Local search optimization (or local SEO) plays a huge role in the success of your small business online. It’s what helps your business appear in local search results on Google so that customers can find you. But showing up in these results isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are several factors that go into how Google chooses when and where to show your business in search results. Below, we share the five most important local SEO ranking factors Google uses to determine which businesses it will show in local search results.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a free service offered through Google that allows you to claim your business and add important data into Google’s local business directory, such as your address, phone number, hours, and more.
Setting up a Google My Business profile is one of the best ways to improve your search engine visibility because you can directly feed your business data to Google. It can help your business show up in Google local search results and Google Maps for relevant search queries more often.
If you haven’t claimed your business on Google already, create an account and verify your business. Be sure to choose business categories that are relevant to the products or services you provide. Business categories tell Google exactly what your business is, which make it easier for Google to understand when and where to show you for local business searches.
Local citations are places where your business data is mentioned—that is, a listing with your business name, address, and phone number. Citations in online business directories, on your business website, and on social media platforms tell Google that your business is legitimate.
If you haven’t already, claim your business on popular online directories, such as:
- Apple Maps
- Bing Places
- Yellow Pages
Be sure to confirm that your business information doesn’t differ from one citation to the next. Even a slight variation of your listing can confuse search engines and provide customers with incorrect information.
Having a large amount of online business reviews—particularly reviews in Google—can help your business be more visible in local search results. Not only does it show Google that you’re an authentic business, but it can also catch the attention of potential customers, as reviews are essentially personal recommendations.
87% of consumers read online business reviews before interacting with a business, and factors like they look for include star ratings, legitimacy, recency, sentiment, and quality. In other words, if your business has lots of positive reviews and good ratings from recent customers, you’re more likely to attract new customers.
To get more business reviews, encourage customers to leave reviews whenever they’re satisfied with a product or service you offer. In addition, make it a priority to read and respond to ALL reviews, regardless of positive or negative sentiment. It’s important to reply to both good and bad reviews because it shows potential customers that you genuinely care about providing a good customer experience. Regular responses can also show Google that you’re an active business, which could help you get a boost in search results.
The content on your website is also important for ranking in local search results. Website content can be optimized around your business location and the products or services you offer, which can help Google find your business website and display its pages and information in relevant local search results.
Make sure your website content utilizes SEO tactics like keyword optimization. What this means is that you’ll need to incorporate a mix of keywords and phrases that online searchers would plug into Google to find your business. For example, if you’re a retailer in Dallas that sells women’s clothing, you would include keyword phrases like “clothing boutique in Dallas” and “women’s clothing store in Dallas” in your website content.
With free tools like keywordtool.io, you can do some basic keyword research and brainstorming of your own to discover what search terms you could be using in your online content to gain more exposure in Google.
How do visitors to your website interact with it? You might be surprised to know that this factor can impact your local search visibility. Google prefers businesses with websites that offer good user experiences over those that don’t, and it will look at your website metrics to understand the way visitors engage with your site. Some of these metrics include:
- Bounce Rate: Did the site visitor enter your website and then leave right away?
- Page Per Session: Did the site visitor click through to other pages?
- Average Session Duration: How long did the site visitor stay on your website?
These metrics act as signals for Google. They tell the search engine whether your website provides a good experience or not. If site visitors stick around and click through your webpages, you most likely offer useful information and an easy-to-use website. If they leave immediately, however, that could be a sign that your website design, function, and content need some improvement.
Behavioral signals are a difficult ranking factor to control. Fortunately, Google Analytics allows you to keep track of how users are behaving on your website so you can analyze the overall experience of your website, which webpages are performing well, and where you need to make updates.
Struggling to appear in local search results and get found by more customers online? Local Search Fuel by Hurrdat is designed specifically to help small businesses claim, update, and manage their local business listings. Get started today!