Top 10 Local Search Ranking Factors

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10 Fundamental Local Search Ranking Factors

A question of how to improve your ranking in Google Places is one that every small business owner has probably pondered.

Yet with the number of factors influencing your position and the sheer amount of marketing choices you have at your disposal, it can be pretty intimidating to even know where to begin.

To make things even more confusing, local SEO keeps changing fast as Google continues to try to offer the best search experience it can.  Most important change was the shift from the traditional “7 Pack” to a Blended Place Search last fall. Google also introduced it’s internal rating and review system, “Hotpot”, now part of Google Places.

But there is more to keep track of: Google Offers, the +1 button, freshly introduced “Instant Pages”, “Google search by image” and Indexed Local Directory portals.

Google has more than dipped its toes into the mobile world as well. Google Maps for mobile has now surpassed 200 million installs. Amazingly, mobile constitutes over 40 percent of all Maps usage. And mobile is expected to surpass the desktop version of Maps for good this month!

How are all these changes affecting local SEO? Have these signals been incorporated into the Place Search algorithms yet?

Well, David Mihm’s annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey of local SEO geeks came out recently and here’s what it recommends to focus your energy on.

10 Fundamental Google Local Search Ranking Factors

  1. Physical Address in City of Search
  2. Manually Owner-verified Place Page
  3. Proper Category Associations
  4. Volume of Traditional Structured Citations (IYPs, Data Aggregators)
  5. Crawlable Address Matching Place Page Address
  6. PageRank / Authority of Website Homepage / Highest Ranked Page
  7. Quality of Inbound Links to Website
  8. Crawlable Phone Number Matching Place Page Phone Number
  9. Local Area Code on Place Page
  10. City, State in Places Landing Page Title

It basically comes down to three major factors:

  1. Physical Address in City of Search
  2. NAP Consistency (NAP = Name, Address, Phone) – Your main business info across the local search ecosystem
  3. Links, Links, Links – Get them as editorial links whenever possible. Don’t over optimize on anchor text. Get them from as many different domains as possible. Get social signals going with Twitter, Facebook and social bookmarking. Run regular press releases. Build backlinks.

What About Customer Reviews?

Yes, reviews were a significant SEO factor for Google Local in 2010 but they seem to attract a bit less attention these days, according to the survey.

While reviews don’t get much prominence in the above list, I think they are still an important part of your local marketing strategy. Reviews are still one of the best ways to improve your rankings and conversions. Who is going to contact your business if it has no reviews and all your competitors have half a dozen or more. Just like with backlinks, the reviews have to come from a diversified review sites, not just Google Places. And I believe dates of your reviews matter too. If your reviews are 6 months or older, it’s time to get some new fresh ones.

12 Responses

  1. Latest from our blog >> Top 10 Local Search Ranking Factors | #SEO #Marketing (please share if you found it useful!) http://fb.me/JHisCbuR

  2. We’re just starting our campaign – this will come in very handy!

  3. Top 10 Local Search Ranking Factors | Joanna Ciolek http://awe.sm/5MpNb [worth remembering!]

  4. Top 10 Local Search Ranking Factors http://t.co/N8SCfqy via @joannaciolek

  5. Top 10 Local Search Ranking Factors http://t.co/N8SCfqy via @joannaciolek #SEO

  6. Current reviews and references are huge, people care about “What have you done for me lately”

  7. I agree, Greg. I, for one, check reviews online before making any purchases – I suspect most people do. If you have fresh, positive and multiple reviews on top of everything else in place, you will definitely stand out!

  8. Top 10 Local Search Ranking Factors – http://bit.ly/o2HlSP

  9. These are some awesome tips. I do local marketing for companies also and I base my work on the things discussed in this post. It’s exactly what you need to do to rank locally. Good stuff.

  10. Hello Joanna,

    Thanks for these tips. I have a question: I am a photographer who lives in the country, fifty miles from the nearest city. My clients, however, are from that city. I have listed my business in google places, and noticed that my ranking fell when “photographer” is searched for in conjunction with that city. Google gives precedence to photographers who live there, over someone like me, who lives 50 miles away from there.

    How would you raise your site’s ranking to a locality 50 miles away from where you live?

  11. You grow outward. First, concentrate on gaining visibility and good rankings in your area, then as you build your reputation, links and overall strength in terms of SEO you will automatically improve your global rankings.

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