6 local SEO myths debunked

local seo

Every business serving a local area should be mindful of its SEO presence. A good local SEO strategy can help to bring in additional customers and target new prospects if it’s done correctly. 

However, there are many myths out there which are sending businesses astray and causing them to either implement ineffective strategies – or disregard ranking factors which should be a top priority to optimise their sites for. 

Here are 6 of the most common local SEO myths – with explanations as to why each of them is untrue. 

1. I don’t need reviews if I’ve optimised for local search intent 

There are many factors to juggle when it comes to optimising your local SEO presence. The first steps you will take are optimising for local search intent, which include: 

  • Optimising online directories and citations 
  • Ensuring your NAP (name, address and phone number) are crawlable HTML text on your site 
  • Having a verified Google Business Profile 
  • Identifying relevant local keywords using Google Keyword Planner or other research tools 
  • Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly 

However, ticking off all these considerations doesn’t mean your work is done. It’s generally accepted that Google applies weighting to review content linked to local business, and with the rise of systems such as Google Perspectives, it’s clear that Google is placing increased value on UGC, or user-generated content, where it might help searchers make an informed decision. 

Therefore, it would be wise to ensure your local SEO strategy includes a plan for encouraging regular review posts. Ideally you want this UGC in three areas: 

  • Your Google Business Profile 
  • Third-party review sites such as TripAdvisor and Trustpilot 
  • On your main website (also known as first-party reviews) 

2. Structured data doesn’t have an impact on visibility 

As it’s so easy to create a website these days, with plenty of templates out there that ensure we can get our business online in a matter of minutes, it can be easy to disregard SEO elements such as structured data. After all, if it was important enough, these templates would do it for you, right? 

This is only true to a certain extent. For example, Yoast SEO will add the most important structured data to your site automatically if you have this plugin on WordPress. However, you will need to do some additional work if you want to optimise it. While there are additional plugins you can install that will generate more complex schema markup, it’s recommended to add it yourself – or get an expert to do it. 

Optimising your structured data should be on your local SEO checklist because it’s a vital part of helping websites to understand your page structures. Not only will it lead to increased chances of appearing in rich snippets or rich results in search listings, but it also helps with VSO – voice search optimisation. 

3. Voice search isn’t important for local SEO 

An increasing number of people are using voice search to find out information about local businesses. For example, many homes have Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, while anyone with a smartphone is practically guaranteed to have a voice search function such as Siri. 

2022 research reveals that 41% of UK residents use smart speakers at home multiple times a day, while 26% use voice in the car or via smartphone every day. That means you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to appear in voice-activated search results, whether people are asking for a pizza restaurant near them or a law firm which specialises in divorce. 

4. I got some reviews a few years ago, so that’s enough 

SEO is a discipline which requires regular work in order for it to be effective. For example, we have written about the fact that creating a few digital PR campaigns and then ceasing such activity isn’t enough if you want a fully optimised backlink profile. The same applies to reviews in the context of local SEO – doing a bit of work, then stopping once you’ve got a few results, isn’t enough to yield consistently fruitful results. 

While we don’t know the exact ranking factors Google considers when it comes to review content, we can make educated guesses that recency is one of them. For example, a business with reviews that are a few days old will potentially yield a higher ranking than a competitor which hasn’t been reviewed in months.  

Furthermore, velocity should also be considered – a business which is receiving reviews every few days or weeks is likely to obtain a higher volume of organic traffic than those which pick up sporadic reviews. 

5. Local SEO will take a long time to roll out  

As with any type of work, the process will be quicker if you have more people working on the project, or you can benefit from experts in the field. While it can take a few weeks to complete initial setup, the work required to maintain SEO efforts over time will not be as intensive and the results will get better as the months go on. 

Some changes which are made can be reflected in search engine results relatively quickly. For example, optimising your Google Business Profile can lead to fast results as Google updates listings at a fairly rapid pace. What’s more, obtaining backlinks and citations from local sites can be a good way to improve your presence in a small timeframe. 

6. There’s too much local competition to bother with SEO 

It can be easy to view the SERP for the local keyword you want to rank for and be put off by the sheer volume of competitors which appear. However – particularly if your business is based in a large metropolitan area – there is plenty of opportunity to rank for hyperlocal results if you create relevant and useful service area pages. 

These landing pages target specific areas of a geographical location that your business serves, describing the benefits provided and how to get in touch. Each page must include original content – simply making a copy of a page and swapping out locations could lead to duplicate content issues  

Independent keyword research will be required for each service area page, as people in each area could be looking for something slightly different and you want to make sure the corresponding page is optimised for these terms. 

Need help with your local SEO strategy? 

If you believed any of these local SEO myths, or you want some help with developing your strategy, get in touch today and start the conversation.  

Alternatively, gain invaluable insights into your current market performance, including brand penetration, competitor analysis and backlink profile health with one of our Free Acquisitions Workshops.


Imogen Groome

Content Lead

Imogen is the SEO Content Lead at Skittle Digital. Imogen has worked in SEO since 2016. She helped to define SEO strategy at Metro.co.uk before guiding the newsroom at The Sun Online as SEO Editor. She has more than 5 years’ experience in scaling content strategies that drive revenue for brands through organic search channels. In her spare time, Imogen writes books, watches poor-quality reality TV and hangs out with her cats.

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