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Are You Guilty of These Bad Local SEO Practices?

on April 5, 2018

Bad Local SEO Practices
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I’m sure you’ve heard of “Best Practices” when it comes to Local SEO, but there are some bad local SEO practices too, and you should know how to stay away from them. And we want to do whatever we can to help you avoid bad local SEO practices— and get your brand in front of customers.

One of the best ways to keep away from bad local SEO is to claim and maintain a Google My Business (GMB) listing. Done right, it will connect you and your customers significantly faster than if you had to go it alone online. But done wrong, you’re shooting your strategy in the foot.

Bad Local SEO Practices

Bad Local SEO Practices

Don’t Use an Address That is Against Google Guidelines

Worst Practices:  

  • Creating a page somewhere other than your actual location.
  • Your PO Box or mailbox is remote/inaccessible.
  • Businesses with a particular service area don’t designate their service area.

Why it’s bad:

  • Spammers create business listings from fake locations. Google will likely list you as a spammer if you make the same mistake, and your local rankings will tank.

How to fix it:

  • If you’ve tripped up, self-report to Google.
  • If you’ve seen business spamming with a phony listing, you should report it to the GMB forum. You can also suggest Google list it as spam by clicking the “Suggest an edit” link, toggling to “Yes,” and choosing the radio button.

Don’t Share or Reuse Phone Numbers Between Multiple Business Entities

Worst Practices:

  • Having the same phone number for two totally different businesses
  • Having called for multiple locations of the same business all going through one phone number.
  • Sending multiple service providers’ calls (doctors, repair services, etc.)

Why it’s bad:

  • It confuses Google Bots.
  • Listings could be accidentally merged.
  • And of course, if it affects your relevance and readability, it affects your Local SEO ranking.

How to fix it:

  • Make sure your phone number is directly controlled by (and connected to) your business.
  • Use a local phone number (not a call center or 800 number).
  • Make sure your website lists the same phone number, and that your location on Maps is connected to it.
  • Use Moz Check Listing to find citations and create a spreadsheet of the bad data so you can make corrections. [You can also invest in Moz Local if you want these corrections to be automated.]

Don’t Stuff Keywords Into the Name Field of Your Listing

Worst Practices:

  • Adding the neighborhood name to the business listing
  • Putting what you do/offer the listing name.
  • Adding a city name (or any other descriptor) that is not in the legal name of the business

Why it’s bad:

  • Fosters inconsistency —> lack of credibility —> mistrust in your branding (and thus, in your relationship with your customers)
  • It could get your listing suspended by Google, which will all but kill your local SEO.

How to fix it:

  • Your business name should be your legal, real-world name anywhere it appears (online and in print). To change it on GMB, it’s just a matter of logging into your dashboard, changing the listing to the appropriate information, and saving the changes.
  • Include descriptive information (and specific location information) in the relevant fields within your GMB listing.

Don’t Create Multiple Sites for the Same Business

Worst Practices:

  • Having a different domain/domain name for each location of your business.
  • Having a different domain name for each of your services.

Why it’s bad:

  • Deludes your brand
  • Stretches you too thin (site maintenance and unique content across too many sites)
  • Could confuse potential customers (if they land on a site for one product or location) and under-educate them about your brand.
  • Exact-match domains (EMDs) are not nearly as important to your rankings as they used to be.
  • Customers will be able to tell that you named your site to get ad placement or better ranking, and that could undermine your credibility.

How to fix it:

  • Choose an authentic, clear domain name that makes it clear that it’s your business, not just a business. For example, instead of, try
  • Redirect your old pages to your new domain.
  • Make sure you only have one domain associated with your GMB.

Don’t Get Mired in Practitioner Listings

Practitioner listings (where every doctor, lawyer, handyman, etc. can have her own GMB listing) started out as a blessing but has become a curse for many small, localized businesses.

Worst Practices:

  • Someone retires, moves, etc. but his GMB still shows up, and people are still calling the practice asking for him, only to be disappointed or frustrated.
  • An individual practitioner herself outranks the practice as a whole.

Why it’s bad:

  • Multiple listings can delude the brand.
  • May confuse or frustrate the consumer (if they are misinformed by an outdated listing)
  • Google doesn’t remove duplicate information.
  • The Possum update filters out shared category and location listings.

How to fix it:

  • Only create practitioner listings to denote an area of specialization.
  • If you must use multiple practitioner listings, point an individual’s listing to the homepage of the larger practice.
  • Make sure your main GMB (for the practice as a whole) is fully filled out and very well-maintained (so that individual practitioners don’t outrank it in local searches).
  • If a partner passes away, update Google with obituary information so they can assist in removing the listing.
  • Unverify individual listings when they are no longer associated with the practice.
  • Ask Google to merge individual listings that compete with the larger practice (if your solo listing is competing with your own business listing).

In general, knowing and following Google guidelines for your GMB will help them help you stay away from bad local SEO practices. Do you have questions about how to fix (or optimize) your GMB? Shoot your question to one of our marketing pros: we are here to help!

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