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Are you a local business or marketing manager who is trying to get an edge over your competition by ranking some keywords to the top of Google? Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step to becoming or managing SEO.

Believe me, the journey is rough. You’re probably going to find a system that works great but Google is going to seemingly change everything on you on the next “furry animal update”.  You’re also going to deal with hundreds of other businesses and affiliate marketers in your local area niche who want to rank for the exact same key-term.

Local SEO Competitors

Do you want to get ahead of the pack?

I’m glad you asked, because most competitors fall short on local SEO by making the same mistakes over and over. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, you can avoid those mistakes… here’s how.

The first step of great local SEO is to make sure your website is properly setup with onsite optimization. Check out our article on how to do proper onsite if you’re not sure what that means.

Second, Avoid Doing These Things:

Don’t Use Multiple Brand Names

It’s the life of the serial entrepreneur, I know! However, you need to avoid using various names for various locations. This can harm your rankings. Use your brand name plus your city area for a specific location. Don’t try to use a specific niche key-term and city name. This is a huge mistake that will confuse Google on how they should be ranking your site.

BIG TIP: Remember, anytime you change your name, address, and phone number (NAP) you risk some serious problems with your local SEO. It’s important to keep the branding of your NAP consistent across all of your local citations.

Do Not Just Change Your Domain Name

See, you’re current domain name is probably localized and has a bunch of authority and trust. If you just change your domain name, you’re probably going to lose out on all of that.

However, changing your domain can work if you’re using a proper 301 redirect but that’s only if you’re redirecting the original domain to the new domain. You’ll want to be sure to tell Google Webmaster Tools that you’ve made this permanent change.

Never Forget to Update New Business Data

Your business “NAP” (name, address, phone number) information is probably going to change at some point in the future. You’ll want to be sure to update all your information across all your local citations.

Start with the main local data aggregators and then use a tool like Whitespark to find less authoritative citations then, fix those.

Don’t Forget to Re-brand Properly

If you have changed your brand name You need to make sure that all your website and citations include “formerly known as {OLD BRAND}” language. People might be searching for the old brand on Google or Yelp which means you need to make sure that your new brand shows up on old brand search queries.

If you ever do need to change your business name, start by fixing the data aggregators then go to the “Google My Business page” to update your NAP information. The GMB page is also a great place to help you speed up the ranking recovery process.

BIG TIP: Remember, one of the primary reasons a lot of SEO’s don’t rank you locally is because they do not do a very thorough job of cleaning NAP data.

Keep these four things “top of mind” when you’re doing or managing your local SEO and you should see your website do well in the SERPS.

If you’re not sure you can manage your own local SEO, be sure to connect with one of our professional local SEO’s for some insights into how you might be able to rank better in your local area.