Thanks to Google My Business, local search has been made a lot easier for users, while many small local businesses have gotten a better chance at driving traffic to their website and getting customers through their door. Making a Google My Business profile page is the vital first step to local SEO, but that’s only a tiny part of what lies ahead.
If you’re a local business eager to use the digital landscape to your best advantage but you’re not ranking well in local search, your website is the first place to look for the culprit. Here are the most common mistakes which make Google hate a website, along with some helpful tips for fixing them.
Outdated web design
Here is something that many small business websites overlook too often: many ranking factors actually begin at your website. In other words, integrating SEO and website design is the foundation of successful SEO practice.
If you have an old website that hasn’t been updated in years, it’s most definitely going to rank very low because it’s not responsive or mobile-friendly. And considering that the majority of local searches are conducted on mobile, you can be sure that not only Google hates your unresponsive site, but your potential customers too.
Plus, Google has finally rolled out mobile-first indexing, which makes the mobile version of your website its primary version for indexing and determining rankings. With this change, even those websites which are not terribly outdated would benefit from some additional updates – such as improving mobile load time – to ramp up the mobile version for a rankings boost. The smartest way to keep up with Google’s evolving demands is to look for SEO marketing consultants who will perform an SEO audit of your website and let you know exactly which kinds of updates you need in order to make it appeal to the search engine.
Slow loading time
This part has a lot to do with the previous point we’ve mentioned, since certain elements of web design contribute to slow loading speed and outdated websites are generally slow for today’s standards. Cluttering your website, especially with heavy images, is also something that will trunk its loading speed – and Google does not look on that kindly at all, deeming such websites inefficient and thus penalising them. Statistics show that users expect a web page to load in 3 seconds or less, so use that as a guideline to check how your site is doing. If it’s too slow, you might need to optimize the images, reduce the number of third-party software, or perhaps change the host.
Missing contact info
Having accurate contact information clearly emphasized is logical to a quality business website, although, unfortunately, you’ll find plenty of small business websites out there with out of date or incomplete contact info.
Google doesn’t want to show incorrect information in its results and hamper its credibility. So, it’s going to verify the accuracy of your information by comparing it to the contact info listed on your Google My Business profile. In fact, it will compare it to your contact info listed on other sources across the internet, typically business directories. And in order to do local SEO up to standard, you want everything to be perfect here.
First and foremost, make sure your name, address, and phone number are up to date and listed as text on your website – don’t place them as an image, so that it will be easy for Google to read them. Next, you can use the Moz Local Search tool to check if your contact information is consistent across the web. This tool will also help you identify whether you’re missing important citations (meaning mentions of your name, address, and phone number on another website) so that you can add your business information on certain websites if need be.
As the name hints, your sitemap is a “map” of your website’s page structure. It’s necessary for Google so that it can crawl and index your website properly, and if you don’t have it, you’re only going to make the search engine’s job harder – which, as you can guess, will result in a rankings downturn. So if you don’t have one yet, be sure to build a sitemap following Google’s instructions and submit it to keep everything neat on your side.
Bad meta descriptions
The short strings of HTML text known as meta tags describe a page’s content to the search engine. If they don’t describe the content accurately, it will be difficult for Google to determine the focus of your website, and this will – you’ve guessed it – lower your ranking. So every time you’re filling out the meta description, focus hard on describing in a concise and accurate manner what your content is about.
Google rules the Internet – there’s no doubt about that. Everyone wants to be on Google’s good side, but the search engine’s ever-evolving algorithms are getting increasingly complex, and the reward goes to those who are able to keep up and understand the intricacies of its ranking system. In regards to that, it’s important to realize that local SEO is not just getting your business listed, and not just getting quality backlinks either.
Of course, this is not all, but these are the vital parts of your website which Google won’t forgive you for skimping out on. Once you have all these aspects covered, you can focus on producing quality content and building a high-quality link profile to get your site all the way to the top.
Author: Meaghan Yorke is a content writer for DesignRush. These days she is all about researching various IT related topics. When she is not working she enjoys dancing classical ballet.