There’s a lot of noise out there regarding the right and wrong things to do regarding local search engine optimization.
SEO strategies that work well for large brands tend to differ from those that work for small, local players. It’s no wonder so many local marketers end up confused about how to really use SEO to build their businesses. Let’s examine some common myths and the truths related to them:
1. Your SEO is all set if you’ve claimed your Google listing
There’s no one single way to boost SEO. It’s a combination of many functions, and ultimately, they all need to be logical and consistent. This myth has been propagated in large part because of the power of Google on businesses on the local level.
Yes, you should be certain to claim your Google business listing if you haven’t already. That’s the profile page for your business that shows up in local queries and Google Maps. However, it’s critical to follow a variety of SEO strategies to ensure you get the full benefit from your efforts.
2. Say goodbye to links, hello to citations
“Link building is dead” is the common mantra. The myth is that links don’t matter at all anymore: only citations do. Forget links, get citations, rinse and repeat.
In reality, both links and citations play major roles in your site’s SEO. The important factor is the quality of these tools. Don’t focus so much on having citations instead of links; just make sure they’re all of great quality.
3. Social media doesn’t improve SEO
This one seems to be perpetuated most by people who do not use social media personally, so they also avoid it in business. That approach can only serve to hamper a company’s SEO efforts, especially for a local business.
The truth is that content from social media sites, particularly Twitter and Facebook, can get propagated to millions of other sites that can effectively create backlinks to your site.
Social media networks are now among the leading referral sites bringing traffic to websites. In many cases, they’ve actually generated sales.
The key is to stay active and post high-quality, relevant content for users. The social signals created by actively participating on these sites have a significant impact on where you’ll rank in Google searches.
4. Your Google+ popularity indicates your SEO success
As we mentioned earlier, Google does a lot of things well, but social media hasn’t turned out to be one of them. Yes, being active on Google+ helps SEO. That’s what you’d expect from a social platform rub by the world’s largest search engine.
However, that same search engine knows the difference between high-quality posts and followers and the low-quality ones. You should too. The best way to enjoy SEO success from Google+ is to join communities of interest to your local area and target audience.
5. User Experience Doesn’t Matter
This is the biggie. Essentially, this is the one that would have you believe all that matters for SEO is pleasing Google’s spiders, the ones that crawl your site and discover keywords, links, etc. It doesn’t matter whether it makes any sense to your actual human visitors.
As we’ve noted many times before, your site needs to please both the search engine spiders and your human visitors. In fact, if you have to err to one side or the other, focus on your human visitors.
You’ll never get conversions with a site that doesn’t make sense to your actual customers. They’ll bounce right out, straight into the digital arms of one of your competitors.
User experience is the one thing that ultimately matters more than anything else. From content marketing to social sharing to responsive design, the emphasis is on what the customer needs or wants first — and what the business does second.
Whether on a website, a social platform or in the search engine results pages, all content — text, image or video — must make sense in the eyes of the user. The same goes for site architecture and overall experience. Businesses that build their online vehicles with the end user in mind will be rewarded in the rankings.
All these myths and truths can be summed up one way: It’s all about quality. Local businesses that recognize what matters to customers and deliver it will win in the end.