Ranking high in organic search is great. However, many local brick and mortar businesses lack the local SEO expertise required to make sure their online presence is properly optimized, and as a result they are missing out on potential new business. By failing to do a few simple things, potential local customers are unable to find these businesses when they search for a product or service.
This article will outline the 5 most important local SEO ranking factors. Taking the time to focus on these elements will increase a business’s visibility in local search…ignore them and you will certainly be at a disadvantage in the search engines.
Before we begin, let’s have a closer look at how local SEO differs from “traditional” SEO.
What Sets Local SEO Apart?
The term “local SEO” simply refers to the process of optimizing a local business’s online presence to maximize visibility to potential customers. This process differs from traditional SEO in that traditional SEO is typically not geo-targeted. For example, a website that focuses on a non-localized subject, such as a blog or ecommerce site, will typically try to maximize visibility across the entire internet. The webmaster/SEO in charge of this site would want to cast the largest net possible to attract the maximum number of visitors.
In contrast, a local landscaping company is more concerned with attracting visitors from their local geographic area. While getting visitors from another state (or country) might be nice for their traffic statistics, they cannot realistically convert those long-distance visitors into paying customers.
While there are many similarities, Local SEO requires a bit of different approach than traditional SEO. The most important distinction is Google’s Local 3-Pack.
To quote myself from a previous post, “If Google perceives that a search query has “local intent,” the first search results feature three local businesses displayed as a group (or “pack”), along with a map highlighting these businesses’ locations. This pack of local businesses is displayed after any paid ads, and before the organic search results.”
The 3 Pack listings typically feature the business name, phone number, a review rating, an image (if available), and business hours.
For many local businesses, appearing in the local pack is a key component to growing their business.
A well-balanced local SEO strategy will focus on both improving rankings in the organic search listings while also focusing on optimizing for the Google 3-Pack.
Top 5 Ranking Factors for Local SEO
While a comprehensive local SEO strategy features many components, I’ve selected 5 of the most important Google ranking factors when it comes to local SEO. A local business who focuses on the 5 factors presented here will have a distinct advantage in the organic search results over their competitors.
Google My Business Signals
Once you have created your Google My Business listing, make sure your profile is properly optimized. Some things to remember:
- The business should be correctly categorized
- Optimize the GMB business title by including relevant keywords
- Double-check that the link to the business website is correct and crawl-able.
- Verify the accuracy of the listed business hours
- This might seem obvious, but verify that the business address is correct! This is so important, as the Local Pack listings consider the businesses’ proximity to the searcher’s location
- Add your company logo
- Include high quality photos
What exactly does the term “link signals” mean? It’s quite simple, really. The term “link signals” refers to inbound links to a website. More specifically, there are few common factors that should be considered when evaluating the quality of inbound links.
- Link Authority: When it comes to inbound links, quality is key. Try to avoid “spammy” links from low quality sites. Instead, focus on obtaining links from high quality, authoritative websites. Links from high authority sites related to your business niche is even better.
- Link Quantity: While it’s true that quality trumps quantity, of course the more high quality inbound links you can get, the better.
- Link Anchor Text: Anchor text is the text that appears highlighted in a hypertext link, which can be clicked to open the target web page. Google looks at the anchor text of a link as an indicator of the subject matter of the target page. Be careful, however. Google will penalize a site whose backlink anchor text profile is over-optimized.
As is the case with traditional SEO, on-page factors are vitally important to any local SEO strategy.
The content on your business website should serve your local audience, offering value to visitors and prospective customers. Make sure the content includes targeted keyword phrases, but be careful not to over-optimize.
Here’s a brief list of some on-page factors to review. Be sure that the following are all optimized with relevant keyword phrases, are very readable, and conform to best practice guidelines:
- Page Title
- Meta Description
- Heading Tags
- Image Alt Text
- NAP: This should go without saying, but the business name, address, and phone number should be prominently displayed on every page of the website (usually in the page header and footer).
Citations refer to instances where a business appears somewhere on the web. For example, business directories and review sites are two major sources of citations.
When it comes to citations, consistency is key with local SEO.
Make sure the business name, address, and phone number (aka NAP) adhere to the same format every time they are published. If you do need to make a change to the NAP information, be sure to update every cited instance.
Online business reviews are another key factor when it comes to local SEO. Some of the major online review platforms include:
Reviews on these sites help form a company’s online reputation. One of the worst things a company can do is ignore the reviews they receive. If your business happens to fall into this category, don’t worry…it can be corrected.
Online reviews also offer the opportunity for businesses to receive valuable feedback from their customers. Reviews be a report card of sorts, and can give a company an indication of their strengths and weaknesses. While it can be painful to receive negative feedback, negative reviews actually offer a great opportunity to take corrective action, and reach out to dissatisfied customers and turn them into happy customers.
If a business does not have any online reviews, they should consider asking their customers to submit a review on the platform of their choice.
Get Started Today!
The 5 Google ranking factors presented in this post should provide a great start to any company looking to improve their local SEO visibility. However, designing and implementing a comprehensive local SEO strategy can quite complex. But don’t worry…PosiRank can help!
PosiRank offers many services that can help a local business succeed with their online marketing goals, including on-site optimization (comprehensive on-site audits, title tag and meta description rewrites), local business listings, reputation management, content creation, and much more. Contact us today to get started!
Featured image courtesy business2community.com