Key Local SEO Ranking Factors
The world of local SEO is ever-changing, and it can be challenging staying up-to-date with what affects local rankings. Find out the latest local SEO ranking factors, and learn how to improve your local rankings.
Improving Local Rankings: What Are The Best Local SEO Ranking Factors?
Getting a local business to rank highly on search engines is getting much more difficult. Local SEO has become more competitive as more and more businesses recognize that they need to optimize for local searches. Google has also slowly taken away prime spots from local businesses on the first page of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) by decreasing the number of local results that show up in the Google “Local Pack” – dropping the number of businesses displayed from seven listings to three listings (with one of those expected to be paid-for soon.)
Local SEO ranking factors have also changed drastically over the past few years, making it much more difficult to rank for local search keywords. If you work with local businesses, understanding this changing local environment is crucial.
There are specific search strategies you can take to help your business (or your client’s business) improve their rankings in local search results. Here are five important factors that affect local search visibility that you can start using today to rank higher.
1. Using Keywords to Improve Local Rankings
Keywords are the phrases people use to do a search for your local business. Selecting the right keywords is one of the most important aspects of ranking your website higher in search results.
When you plan your keyword strategy, think about what questions your customers would ask when they look for the types of products or services you offer. Don’t use jargon or industry terms that your consumers are not familiar with. Think like they do. Also, try to use your city’s name in approximately two spots on your website pages. Also, be sure to use keywords as relevant in your site’s Title and Description metadata/tags.
To find very detailed information on keywords, check out What are Keywords and How to Effectively Use Them.
2. Claim Your Google My Business and Bing Places for Business Pages
Many businesses don’t realize that Google and Bing give you a FREE page on their search engine. By claiming your business on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business you will increase the likelihood of showing up when people search for your local business. Your business will show up on any device and you’ll get exposure on Google Maps, too.
Claiming your Google My Business and Bing Places for Business pages requires a few specific steps. Start with this great article on how to set up your Google My Business profile. Bing also makes it super simple to claim your listing. If you’re a digital marketing agency doing work on a local client’s behalf, it’s important that you understand that you cannot claim a Google My Business listing on the business’s behalf. The owner of the business must claim the listing and then make you a manager of their listing. However, Bing has set up an agency option for managing clients’ Bing Places for Business listings (which is awesome!)
One important thing you need to provide on your Google or Bing business listing is the physical address of your business (no P.O. Boxes allowed). If you run your business out of your home or are a service area business where you don’t have customers coming to your business, don’t worry. There’s an option for service area businesses, meaning you can suppress/hide your physical address.
Also, be sure to fill out as much information as you can — including your logo, photos of your employees, products, list your office hours, types of payments accepted, etc. If Google or Bing ask for a piece of information, give them something!
If you haven’t claimed your pages on Google and Bing, this is the first place to start when trying to rank higher on the search engines.
3. Write Localized Content
If you want to compete locally in search rankings, focus on creating some content about your city or local area on the pages of your website. Try and tie what’s going on in your local area to your business. (Regularly writing content for your website or blog is not optional if you’re a local business – these days it’s mandatory.) Here are some content ideas to try out:
- Write blog posts that talk about news, local events and activities going on in your city and surrounding areas
- Mention promotions or specials you’re having at your location
- Write or create videos about charity events your business participates in or supports
- If you service several locations, create city-specific pages on your site (just make sure that every page has distinctly different — and quality — content. Don’t just change the header with another city name just to try and fool Google, it won’t work.) Quality counts.
If your business has more than one location (for example a bank, medical practice, dentist, chiropractor, mechanic, etc.), create a separate page with each of the locations’ name, address, phone number, office hours, etc. Not only will this make it easier for the people visiting your site to find the specific location they’re looking for, but it could also affect local rankings for each of the cities your locations are in.
The length of content that search engines prefer has varied over the years. Right now it’s recommended that you write at least 1,000 words of quality content on each page. Sprinkle the city’s name you’re trying to rank for a few times throughout the content of pages – if it makes sense to do so — (but don’t overdo it!)