Local SEO has become a real challenge for businesses in the last few years. Google’s decreased the number of listings in the local pack from 7 to 3 and various ads have been encroaching on the local space, making it a more competitive and exclusive than the front row at New York fashion week.
In this post we’ll discuss 7 key local factors that influence your chances of making it into the local pack, however, even if the 3 pack isn’t realistically in your sights, making improvements in these areas certainly won’t hurt. Local SEO is more important than ever in 2016 and keeping on top of it is critical if you want to improve your overall performance online.
If you’re targeting the local pack in a particular city but your business isn’t based there, (or you’re not quite as central as your competitors) you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle. You’ve got to realise that ‘local’ really does mean local.
That being said, you do have options. You could consider opening a satellite office in the right area, or – easier and cheaper – simply get a virtual office in the location you’re gunning for.
Citations, in a local SEO context, are mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) listed on other sites across the Internet.
For good local SEO, your citations need to be consistent (match your website and Google My Business listing) and be on high quality/authority business listing sites.
Here’s a list of high authority business listing sites in Australia, but you should look into the top ones in your specific area and make sure that your business is listed there and that your details are consistent and correct.
Once you’ve ensured that you have a listing on all important citation sources, you’ll have to check that they’re all consistent, have correct business categorisation, have a detailed (but non-salesy) business description, and have good reviews where possible (more on this in a moment).
You can simply use Google to do your citation research, but the tools like Brightlocal are also useful, especially if you want to find citations that your competitors have, but you don’t.
Now that you’ve updated your external location signals (citations), you’ll want them to match up with the address signals on your website.
To ensure this happens, it’s usually best to have the address on every page (for single-location businesses) or on each specific location pages for multi-location businesses. If you’re a multi-location business you’ll find you have to put in a bit more work, but it is possible to get your branches ranking well in all their different areas.
Ratings and reviews have become HUGELY important for local rankings. Research has shown that the sites with the most reviews rank better than their less-reviewed competitors.
Of course, this could be because sites with more reviews get more clicks; but either way it means that you should be trying to get more reviews and 5 star ratings. If you’re struggling to get your reviews off the ground, you may want to consider thinking up ways of enticing your happy customers to leave a rating and review comment. Discounts or special promotions can work well to this end.
Unfortunately there’s no getting away from this one. Domain authority does play a major role in local, especially in big cities where it’s super competitive.
Of course, there are a number of ways to improve your domain authority, but that’s a long story for another post. If you’re interested in learning more asap, you can start by reading this.
Google factors in the searcher’s location when delivering the local results, so you may rank in different positions depending on where you search from. This is not really something you can change, but it’s good to be aware of.
In a nutshell: the same search done a few kilometers apart might show different results to the user. You really can’t fight it, but it does have an effect.
Google considers which listings get the most clicks and measures the level of engagement with a site after a user clicks.
If Google returns your website for a search query, but no one ever clicks on it (or they click and bounce back), they’ll drop you like a hot potato.To rank better you’ll need to fix these issues. Here are some good basic tips for improving your CTR and minimising bounce rate.
If you’re wanting to take your local SEO to the next level, it’s worth looking into the 7 factors above to see if there’s anything you can improve on. Even small tweaks can make a huge difference and that’s exciting.
If you want to go into even more detail, this is a great resource to get you started.