There are some search engine ranking puzzles that are so complex that they require a formal competitive audit. However, many of these puzzles simply require a few minutes of your time to run through a checklist of the 10 most common issues that cause your business to rank lower than you believe it should. Once you’ve done this you can typically figure out what’s causing you to have poor visibility in Google for your local ranking.
Google Updates and Bugs
The first thing you want to know is what Google has done recently. Two places you can look for this information are SearchEngineLand and MozCast. If the bug is specific to your locale, you may simply need to fix a problematic practice that the update caught. You can also choose to wait and see how things work out once the “dust” settles.
Your Website’s Eligibility
There are four questions you should ask when your local SEO doesn’t seem to be working:
- Does your business have a real address (not a PO box or virtual office)?
- Do you make physical contact with your customers?
- What city is your business located in?
- What keyword phrase are you trying to get a local ranking for?
If you answered the first two questions “no,” your business isn’t eligible for a Google My Business Listing. For the last two questions, there’s work you can do to fix these things.
You must thoroughly know Google’s guidelines so you can spot any violations you may have made. It only takes a few minutes to learn these things and you’ll be glad you did because you’ll be able to notice your errors before you receive lower local rankings or have your website suspended all together.
Here you’ll find two important things to watch for:
- If you have a listing that was verified and has become unverified, you’ve probably received a soft suspension. This may occur due to keyword stuffing but probably won’t affect your local ranking. Nevertheless, you should fix the issue so you don’t lose reviews or images.
- If your listing’s ranks have completely disappeared, even from a branded search, you’ve received a hard suspension. There’s typically nothing you can do about this unless you can prove that it’s a mistake.
Having more than one verified listing representing your business are merged by Google when their NAPs are exact matches. However, the way Google deals with a duplicate entry representing different partners in a multi-partner business is a bit more convoluted.
Missing or Inaccurate Listings
Moz Check Listing will provide you information about how accurate and complete your listing is to local business data aggregators and other important platforms. This is important since Google pulls information from around the web for your GMB listing. When it finds that you have missing information it’ll think that you’re less authoritative than you are.
Lack of Organic Authority
A full, competitive audit takes time. Nevertheless, there are a few quick ways to know if your business is lacking organic authority, including:
- With your MozBar turned on, perform a search and look at the first few pages of organic results. Look at these sites’ page and domain authority, as well as their link count.
- Bring up your competitor’s website to check their domain authority and number of links.
When you’re lacking in this area, you have a lot of work because you must focus on developing content, links, and social outreach. Not only do these things take time but time is also required to build up your authority.
Sometimes your only issue may be that you’re simply not trying hard enough. This is why you should look at your GMB listing. As you do so, make sure to evaluate the following items:
- If you don’t verify your website, you’ll still rank but you won’t rank as high.
- Your NAP and map markers must be correct.
- Being listed in the wrong category makes it impossible to rank correctly.
There are a lot of things you must investigate here when your local SEO isn’t where you want it to be. Running a business without all these added tasks can be challenging enough even on your best day. This is why we strongly urge you to leave these tasks in the hands of the highly-qualified professionals at the Local SEO Company.