Google now only has three positions to display local search results so it is even more important for businesses to make the most of their local SEO in order to stand out.
It may seem like an obvious point but stating your geographical location will have a beneficial impact on your local rankings in the search engines. Covering the basics including the use of H1 and H2 tags will also improve your SEO.
The 2015 Local Search Ranking Factors survey conducted by Moz show that there are a number of different factors that can affect local SEO.
We have gathered together some of the most important factors that could be affecting your local SEO:
Google My Business
The first thing you should do if you are looking to rank in the local search results is to claim your business on Google My Business. This is essentially allowing you to set up a profile for your local SEO which helps promote your business in the local area. Not only is it free, but it will direct local search engine queries directly towards your business’ website. Google has increased the visibility around the Google Local listing results significantly, showing just how essential it is for businesses to be included.
The proximity of a business’ address in relation to the place the search is being carried out demonstrates a 19.6% influence in determining local search performance. – Moz
With local SEO, it is important that all the directories and pages that your business is present on, all display the same information about the business. If they are showing different addresses or contact details it can affect your local SEO ranking significantly.
All of the details about the business should be consistent across not only your website, but across all the directories it is featured on. Some of the third-party directory sites can be difficult to control as they scrape your data from other sites. However, you can monitor these using Moz’s local search tool. This tool allows you to see the details each directory has stored about your business. It brings to attention any inconsistencies and also unfinished profiles. This is a tool that should definitely be checked on a regular basis to ensure that all profiles are showing the correct information.
Once your Google My Business profile has been set up, you will be able to start receiving reviews from customers. These reviews have huge importance when it comes to ranking in the local search results. Not only do they offer lots of credibility for customers, they majorly help you stand out from competitors that are displayed alongside you in the search results.
The quality, velocity and diversity of online reviews and rankings resulted in 10.3% influence in determining performance. – Moz
Click-through Rate from Search Results
It is also suggested that Google considers the engagements with each website, so how many clicks it gets and its engagement rate. The two signals show Google how relevant the site is so it would be common sense for it to play a part in how high the website ranks in the local search results.
Negative Ranking Factors for Local SEO
These are a few of the main negative ranking factors for local SEO, so try to avoid them at all costs.
Displaying false information: Providing a false address for a business will alert Google that the business is potentially fake.
Keyword stuffing: This is always a huge no-no when it comes to SEO as it will always push your business down the search engine rankings. So avoid keyword stuffing at all costs if you want to rank high in the local results.
Inconsistent information: As discussed above, it is highly important that your business information is consistent across all directories. Having inconsistencies can impact your local SEO negatively.
Using the wrong business category: You must make sure that your business is listed in the correct category for the service it provides, otherwise it can have a negative impact on the local SEO.
Violations: Any violations on Google Places can result in your business being de-listed. Violations include inappropriate material, false reviews, impersonating and illegal activities.