This time around we are talking about local SEO. We will talk about why local SEO is important, and about a few local SEO ranking factors and how to handle them. There is a wealth of SEO information out on the web, as things are consistently and dramatically changing within search algorithm systems. We did our best to take a small bite out of local SEO ranking factors and break it down in a concise and easily understood way.
We have been talking A LOT about SEO recently. Because we have an “in-house” (I mean “in-his-house”, since we’re all away from the office still!) Web Developer on our team, we’ve been able to expand some of our offerings. If you don’t already know, we just launched a new SEO Optimization Package, which allows you to customize an SEO package best suited for your business needs and goals.
Ready to talk about your SEO?
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is all about optimizing your web presence for local search engine results. The goal is to increase traffic, leads, and brand awareness. Local SEO is important for all businesses. No matter the size. Your business can be a brick-and-mortar office with a physical address, like a doctor’s office or restaurant, or service area businesses that operates within certain geographic areas, like plumbers or contractors. There’s always a chance that your business could be a hybrid of both too!
Local Ranking Factors, and How You Can Handle Them:
Google My Business Page:
We’ve said it before, and we’re pretty sure we will continue to say it again. Having a Google My Business page continuously shows up as the number one local SEO ranking factors. It is a free tool, and you no longer must be a brick-and-mortar to claim your business profile. This business profile is crucial for you to get seen by local searches. For instance, if somebody is looking for “best coffee shop near me”, and your GMB page doesn’t show up, you’re likely not even ranking in their search query and therefore missing out on a lot of customers.
As stated on the GMB Help page, to maximize your businesses visibility, you must ensure that your business information is accurate, complete and engaging. There are 5 things you should be sure to input.
- Enter complete data.
- Verify your locations.
- Keep your hours accurate.
- Manage and Respond to reviews
- Add photos.
According to Google, local search results are based primarily off relevance, distance and prominence. Your GMB page should have complete data, that gives Google correct, and detailed information, so the algorithm can better understand your profile and match you with given search queries.
An example of this could be, say you own a coffee shop, and you serve said coffee and pastries. But you also serve breakfast, and have a small menu specifically geared towards a vegan diet. If you don’t write “vegan options” or “vegan” somewhere on your page, then when your potential customer types in “Best vegan breakfast near me”, you won’t rank, they miss out on your great food, and you miss out on income! It’s easy to leave something like that out of your GMB page, especially if it’s such a small aspect of what your business is about.
The distance aspect of a local search query speaks for itself mostly. It is a location-based calculation that affects your ranking. Some people move their businesses to locations that are closer to where local searches are being made. We’re not sure if you could see yourself doing that, but believe it or not, it does happen.
Prominence is all about how well known your business is on the web. Reviews, content, links, articles, directories, all of this plays a hand in how prominent your business is. SEO practices apply here, and more reviews and positive ratings will help you out too. Remember, you can’t pay people to leave you reviews, but you should work to feel comfortable asking someone who is obviously happy with their experience with you to take a short amount of time to share that with others.
Ratings and Reviews:
End users today put a lot of trust into reviews, enough to base their purchasing decisions on them. In fact, according to Brightlocal’s 2016 survey, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. On the flip side, in the same 2016 study Brightlocal also found that 73% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant.
Asking for these reviews from a satisfied customer is a simple and effective way to keep gaining reviews consistently. In doing so, this helps prove that your business is trustworthy, reliable, and legitimate. The number of reviews, consistency, and quality all plays a part here.
There are several ways ratings and reviews are published on the web. There are first party reviews, third party reviews, and of course Google My Business page reviews. All of which influence your businesses local search ranking.
First Party Reviews:
First party reviews are those that you have posted on your website. They are not linked to third party sites, and they are directly solicited from feedback from you customer or website visitors. These are just several rules you need to follow to be schema.org compliant.
The benefit of first party reviews is that it keeps potential customers or clients on your website longer, and therefore makes them more likely to purchase. Google also finds this appealing, as it means the content on your website is more relevant and interesting.
Third Party Reviews:
Third party reviews are important in that they continuously provide fresh content. Examples platforms that support third-party reviews would be Google Maps, Facebook, and Yelp, for instance. Having people write reviews on different third-party platforms will provide a well-rounded and positive online presence.
GMB Page Reviews:
Clearly, Google My Business reviews will make you stand out Google. When people are searching for your business through Google, these reviews will show up first. It would be wise to be sure you’re receiving a regular flow of reviews and ratings here at the very least. There is a wide range of apps and integrations that can help you ask for and post reviews on your varying pages too! You can try going that route or if you want to keep it simple, Google has a link you can share with customers as well.
Links from Related Small Businesses:
One thing is for sure, and that is that everyone that has tried link building, knows it’s hard. But so are a lot of things in life, and they usually pay off in the end. Building links from related small businesses is no different. The intention behind local link building is to frame the relevance of your website towards it’s locality. In doing so, you will charter your presence within the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). You’ll want to come at link building in a concise manner- your time is money after all.
We found a great list of ways to build links written by Amelia at Search Engine Journal. She says these 7 things are tried and true local link building tactics for small businesses.
- Support your local community.
- Connect with local and niche bloggers.
- Run a scholarship.
- Guest post for industry-relevant sites
- Offer case studies or testimonials.
- Reclaim unlinked mentions.
- Promote your content far & wide.
If you put in the tactical work of link building, it will do wonders for your local SEO. You will absolutely see results after putting in the effort!
Near Me Searches:
Near me searches are continuously on the rise. Google says that ‘near me’ searches doubled in 2015 and the volume of queries like those have increased 34 times since 2011. Do you know where most of these searches come from? You guessed it, mobile devices. In fact, There are many other reasons why having a mobile friendly site is incredibly important, but clearly, optimizing for ‘near me’ searches should be considered crucial. There are quite a few ways to go about this, but here are a few we believe to be best.
Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly:
With most ‘near me’ searches being made on mobile devices; this is a no brainer. You want the people making these searches to have instant access to correct information. Some ways you can make your website mobile friendly is through your design, using “click to call” buttons, using larger fonts and larger buttons, and to optimize your sites load time.
Be Sure That Your Contact Information is Consistent and Correct on Your Website:
You can do this by making sure that your contact information or NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) is exactly the same on your website as it is on your GMB page. This is called local citation. You will also want to make sure your business information is correct across all profiles on the web, including social media sites.
It’s clear that there are plenty of ways to optimize for local SEO, and it’s becoming more apparent how important it is to put in some time to ensure that your page ranks well. We went over just a few factors that we find will typically give you the best results for your business’s local SEO, but there are plenty more steps that can be the difference between first page results, and never being seen by a customer.
Contact us if you would like help with any part of your SEO strategy. We also have a highly capable Web Master, and many other technology services available that will help unify your existing technology stack. Whether you’re at it alone, or you have existing IT employees, we can work with you to get the best you possibly can within your given parameters.
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