Like a bad pen­ny, there are cer­tain local SEO myths that keep turn­ing up. Con­trib­u­tor Joy Hawkins lists a num­ber of mis­con­cep­tions and explains why things like bogus suite num­bers will not work.

When­ev­er I speak at a con­fer­ence, there are a num­ber of local search engine opti­miza­tion (SEO) ques­tions I always get. Like a bad pen­ny, cer­tain top­ics seem to always come up, and with them, mis­con­cep­tions about their use.

I’m not real­ly sure why these issues keep com­ing up, but they do, so I’m going to list the top five mis­con­cep­tions I hear about repeat­ed­ly and explain why they sim­ply are not right.

Myth 1: Suite numbers are a ranking factor

It is sur­pris­ing how often the top­ic of suite num­bers comes up; it’s been rolling around for years.

Peo­ple who rent an office or share a space with anoth­er busi­ness often won­der if hav­ing the suite num­ber in their pub­lished address will give them a unique NAP (name, address, phone num­ber) list­ing. They believe by adding the suite num­ber it will some­how make their address stand out and be more vis­i­ble.

This is not the case. Google often ignores suite num­bers and doesn’t use them for any­thing oth­er than a visu­al aid. I would con­tin­ue using suite num­bers so your cus­tomers have an easy way to find you, but they do not pro­vide any kind of rank­ing boost.

It also won’t help you to make up a suite num­ber if you don’t have one and add it to your NAP. Some­times peo­ple will ask me if they should list them­selves at 123A Main Street when there is no suite A in exis­tence. This can actu­al­ly back­fire and cause Google to remove your list­ing, think­ing you are spoof­ing a fake address. I see peo­ple report­ing bad address­es all the time on the GMB (Google My Busi­ness) forum. It’s spam, and Google deals harsh­ly with spam.

Myth 2: Break any Google guideline and your ranking will be penalized

If you break the Google My Busi­ness guide­lines, one of two things could hap­pen. First, you could get a soft sus­pen­sion, which means you will no longer have the abil­i­ty to man­age your local busi­ness via Google My Busi­ness. This is a big prob­lem because you will no longer receive noti­fi­ca­tions about your list­ing, be able to use Google Posts or respond to reviews.

These are all neg­a­tives, but the rank­ing of your list­ing will remain unaf­fect­ed.

Sec­ond, you could get a hard sus­pen­sion. This is more seri­ous, since it means Google removes your entire local busi­ness list­ing. Images, reviews, maps — all of it will be tak­en down. Since the list­ing doesn’t exist, you won’t rank any­where in the local results. Ouch!

What does not exist is some type of algo­rith­mic method Google uses to dimin­ish the rank­ing of list­ings that vio­late their guide­lines. Google does this for organ­ic search (man­u­al penal­ties), but not for the local results. Unlike Google, Yelp does penal­ize the rank­ing of busi­ness list­ings that break their guide­lines.

Myth 3: Your service area impacts where you rank

Google allows busi­ness own­ers to set the ser­vice area for their list­ing inside the Google My Busi­ness dash­board. This is a visu­al indi­ca­tor of how far you are will­ing to trav­el to ser­vice cus­tomers.

Peo­ple often think the infor­ma­tion they put in this sec­tion will influ­ence how and where they rank on Google. It does not.

If I say I ser­vice 15 cities, it will not impact my rank­ing in any of those cities. What loca­tions you rank in are main­ly based on the loca­tion of your address (what city you’re locat­ed in), along with the city the user is search­ing from.

Myth 4: Using a call tracking number will hurt rankings

Using a call track­ing num­ber will not hurt how your list­ing ranks if you move your “nor­mal or reg­u­lar” phone num­ber to the addi­tion­al phone line in Google My Busi­ness.

Doing this allows Google to see you are the same busi­ness and will avoid issues like dupli­cate list­ings.

We have been doing this for all our accounts for almost a year and have nev­er expe­ri­enced any type of rank­ing drop as a result. What you should avoid is putting call track­ing num­bers on third-par­ty direc­to­ries. Google can have issues con­sol­i­dat­ing those.

Myth 5: You should consult with Google My Business support about your ranking issues

Google My Busi­ness has a sup­port team avail­able on Twit­ter, Face­book, their online forum, phone, chat and email. Access to this ser­vice is incred­i­bly help­ful and is usu­al­ly the first place we start if we have an issue with fea­tures in Google My Busi­ness.

Notice I said “fea­tures” and not rank­ing issues. The peo­ple who answer the GMB sup­port lines are not SEO experts and often don’t know how the algo­rithm works. They are not the same team as the actu­al engi­neers who work on the algo­rithm; they are GMB experts, so ask­ing them about rank­ing issues won’t help you much.

To close

Did any of this sur­prise you? I hear it all the time, and it still sur­pris­es me! It’s best not to spend time try­ing to use some of these short­cuts or tac­tics. They real­ly won’t help you. Fine-tune your list­ings so cus­tomers land on your local pages and not some­one else’s.