Darren Shaw from Whitespark recently released presented his analysis of the top 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors on behalf of Moz. These factors influence where your business ranks when customers are searching Google locally.
Since there are so many factors at play here, we’re here to help break everything down for you!
Shaw talks about seven factors that play a huge part in local search rankings.
Google My Business
Your business should already have a GMB page. If not, Google My Business is a free and easy tool which allows you to “manage [your] online presence across Google, including Search and Maps“. This allows you to verify your business so that your customers can find your business and learn more about it directly from the source.
Link Building is getting external webpages to link back to your website. You always want people to be talking about your product – offline and online!
On-Page content is talking about the content that is on your page. If you own a used car dealership site, you’re not going to rank as a pizza parlor; your on-page content doesn’t qualify you for it.
This refers to online references of your business’ name, address, and phone number. Citations help Google to confirm your online authority to your business. Examples of sites you should have citations on are Yelp, Foursquare, Google, Bink, Facebook, etc.
While this may be straight forward, reviews are what your customers are saying about you online. These reviews could be both negative or positive – but you’re aiming for positive. Reviews could be on sites such as Facebook, Google, Yelp, Yellowpages, etc.
This is the collection and process of user Behavioral data. This looks at the click through rate on your ads, the navigational pattern of the customer on your site, the duration and frequency of the site visit, and the type of actions they commit while there. The behavioral data is something you can’t exactly control.
Personalization is also something you can’t personally control as a business owner. Google personalizes the information when a user is searching their database. Google does this by looking at the country, locality, personal history, and social connection of a person. You can even test this out by using two different browsers; the search results you get may be different.
What’s Important For The Future
There are 4 factors that now have more of a heavy influence on the local search rankings. The first and most important one is Proximity.
Proximity is heavily influenced by the distance of a consumer from a business. Say, for example, a car dealership is 5km closer to the customer when your business is 10km away, the 5km business will most likely show up higher in the local search rankings.
It should come as no surprise when we tell you that reviews and inbound links can help get you to outrank your competitors. These two factors have gained in importance over the past year.
“Any publicity is good publicity”. Maybe this should be your sign that it’s time to sponsor that local sport team you’ve always wanted to sponsor. Maybe, in return of your sponsorship, you can ask them if they can advertise your website on their social media pages. These inbound links can really help!
On-Page Signals have also become more important since the 2015 report came out. If you want your page to get ranked higher, spend some time going over your HTML and check to make sure that your content is relevent to what you’re selling.
You shouldn’t be having tagged pictures of cats on your website if you’re advertising cars. This could bring your ranking down and end up hurting you more than helping your business.
To Sum Up
Citations, Google My Business and Social Signals have all started to decrease in value when it comes to local SEO.
This is not to say that you should completely disregard them – they still each play a part in how you rank. Google My Business is still one of the top factors in where you rank, but it’s importance is starting to stall a bit.
You should continue to keep making citations and to make sure your Google My Business page is using the right keywords and lists the correct categories.
Continue to update your social media platforms, too. While it may not help as much in the local pack, your effort can still impact if you get ranked higher than one of your major competitors.
If you’re interesting in other reading material based on these findings, check out the following: