If you work in marketing or SEO, you constantly come across articles about SEO best practices that list top strategies, services, and efforts you need to invest in to improve your search rankings.
What you don't often encounter in these articles, however, are the factors that negatively affect your SEO and push your listings and website down in search engine results pages (SERPs) for target key terms.
This article highlights factors that negatively affect your SEO and corresponding bad practices to avoid, especially when it comes to your local SEO.
1. Keyword Stuffing in Google My Business Listings
Google has very specific guidelines about the kind of content they want to see on Google My Business listings.
Among these guidelines, keyword stuffing is a recurring theme.
For example, using your address, a landmark, or business hours in the title of your Google My Business listing is unacceptable. This measure prevents users from stuffing keywords into their listings, which could result in businesses appearing for search results that don't totally apply to them.
In fact, if Google notices that your business listing doesn’t adhere to their guidelines, it may result in the suspension of your Google My Business account and removal of your business information from Google.
Your Google My Business profile can play a huge role in improving local search traffic, so losing it can have a significant impact on your organic local search rankings and traffic.
2. Ignoring Rules Established By Google's "Possum" Update
The Google Possum update, released in 2016, impacts local ranking factors in Google’s local 3-pack and Local Finder.
According to Search Engine Land, the Possum update has affected 64% of all local results.
As a result of the update, Google considers businesses' categories, affiliated addresses, and exact location when determining local rankings.
This means that if you fail to properly categorize and define the location of your business, your search ranking can suffer.
Make sure that you are aware of the core elements of the Possum update to avoid negative consequences. Specifically, to make sure your local search complies with its guidelines, you should:
- Choose the proper categories and subcategories for your business on Google My Business.
- Ensure that the address you list on Google is accurate and consistent with other third-party websites and directories.
- Optimize your website for local keywords, searchers' location, and exact search term, since local search results are more varied. For example, the search terms "carpenters in LA," "LA carpenters," "carpenters near me," and "carpenters in Los Angeles" do not fetch the same results.
3. Creating Multiple Domains
Registering multiple domains to rank for several search terms (e.g., andyscarwash.com, andyscarrepair.com, andysautoshop.com, and andysautodetailing.com) is a huge no-no.
Even if your company offers several different services, you should list all product pages and services offerings under the same domain.
Creating and maintaining multiple domains is risky for 3 reasons in particular:
- Creating and maintaining multiple domains requires a lot of time and effort and can easily result in sinking the performance of all of your domains. Consider how many SEO services you need to maintain to have strong, long-term search rankings: if you aren't able to maintain these over time, at least one of your domains would suffer.
- As a result of Possum update, you cannot have multiple listings for the same address.
- You run the risk of having duplicate content on each of your domains, which negatively affects your SEO.
4. Not Optimizing Images for SEO
As it stands, Google’s primary way to understand the content of an image is by reading its alt text and title attributes. Without these attributes, Google likely won't list your image for results that your image applies to.
Adding these attributes is proven to help image search indexing and rankings, so it's crucial to include title and alt attributes to your images. Specifically, images (especially infographics) can build backlinks to your site if they are high-quality and informative and alt titles and attributes provide an additional opportunity for you to include your target keywords in your content.
It's also important to optimize the file size of your image to ensure that it doesn’t affect your webpage’s loading time (since this affects SEO).
Understand SEO Strategies to Avoid and Consider SEO Software to Help Your Efforts
Avoid these 4 SEO bad practices to make sure that your search rankings, particularly locally, aren't negatively affected.
One way to optimize this process is to use automation tools: Ahrefs is a great tool for backlink analysis, while Synup provides listings management, and Panguin by Barracuda helps with recognizing and adjusting for algorithm updates and maintaining checklists to help you keep track of your SEO efforts.
About the Author
Harsha Annadurai works as an Inbound Marketer at Synup. His excessive love for music and football has led many to believe that he was a jukebox in a football stadium in his past life. You can follow him on Twitter @harshaannadurai.