A Brief Look Into Local Search

August 18, 2015

While the algorithms and strategies behind local search can easily get complicated and messy, today will only be a brief look at local search and ways that we can use simple tactics to better our placement in Google’s Local Pack.

As you may have recently seen, Google changed their Local Pack feature to now only include three instead of seven local results on a search page. For this reason, it is even more important to take a look at what you can do to improve your local search rankings.

Ranking for Local

Similar to Google’s organic search, there has been an evolution in Google’s local results. In the beginning, it was easy to rank high with black-hat tactics such as keyword stuffing, P.O. boxes for addresses, etc.

Several iterations later, the local results are much more difficult to fake, and even if you are successful, you generally won’t stay there very long.

So what does Google look at now when ranking for local results?

There are three characteristics that stand out as critical components to local search:

  1. Proximity - is the physical business location close to the location defined?

  2. Relevancy - is the business relevant to the search query?

  3. Prominence - does this business stand out? Should it appear above others as relevant for the location?

In the past, the location was defined by the query, but since the Pigeon update, searchers themselves could be treated as the Centroid. This means that the searcher is the location point. Because of this functionality, you have to consider that a user that may search a generic phrase like "order flowers" from the corner of Pike and Station, in which case you might as well just drive 5 minutes to Delilah’s instead of 25 minutes to your shop.

Local Search Ranking Factors

Google My Business
The obvious, first place to start for local search in Google is to get your business on Google My Business, formally Google+ for businesses. Claiming your business location is critical.

By implementing Local Business Schema on your website you are able to reinforce your location to Google. Schema allows you to mark up your website with your phone number, address, business name, and more so that it is easily read by Google’s spiders.

External Signals
Links, social signals, and other external signals are also aspects of local search ranking. Regional signals from your area are essential for local success. If you're looking for links or folks to share your content with, complementary local businesses and the local paper can be great places to start.

While reviews may not carry as much weight as some of the other local ranking factors, they are still important for the success of your business. Reviews are critical for brand and reputation management and they do still play a role in SEO, even if they are not as weighted as they used to be. Word of mouth is still the top form of advertising, so having good, quality reviews can make or break someone’s decision to use your products or services.

While this article focuses on some of the most basic local SEO principles, it is the basics that sometimes get overlooked. With Google cutting down its local search results to only three businesses, now is the time to look at your local SEO strategy.

Contact Sales & Marketing Technologies today to speak with a highly skilled Orlando Digital marketing specialist about your local SEO strategy.

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