As you have probably heard, there are no shortcuts to Search Engine Optimization.
Professional SEO takes time to build on top of. Additionally, the effects of SEO can really depend on how competitive your market is. For instance, if you are in a highly competitive service area with many highly reviewed businesses, you may find it extremely difficult to rank in the Organic Google “Snack Pack” – that is the top 3 businesses that show in Google Map results shown below.
Being in a competitive market can really drive business owners to want to take shortcuts or see quicker results. The problem is, you can end up spending more money, time, and effort on these shortcuts that actually end up hurting you.
Now, I will be the first to say, sometimes, “black-hat” SEO tactics can work. BUT, for a short amount of time. At some point, Google can catch up or competitor can report you for it.
So, I wanted to introduce to you all, my top 5 mistakes service area businesses do in their SEO. Let’s take a look.
1. Purchasing Domains With Location Names, Service Names, Or Competitor Names.
While this may have worked back in the day, Google is much smarter than that now.
So, if you are trying to purchase domain names for “homeinspectioncity” or “alternativecompetitorname”, it just won’t work. You are wasting your money honestly.
You see, anytime a new domain is purchased, Google does not show it in the search results. Google has to learn to trust the domain and that takes time. As other local businesses link to your real business domain and as you build your content, and even, send emails with the real domain name, Google is building trust.
If you are not using the fake domain name besides having the redirect or to bash a competitor, there is just no reason to keep it. That is of course, unless it is an investment for resale, but that’s a different conversation.
Now you may say, “so, for it to work, you’re telling me, I just need to add some content, get some links, and send some emails to it then?”
Well, not quite. It’s going to take a lot more than that. The thing is, you have to act like a real business. You need reviews, social medias, etc.
Plain and simple, it’s not worth it.
2. Buying Written Content That Is Shared With Other Companies
It is honestly so freaky to me that companies will sell “blogs” to other businesses to use on their website, but then sell the same blog to 10 other businesses to use on their websites too.
This is not original, creative, and good content.
Anytime an article is posted to your website, think to yourself, is this something I would want to read and can I find it anywhere else?
When Google ranks blogs, they look for new, original, and engaging content. Google does not want the same repetitive copy that nobody cares to read. Why the heck would a search engine show that?!
If you have someone writing content for you or even if you got a new website, take some time to copy some paragraphs into Google to check for duplicates.
While duplicates might be filler text for your visitors, nothing beats original and engaging content.
3. Not Listening To Google My Business Guidelines
Now, this topic actually covers everything in their guidelines, but I wanted to break it up into the most common mistake I find.
Listing Your House As Your Google My Business (GMB) Address
Google’s guidelines say don’t do it. Why?
Well, the listed offices on GMB are supposed to be brick and mortar stores that can be visited by consumers. So, if your office is in your private home, Google does want to list that address, since you should not have consumers going to a private home.
The fix? Remove your address and/or consider opening a public office.
The Affects of Removing Your Private Home Address
Removing your house as your Google My Business Address does not affect your rankings as someone may think.
Google uses office locations to show users good businesses nearby. So, if someone searched for your service near your house, you would normally appear (assuming you had a good reputation and there is low competition).
When you remove your address, instead, Google uses your city location only. Therefore, if your home is in Winter Garden, FL, you will appear for all users searching in Winter Garden, but then also compete with other Winter Garden businesses like yours.
Depending on where the user is, the competition you are competing against, and many other factors you may or may not show in the “snack pack”. But, as a whole, your rankings tend not to fluctuate.
The Affects of Not Removing Your Private Home Address
By not removing your home address as your office location, you risk someone (or Google) reporting you and then removing your listing.
You could lose your reviews, you might just get a warning, it just depends.
I typically recommend for others to not to risk it. Any Google user can report other businesses and try to take it down if they are not following Google’s guidelines. Therefore, it is not worth the risk in my honest opinion.
Summing It Up
There are many other things out there that are considered “black hat” SEO tactics.
I tried to cover the most overly done tactics for service area businesses that always are a waste of money and time.
If you have questions, be sure to comment below or contact me.