The much awaited Local Search Ranking Factors 2014 report is now available. Since 2008, David Mihm has rounded up a collection of pro Local SEOs, picked their brains about local ranking factors and collated results. The report serves as a great resource and benchmark for your own local SEO efforts.
Local Search Ranking Factors Survey
40 Local SEO experts took part in the 2014 survey. Their answers were complied into:
- Top 50 localised organic factors,
- Top 50 pack/carousel factors,
- Top 30 negative ranking factors,
- Top 30 difference-making factors in competitive markets,
- 10 Factors that have increased in importance since Pigeon,
- 10 Factors that have decreased in importance since Pigeon
Note: Pigeon is the latest local search algorithm and currently only affects Google.com US searches.
Survey contributors also gave some commentary, which is well worth reading. A few snippets that stood out for me are:
You need to look at this as an organic search for “location+keyword” and do the things that it would take to gain visibility. This is not about [insert whatever Google is calling Places this month], this is about good ol’ organic search results which focuses on your website and links and simply adds a location parameter to the search results. The nice thing is your website and links are places you should be focusing on for local packs as well.
Mike Ramsey, Nifty Marketing
With citations, consistency matters more than anything. Nail the 30-40 important listings we all know about. Then get listed on industry-specific sites (there probably aren’t more than 5-10 good ones). If you feel like doing more work on your citations, loop back to them in 2-3 months so that you can fix any stragglers. Then just move on. Building another 80 citations is a very low-payoff use of your time and energy.
Phil Rozek, Local Visibility System
Google continues to emphasize time sensitive ranking factors. Fresh reviews, links, shares and content can all help move the needle when it comes to rankings.
Adam Dorfman, SIM Partners
Who Said Local SEO Was Easy?
We’ve seen huge shifts and changes in the Local SEO arena. When I started My Local Business Online in 2011, life was fairly simple. Correctly set up your Places page, add a few well known citations and you were pretty much done and dusted unless you were in a competitive area. When it came to organic ranking, it wasn’t so convoluted either. A decent title tag had you pretty much sorted.
Now local SEO is relying more and more on traditional organic SEO factors with its own local quirks added to the mix. It certainly can’t be described as easy. Business owners need to look at the bigger picture.
Can the small guy still win at local SEO?
I think so. The longer you leave it till you get started on your local online visibility, the harder it will get. Start with the basics:
1. Your website
You need a website that gives no doubt as to who you are, where you are and what you do. Create pages with proper titles – not home, page 1, page 2 etc. Ensure your name, address and phone are at least in text, preferably in Schema.org markup. Create content that is helpful to people who land there – answer people’s questions. Don’t forget to check your site can be viewed on a mobile.
2. Let people know where you are
Directories and review sites form the base of structured citation building. Start with sites that show up in search for your local area for your type of business and continue to build them up periodically. Be consistent when citation building!
Here’s a few free UK Citation sources
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3. Get your Google My Business Page right
It is getting harder to fall foul of Google’s Quality Guidelines with the new GMB set up – but it is still possible!
- Choose the correct categories
- Don’t use call tracking or 08 numbers.
- Use a local phone number where possible.
- Keywords in your business title help, but if you don’t have them there naturally, don’t force it. GMB allows for 1 modifier to your title to describe what you do.
Once you have a solid foundation in place, then you can start looking at all the other factors.
Remember when link building not to go over the top! You can do far more harm than good going crazy with any old links pointing to your website. As with citations, it’s no longer a numbers game but quality and relevence game. Local directories often also allow you to link back to your website, take advantage of that fact.
Other local linking ideas
- Look at where local ranking competitors are gaining links, follow their path
- Take advantage of professional memberships – these often link back to members
- Sponsorships/charities – if you help in your community, request a link from their website
- Host your own event
Overall Local Search Ranking Factors
- Your website and on-page signals
- Links to your website
- Google My Business page
- Social signals
Over to you…
Do you wait with baited breath (like me) for the annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey report? What’s your thoughts on the state of local search?
Don’t forget: If local search baffles you, I can do it for you! Get in touch 🙂Local SEO Like a Pro - Local Search Ranking Factors 2014 by Jan Kearney