Local Search Ranking Factors

A fresh take on local SEO is Google’s new algorithm. It’s time for business to re-evaluate their processes for local search. As Google continues to develop their algorithms, it’s becoming more critical to create content for local SEO. Local SEO is extremely important to small business as it provides them the additional visibility in local searches. Local business need to understand the factors that affect their rankings in these searches in order to stay ahead of the competition. It’s so similar to that of the rat race we heard when we were in school. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) remains one of the most crucial aspects of marketing, especially if you’re a start-up business. If you’re looking to get on the first page of your local area, it is vital that you know what is important and what isn’t. When considering local business marketing, one of the first things that come to mind is local search ranking factors. The local search results seem to be the first thing we see when we search for a local service. It has an intense impact on the first impression and choice of the potential client. Local search is an important aspect of your digital marketing strategy. Ranking in local directories can appear to be a mystery. But, there are a number of factors that will help you to rank organically.

Key Local SEO Ranking Factors

There are several key factors that work together to help local businesses appear higher in local search results and benefit from local visibility. Some of the notable ones are –

  1. Google My Business – For local businesses, Google My Business listing has always been even more significant than a website. It is a free tool set up by Google to provide the users with local business through Google Maps. An integral part of getting your business noticed by both Google and potential customers is setting up your GMB listing. As GMB is one of the first thing that users will come across while searching for a company on Google, it is important to have your business listed, verified and managed. Search algorithms use GMB signals like proximity, contact information, categories, and updated content to analyse and interpret where your business is shown to people in your area. It is incredibly important for business to set up, claim and verify their GMB listings. A comprehensive local SEO campaign, it will surely work to optimise the listing for enhanced visibility. The key ranking factors of Google My Business are as follows –
  • Business category – You must choose the business category that describes your business most accurately. You must also update categories regularly as new ones appear from time to time.
  • Physical address – The physical address of your location in the city the search comes from is a key factor. That is why it is important to have a separate listing for each of your chain locations.
  1. On-Page Signals – There are various on-page factors that are taken into consideration when your website faces analysis for local rankings. Most importantly, it is the use of relevant keywords. Search engines will look for the use of keywords that are relevant. These are strategically placed to work out where your site belongs. Relevancy is vital for local SEO as the right keywords will get your site ranking in specific areas, reaping benefits. The presence of vital details such as name, address and phone number on pages also assist in on-page ranking factors. Google uses this information to regulate important proximity details for your rankings. The mobile-friendliness of your website is another key player. Having your website easily accessible and fast on mobile devices does wonders. People are always looking for products and services nearby. It is easier for them to find you by optimising your pages for local search.
  2. Online Reviews – It is likely for customers to read the available information on a business before making a purchase. Positive online reviews help to illustrate your business as trustworthy, reliable and legitimate. Having positive reviews online has a deep impact on the decision-making process for potential clients and contributes significantly to local search ranking factors. The business that receives frequent positive reviews and ratings online will benefit as the ranking would increase. As local SEO ranking signals consider the total number, frequency, diversity and quality of reviews generated for the business, this key player will increase visibility.
  3. Backlink Profile – An essential element of building authority for a local business is backlink. Local business should aim to attract links from local and authoritative websites that will bring positive impact on their site. Receiving backlinks to your website from other authoritative sites is a challenge as it is a crucial element to priority placement in search results. The backlink profile of a local business plays a significant role as the search engines determine the value of your website. Thus, building quality and relevant backlinks are important local search ranking factors.
  4. Online Citations – Citations are perfect for getting consistent information about business. It’s great in acquiring local backlinks from authoritative websites. Search engines use directories and citations to find products and services along with their contact details. Search engines use citations to confirm the necessary information about a business. You must make sure that the name, address and phone number information of your business are the same across all directory and citation listings. It is surely an imperative element for local SEO ranking factors. Darren Shaw has rightly said –

‘Citations are more of a foundational factor than a rankings booster. You’ll have a hard time ranking without them’.

  1. Behavioural Signals – Google’s algorithm uses several behavioural signals that determine the ranking order for local search results. Behavioural signals refer to actions that your audience indicate how they interact and engage with local business listings and websites. The most common user signals that are monitored include:
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) – It refers to the title optimization on your website.
  • Mobile Clicks to Calls and Social Media Check-ins – Whenever a user clicks one of those buttons, Google receives a signal that the user might potentially visit your location in reality. Hence, your entity is considered popular.

A comprehensive local SEO campaign will track the behavioural signals. By monitoring these signals, you can help your local listing rank higher in search results and attract more customers to your business.

  1. Local Content – Local content includes blogs, news pieces, articles, videos, graphics and event announcements related to a local area. The users love connecting with brands on topics that are not only relevant and relatable but also community-based. By using key phrases and location-based terms, you can significantly aspire on improving local visibility for your business.
  2. Social Signals – Although social signals are not a key player, they do have a role to play. Active social profiles of your business and the mentions in other profiles knock Google that your entity is active, alive, and people do talk about it. Thus it is worth paying attention to. It is important to keep your accounts active. You must communicate with your audience and offer useful content. It will surely bring in good results in the real-world popularity of your business. This in turn will trigger more behavioural signals.

The above mentioned factors are analysed by search engines. These factors help them determine which businesses are most relevant and are receiving the most valuable attention from the searchers.

To cut a long story short, local SEO is not a walk away for a small business. If you want to see long-term benefits from local SEO, you need to adopt a comprehensive and systematic approach that will integrate all the factors involved with search visibility.

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