Deciphering the secrets of local search has made many a marketing director rip out their hair in frustration. The reason? Local SEO is more complicated every day. Duplicate listings, rogue citations and long claims processes are only a few of the problems multi-location businesses face when attempting to dominate local search. In a word, local SEO is grueling.

multilocation citation building

While there are many mistakes that plague local SEO campaigns, here are the five that results the most:

1. Incorrect NAP

The three fundamental pieces of data needed for local citations are your business’s Name, Address, and Phone number – or NAP for short. Incorrect NAP appears in two of the top three negative ranking factors according to the MOZ 2013 Local Search Ranking Factors report. This is for good reason; imagine a customer’s frustration if they drove to the wrong address or called the wrong business altogether.

This problem becomes more important as you increase the amount of locations. A company like Starbucks may open and close dozens (if not hundreds) of new locations each year. When you multiply this by dozens of local directories, you can see how mind numbingly tedious it can be to ensure consistent NAP across the board.

2. Incorrect or non-existent directory categories

While consistent NAP is the minimum requirement for most local online directories, categories are listed at the top of MOZ’s foundational ranking factors. Selecting categories allows customers to easily find your business in a generic search.

Failing to choose the correct categories for your business (or any at all) will result in harsh local SEO penalties. How do you expect to show up on Yelp for an “Italian restaurant” if you don’t tell them that you’re an Italian restaurant? It’s common sense, and yet continues to be a major issue for many chains.

3. Duplicate page listings

There are many reasons duplicate pages can exist, including:

  1. Inconsistent NAP across different directories can spawn rogue pages
  2. Individual location managers trying to claim new pages when one already exists
  3. Supernatural forces(ok, maybe not this last one.)

Merging duplicate listings is one of the most difficult tasks in local directory optimization campaigns – especially when performing this task at scale. Vivial connects directly into the APIs of many local directories to turn this often tedious task into a one-click procedure.

See how Vivial helped multiple businesses to fix their duplicate listings and save tens of thousands a year.

4. Unnatural Keyword Stuffing

Let’s be clear on something: Keyword stuffing is NEVER a good idea. No matter how competitive your industry is, or how tempting it may be to unnecessarily plant random keywords throughout your content, just stay away from it.

You will be punished, and your listings will suffer. End of story.

5. Lack of Dedicated Landing Pages on Main Website

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, the quality of your citations is impacted by the presence of NAP on your main website. You can have a flawless external citation strategy, but it won’t be complete without reinforcement from your corporate website.

The best way to handle this issue is to create dedicated landing pages on your website for each of your locations. These pages should be full of unique local content and tagged with structured microdata to ensure search engines are able to index and crawl this information easily.

6. Failing to Create Location & Industry Specific Citations

Google+ Local. Yelp. Bing. These are a few of the major players in citation building, and are absolute necessities in your local search efforts. But they won’t give you the juice to differentiate and truly dominate local.

You should focus on creating citations that are unique to your industry and geography that will supplement the major business listings. Vivial is one of the few companies that incorporates this unique citation building strategy in addition to linking directly to the 50+ major online directories.

7. Using The Same Tracking Numbers on Multiple Listings

This last faux pas seems harmless at first. Who wouldn’t want to use trackable phone numbers to measure the effectiveness of listings? It’s the ultimate temptation for marketing personnel to justify their investment in local search.

Unfortunately, directories and search engines frown upon this practice and prefer to see consistent local phone numbers for each of your locations. That means each of your locations must match NAP across all of your business listings AND your website. What you lose in tracking abilities, you’ll gain in rankings and, eventually, paying customers.

Get a Complimentary Listings Audit

Its seems like local search becomes more complex every day, as major players like Google and Yelp continue to add additional layers into their offerings. Multi-location brands can’t afford to sit and wait – the missed opportunities alone could be worth tens of thousands of dollars each day.

Vivial stays on the pulse of local so that you don’t have to. Request a complimentary listings audit from one of our local search experts to see how you could improve your listings today.