The below chart shows what search engines take into consideration when ranking businesses for their local search results. (We SEOs are busy bees, aren’t we?)
In the below sections I’ll dissect each section and provide an understanding of some practices that will get you on your way to local SEO victory.
Lastly, we move onto personalization, which influences many of our searches. Not only for local SEO, but also any search that is made on the web. The following are taken into account for this:
- Local and mobile search factors
- Personal history
- Social connections
My Business Signals
Google My Business signals account for 14.7% of local ranking factors, which is a significant amount. So taking time to ensure the following within your listing is advisable:
- Individual description for each location
- Correct categories in place within the My Business tool
- Photos of locations and business logo
- Local phone numbers need to be added
- Address needs to be checked against website address to remain consistent – this is paramount
- Correct opening times
- Reviews within Google+ page pushed for all clients
Online reviews, although many businesses may be worried about going for these, are considered ranking factors. Google+ reviews are shown in the search engine results page (SERP) and indicated by stars. Asking your customers to leave positive reviews on Google+ is beneficial.
The Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) of the company we are conducting local SEO for within the Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) accounts for approximately 15.5% of local ranking signals. The following needs to be completed in order for this section to be completed:
- NAP needs to be the same and consistent within all Internet citations across all IYPs. These must be checked against Google My Business and website location addresses.
- The use of tools like BrightLocal and competitor citation reviews need to be taken into consideration, along with citation authority and domain authority of IYP.
If paid tools are not available, the following steps can be taken in order to understand which citations are most influential for the types of searches you are targeting:
- Conduct a local search like, “Marketing agencies Markham”
- Look for directory listings within the first two pages of Google (see below example)
- After searching for the term “Shoe shops Birmingham” on the first page of the SERP, we can see two local citation opportunities — Yell and Yelp. This would indicate these two citations are worth undertaking as a citation, again ensuring NAP consistency
The largest proportion of local SEO ranking factors, at 21%, is the NAP of the business. This should be checked at every available moment. The NAP needs to be present on business location pages, and the following are taken into consideration:
- Domain authority
- Page Authority
- Presence of City/region within the following:
- Landing page title
- H1 tag
- Landing page content
- ALT attributes
Developers will need to apply Schema, which is structured mark-up data that helps all search engines parse and index data. More information on Schema can be found at www.schema.org.
As always link building is and will be for the foreseeable future best practice within SEO. However for local SEO, gaining links to regional pages from local sources will benefit massively. When building links for local SEO, the same best practices apply from general link building for domain authority:
- Domain authority
- Spam score (taken from Moz)
- No keyword rich anchor text