There has been a lot of attention given to local SEO over the past few years. Since 2013, local SEO has become the in-thing. This is after Google released a report that a majority of people are doing their searches remotely. The report also went to show that a sizeable chunk of queries on the search engine were seeking something in a specific location. Simply ask yourself how many times you have searched for something in a particular place like ‘best restaurants in Seattle’ or ‘pressure car wash in Nairobi’. Businesses want to be found easily on Google and for this reason, they are trying as much as possible to get good ranking in local searches.
Unfortunately, local SEO is not all that similar to the organic SEO. Link and on-page signals are touted to be the most crucial factors when ranking a business in local search. These signals collectively comprise of a domain authority, linking domain authority, having keywords in titles and inbound anchor text. A research carried out by Seattle-based SEO Company Moz, revealed that for any local search ranking, these are the most important features. The company also stated that Google’ trend of rewarding quality’ continues to increase.
The survey, 2015 Local Search Ranking Factors showed that on-page and link signals garnered 20 percent of the vote each, in terms of what was considered vital for local search. Close to 15 percent of search marketers paid more attention to business signals such as the keywords in business title, proximity and categories. Close to 14 percent took external location signals to be of first priority. These include the volume of citations and the NAP (name, address and phone number) consistency. Contrary to popular opinion, social signals like Twitter followers and Facebook likes did not get much attention gaining 5.5 percent of the vote.
Factors that damage local search ranking
The research survey also went ahead to show a cool 27 factors that affected the ranking of businesses in local searches. These factors include the likes of:
- Incorrect business category
When you are listing your business on the Google+ listings, you should select a category that is most appropriate for your business. There are people who will go for just a general category like restaurant, school, hospital and so forth. These are just too general to help in indexing your business. However, if you put your business’ category as ‘Indian restaurant’ or ‘music school’ this helps a lot in improving ranking of the business in the search engines.
Secondly, selecting the wrong category does not augur well for your business. There are some people who will intentionally select the wrong category because it is most popular for the location of their business.
- Fake business address
If a listing is detected at a false address, then there is going to be a problem in the ranking as well. The ranking will go down significantly. The same is the case if your address includes a suite number that is similar to UPS Mail Store or some other false address. Mismatching your address on the Google My Business landing page, was rated highly among the most unfavorable factors for local SEO ranking.
- Inconsistencies in the NAP citations
The NAP citations that you give for your business are very important. Having multiple citations spread all over the internet is going to work excellently for ranking your business. However, the format of the citation is even more important. If you decide to write it as name-address-phone number, then you should use that format in all other places that you cite it. This is the most favorable format for business listings. If there is a mismatch of this citation on your Google My Business landing page, then that is going to work against you when ranking your business.
- Presence of malware on site
Does your website have any kind of malware? You can be sure that Google will not be so impressed and thus your rank will be affected. Remember, as aforementioned, Google is continually paying a lot of emphasis to the quality of service that your site is able to provide to clients. Therefore, if your site is not delivering good service, for instance by having malware and other features that might damage users’ device and ruin their internet experience, it will not rank highly on the search engines.
The search engine robots will be crawling your site whenever someone searches for something that is associated with your business listing. They are able to detect malware quite easily. It is also possible that the settings of your site are sending the wrong signals to the crawlers. For instance, if you do not have a crawlable NAP on your website, then this also ends up affecting your ranking on the search engines.
- Violation reports on your Google My Business location
You need not be told how this is going to affect your business’ ranking and generally your business. There are people who are going to be reviewing your business and leaving comments. Google will also ask them to report if there is a violation. If there is a violation report on your Google My Business location, then you should try as much as possible to find a way to rectify the issue. One report might cause a huge damage to your site’s authority and the ranking.
Some of the other factors that were considered to be very important in local search ranking were:
- quality and authority of inbound links
- authority of a website’s domain
- city and state listed in the Google My Business page title
- relevance of geographic and topical keywords
While local SEO continues to be of more importance every single day, it is becoming more complicated as well. Local search ranking has a lot of things that are put into it. Google continues to pay attention to the quality of service that sites are providing in order to rank the site. Generally, if you avoid the aforementioned mistakes and pay attention to the important factors, you should be able to reap the most from your local search ranking endeavors.