local search marketing (yupmarketingservices.com.my)

Interested in knowing the COMMON MYTHS for local SEO?

Hello and welcome to today’s post about the myths and facts that are commonly discussed among the online marketing community & those who don’t really have much CORRECT KNOWLEDGE about SEO & local search engine marketing.

Without hesitating, let’s dive into today’s topic about local search engine optimization. We’re definitely confident that you’ll discover some “gems” after viewing the post.

First, of we have, the MOST COMMON misconceptions that most people have in mind when they’re seeking trust-able & qualified SEO consultants / agencies.

Address numbers (location of a business within a mall / office building)

People who rent an office / share a space with another business often wondered if having address numbers would make their business stand out from the crowd. This is not the case, name, address, and phone numbers are just for visual aid.

In Google’s view, this address numbers just add like extra information for people who are seeking for the business. More commonly discovered on GoogleMaps.

All this information doesn’t give our page / post search engine rankings boost. Most of the time people will add information about their businesses on GoogleMaps & GoogleMyBusiness, but some business gave inaccurate information.

Causing complaints from users, therefore, does not attempt to game the system. But these days it’s not that easy to game the system anymore because Google reviews almost every piece of information about the listing contributed by users.

Break any Google guideline & your “SERP rankings” will be penalized

Break any guidelines listed on GoogleMyBusiness & one or 2 things might happen. First, we could get a “soft-suspension”, meaning to say, we no longer have the ability to manage our local business via GoogleMyBusiness. This means one no longer receives notifications about our listing & can’t respond to reviews made.

Negative scenario here but THE RANKING in the listing WON’T BE AFFECTED.

Secondly, we could get a “hard-suspension” Google removes ALL OF OUR LOCAL BUSINESS LISTING (images, reviews, maps) and since the content is not indexed on Google. There’s no way a person can discover your brand / business on Google’s SERP.

One thing for sure is the same type of algorithm changes that Google used to implement like GooglePenguin / GooglePanda doesn’t take effect for this condition. Google applies it to ORGANIC (free-traffic) RESULTS only but not for local results.

Google allows business owners to set the SERVICE AREA within GoogleMyBusiness dashboard. The image below clearly shows how far are you willing to travel to a certain location of the service (works pretty much the same like GoogleMaps)

Example of service area impacts where the page ranks (local SEO tips & tricks)
Example of service area impacts where the page ranks (by SearchEngineLand)

The information here that are shown on Google’s SERP about a business location isn’t going to help in boosting the local search rankings, it’s just extra information for the searchers.

Say for example your business has multiple physical locations, serves multiple cities / towns. Your SERP rankings are determined based on the location of the address along with the city / town triggered by a search query.

Inserting a call tracking number will hurt rankings

Using a call tracking number wouldn’t hurt our rankings if we add additional phone numbers into our business’s listing directory in GoogleMyBusiness. In Google’s eyes, this actions act like additional information and avoid scenarios like “duplicate-listing”.

Call tracking number on GoogleMyBusiness (local SEO tips)
Call tracking number on GoogleMyBusiness (by SearchEngineLand)

We should consult with GoogleMyBusiness support about SERP ranking issues

The support team would only answer their users for questions like features that’ included within GoogleMyBusiness, not about the ranking issues.

The people who’re answering those questions are not SEO experts and often do not know how the algorithm works, so better off share your queries & exchange ideas with us, YUPMS 🙂 Or perhaps get your questions answered on platforms like Quora / YahooAnswers.

Deleting a listing in GoogleMyBusiness actually erases the listing from Google

One of the most common things people try is to claim the DUPLICATE LISTING & then delete it from GoogleMyBusiness Dashboard. When we go delete a listing, we’ll receive a scary message saying “are you sure you want to do this”?

warning message for deleting a duplicate listing on GoogleMyBusiness (local SEO tips)
warning message for deleting a duplicate listing on GoogleMyBusiness (by Moz)

Removing a listing from GoogleMyBusiness only makes the listing UNVERIFIED. It still exists on GoogleMaps & will often sill rank, provided if we didn’t clear out all the categories / details before we delete it.

The only time we really want to delete the listing on GMB is when we no longer want to manage the listing.

When you delete a local page, the corresponding listing will be unverified and you will no longer be able to manage it. Google may still retain business information from the page and may continue to show information about the business on Maps, Search, and other Google properties, including marking the business as permanently closed, moved, or open, depending on the information that’s known about the business.

Google My Business Help Center

Professional / Practitioner listings on Google are considered duplicates & can be removed

Google often creates listing for the actual public-facing professionals in an office (lawyers, doctors, dentists, realtors, etc) and the owner of the practice will usually want them to disappear.

Google will only get rid of the listing in 2 different scenarios;

  • The professional is not public-facing: Support team members like hygienists / legal assistant, for example, don’t qualify for a listing in Google and will remove it if they exist
  • The business only has one public-facing individual: For example, if you have a company that’s about legal practice with only ONE LAWYER. Google considers that as a “solo-practitioner” and will merge the listing for the professional with the listing for the office. Their guidelines state to “create a single page, named using the following format: [brand/company]: [practitioner name].”

In the case that the professional has left your office, we can have the listing marked as moved if the professional has retired or is no longer working in the industry.

This will cause it to vanish from the search results, but it will still exist in Google’s back-end.

If the professional has moved to a different company, we should have them claim the listing and update the address / phone number to list their new contact information.

Google Maps is something that can separately work apart from “organic SEO”

GM Optimization is not something that could be separated from organic. According to a study done by Williamsburg University (U.S.A.), 75% of ranking local listings also rank organically on the first page. The two are directly connected — a change that we make to our site can have a huge influence on where we rank locally.

If we are a local business (say located in Malaysia), if you’re a local business owner and would like to engage a local-SEO company. Be sure to re-confirm if they actually know about Google Maps 3 Pack.

Search engine results page feature that’s shaped like a map and displays places related to your query, as well as a 3-point list of businesses with their NAP data (name, address, phone, etc.)

Local 3-pack marketing for claiming online ownership (local SEO tips)
Local 3-pack marketing for claiming online ownership

Based on our experience, it’s almost impossible to rank for both organically and locally without STRONG ORGANIC RANKING (a well-optimized website) & a website with STRONG LOCAL SIGNALS.

When a business relocates, we would like to mark the listing for the location as CLOSED

Google My Business & GoogleMap maker rules don’t agree on this one. Anyone on the GoogleMap maker side would tell a business to mark a listing as “closed” when they move.

This will cause a business listing to have a big, ugly, red PERMANENTLY CLOSED label when anyone searches for our business name.

If our listing is verified through Google My Business, all we need to do is edit the address inside your dashboard when we move. If there’s an unverified duplicate listing that exists at our old address, we would want to make sure we get it marked as “Moved.”

Google displays whatever that is listed in the “GMB dashboard”

Google gives business owners the ability to edit information on their listing by verifying it via Google My Business. However, whatever data the owner inputs is just one of many sources that Google will get information from.

Google updates verified listings all the time by deleting data from the business website, inputs from edits made on Google Maps/MapMaker, and third-party data sources.

A recent case that we’ve seen is one where Google repeatedly updated an owner-verified listing with incorrect business hours due to not being able to properly read the business hours listed on their website.

We’re sorry, but we couldn’t show you an example of the web-link at the moment.

And here’s a video that we’ve discovered recently, clearly answers some of the SEO myths like the GoogleBot (how it works & how it affects our content indexing & rankings), spoken by a Google representative.

Fun facts about common SEO knowledge that are actually myths

Google Penalizes Duplicate Content

The duplicate content penalty doesn’t exist. Google doesn’t penalize sites for having duplicate content.

Google understands that duplicate content is a natural part of the web and aims to index the highest quality and most relevant page so that searchers are not repeatedly presented with the same content in the search results.

Unless a site is trying to manipulate rankings and is entirely made up of duplicate content, the worst-case scenario resulting from duplicate content is that similar pages are folded together in the index and an alternative version of the page is shown instead.

SEO professionals like YUPMS can provide search engines with a number of signals as to which page they want to be indexed, including correct use of canonicalssitemap inclusion, and internal links pointing to the preferred page.

Google Respects the “Canonical URL” as the Preferred Version for Indexing

Just because we’ve set a URL (web-link) as the preferred version for indexing via a “canonical tag”, it doesn’t mean that this page is the one that Google will select for indexing.

The “rel-canonical” is treated as a signal by Google for the preferred page and isn’t always respected.

Such examples can be found in the new version of Google Search Console in the Index Coverage report under the flag ‘Submitted URL not selected as canonical’.

Google may choose a page other than the one we have selected as the “canonical” when they judge another page in a set of duplicates to be a better candidate to show in search.

In such cases, it would be advised to consider whether the “canonical-page” that you have selected is actually the one you want to be indexed. If it is, then we will need to look at the signals discussed previously (“sitemaps“, “internal-linking” etc.) to check that they are pointing to our preferred version.

The key is to ensure we’re sending Google consistent signals as to the preferred version of the page.

Quality Updates Result in Algorithmic Penalties

In a recent interview, former Google engineer Fili Wiese spoke about the myth of Google’s algorithm penalties:

“One misconception that often exists is around things like Google Panda or Phantom as the industry called it, or Fred. Quality updates basically. But people think those are penalties or algorithmic penalties (when they’re not).

The thing is there is no such thing as an algorithmic penalty, it’s actually a recalculation. It’s like a big black box with the formula inside, you put something in, something comes out, and what comes out is the rankings and what goes in is your website.

The algorithm changes are just basically changes within the black box, which means that what comes out on the other side is slightly different now. Does that mean you’ve been penalized? No. it may feel like it, but you’re not penalized.”

This is a tiny difference that Wiese raises, but an important one in understanding how Google’s search algorithms operate.

Google has 3 top ranking factors

This was MAJOR NEWS back in March 2016 when Andrei Lipattsev announced that links, content, and “RankBrain” made up the top 3 Google ranking factors.

However, Mueller has since dismissed this statement in a “WebmasterHangout”, saying that it isn’t possible to determine the most important ranking factors because this changes from query-to-query and from day-to-day.

It isn’t helpful to focus on individual ranking signals because search engine algorithms are too sophisticated for this to be a useful way of conceptualizing algorithms.

Instead, SEO pros like YUPMS should focus on optimizing their sites to improve user experience, match user intent and, more broadly, improve site quality while keeping up to date with Google’s latest developments.

Google’s “Sandbox” Applies a Filter When Indexing New Sites

A further misconception comes in the form of how Google treats new sites in the index. There is a long-lasting belief among some in the SEO community that Google applies a filter to new websites in order to stop “spammy “sites from ranking soon after launch.

Mueller put the Google “sandbox” to bed in a Webmaster Hangout, when he said that there was no such filter being applied to new sites.

He did, however, say that there may be a set of algorithms that might look equivalent to a “sandbox” but that they attempt to understand how the website fits in with others trying to rank for the same queries.

This, in some cases, may mean pages rank higher or lower for a period of time while Google’s algorithms work out how they fit in with competing pages.

“disavow links” mean telling Google to ignore specific “backlinks” for ranking purposes. In layman’s terms, it means a strong suggestion rather than a directive link.

The most important element of an SEO’s professional responsibilities has historically been reducing a site’s backlink profile by disavowing low-quality or spammy links.

Over the years Google’s algorithms have gotten better at understanding these types of low-quality backlinks and knowing when they should be ignored. As a result, the need for SEO pros like YUPMS to maintain and update a disavow file has diminished significantly.

According to BrightonSEO in September 2017, Illyes stated that if backlinks are coming in organically to a site, it’s extremely unlikely that the site will receive a manual action. Illyes went on to say that he doesn’t have a disavow file for his own personal website.

Now it is only recommended to make use of the disavow file when a website has received a manual action, in order to remove the offending links.

Successful link building should be judged by the authority and relevance of the backlinks pointing to the target site. Still, backlinks from high authority domains are highly sought after regardless of how relevant they are to the target site.

Google takes into account the context of backlinks, meaning that SEO pro. like YUPMS should perhaps give more importance to link relevance when going after links.

There is value in fixing internal and external links, but it is important to keep the context in mind. If a poor quality article (which has nothing to do with your website) links to your website, Google will ignore it because the context doesn’t match.

Google continuously update their search algorithms at an average rate of 2-3 per day. The Fred algorithm update in March 2017 was thought to be an update related to link quality.

However, Google’s Gary Illyes has made it clear that there was no specific algorithm update like Panda or Penguin – in fact, he called the ranking fluctuations Fred as a joke.

Google’s Gary Illyes went on to say that 95-98 percent of these ongoing updates are not actionable for webmasters. Fluctuations always happen but we should focus on having a high-quality site with lots of people talking about our brand via links, social networks, etc.

Crawl Budget Isn’t An Issue

Crawl budget is a complex and much-debated topic, but it is overlooked by some who overestimate Google’s ability to crawl all the pages on a given site.

Google can crawl all of the pages on a given site at once for small to medium sites (up to around 200,000 pages). However, the crawl budget is a pressing issue for those managing large enterprise sites because they need to ensure important pages are being crawled and on a regular basis.

One way to check if Google has crawled the vast majority of our website is by looking to see if Googlebot is crawling lots of 404 pages, as this indicates most of the important pages have already been crawled.

Wrap-up for our version of local SEO & SEO myths for Google

What do you think of all of the common misconceptions & SEO legends sourced from authoritative SEO experts? In short, we do believe that no matter where you are, your local business.

Whether we’re marketing in at places like Malaysia / any other place, the fundamentals are just the same! Creating RELEVANT, SUPER HELPFUL CONTENT & a website / page that provides AWESOME EXPERIENCE for our site visitors.

Here at YUPMS, we strongly believe that Google just like any HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS (BRAND) emphasizes on user-experience undoubtedly.

No questions asked, search engine algorithms are also not mended to PUNISH webmasters instead, it is creating a set of STANDARD RULES for all webmasters & publishers to comply. A fair-play for advertisers & publishers of all industries meanwhile being CUSTOMER-CENTERED all the time.

What are your thoughts about Local SEO & common SEO myths? Leave your thoughts at the common section below. The more the merrier 🙂

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