Local SEO Ranking Factors

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The local search wave has hit us and doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon.

In an effort to serve the best possible results to each individual who's searching, Google is placing more and more weight on factors such as location and engagement to define a website’s relevance.

In order to maximize your business's visibility in local search, you must familiarize yourself with the most important local SEO ranking factors.

Businesses like restaurants, dentists, mechanics, car dealers, etc. rely heavily on local customers and must optimize their local SEO to compete with nearby competitors. 28% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or visit that business within 24 hours.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

Throughout this post I will show you how to improve your local SEO with the following ranking factors:

  1. On-page SEO
  2. Google My Business
  3. Backlink profile
  4. Reviews
  5. Online citations
  6. Behavioral Signals
  7. Search personalization
  8. Social media

Keep in mind, when it comes to local SEO, there are two types of rankings that you'll want to pay attention to: local pack rankings and organic rankings.

  • Local pack rankings: the small box with the map that shows the business's opening hours, reviews, and contact information.
  • Organic rankings: good ole' fashion search results without, or, outside of the map pack

Local SEO Results - Google

Local SEO Results - Google

Organic SEO Results - Google

Organic SEO Results - Google
Moz has put together one of the most extensive local ranking factor guides which includes everything from the distance between the searcher and the business to whether the website is mobile-friendly. The more criteria your website meets, the higher it will rank for relevant local searches.

Moz.com Local SEO Ranking Factor Findings

Moz.com Local SEO Ranking Factor Findings

# 1 On-Page SEO

Content

Content is an obvious place to start with for local SEO optimization. In fact, it's a great place to start for all SEO.

Content consistency is one of the most critical factors in Google's ranking because it makes the website more relevant or helpful for users. This led to an explosion in content marketing, which is now being used by 89% of B2B companies.

It's important to make sure your website's content is well written, helpful, and topically relevant. Although it's essential to include certain keywords throughout your website's content, you must make sure they occur naturally and aren't stuffed in there. Remember to use these keywords when possible in URLs, page headings, meta descriptions, alt text, and anchor text.

NAP

Another important aspect of local on-page SEO is to ensure you're business's Name, Address, and Phone number are present on every page of your website. Place them in the header or footer, which allows Google to find them without being inserted awkwardly in the main page contents.

Many websites also use blogs to provide authentic, related content to their sites. Local SEO activities would benefit further by concentrating on local matters such as news, events, and customers in your area.

#2 Google My business 

Your Google My Business listing is one of the most critical factors in local search.

Make sure your business name, address, and telephone number are correct when you build or claim your GMB listing. This is useful not just for customers, but also because of the proximity of the business to the searcher is one of Google's main local ranking factors.

You want to ensure you've chosen the most suitable category and integrated essential keywords into your title and summary. Optimize the listing by completing it in full. Ensure your business hours are right, and the link to the website of your company is up-to-date.

The addition of your logo and some high-quality images will also improve your local or Google Maps presence. This, together with some excellent reviews, will make your business more attractive.

# 4 Reviews & Ratings

Having a solid review portfolio is crucial for your success online and almost always makes your business more legitimate and trustworthy to new customers. Whether it's a review on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, or any other business directory, they are important to the success of your business. But, it doesn't stop there... Google actually uses all of these reviews as part of its ranking algorithm for local search results. As for Google My Business reviews, both Google Maps and Google's Local 3-Pack search results provide an overview of your business information, including business reviews, making concentrating on getting good reviews from happy customers a priority.

Examples of ways to get Google Reviews

  • Email past customers that had a great experience working with you
  • Put your GMB Review Link on stationery items like handouts like flyers, door hangers, business cards, etc.
  • Offer discounted prices for people who leave positive reviews
  • Put your GMB Review Link on receipts.
  • If you're a restaurant, you can put your stationery items with your GMB Review Link inside checkbooks or with receipts

# 5 Online Citations

Online Citations are anywhere your company is mentioned online. Outside of Google My Business, some of the popular places include Yelp, Yellowpages, Facebook, Angie's, FourSquare, and HotFrog. Ensuring that your business name, address, and telephone number are correct and match your GMB and website is important to the success of your Local SEO efforts. If the address on your website says "123 Example Street" but says "123-123 Example Road" in your Yelp listing, then this may confuse potential customers and also Google. Apart from local SEO, 80% of customers lose confidence in local businesses if they see inaccurate or misleading contact details or online business names, so keeping on top of your citations is important. Before you make new citations, double-check if it already exists on the platform or directory you're looking to get onto. Unfortunately, many citations are created by a third party or a web-based crawl bot, which means that without your knowledge, there could be citations for your business that already exists.

# 6 Behavioral Signals

Google is more inclined to serve your site in the search engine rankings if it has a reputation for being helpful. Variables like click-through rates, call clicks, and check-ins show Google this person interacted with your company and that this is a useful result. The more people you connect with, the higher you end up in the rankings. Properly optimizing your website for local SEO is a great way to boost your behavioral signals. Customers are likely to head to a competitor's website if your website underperforms on things like page load times, engaging headings, and high-quality content. If that happens, you could miss out on future sales, and these unsatisfied customers could inform Google that their question is not being answered by your website. The content on each page should be as fitting as possible for the words that someone would use on their Google search. Use landing pages to ensure that you have a good page that is unique to each of your keywords. This will provide a better user experience, which will, in effect, tell Google that this particular page is a useful result which should be high in rankings.

# 7 Search Personalization

Years ago, when users typed in the same search term, no matter where they were, everyone saw the same results. When it came down to local searches, this method did not give the most useful results. Thus, search customization was implemented to provide the most relevant results for the user. Roughly fifty percent of Google searches were personalized back in 2011, and now they are all. While some results will be the same regardless of who is searching and where they are. Factors including physical location and history of user surfing will affect the rest of the results. If a user regularly selects a particular website from the SERPs, Google can know that this should be shown to its user more frequently. While it is challenging to improve an individual's click-through rate, you should work to make the website experience a good one so they'll want to come back. The more individual users get customized results that support your website, the more that will improve your local rankings.

# 8 Social Media

Social Media media has become its own search engine. Facebook sees 1.5 billion searches a day every day, and more than 600 million people visit the company pages on Facebook.

The high domain authority and user base at social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram mean that Google is paying close attention to these. If you search for a companies name, you are likely to find their social media pages at the top of the SERPs along with their website.

If people on social media speak about your brand, it will feed into your rankings. Note that the algorithms of Google are smart enough to know if they are positive or negative, so watch them and engage your audience to preserve your credibility.

While this is a critical aspect of a holistic approach to SEO, relying on social media alone won't give you instant results. Incorporate social media into your broader local SEO strategy and allow it to work alongside the other requirements we've addressed before.

Boost Your Local SEO Rankings
With so much to consider on ranking variables for Google, it's easy to get frustrated.
Local SEO is a complicated task, requiring ongoing maintenance in many areas. You can't just customize your Google My Company page and hope to land in local pack overnight.