DO YOU WANT TO RANK HIGHER ON GOOGLE?
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Local SEO is a powerful tool that can catapult your business to the top of search engine rankings. But while navigating the ins and outs of your Google Business Profile, it’s important to avoid a few pitfalls that could hinder your chance of ranking in the local pack or organic listings. Let’s delve into the top seven things you should avoid doing on your Google Business Profile, based on insights from the 2023 Local Ranking Factors Report by Whitespark.
1. Using False Addresses
Your Google Business Profile should represent a legitimate location, whether commercial or residential. Using a P.O. Box, a UPS mail store, a virtual office, or any other false address is a no-go. Google can detect such inconsistencies, and playing games with false addresses could result in your profile not ranking, or worse, being shut down. So, always use a legitimate address. While virtual addresses are controversial, they may result in account suspension, or approval without ranking. Remember, playing by Google’s rules will always keep your business on the safe side.
2. Accumulating Violation Reports
Ensure you stay within Google’s guidelines to avoid getting reported for violations on your Google Business Profile. Violation reports can originate from competitors or other vigilant users who notice something amiss on your profile. Google provides a simple mechanism for users to suggest edits or propose closure/removal of a profile. Avoid finding yourself on the wrong side of these reports by ensuring you’re not in violation of any rules. However, refrain from reporting competitors without genuine cause, as this could backfire.
3. Associating with Suppressed Listings
Maintaining multiple Google Business accounts can lead to suppressed listings and negatively impact your primary listing’s chance of ranking. Google does allow you to open as many accounts as you want, but the presence of duplicate listings could sabotage your main account. Stick to maintaining one authentic, accurate, and real Google Business Profile to maximize your chances of ranking.
4. Review Gating
Be authentic when requesting customer reviews. Using software programs that prevent customers from leaving negative reviews (also known as “review gating”) can harm your Google Business Profile. If found guilty of this practice, you might face account suspension or a drop in your rankings. Encourage open and honest feedback from your customers to build credibility and avoid repercussions.
5. Website Security
Google is swift to penalize websites that have been hacked or infected with malware. Hacked websites might have extra, hidden pages that hackers use for their own purposes. Keeping your website secure with regular updates and a reliable firewall, such as sakari.net, can help you avoid the adverse effects of a security breach.
6. Multiple Profiles in the Same Category at the Same Address
If your business address houses another company in the same industry, you might find it challenging to rank. Google typically only allows one business to rank per category at a given address. This rule applies whether you’re sharing an office space or considering setting up multiple businesses at your home address. Always strive for unique business addresses to avoid suspension or difficulty ranking.
7. Fake Reviews
Purchasing or creating fake reviews for your Google Business Profile is a dangerous game. Companies offering these services might seem tempting, but if it becomes apparent to Google or vigilant users that you’ve employed such tactics, you may face a significant drop in rankings or even account suspension. Prioritize gathering authentic customer feedback to maintain your credibility and ranking.
While these are the top seven negative ranking factors according to the 2023 Local Ranking Factors Report, there are 31 in total. I strongly recommend you check out the full report for a more in-depth understanding.