In a recent update, Google has made traditional SEO efforts an even more important part of local search rankings. Traditional SEO efforts have also played an important role in local rankings; however, it is now more important than ever for brick-and-mortar businesses to up their SEO game to stay on top of the local listings, or to continue to improve their ranking position.
Google’s newly updated ranking factors rank local results based on relevance, distance, and prominence. By combining all of these factors, Google determines which local result is the best match for a user’s search intent. This new combination now gives businesses that might be slightly farther away a better chance of ranking if they are more relevant to the search intent or are more prominent offline or across the web.
Relevance is determined by how well your local listing matches what a user is searching for. This is where local keyword and listing optimization play a large part. If you monitor what users are searching for and optimize your content accordingly, you improve your chance of ranking based on relevance.
Distance is defined by how far your location is from the location term used in a search, or if a user doesn’t specify a location, how far away from the user your location is. You can’t optimize for distance specifically, but optimizing for relevance and prominence will help you stay competitive even when you might not be the closest option.
It’s a popularity contest. Prominence basically refers to how popular your business is. Prominence is based on information that Google has about the business from across the web. Think links, articles and directories. Prominence also takes into account your review count and score. To optimize for prominence you need to work on traditional SEO tactics, such as link building, as well as local-specific optimizations, which often involves link citation, directory listings, and review management.
It’s not enough for local businesses to focus their SEO efforts primarily on local tactics; however, they are a vital part of local ranking factors. This includes listing optimizations such as claiming and verifying your listings, ensuring your NAP (name, address, and phone) is accurate and consistent, responding to reviews, and adding photos to your listings. Optimization of local keywords, location page optimization and the use of semantic markup are also crucial to site health. Site developers must also continue to work on citation as it plays into Google’s new ranking factors specifically related to prominence.
Bottom line – Google has made it more important than ever for businesses to have a comprehensive SEO strategy to remain competitive in the local search ecosystem. To learn more about crafting a holistic SEO strategy contact Anvil today.