Local search engine optimisation (SEO) is a highly targeted, niche strategy that every business can and should be thinking about. Why? Because it’s becoming more valuable and more popular, something that is driven by the rise of smartphone usage and better connectivity while out and about.
In late 2014, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic for the first time. Also, research from Google shows 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 84% take an action, such as making a purchase or contacting the business, as a result of this.
Moz has recently released a study on the most important ranking factors for Local Search in 2015. These ranking factors are based on a survey that is filled out every year by experts in the industry and include specific factors that help brands rank higher in local search results.
But before we jump into the findings from this year’s survey, let’s briefly recap how local search has evolved over the past couple of years:
Now let’s take a closer look at the top ranking factors so you know what you should be focusing on.
On-page signals remain the most important local search ranking factor. This refers to the presence of NAP (name, address and phone number), keywords in titles, domain authority and more.
Your pages need to match up to search locations and be optimised as effectively as possible in order to help boost local relevancy. In other words, in local SEO location is a powerful keyword.
So try to add your location in the following areas to show local relevancy:
The quality of links to your domain measures how much authority links from external websites have that are linking to your website. The more links coming from domains that are relevant to your website and have authority , the greater the chance for higher rankings in local search and traffic coming into your website.
But it’s not only about the quality and authority of links pointing to your site. What’s also important is the anchor text used when linking to your site. Avoid anchor texts like “click here” and instead include the location to boost local relevancy. Think about it: if authority sites point to a page on your site using the right keywords, that page has a very good probability of ranking well for the targeted phrase in that anchor text.
Don’t use the same anchor text as this can get your site penalised by Google. Find out more about the types of links that Google considers to be “bad backlinks” so you can avoid getting penalised.
Having a complete Google My Business (GMB) profile page is an important ranking factor in local search, and it’s something you need to work on if you want your business to appear in this section:
Google looks at the relevancy of your location listed in your GMB landing page title. So make sure to claim your listing and fill out your business page with all the important information about your business including NAP, website URL and opening hours.
You should also pay closer attention to the category in which you list your business, as listing it in the wrong category can be detrimental to a business’ online visibility.
While Google is now shying away from Google+, it’s still important to make sure your full Google + page is available and out there on the web. Check out this guide on how to optimise your Google My Business page for success.
A citation is any mention of your business name, address and phone number (NAP) on other sites. Even if there’s no link pointing to your site, citations are still very valuable as search engines pay attention to mentions of your brand on authority directories like Yelp or Internet Yellow Pages (IYP).
According to Moz Local, “Other factors being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.”
Building citations or mentions of your business is also very important for local visibility. When it comes to your business, Google focuses on three components:
Directory citations are a vital part of local SEO, and if you’re struggle to find the time needed to submit your business to relevant sites, and then keep the information updated, we recommend using Local Listing from 123 Reg. It lets you track all your directory submissions from one simple dashboard.
A study from Marchex, a mobile advertising analytics company, revealed that business generated when consumers tap on a click-to-call ad or search result on a mobile device totals in excess of $1 trillion. Also, click-to-calls from mobile produce conversions, such as sales, appointments, or reservations four times more often than desktop ads. This shows that click-to-calls hold an amazing amount of potential as even though an ad might receive a smaller click-through rate, it can actually result in many calls for the business.
Marchex also explains that 60% of ad-driven calls are generated from call extensions in the ad. The remaining 40% come after a click-through to a landing page. Learn more about clicks to call and check out this guide to learn how to track phone numbers and clicks using Google Analytics.
When a user runs a search on Google, the search engine “personalises” the search results based on their location and identity. It’s no longer about “blind” results that match everyone’s needs.
To increase your visibility in personalised search results, you need to focus on three elements:
Reviews are becoming more important as more users rely on them when deciding to make a purchase. That’s why Google is also factoring them into its algorithms. The attributes assessed are:
You’re probably aware by now of the impact of your social media efforts on your site’s rankings. Google takes into accounts social signals such as:
If you want your business to rank well in local search results, take these factors into consideration and change your local SEO strategy so you don’t get left behind.