7 ways to kill your local rankings without touching a computer
As most of you know I'm pretty plugged in to a few good Local SEO forums. I constantly talk with other SEO's about changes with local, read articles, and other Local blogs since Google Local is so important to small businesses (yet it's constantly changing).
Phil Rozek from Local Visibility System posted a great post on how to completely tank your local rankings... without touching a computer.
My thoughts on this... he's 100% right. These are things I sometimes take for granted because it's basic instinct for me to pay attention to.
Everyone who works with me knows I preach NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency, using a real address - not a PO box, and focusing hard on building a good organic SEO ranking for your site. Phil re-affirms these points in the article.
What do you guys think?
Its a little elementary isn't it? Seems like the things that have tanked people recently are new rules that google either didn't have or never enforced. 1) Business names that maybe had a keyword or two in them -- fine for 4 years and then gone 2) Virtual offices that are there for customer purposes but also serve as a location in Google maps. Again, fine for 4 years and then gone.
I definitely agree with fresh content and good SEO.
He didn't say much about the line on when it is OK to solicit reviews. That is one that seems like Google might apply a new rule to later.
These warnings are perfect for the customers buying the local SEO.
I agree it's elementary, but it's also pretty scary how many businesses ignore these 7 basic points. A business will relocate, change everything and expect to still rank well without updating their NAP info across the web. A business might change a phone number... yet not update info. virtual locations... I wish I had a copy of the guidelines from 4 years ago so I could compare then and now, but I know the virtual location issue has been around at least 2 years. You also need to remember it's not just Google bots that are nuking locations, its also Google MapMaker users.
The phony address thing (po box/virtual location) will also tank you down the road when you actually get a real address later. Once again... NAP constancy issues... and it takes a while for google to scrape data into the local database.
Google actually does have a rule on review solicitation. They explicitly say to not have "review stations" - i.e. a computer/tablet in the office for the sole purpose of having customers leave a review. There are warnings to not pay customers to write a positive/negative review, but asking customers to take the time to leave a review is still encouraged.
I think sending an autoresponder email after an online purchase, mentioning something in a monthly newsletter, or promoting the business/asking for reviews via social media updates are good ways to connect with customers and try to build the local page up.
This article is very simple, i'll definitely agree with you on that. I think local SEO needs to be simplified like this sometimes because there are so many people who still have difficulties with it.
In the end it is no different than traditional SEO... Google has to be cagey about how the process works else people will exploit it.
I generally think that taking negative actions on anything without specific and actionable feedback is a bad way to go. But that is they way it works.
I'm in Eric's boat on taking it for granted: updating the basics (especially NAP info) seems so common sense to me at this point. Changing any NAP info and assuming the web will follow suit for you seems counter-intuitive.
excellent read. A lot of these seem straight forward but I'm sure many small businesses don't realize at least a few of these points.
Thanks for sharing, Eric. I agree that these may seem elementary, but most small businesses are not tuned in to knowing what they need to do online to have a local presence. I have a friend who just started a business and launched her website. When I asked her about her local listing, she said "My what?"
(And no comments on that Seagal/LeBrock "Hard to Kill" graphic? Am I the only one old enough to actually remember that movie poster?)
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