Local SEO has become increasingly important in recent years as more businesses recognise the benefits of ranking higher in local search results. With the rise of mobile search and voice search, local SEO has become essential for businesses that want to attract customers in their local area. In this article, we will discuss the local SEO factors that are important for ranking higher in Google’s local search results.
Most small to medium sized businesses can be classified in one way or another as a ‘local business’. Many businesses erroneously assume that the need for digital marketing on a local level is eradicated by local advertisements, word of mouth or simply footfall and efficient signage.
The truth of the matter is that you can be a well-established local business and a good percentage of folk in the local area are either not aware of you or don’t fully understand the services or products that you offer.
So, if you are in any way interested in boosting your local profile then you will need to find new ways to increase your visibility in search engines, when it comes to local searches. Without a plan of action for your local SEO your business will undoubtedly fail to reach its potential in your local area.
Almost everyone these days ticks that little option on their device that allows apps including search engines to ‘see’ your location. This enables any searches that you may carry out to have a local bias and yield more relevant results based on your whereabouts.
But understanding just how Google and other search engines determine how to place local businesses in these search results is fundamental in order to begin to come up with a local SEO plan of action.
Get to Grips with Google’s Knowledge Graph
The Google Knowledge Graph (GKG) was unveiled in 2012 and it aims to collate facts about people, places and businesses and how they connect. Optimising your own business’s Google Knowledge Graph is a great way to get started with your local SEO drive. Getting your business on the GKG map is like having a free billboard in your local town square.
In order to get the information Google provides about your company via GKG as accurate as possible there are some key tips:
- Use schema tags (HTML for search engines). When you use schema to tag the relevant parts of your site, you are making it simpler for Google and other search engines to interpret information displayed on your site more accurately so they can provide a more relevant picture.
- Create a Wikipedia entry for your business. When doing so, make it as factual as humanly possible, creating a realistic profile of your company, with no self-promotion or quality assertions. Be matter of fact and 100% accurate to avoid revision or deletion. Be warned this is a long and difficult process but certainly worth the effort.
- Take steps to get on Google’s Local Knowledge Graph. By meticulously going through all of your online platforms, from main website through all your various social media platforms and making sure that all information is displayed consistently and accurately (name, address, phone number, email etc.) it will be much easier for search engines to recognise everything as the same business and create a more accurate search profile.
- Get press releases published. By writing up and having regular press releases published on reputable local news channels you are increasing your local visibility and also positively enhancing your GKG profile as you are way more likely to feature in the Google ‘in the news’ section.
Google My Business (GMB)
Google My Business is a free tool that allows businesses to manage their online presence on Google. It is the most important factor for ranking in local search results. GMB helps businesses to appear in Google Maps and the local pack. The local pack is the box that appears at the top of the search results when a user searches for a local business. The local pack displays three businesses and includes their name, address, phone number, reviews, and a link to their website. To optimise your GMB listing, you should ensure that your listing is complete and accurate. This includes verifying your business location, adding relevant categories, and uploading high-quality photos.
Take ownership of your Google My Business (GMB) page
Setting up a GMB page is dead simple. You can simple click here and follow the instructions, so no need for a tutorial. There are, however, some very useful tips that can be followed in order to give you the best chance of maximising this free tool’s vast potential for boosting your local SEO.
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. NAP consistency is important for local SEO because it helps Google to verify the existence and location of a business. Inaccurate or inconsistent NAP information can harm your local rankings. You should ensure that your NAP information is consistent across your website, GMB listing, and other online directories.
Reviews are an important ranking factor for local SEO because they provide social proof of the quality of your business. Positive reviews can help to increase your rankings in local search results, while negative reviews can harm your rankings. You should encourage your customers to leave reviews on your GMB listing and other online directories. You should also respond to reviews in a timely and professional manner.
Make sure that you include all of the following:
- A suitably detailed description of your business, it’s products and services and a little history, all formatted properly and including relevant links
- Get as many photographs taken by a budding photographer willing to help out and upload them
- Make sure your business is listed in the category best suited to it
- Ensure that your phone number(s) and email addresses are listed
- Make sure your address is consistent with the one on your website and elsewhere
- Add accurate opening days and hours (where applicable)
- Add real and positive reviews from customers or clients and other businesses where applicable
- Use the aforementioned schema mark-up for entering your details so that they make the most sense to the search engines. This guide is invaluable for that.
What are review signals
Google review signals are important for local SEO because they provide a way for customers to share their experiences with a business and for potential customers to read those reviews before deciding whether to visit or do business with that business. Positive reviews and high ratings can help a business rank higher in Google’s local search results and attract more customers, while negative reviews and low ratings can have the opposite effect.
Some of the key factors that Google considers when evaluating review signals include:
Quantity and frequency of reviews: Businesses that receive a high volume of reviews and consistently receive new reviews are more likely to rank well in local search results.
Overall rating: The overall rating of a business can affect its visibility in search results. Businesses with high ratings are more likely to appear at the top of search results.
Diversity of reviews: A business that receives reviews from a variety of sources and from customers with different backgrounds and perspectives is seen as more trustworthy by Google.
Keywords in reviews: Reviews that contain relevant keywords and phrases can help a business rank higher in search results for those terms.
Overall, Google review signals are an important factor in local SEO and should be monitored and managed by businesses to ensure that they are maintaining a positive online reputation and ranking well in local search results.
What is Google’s RankBrain and How Does it Affect Local SEO
RankBrain and Local SEO – What You Need to Know
Google’s RankBrain is an innovative AI system that utilises sophisticated machine learning algorithms to enhance the accuracy and relevancy of search results. By understanding user intent behind their queries it provides more personalised outcomes for each individual searcher. With this cutting edge technology at work Google continues its mission towards delivering unparalleled online experiences for all users worldwide.
RankBrain utilises a combination of traditional ranking factors such as content quality, page speed and user engagement metrics along with advanced machine learning algorithms that enable it to grasp the context behind search queries. This means that RankBrain can not only comprehend what users are looking for but also learn from previous results in order to enhance future ones. With this cutting edge technology at its disposal Google is able<s> offering more accurate and relevant information than ever before!
When it comes to local SEO RankBrain plays a crucial role in improving the accuracy and relevance of search results. By understanding user intent better than ever before this algorithm can provide more targeted recommendations for things like “best pizza place near me” searches by taking into account factors such as location data. With its ability to deliver highly personalised suggestions based on individual preferences and geographic proximity – Rankbrain is truly revolutionizing how we find what were looking for online!
To optimise for RankBrain in local SEO businesses must prioritise providing high quality content that addresses the needs and interests of their target audience. Additionally they should ensure their website is optimised for local search queries by including relevant keywords creating location specific content using schema markup to help Google understand its relevance locally. By taking these steps businesses can increase their chances of ranking higher on local searches while reaching more potential customers within their area.
Vital On-Page SEO factors
Add your city and region along with a carefully chosen keyword on the following:
- landing page title tag
- landing page URL
- landing page H1 tag
- content on landing page
- landing page image ALT attributes
Local directory listings DO matter
Make sure you get in touch with all the local ‘what’s on’ type sites to get your website and business details listed as well as considering advertising in local in print magazines and newspapers. Local directories can help with your local search engine rankings.
Social media is important for local SEO because it helps to increase the visibility and engagement of your business in your local area. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can help to increase your online presence and drive traffic to your website. You should ensure that your social media profiles include your NAP information and that you consistently post.
What are social signals?
Social signals refer to any type of social media activity or interaction that indicates user engagement with a website or brand. Examples of social signals include likes, shares, comments, and other interactions on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Social signals are important because they can indicate to search engines the popularity, relevance, and authority of a website or brand. When a website receives a lot of social signals, it suggests that people are engaging with its content and finding it valuable, which can lead to higher search engine rankings and increased visibility in search results.
However, it’s important to note that while social signals can be a factor in search engine rankings, they are not a direct ranking factor. In other words, simply having a lot of social signals does not guarantee that a website will rank higher in search results. Instead, social signals should be seen as an indicator of user engagement and a way to build brand awareness and reputation.
What are Google Business Profile Signals
Good business profile signals refer to the various factors that influence the online reputation and visibility of a business. These signals help search engines like Google to determine the relevance, authority, and trustworthiness of a business and its online presence. Some of the key business profile signals include:
Completeness and accuracy of business information: Businesses that have complete and accurate information on their website, Google My Business listing, and other online directories are seen as more trustworthy by search engines and customers alike.
Consistency of business information: The information about a business (such as its name, address, and phone number) should be consistent across all online directories and platforms to avoid confusion and improve the visibility of the business.
Quality and quantity of customer reviews: As mentioned earlier, positive customer reviews and ratings can improve a business’s visibility in local search results and increase its reputation online.
Social media presence: Active and engaging social media profiles can help a business reach more customers and build its reputation online.
Inbound links: Links from other reputable websites to a business’s website can improve its authority and relevance in search results.
Mobile-friendliness: With an increasing number of people using mobile devices to search online, having a mobile-friendly website and online presence is crucial for a business to rank well in search results.
Overall, these business profile signals are important for businesses to monitor and optimise to improve their online reputation and visibility. By focusing on these signals, businesses can attract more customers, build their brand, and ultimately grow their business.
Citations and link building
What is a citation? Well, a citation is an online reference to your business name, address and phone number (known as NAP). There are online tools such as Bright Local, which allow you to search for any existing citations you may have and you can even update them for accuracy.
This is also an excellent tool to do a bit of spying on the competition to see where they have citations and make sure you follow suit. Be consistent in your citations. In order to achieve local citations you can:
- Trawl through lists on the Moz website and submit manual citations
- Use the likes of WhiteSpark to solicit local citations
- Set up a series of alerts via Google Alerts to keep track of new mentions of your competitors’ NAP citations.
Backlinks are links from other websites to your website. Backlinks are an important ranking factor for local SEO because they indicate the relevance and authority of your website. You should focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks from relevant websites that are related to your business and location. You can acquire backlinks through guest blogging, sponsorships, and partnerships with other businesses.
Link building is a crucial part of any successful boost to local SEO and furthermore it is too often ignored. Local SEO is greatly indebted to achieving links from other local websites that have parallels to your own business. Get together with local businesses with similar interests and clientele and arrange to share links in blog content. This will not only encourage a greater community spirit but open up the possibility of shared promotions and mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships going forward.