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Chapter Three:Local SEO Ranking Factors

The position your website ranks within the search results page is determined by algorithms.

These algorithms reference Google’s index, or the stored information Google has about your website.

The content Google collects about your website for its index is influenced by hundreds of factors.

Some of these factors include keywords, like how many times a word appears on your site, or the prioritization of phrases on the page.

Beyond keywords, Google is looking at the organization of information. How well is the content on your website structured? Can a user quickly identify what your site is about and find the information they are looking for? Is Google easily able to crawl your site? What about links? Do other people find your website useful and decide to link to it? Links matter.

While the exact ranking formula is unknown, we do understand that there are several key elements to help your local business appear higher in the results.

In this chapter, we will highlight several of the key ranking factors.

Local Algorithm Ranking Factors

Google My Business

Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) profile sends clear signals of trust and the categorization of what your business is all about.

Chapter 6 is dedicated to optimizing your GMB listing.

On-page Optimization

Aligning your website content with your business goals, through structure and technical factors.

The on-page process ensures all traditional and locally based optimization best practices are covered for clarity and improved visibility.

Some of these elements include: page titles, meta descriptions, header tags, etc. We will look at these components in more detail in the next chapter.

Local Business Citations

Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) consistency along with the volume of credible citations accrued across the web.

Make sure your name, address and phone number are consistent across all web listings. The utilization of citation directories reaffirms your accurate contact information to search engines.

Backlinks

Attracting links to your website from other authoritative websites is a key element to priority placement in the search engine results page (SERP).

Ranking factors associated with backlinks apply to the quantity of linking domains, linking domain authority and the anchor text used to link to your website.

Reviews

This signal is applicable to the total number, frequency, diversity and quality of reviews generated for your business.

Cultivating a library of authentic, positive reviews across several review sites like Google, Yelp, and Glassdoor can be very beneficial for your local business.

Bing Places for Business

Not to be neglected, Bing Places for Business serves as a local business resource for Bing searches. Be sure to claim and optimize your business listing.

Local Content

Locally focused content (blog, graphics, videos, etc.), where you can include key phrases and location-based terms to assist with local visibility.

Proximity

Measures the distance between the searcher’s location and your business.

Even though you can’t optimize for the searcher’s location, it does play a significant role in determining rankings for local search.

Structured Data (Schema) Markup

Schema markup is the process of adding code to your website that helps search engines understand the context of information on your website.

Adding schema markup to your website adds a level of clarity to specific elements of your site’s content. Structured data markup can be used to define your proper logo, phone number, hours, menu, address and more.

Personalization

Everyone sees a slightly different search results page depending on personalization factors. Personalization factors include location and personal browsing history.

Behavioral

This applies to user behavior patterns like click-through rate, frequency of clicks to call, dwell time and check-ins.

Dwell time is the length of time a user spends on your website before returning to the SERPs.

Social Signals

While not a major slice of the local search algorithm, claiming your business profiles across the various platforms is considered a best practice, along with outfitting them with appropriate branding.

Although activity on social media platforms is difficult for Google to translate into more visibility or higher rankings, it’s still beneficial for your online presence.

The primary focus of social signals should be on engaging your customers with thoughtful content and your responsiveness to questions, comments and reviews.

Domain Authority

Domain Authority (DA) is a score used to evaluate the trust or authority that a particular URL has. The higher the score, the better.

Trust matters and is increasingly important for local search. Promoting a higher DA is a lengthy process but will pay dividends to those who can achieve a high authority score.

Local Search Algorithm Updates

Figure 3.1 - Google local search algorithm updates.

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