Pandas and Penguins and Pigeons! Oh, my!

Launched in July 2014, Pigeon is a new update to the Google search algorithm, providing more useful, relevant and accurate local search results more closely tied to traditional web search ranking signals. Google claims that this new algorithm improves their distance and location ranking parameters.

Google engineers keep rolling out search updates that impact how your local business will rank in search results. These constant changes make it quite easy to make one small SEO mistake that could end up hurting rather than helping.

So, with this in mind, here are seven local website optimization mistakes you should avoid:

1. Don’t Just Focus On Your Brand

Many business owners think they need to concentrate only on their brand when, more often than not, that’s an area with which they need not be concerned at all. Unless its name is completely generic, yours is likely to be the only business with that name in your market, meaning you don’t have to optimize for it at all.

Beat your competitors by becoming more than just your brand.

2. Don’t Just Focus On What You Offer

You’ve got a website selling something, but that doesn’t mean you should do nothing more than feature the products or services you sell. Every competitor within your niche is selling essentially the same products or services. You need to differentiate yourself by talking about your business, your community, and your story.

Beat your competitors by being more.

3. Don’t Forget To Optimize Local Elements

According to the most up-to-date Local Search Ranking Factors study from Moz, on-site signals are considered the largest slice of the rankings pie. So, once you’ve taken care of your content issues as noted above, be sure to set up your local optimization elements correctly. We see far too many businesses concentrate on traditional SEO and forget the local elements.

4. Don’t Forget To Optimize Off-Site Local Signals

Claim and fully optimize your Google “My Business” page. Make sure your citations are consistent and listed in all the appropriate locations. But, don’t stop there! Be sure to update every relevant directory. Your company name, your address, and contact information must be consistent across all of them.

5. Don’t Forget Your Homepage

This is one of the most common sins of local business websites. You should be thinking of your homepage as an advertisement, presenting the key points about your business. Your customers want to be able to quickly determine what you can do for them and search engines need to have content to index, so, if your homepage has minimal content and instead simply links to products, you’re missing a huge opportunity for both humans and Google to find – and like – your website.

6. Don’t Forget Your Internal Pages

Many websites feature internal pages that could – and should – present relevant content about a product or service, but instead simply say “We sell X in the city of Y. Call us for more information.” Pages like this offer zero value. People visit your website to learn about what you do or what you sell. Feature this information prominently or they’ll simply leave.

Internal pages can and should become landing pages. A well-designed landing page can attain almost as much traffic as your homepage. Set up key landing pages to be the first page your potential clients find when searching for your specific product or service. The reward is two-fold. Compelling content that search engines can crawl will help you rank in search while also engaging your target audience.

7. Don’t Just Make a List of Cities Or Keywords

If you pay attention to just one piece of advice here it should be this:

Your website will not rank for a city or a keyword just because you’ve mentioned it one time in a huge list on your home page. Google has long since figured out – and taken measures against – that trick. Comma delimited lists of terms or locations is not search engine optimization.

Integrate your products and services with geo-qualifiers. Include locations in your text. For example, “Company Name offers X services throughout the city of Y.” Then include a photo labeled X in the city of Y.


Web development and search optimization, be it local or national, requires a lot of practice and this list is, as any list of this sort must be, nothing more than a primer. Nevertheless, as you develop your website and focus on local SEO strategy, be sure to keep this list in mind. Avoiding these common mistakes will make a difference in your website’s level of quality traffic and actionable leads.