those websites as well. This will significantly help improve your chances of ranking well in local search algorithm.

Back To Top


29. I have duplicate listings on a site.

Duplicate listings can be the bane of your online existence. They crop up due to a variety of reasons and can take ages to fix/claim/merge.

Solution

  • Monitor them on a regular basis. Search for your business name (or old business name), your address, different variations of your phone number etc.
  • If you happen to find a duplicate, you can either remove it or merge it with an existing listing or simply report it to the directory.
  • Alternatively, there are companies which specialize in such services and can help clean up your duplicate listings to a great extent.

Back To Top


30. How to be smart about keyword research.

I was talking to a new client the other day and he happen to mention that he is not getting enough traffic on the website and was wondering why. At a cursory glance I could see two major issues – one, lack of keywords in the content on the website and two, all his meta tags were optimized just for his business name.

Prospective customers are not just (mostly not at all) searching for your business name. If they need a dentist they will search by a the name of the services they need in their areas i.e. teeth whitening, dental implants, crowns, dentures etc.

Solution

  • Do proper keyword research by utilizing the available resources – tools like Google Keyword Planner, Übersuggest, Bing Adcenter, even your competitor’s websites are be a good starting points.
  • Put together a content plan for the website. These will help you list a lot of terms should utilize within your content and meta tags to optimize your website.

Back To Top


  • Craig Grimm

    This is a great article. Very Detailed and Informative.

    • Ashwin Ramesh

      Thanks for the kind words Craig.

  • Thanks for providing
    such type of list its very help full for forum posting it very help me to
    create back links for my
    this site Student
    visa Australia
    .

  • Yugtia Technologies

    Helpful article.. Keep it up..
    Yugtia

  • Greaaat I like it you can check also this post writter by a seo expert iwould be informative page one engine review

  • liveat Devonwood

    Thanks for sharing this type of info, i am really looking for this. Choose from a Variety of Charlotte apartments for rent . Try out our beautiful rental Apartments/homes with utilities included and more.

  • One of the Best Post, had spend around 20+ mins to read. Kudos bro

    +1

    Kind Regards
    advent

  • Marry Thomas

    The top SEO Companies present in our locality. It helped to get the services nearer.

    http://www.10seos.com/uk/birmingham/top10

  • Roy David

    There is assurance for acquiring immediate resolutions via tech support guys and overcome the undue matters instantly. With us, you can save your money, as we ask to pay a very little amount as a service charge. http://www.emailhelpphonenumber.com/

  • Yahoo Help Phone Number

    No matter how rare or uncommon the problem you are facing related to Yahoo account is, you will be able to get instant remedy from Yahoo Tech support. http://www.emailhelpphonenumber.com/

  • Roy David

    Consider using helpline facility now and feel utter ease to overcome many of the tech issues instantly. Dial the helpline number anytime and you will be happy with the obtained results. http://www.emailcustomer-service.com/

  • “not optimizing for the right keywords”. This is quite common in my opinion. However sometimes you may find new opportunities while on the process of optimizing your website.

  • Chris Walker

    This is exactly why local business owners need help getting things right for local SEO. It’s super complicated and posts like this help to clarify some of the problems that persist. Today, if you want to do well in the local SERPS you must have all of these potential issues taken care of. If you’re lucky enough that you don’t need these then kudos to you. If you aren’t then you need to hire an SEO expert or work hard to understand these oftentimes complicated issues yourself.