If your business serves your local community, having a local SEO strategy is essential to your success online. We have seen a number of changes to local search over the past year and having the right listing information isn’t enough to get the job done. So, what does it take today to stand out in local search? Let’s take a look.
Businesses today have more options than ever when it comes to ranking locally. Based on an article from Moz, local companies, have about seven ways to show up in the local SERPs. Here is how Darren Shaw, the author of the Moz article categorized the different local SERP options. I like his breakdown.
Google My Business Listing. Your primary listing at Google that is editable in the GMB dashboard and publicly accessible at 3 locations:
GMB Landing Page
The page that a GMB links to the listing. Usually the homepage or a location page. (example)
The regular local 3-pack that appears for most local search terms. (example)
Local ABC Pack
A local 3-pack with A, B, and C to the left of each result. No review stars, ratings, or counts appear for this type. This pack type is returned for branded terms such as "Starbucks" and, inexplicably, for storage and gas station terms. (example)
Local Snack Pack
This style of local 3-pack appears for dining, hospitality, and entertainment terms. Results have a photo, no phone number, and no links to the website. (example)
Local Sponsored Pack
This is a special pack type that is currently appearing in San Diego for plumbers and locksmiths. It appears in addition to the regular local pack. (example 1)
Another version of the sponsored pack type appearing for home services businesses in the San Francisco area looks like this: (example 2)
The complete list of local results that appear when the "More places" link at the bottom of a local pack is clicked. (example)
While your Google My Business listing is still your primary listing, as you can see there are many additional ways to gain exposure in the search results. So the real question is, how can you improve your position and visibility?
Foundational factors are essential. These are the most basic elements and are the bare minimum required details if you want your location even to show up. While these won’t “move the needle” per se, without these factors, you won’t rank at all.
As you can see, these are your typical local factors. You need to claim, verify and make sure that your locations are all in sync. Having consistency across your listings as well as your site are foundational aspects of local search.
These are the factors that impact your site ranking in the general SERPs. These are both local and broader SEO factors that work together. Here are the top 10 results from the study mentioned above.
When it comes to ranking locally, the proximity of the searcher plays a significant role in determining what the SERPs are going to be. Number two is the physical address of the location in the city of search. While the Possum update did expand the ability of location outside city centers to rank, it appears that Google still emphasizes the location in proximity to the city.
Inbound links matter greatly as well. The quality and authority of inbound links greatly impacts Local SEO. You need more than just citations and links. You need quality links pointing to your site as well.
Local organic refers to your site ranking for terms that are location based but do not contain a local pack. In other words, the results will look more like a typical SERP with locally oriented results.
As you can see, the factors for local organic look very similar to what you would see in a typical SEO strategy. Link quality and authority, domain authority, and the diversity of links play large roles. Additionally, you can also see that local factors like product and service keywords paired with geographic terms have an impact.
So many of the factors above are essential, but the 10 listed below are a few ways that you can gain an edge on the competition. Having a solid foundation is key, but if you want to drive business, you need to focus on the following areas:
Well, links remain the core of quality SEO. Other than real reviews, (#5) the rest of the top 10 all have to do with links. Following link building best practices, you need to focus on quality and diversity.
When it comes to maximizing the visibility of your business in local search, it’s pretty clear that the key is links. You first need to build a solid foundation by claiming your listings and optimizing them. After that, you need to focus on building contextually appropriate and diverse links to your site.
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