As a local business, you must find ways to reach new customers online these days.
No longer can you rely on radio or television advertisements, or even billboard messages or local newspaper ads.
Instead, you need to focus the majority of your attention on building your local SEO strategy and raising your online visibility.
The goal of this strategy is to boost your website rankings, so you appear higher in organic search results and reach more potential customers in your particular area.
To achieve this goal, it’s essential to understand the importance of local SEO and the ranking factors that can help.
Here is what you need to know:
Importance of Local SEO
Today, just under half of all searches on Google relate to local searches. This makes the importance of local SEO even more apparent.
Local SEO plays an increasingly important role in your digital marketing strategy, and without it, you will find it difficult to attract the amount of new customers you need to sustain and grow your business.
For this reason, you need to focus on the ranking factors and how you can optimize your business.
Ranking factors are a set of criteria search engines use to evaluate pages to determine the optimal order of relevant results to provide for an individual’s search query.
While there are many ranking factors to consider, it all starts with the top three main factors which highly influence your local search results.
Relevance refers to how closely your business matches with what the consumer is searching for locally.
It is the key component to match a local business with a consumer’s search query.
What makes a site more relevant than another?
Many elements help with this, with an important one being the inclusion of relevant keywords and their strategic placement.
Distance in local SEO relates to the actual physical space between the searcher’s location and each potential search result.
In other words, how close is your business to the individual who is looking for what you have to offer?
When a searcher fails to specify a location in their search query, Google will do its own calculation, basing it on the searcher’s location.
This main ranking factor relies heavily on the information provided by your business.
To help with this, keep all your business information updated across the various platforms, including your website, social media accounts, review sites like TripAdvisor, and anywhere else you may be.
Also, if your business is in more than one location, create location-specific pages on your website for each one. Doing so can improve your search rankings overall.
However, while distance plays a distinct role in where you appear in local search results, relevance will remain a higher priority factor.
This will often be the case when a business that most likely offers the type of service or product a searcher is looking for is further away.
Even if you are closer by, you may not offer the relevant result needed to satisfy the query.
Prominence reflects the popularity of your business. The more well-known you are, the more prominence you will have.
How do search engines measure prominence?
The measurement is based on the information Google has on your business, including links and directories, as well as your ranking in web search results.
These tactics can include optimizing your Google My Business profile, engaging on social media, and building a link strategy.
Also, monitor visitor behavior on your website to gain an understanding of what is working best and find ways to increase them. Look at your bounce rate, click rate, and dwell time.
9 Specific Local SEO Ranking Factors
Optimize for the three main ranking factors above — relevance, distance, and prominence — and you’re well on your way to local SEO success.
To further increase that success, also consider the following nine specific local SEO ranking factors.
1. Proximity of Your Business
A key local SEO ranking factor is the proximity of your business to the address of the searcher who enters the query.
In other words, if someone is seeking the services your business offers, and they are conducting this search nearby, there’s a higher likelihood that you will show up in the top results.
Search engines understand the added value of convenience for a customer when it comes to the decision-making process.
While you can’t always control this ranking factor, you can influence it by making sure your business contact information is correct and consistent across various platforms.
2. NAP citations
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. This information is crucial for both potential customers and search engines.
Google will use this information to ascertain proximity details to include in rankings.
Consistency is key here. Be sure your NAP citations are consistent everywhere you are online. These include your website and local online business directories.
The more times a search engine comes across your business NAP citations online, the more confidence it has that your business location is legitimate.
3. Presence of Google My Business listing
An impactful way to increase online visibility is to optimize the presence of your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
This GMB listing will get your local business noticed by search engines.
Search engine algorithms use the signals in GMB listings, such as proximity, business categories, and contact information, to know more about you and more accurately present you in search results in your local area.
GMB listings will also alert potential customers to your local presence. Why?
Because searchers are often seeking businesses close to their geographical location.
For example, when a search query includes the words “near me,” it triggers a GMB listing to show up in the results.
You can optimize your local SEO by enhancing your Google My Business profile with the following:
- Add up-to-date business name, address, and phone number.
- Input hours of operation, including for holidays.
- Mention forms of payment accepted.
- Select relevant business categories.
- Incorporate keywords into the business description.
- Include a marker for Google Maps.
- Provide various high-quality photos.
- Ask satisfied customers to post reviews.
By optimizing your Google Business Profile, you can improve your ranking and attract more local customers.
4. Amount of Positive Online Reviews and Ratings
Online reviews are increasingly becoming a top local ranking factor these days. Google looks to these as a way to ascertain your business’ credibility and popularity.
Positive online reviews build trust and confidence in your business and what you offer.
When a customer feels they had a good experience with your business, product, or service, and they share that good experience in a review, other potential customers gain confidence in doing business with you.
The more positive reviews you have, the more Google will notice and, in turn, boost your ranking.
You can help by devising a strategy to increase the number of reviews for your business. Start by encouraging your current customers to add reviews.
Another related factor is local rating sites such as Yelp.
Be sure to check that your contact information is correct on these sites and closely monitor what consumers are saying about your business.
Engage with them also. If the ratings are negative in nature, always maintain your professionalism and provide a constructive response.
Connect with these local rating sites and provide your email, so you receive notifications when consumers comment about your business.
5. Content that provides valuable and unique insights
High-quality content that provides valuable and unique insights can also benefit your ranking in local search results.
Google values quality content. When that content also includes valuable and unique insights missing from most other websites, you can increase your position in rankings because more people will be engaging with your content.
To help you achieve this, create content relatable to your local community, including sponsored events, workshops, and more.
This content can be in the form of blog posts, news articles, infographics, interactive quizzes, or videos.
Also, conduct keyword research and use what you find along with location-based phrases to alert search engines and improve your business visibility online.
Include these keywords in your headlines, especially the H1. This headline indicates the content’s purpose and can attract more viewers as well as alert search engines.
6. Organic click-through rates
Organic click-through rates are another important local SEO ranking factor you must know to succeed.
This rate helps search engines determine whether viewers like your content or not.
When more viewers click on your post on the search engine results page, Google believes your content is more relevant and will eventually boost your rankings.
7. Total number of quality backlinks
Backlinks on your website can help your business build authority, boost your credibility, and get you noticed by search engine algorithms.
The quality and relevance of those backlinks, not the quantity, are what matters. Your ranking will depend more on links to high-quality content and respectable businesses.
As a local business, seek backlinks with businesses that are authoritative and relevant to your particular offerings. Build relationships with other local businesses and link to each other.
Search engines look at the site linking back to you. The higher quality that site is, the better it serves your ranking.
8. A localized website
There needs to be no doubt to visitors and search engines that your website is for a local business.
Include your business name, address, city, region, and any other identifying information on your homepage, easily found by viewers.
Create location-specific pages if you have more than one location and add unique content for each.
Optimize your relevant keywords with location keywords, including city name, neighborhood, local landmarks, major intersections or anything else unique to your service area.
For example, use phrases such as “pet boarding services in Charlotte NC” or “veterinarian near the Charlotte Dog Park.”
With all of this localized information on your website, you are assisting the search engine in understanding who you are targeting and where your customers are located.
9. Presence on Google Maps
Your presence on Google Maps is another crucial local SEO marketing tool you can use to your advantage.
With it, you have a higher chance of being discovered by new customers and moving ahead of your competitors, all at no cost to you.
Take these steps to optimize your presence on Google Maps.
- Add your local business to Google Maps.
- Include correct contact information and high-quality photos to your Google Maps presence.
- Link the Google My Business Account to your Google Maps business listing.
- Embed your Google Map on Your Website.
Taking the time to learn about these nine local SEO ranking factors and how you can optimize your website and business for higher success will benefit you and your customers now and far into the future.
Wrap Up: Optimize Local SEO Ranking Factors to Increase Your Success
Local SEO ranking factors play a key role in whether potential customers find your business while searching online.
To accomplish long-term benefits from your local marketing strategy, then, it’s essential you know what these factors are and how you can make changes to increase your success and reach more customers.
When it comes to strategic SEO, the more you know, the better. Fortunately, help is out there in the form of beneficial local SEO tools.
Find out what these tools are and how they can benefit you!