Implementing local SEO into your marketing strategy can be a great way to increase leads and grow sales, especially if you run a small business operating in a specific region, town, or city.
When you’re focusing on local SEO, there are several local SEO ranking factors you need to be aware of.
These factors can make the difference between your website ranking on the first page of Google or Bing, and languishing at the back of the pack.
Bubblegum Search can identify the local SEO ranking factors a company excels in, and what it needs to do to boost its search engine presence.
Not sure what local SEO ranking factors you need to be aware of in 2022?
We’ve put together a list to get you started.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is when you optimise your website and search engine presence to increase the chances of your business ranking as highly in the local search engine results as possible.
While traditional SEO focuses on your ability to rank nationally or internationally, local SEO focuses on where you rank in your town, city, or region.
This puts smaller businesses at a great advantage as location and user proximity to the physical address of the business is the biggest ranking factor.
Local SEO can be a powerful tool for your business as many people are looking for services and products near where they live and work.
What are the top three ranking factors for local SEO?
Google advises that local ranking is based on three primary factors:
Relevance – how well your business matches what someone is looking for
Distance – how far your business is from the user
Prominence – how well-known and trusted your business is in the search engines
All these factors come together to determine the best match for a customer’s inquiry.
Local SEO ranking factors to be aware of
Google Business Profile
A Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is easy to claim, set up and manage. It’s one of the best ways to improve visibility on Google.
What makes a Google Business Profile such a positive ranking signal when it comes to local SEO?
Optimising your profile gives Google additional context about what your business does and where it is located.
For example, by providing the address of your brick-and-mortar stores and the best category. Google can use this information to serve search engine users the right results.
5% of Google Business Profile views ultimately lead to a prospective customer taking action, whether that’s a website visit, phone call or request for directions.
Online reviews and ratings
The more positive reviews your business has, the more likely it is to be trusted by customers. This means search engines like Google, are more likely to recommend and rank your website in top positions.
Negative reviews can have the opposite effect on search engine rankings. According to Brightlocal, just one negative review can drive away nearly a quarter of prospective shoppers.
This means five-star reviews and glowing testimonials are a positive local SEO ranking factor.
On-page user experience
If your business has a website, it’s essential to make sure it’s relevant, trustworthy, fast-loading, and easy to use.
Let’s say a prospective customer visits your website, stays for five seconds and leaves, realising that it’s not quite what they were after. While the odd visit like this won’t have a lot of impact, too many can increase your bounce rate and lower the average time spent on your site.
Google has advised that bounce rate and average time spent on a website aren’t direct local SEO factors. However, these metrics can indirectly show that your website doesn’t provide a good user experience or offer customer value. And if website visitors don’t see value in your site, the search engines won’t show it as often.
Earlier we mentioned that trust in your website is a positive local SEO ranking factor.
Links to your website from high-quality, relevant sites can prove that other people and organisations value what you do.
Getting backlinks can be challenging, but they’re essential to getting to the number one spot on Google. According to Backlinko, the top result in Google has an average of four times as many backlinks than the rest of the first page.
Even if you struggle to get links from other websites, internal links on your own website are an SEO ranking factor.
Improving and adding more of these gives the search engines additional information about the relationship between pages, which can boost your SEO.
While backlinks are valuable when it comes to search engine presence, mentions of your business can be just as beneficial.
NAP stands for ‘name, address and phone number’ and is when your business’s contact details are included on other websites, social media platforms and online directories.
These citations can help determine where you rank in Google.
The advantage of NAP citations is that small local businesses that don’t have a website can still take advantage of the search engine boost that they provide.
Consistency is just as important as frequency when it comes to NAP citations. Inconsistency between citations can be a negative local SEO ranking factor and can reduce the trust that search engines have in your business.
With local SEO, it’s likely that people are searching for your business while they are out and about. It’s estimated that over half of mobile searchers are looking for a local business address.
Google has confirmed that mobile-friendliness is an SEO ranking factor. This means if your website is easy to use on a mobile phone, it will rank more highly in searches.
Google wants to serve websites that provide the best user experience to potential customers, wherever they are.
So be sure to perform a mobile SEO audit!
On-page location and keyword optimisation
Our final important local SEO ranking factor involves the content on your website. As well as making sure your pages load quickly and are easy to navigate, you need to ensure your website content contains the keywords your target audience is likely to be searching for.
It’s essential to carry out keyword research – if you were a member of the public looking for your business online, what would you type into Google? Once you know what keywords customers are likely to use, you can add these keywords to your pages.
If you provide products or services to a number of towns or cities, we recommend creating location-specific pages. This shows the search engines which areas you want to be associated with and allows for the opportunity to rank for keyword+ location keywords.
Boost your search engine rankings with local SEO ranking factors
As with traditional SEO, there are several local SEO ranking factors that can help determine the presence of your business in the search engines.
It’s important to remember the three primary factors that determine rankings – relevance, distance, and prominence.
If the actions you take identify your location, help define your relevance to the searcher as well as boost trust in your business, you’re good to go.
And remember, if you need a little extra support with your local SEO, Bubblegum Search is here to help.