Ranking Factors for Local SEO

Most small to medium sized businesses can be classified in one way or another as a ‘local business’. Many businesses erroneously assume that the need for digital marketing on a local level is eradicated by local advertisements, word of mouth or simply footfall and efficient signage.

The truth of the matter is that you can be a well-established local business and a good percentage of folk in the local area are either not aware of you or don’t fully understand the services or products that you offer.

So, if you are in any way interested in boosting your local profile then you will need to find new ways to increase your visibility in search engines, when it comes to local searches. Without a plan of action for your local SEO your business will undoubtedly fail to reach its potential in your local area.

Almost everyone these days ticks that little option on their device that allows apps including search engines to ‘see’ your location. This enables any searches that you may carry out to have a local bias and yield more relevant results based on your whereabouts. But understanding just how Google and other search engines determine how to place local businesses in these search results is fundamental in order to begin to come up with a local SEO plan of action.

Get to Grips with Google’s Knowledge Graph

The Google Knowledge Graph (GKG) was unveiled in 2012 and it aims to collate facts about people, places and businesses and how they connect. Optimizing your own business’s Google Knowledge Graph is a great way to get started with your local SEO drive. Getting your business on the GKG map is like having a free billboard in your local town square.
In order to get the information Google provides about your company via GKG as accurate as possible there are some key tips:

  • Use schema tags (HTML for search engines). When you use schema to tag the relevant parts of your site, you are making it simpler for Google and other search engines to interpret information displayed on your site more accurately so they can provide a more relevant picture.
  • Create a Wikipedia entry for your business. When doing so, make it as factual as humanly possible, creating a realistic profile of your company, with no self-promotion or quality assertions. Be matter of fact and 100% accurate to avoid revision or deletion. Be warned this is a long and difficult process but certainly worth the effort.
  • Take steps to get on Google’s Local Knowledge Graph. By meticulously going through all of your online platforms, from main website through all your various social media platforms and making sure that all information is displayed consistently and accurately (name, address, phone number, email etc.) it will be much easier for search engines to recognize everything as the same business and create a more accurate search profile.
  • Get press releases published. By writing up and having regular press releases published on reputable local news channels you are increasing your local visibility and also positively enhancing your GKG profile as you are way more likely to feature in the Google ‘in the news’ section.

Take ownership of your Google My Business (GMB) page

Setting up a GMB page is dead simple. You can simple click here and follow the instructions, so no need for a tutorial. There are, however, some very useful tips that can be followed in order to give you the best chance of maximising this free tool’s vast potential for boosting your local SEO.

Make sure that you include all of the following:

  • A suitably detailed description of your business, it’s products and services and a little history, all formatted properly and including relevant links
  • Get as many photographs taken by a budding photographer willing to help out and upload them
  • Make sure your business is listed in the category best suited to it
  • Ensure that your phone number(s) and email addresses are listed
  • Make sure your address is consistent with the one on your website and elsewhere
  • Add accurate opening days and hours (where applicable)
  • Add real and positive reviews from customers or clients and other businesses where applicable
  • Use the aforementioned schema mark-up for entering your details so that they make the most sense to the search engines. This guide is invaluable for that.

Vital On-Page SEO factors
Add your city and region along with a carefully chosen keyword on the following:

  • landing page title tag
  • landing page URL
  • landing page H1 tag
  • content on landing page
  • landing page image ALT attributes

Local directory listings DO matter

Make sure you get in touch with all the local ‘what’s on’ type sites to get your website and business details listed as well as considering advertising in local in print magazines and newspapers. Local directories can help with your local search engine rankings.

Citations and link building
What is a citation? Well, a citation is an online reference to your business name, address and phone number (known as NAP).  There are online tools such as Bright Local, which allow you to search for any existing citations you may have and you can even update them for accuracy.

This is also an excellent tool to do a bit of spying on the competition to see where they have citations and make sure you follow suit. Be consistent in your citations. In order to achieve local citations you can:

  • Trawl through lists on the Moz website and submit manual citations
  • Use the likes of WhiteSpark to solicit local citations
  • Set up a series of alerts via Google Alerts to keep track of new mentions of your competitors’ NAP citations.

Link Building
Link building is a crucial part of any successful boost to local SEO and furthermore it is too often ignored. Affordable local SEO is greatly indebted to achieving links from other local websites that have parallels to your own business. Get together with local businesses with similar interests and clientele and arrange to share links in blog content. This will not only encourage a greater community spirit but open up the possibility of shared promotions and mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships going forward.