Local SEO Ranking Factors Are More Detailed Than You Might Think
Business owners tend to fall in to two categories when it comes to Local SEO and what impacts a local SERP. The first are those that don’t know a thing about it, and readily admit that. The second are those that read a few blogs or about.com entries, and think it should be a breeze. To those in the second group…I’ll let my good friend Lee Corso express my sentiment below:
That’s right. Not so fast my friends. The amount of factors that go in to Google’s placement in local search results is deep. I’m talking understanding String Theory deep. Read this 2013 entry from Moz.com to see what I’m talking about.
We can break this out into 5 key top level local SEO ranking considerations. Just to put some “plain English” behind the whole local search ranking factors discussion. They are as follows:
* Being listed in the right categories: This is a killer for a lot of niche business, because there’s no great top level category for them. One of my clients is an IT remarketing company. There’s no category for that. The closest they could get to a reasonable match? Recycling. Blech. The next closest match? Computer repair. You see what I mean.
Still, most companies will find a decent match. In fact, most companies should find several. That’s right. It’s estimated that more then 25% of in-house marketers don’t pick more than one category. Mind blowing. If you don’t nail the categories, nothing will matter from that point forward.
* Having all your citations claimed, and being consistent: From Yellow Pages online to Foursquare to niche-specific business directories…make sure your business has claimed ALL their online profiles and citations. And make sure that they all say the same thing. What does that mean? For starters, your address should be the same for all of them. If your business has moved over the years, make sure all the citations are cleaned up. Do you have a few keywords associated with your business? A tagline or positioning statement? It should be the same across all of your listings. Locally relevant domains like the city newspaper or the local BBB are especially important here. Consistency is key here.
* Having quality and quantity in your online reviews: G+ reviews, Yelp reviews, YP.com reviews…they all matter. Not just how many, but how good they are and how evenly they are distributed over time (this is called the “velocity” of reviews). Reputation management is a key element of lead generation anyways, so if there isn’t a campaign in place to actively acquire reviews, there should be. Having the location AND the product or service keyword in the review is gold. Not that we’d advocate forcing someone’s statement, but letting them know what you are after is part of the ask. It makes a difference.
* Being close to the searcher (or the city center): This is another one that a lot of local business gets tangled up on. If you are in a suburb that’s 30 miles from a metro city center, it’s going to be hard to get on the local listings. Likewise, if you’re out in a different neck of the woods than where the searcher is right now (assuming they’re on a mobile device), that’s going to be hard to overcome as well. Not insurmountable, but it will add to the degree of difficulty. Just something worth noting.
* Having good links to your domain and your places page: We can file this one under the common sense category for local citation ranking factors, but many people don’t consider if there’s any inbound links (quality links, not spam) to their places page. This ties in to the domain authority of the overall website as well – not just the homepage, but the entire collection of web pages. Many of our clients who’ve came from second-tier SEO firms have a ton of links to their homepage, but virtually none to key interior pages. I won’t even get started on the lack of anchor text diversification that usually accompanies this…we digress. Links are important to your site AND to your places landing page. The more (and more qualified), the better.
Within these 5 local SEO ranking factors there’s a lot of sub-categories, plus considerations we didn’t even touch on (like having Rel=publisher markup included, social sharing signals from G+ and keeping local info in your title tags). It’s a details game, but understanding the core elements above can help you understand what goes into it. Professional search engine optimization companies have to do more than just get links (or develop great content to get links), they have to be reputation management experts as well.
Is your SEO company letting you down in the local rankings? Give us a call or drop us a line today, and get started on your path to a better understanding of local SEO.