Local SEO – the practice of optimizing the presence of your physical business location and your brand in search engines – has become an increasingly important and competitive area of Internet marketing in recent years.
If your business has one or more locations where customers come to you, or alternatively you deliver products or services in specific areas, you could potentially benefit from local SEO listings. This involves listing your location(s) in directories or business listings, such as Google My Business (previously known as Google Places, or G+ Local).
Since My Business is heavily integrated with Search, your business listing competes for prominence based on ranking algorithms. Search experts have long debated what signals affect rankings. The basic factors, with perceived weighting towards how important they are, are elaborated on in this post. The below list was recently updated by MOZ but remains relatively similar to research conducted a year ago.
On page signals (21.0%)
The presence of an accurate name, address and phone number (NAP) is crucial, as is having keywords in the title. With the recent Pigeon update, the domain authority of the websites associated with the listing is also a very important signal.
Similar to traditional websites, your local listings can also benefit from inbound links, as well as the relevance of the linking sites, the link text and the sites’ domain authority. As a result, building links to the listing itself is imperative.
External location signals (15.5%)
The third most vital component is the consistency of NAP and other listing details. Citation volume and the number of other business listings referencing your business location(s) are also important; however, consistency and accuracy will always take precedence over volume.
My Business signals (14.7%)
The category your listing falls under as well as the listing title are also critical. These need to include the keyword(s) if possible. The title can only include a keyword if it is part of the business name itself. How close your listing is to the location of the person searching is also important, especially to rank for generic keywords without location reference.
Review signals (9.8%)
The number of reviews your business collects also helps with rankings. Here, the quantity and diversity of reviews matter, as well as how frequently your business has been reviewed by customers. Genuineness and interactivity are also key elements of getting good overall review signals. The more you respond to reviews, the more this will improve interactivity and encourage other users to post reviews as well.
There is a lot you can do to give your listing(s) a custom look and feel, and this plays a role when it comes to better search rankings. This quick-win tactic to optimize your listing includes uploading a business logo and background image as well as getting a custom URL.
Click Through Rate (CTR), dwell time and engagement with the listing also influence the ranking of your listing. Therefore, ensuring that the title is informative and the correct location information is displayed is key. As well, the phone number displayed should be formatted properly so that the call function from mobile search works seamlessly.
Turning the business listing into a social profile will also count as a ranking signal when it comes to visibility. The listing will collect Google +1 signals on posts as well as followers. The more it is promoted and the more social authority/following is built, the better it will perform.
Comparing the above signals with that of your competitors’ listings can be an insightful audit process. By scoping out the competition and improving on your own listing, you can ensure that your business stays at the top of local search rankings and at top of mind for your consumers.