Local SEO can be broken into 2 categories – ranking in the local search results or ranking in the local map pack. While both share many of the typical SEO ranking factors that need to be optimized to show up on top, the local map pack differs the greatest in that proximity to the search is incredibly important. Because there is little that can be done about how close your business is to the searcher, as noted by the Vancouver local SEO agency – Data First SEO, we will be discussing the 5 most important local ranking factors for showing up in the search results.
1 – Link Signals
Although many SEO beginners think about the term “keywords” when SEO comes to mind, this is not the most important aspect to ranking on Google. The reason for this, especially when it comes to local SEO, is that everyone is using the right keywords already on their website. No dentist is going to have a website that isn’t already talking about dentists (don’t get me wrong, keywords still play a major role, but more on this later). According to a recent rank factor study by Moz, link related SEO accounts for 28% of the pie when it comes to showing up on page 1. Link factors include topics such as the number or websites that are linking to you, their domain authority, how relevant the websites that are linking to you are, the anchor text (the text that is linked), & more. Link building is one of the trickier components of SEO, so read this guide on building high-quality backlinks to learn more.
2 – On-Page SEO
I know, we just said that keywords weren’t important for SEO, but let me explain. While all local businesses use the key phrases that their services offer, some websites do it better than others. While the key components to on-page SEO include using keywords and related keywords on a page, be sure to follow a few rules when doing this. These include (1) using the keywords closed to the top of the page, (2) using them in the headers and titles of the page, (3) using related keywords that are not all the same (for example, if you want to rank for New York City sightseeing tours, you better be using words such as “Statue of Liberty” or “the Empire State Building”).
3 – Website Engagement & Behaviors
You can have all the right keywords and a ton of great links to your website, but if visitors hate your website and Google notices then your rankings will drop (yes, Google is smart). Things like website speed, supporting information, easy-to-read content, etc. are all things that will keep visitors on your site longer (not to mention help your conversion rates) so make sure that your website deserves to rank.
4 – Citations & Other Off-Page SEO
Similar to links pointing to your site, but a little different. Citations are essentially mentions about your website but does not include links. These are things like reviews on your Google My Business page, having the name, address, and phone number (NAP) on all your directory listings. This also includes actually being in the right directories, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Foursquare, etc.
5 – Social Media Engagement
A great way of telling Google that your local business should rank on page 1 is to have your happy customers do it for you. This is why social media can boost your SEO. Building a strong social media presence with a loyal following helps you not only look better in the eyes of Google, it also helps your general marketing in countless other ways. Word of mouth marketing, repeat customers, understanding what kind of content is liked and what kind doesn’t resonate with your users are massive (and free) wins for your business. Check out these tactics that you can use to increase social media engagement with your prospective customers.