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:
- On-page SEO
- Google My Business
- Backlink profile
- Online citations
- Behavioral Signals
- Search personalization
- 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
Organic SEO Results - Google
Moz.com Local SEO Ranking Factor Findings
# 1 On-Page SEO
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.
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.
# 3 Backlink Profile
The backlink profile is one of the main areas of local SEO that you should pay attention to.
The off-page factors are calculated to account for 75% of SEO. Although your website content is crucial — and much easier to control than external factors — your SEO strategy will not work if you only optimize on-page factors.
Long gone are the days when more links meant better rankings, regardless of the links. Google values high-quality, legitimate links, and any shady-looking links will affect your rankings dramatically. The useful MozBar Chrome extension provides an overview of how valuable a specific backlink can be.
In terms of local rating variables, it is a good idea to target local links. Local newspaper posts, a home team sponsor's page, or blog post on the charitable work of your organization are all perfect ways to build a powerful connection between your website and your community.
The sharing of ties with relevant local companies will allow you to improve your local rankings. A wedding venue may share links with associated vendors, such as florists, photographers, or wedding shops. This helps Google to increase local rankings and understand the company's position in the online market.
# 4 Reviews
If you have a lot of positive feedback, it is not only potential clients who will see your website as more legitimate. It is another of the many local SEO rating parameters Google uses to determine how well you're ranked.
Note that Google Maps and the Local Pack give you an overview of your business feedback, so concentrating on getting good reviews from happy customers is ideal. There's no point in spending all your time getting into the local pack just to put people off by having a low star rating.
You can think that only Google reviews are taken into account, but it takes into account many of the major review sites. Google My Company, Twitter, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and Foursquare provide some of the vital reviews.
The use of fake reviews to improve your online presence or reward people for leaving a positive review is never ok. Instead, try and get as many reviews as possible from real customers. Try asking customers to leave you at the end of their transaction with a review, and you will be surprised how quickly you get results. Seventy percent of customers asked to leave a review will go on to do so.
# 5 Online Citations
Wherever your company is mentioned online, ensure that the business name, address, and telephone number are correct and match your website information.
If the address on your website says "123 Example Street" but says "121-123 Example Road" in your Yelp listing, then this may confuse things. You want both Google and any customer, particularly for local search, to be entirely sure about your location. 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 vital.
Before you make new citations, double-check the details before sending them. Unfortunately, many citations are created by a third party or a web-based robot, which means that without your knowledge, there could be incorrect citations.
Get into the habit of checking your website regularly for any new listings, and flag or delete any incorrect ones. You can use a lot of tools to monitor your inbound links, which is a great way to keep an eye on new quotes.
# 6 Behavioral Signals
Google is more inclined to serve your site in the SERPs 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.
The optimization of your local SEO website is a great way to boost your behavioral signals. 79% of users will look for another site to complete their task if the content is not optimized. If that happens, you'll miss out on future sales, and these unsatisfied customers will 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 used for the Google search. Use the 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.