There’s lots of advice out there for what to do with optimizing websites for local businesses, yet day after day, we see some of the same bad practices perpetuated in bad web designs. So, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, here are some reminders of what NOT to do if you want your local business site to perform well with search engines and with customers.
Don’t use vanity numbers.
Vanity phone numbers are those jazzy, personalized phone numbers that use letters instead of mere numbers, usually to spell out some tagline or a business’s name. Today, many cell phones don’t include the letters on the numeric keypads anymore — making it difficult to pick out the phone number if you only recall the vanity version. Worse yet, it makes it impossible for search engines to associate your phone number on your site with your business listing, and it could impair your SEO. So, vanity numbers = bad for both search engines and customers!
Don’t forget to update your copyright date.
Never updating your dates will make your site start looking stale to search engines and prospective customers.
Avoid making a flash-only website.
It’s okay to have some parts of your webpages done in Flash, for example, if you’d like to have an animated banner below your header that’s fine. But if your whole website is in Flash, or your main site navigation, it still doesn’t perform well in search engines. Not only that, it won’t work for some mobile phones, and it will not be interpreted accurately by Google Instant previews either.
Don’t let your website sit vacant.
Sites sporting “Under construction” or “Coming soon” messages for their homepages are only good for ranking bad. Why would you want to send a message to search engines that you might not be opened for business yet? Do what it takes to go ahead and roll out your website, at least with the bare minimum information – including business name, location and local phone number.
Don’t let your homepage serve up an error or let your domain expire.
These can be signals that your business may have shut down, so it could result in losing some ability to rank. Defunct businesses are one of the hardest issues to solve in online directories, causing nearly all business databases to be clogged up with some percentage of bad listings. When your business website shuts down, Google may drop your listing in the SERPs. As such, make a point of visiting your website at least once every few weeks to make sure it looks right.
Don’t allow music to play by default on your Website.
Half of those searching on the Internet are already listening to music they really prefer, so your webpage’s tune is going to interfere with that. The other half is surfing from work, and music just does not make it discreet when looking at your site instead of finishing some report.
Don’t put addresses & phone numbers in fine print.
Don’t have them appear only at the bottom of your webpage. A fine text at the bottom of webpages is not good for usability and not good for your site’s search-engine-friendliness. A small print that also barely contrasted with the background color is not advisable.
Keep these various recommendations for “What Not to Do” in mind for local business website and you’ll make both consumers and search engines happy.