Local SEO is driven by the same ideas and practices as traditional SEO with one crucial difference, the business’s location. The aim of Local SEO is to reinforce your business’s locality, thereby returning your business in search results based upon a user’s location and search queries that contain a local intent. Thanks to the annual Moz local search ranking survey we list the top 8 search ranking factors that you should be focusing your Local SEO efforts on in 2017.
Local Search ranking Factors for 2017
The survey asked participants to select what, in their opinions. contribute to ranking across local results within Google.
- Google My Business: 19.01%
- Links: 17.31%
- On-page SEO: 13.81%
- Citations: 13.31%
- Reviews: 13.13%
- Behavior on Mobile: 10.17%
- Personalization: 9.67%
- Social Signals: 3.53%
Google My Business
I am not going to teach you to suck eggs, but a local business without a verified Google My Business (GMB) listing is potentially losing out on a large chunk of traffic. Equally, a large percentage of businesses that have a verified business page, but have never checked their insights, updated their images, special hours or business attributes, are potentially hampering their own visibility.
GMB has recently overhauled the entire account dashboard in order to expand offerings available to verified accounts. You no longer have an automatic Google+ business page created when you create a business listing, but I will go out on a limb and say it’s still worth enabling this and maintaining it as part of your social media efforts.
GMB is currently experimenting with auto created websites based upon the business information extracted from the Google+ business page and the Business Listing. You can view some of the already created test sites here: site:business.site.
UPDATE: Google Business Websites Released.
Another fantastic test currently being conducted by Google is the offshoot from Push to Posts which appeared during the US election campaign ( Google+ Post cards live in search results ). GMB is currently testing Local Posts which will be pushed live into the business knowledge panel.
So if you have been ignoring your Google My Business listing and page, its time to fall in love again.
I won’t dwell on this point too long, as you all realize how important relevant links are to SEO in general, however the key takeaway here is “local” links.
- Quality & Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
- Quality & Authority of Inbound Links to Page
- Diversity of Inbound Links to Domain
- Diversity of Inbound Links to Landing Page
A local business can earn links from a variety of sources; local and national newspapers, local charity sites, business associations, chambers of commerce, local high profile bloggers. Often a local business only needs a handful of local authority links to make an impact, think local because you are local.
On Page SEO
I included citations within this section as they had roughly the same percentages.
On Page SEO:
- City, County in Landing Page Title
- Product & Service Keyword in Website URL
- City, County in Landing Page H1/H2 Tags
- City, County in Most/All Website Title Tags
- Geographic Keyword in Website URL
- Location Keywords in Anchor Text of Links
- Proper Category Associations
- Quality & Authority of Structured Citations
- Consistency of Structured Citations
- NAP Matching My Business Page
- Quality & Authority of Unstructured Citations
- Quantity of Structured Citations
Put a review strategy in place, monitor and respond to reviews across all media, not just your GMB page. Google displays these and other sites’ reviews within your knowledge panel and in some industries, like hotels, GMB displays other sites’ reviews in review cards.
Pay attention, this is your reputation.
Mobile traffic is becoming increasingly important to Google. It’s now estimated that over 50% of searches on Google are performed using mobile devices, which has moved Google into a Mobile First Index mindset.
Mobile-first means that Google’s going to change their Google bot from a desktop user agent to a mobile user agent. What that means is that your web server will start delivering the mobile version of the site instead of the desktop version.
- Mobile Responsive Website
- Optimize your Digital Assets for Mobile
Update your LocalBusiness structured data to include images. Updating your local business structured data with the image field allows you to manage your mobile rich card branding, rather then Google picking an unwanted image from your website.
Top Tip: The priceRange field can be a call to action, rather then an actual price range.
Personalization is Google either knowing or guessing (educated guessing) what the searcher is looking for. If you have searched for various businesses in your own town, Google will use your search history to determine you want information about the particular business in your town.
This can also be referred to as search bias. Mitigating this within local SEO can be through off-site reviews and on-site testimonials (the best florist in town). Understanding your actual customers’ intent and creating / providing content that will satisfy your customers’ search intent.
Social signals can be related to personalization. If a lot of people in the business’s online social circle are searching for the business or its type of service, Google may include this business in the auto suggest list for anyone who is related to that social circle.
NB: Do not mistake this for social likes being a ranking factor.
What About Local Pack Ranking?
No local SEO article worth its salt could ignore the local pack, 3 pack, snack pack or ABC pack depending on your business type.
The main factors for local pack rankings were:
- Proximity of Address to the Point of Search (Searcher-Business Distance)
- Physical Address in City of Search
- Proper Google My Business Category Associations
- Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
- Consistency of Citations on the Primary Data Sources
- Domain Authority of Website
- Product/Service Keyword in GMB Business Title
- Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
- Consistency of Citations on Tier 1 Citation Sources
- Click-Through Rate from local pack results
Focusing your time on these eight main local search ranking factors will certainly help you use your time in the most efficient way and should provide a measurable impact on results.