Are you ready to skip all the B.S and cut straight to the local SEO ranking factors that matter in 2020?
Then stick around…
There’s a lot of mumbo jumbo in the SEO World. If you’re not careful, you’ll get sucked into the world of technical terms like canonical tags, do-follow vs. no-follow, and robots.txt.
Don’t get me wrong.
These things are all important, but when it comes to ranking a local business in Google, understand that the 80/20 rule applies. Meaning, 80% (likely more) of your SEO results will come from just 20% of the work.
The only question is, what is the 20%?
Let’s find out…
What Is A “Local Ranking Factor”
Before we get into the “big five”, let’s first define what a “ranking factor” is.
Ranking Factor #1: Proximity
This is pretty obvious, but it does NOT go without saying.
Proximity is one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to local SEO.
Darren Shaw of Moz even went as far to say:
When a searcher has their location settings turned on (most of us do), they allow Google to accurately guess their location and feed them results based on their proximity.
This can be extremely handy when you’re looking for a grocery store, emergency room, or gas station. Unfortunately, a problem can arise for businesses in niches where customers are willing to travel outside of their neighborhood for quality.
So what can you do about this?
Other than changing the location of your business, here are a few things you can do:
- Claim Your Business Online: Make sure you claim your business on Google My Business as well as on directories like Yelp, Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Yellow Pages, etc.
- Create Location Pages: You cannot rank your Google My Business in multiple locations since proximity is the #1 local maps ranking factor. However, you can create what’s called a city, or location page on your website targeted to a specific area.
- Buy Google Ads: Yup, we’re actually advocating that you play the Google game and purchase ad space while simultaneously ranking organically.
Ranking Factor #2: Google My Business Optimization
The second local ranking factor on the list is the optimization of your Google My Business profile.
How important is it?
On the local SERPs, Google My Business now makes up for 25% of the ranking factors.
The catch is that Google only displays three businesses in the map pack section of the SERPs. As you can guess, these three businesses get the majority of the calls.
How do you rank on Google My Business?
Stay tuned for our Google My Business Chapter, where we’ll show you how.
Ranking Factor #3: Keyword Usage
The goal is to rank on Google for search engine queries that your target market is using. To do this, you have to tell Google what queries you want to rank for.
Google bots scan the internet 24/7 reading the words, images, and links on pages all over the internet to gain an understanding of the topic as well as its authority. Keyword usage is one of the top-ranking factors when it comes to where and how high your site ranks.
When it comes to ranking a local site, were going to break keywords into three different types:
- Main Keywords: These are the highly-searched, high competition keywords. For example, if you’re a plumber in Detroit, the top keyword you want to rank for the keyword “Plumber Detroit”. We’ve ranked dozens of sites for their main keyword, but its an uphill battle as you’ll be battling high-authority sites like Home Advisor, Yelp, and Angie’s List.
- Long-Tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords are longer and/or more specific phrases. Why are they important? When you add up the total search volume of long-tail keywords, they usually add up to be higher than the main keyword. Also, they’re usually used by customers who are closer to making a buying decision, meaning they may be more valuable. Following the “plumber in Detroit” example, a nice long-tail keyword would be “24-hour plumber”, “emergency plumber”, or “drain cleaning Detroit”.
- Local Keywords: If you’re in Detroit and you search for a plumber, you wouldn’t appreciate plumbers in Miami showing up in the search results. Luckily, Google is smart enough to know a searcher’s location… But what happens if they live in a suburb of Detroit that doesn’t have a plumber? Are they sore out of luck? No. Google will show plumbers in the next town over. As a business, this gives you the opportunity to rank for locations outside of your main city.
When you’re writing the copy on your website, you’ll want to sprinkle all three of these keywords in your title tags, meta descriptions, paragraphs, and even image titles.
Warning: Avoid stuffing keywords in a way that doesn’t read naturally (Google will know). And for the love of all things holy, don’t use “near me” in your copy. Again, Google will know where you’re located and match your site with the appropriate searches.
Keyword stuffing would look something like this:
“If you find yourself googling “Plumbers near me”, then you need to hire the best plumbers in Detroit, Dan’s plumbing. As plumbers in Detroit, we focus on giving our plumbing customers in Detroit the best experience.”
This may seem like an extreme example, but we see it all the time.
Ranking Factor #4: Backlinks
Inbound links play an important role in a local business’s ranking.
The only question is, “Where do you find these link opportunities?”
Traditional thought for link building is to find the highest domain-authority websites and get them to link back to yours. This can be a bit more challenging for a local business as you may ask yourself, “who wants to link back to my printer repair shop?”
This is where the local link comes in.
A local link is an inbound link from a domain that shares one thing in common with yours, location.
Here are some of our favorite local link opportunities:
- News Sites: There’s no easy way to manipulate your way onto an authoratative news site purely for SEO benefit. If you’re good at creating buzz around your business, are exceptionally good at what you do, or someething interesting happens around your business, theen the opportunity may arise.
- Local Bloggers: Local bloggers are often forgot about, but can be a handy resource for grabbing some quick local links and even expanding your in-person network.
- Local Charities/Events: Local charities and events often have high authority sites. Investing your money and/or time into a local charity will not only put a big fat smile on your face, but it will give you the opportunity to recieve a few local links.
- Citations: Citations are NOT the same thing as backlinks, however they still can help pad your sites link profile. A citation is anywhere your Business Name, Address, and Phone Number are listed on the internet. This can be Facebook, Yelp, or Home Advisor for example.
Just a few well placed links from authoratative domains can be enough to move the needle for your local business.
Ranking Factor #5: On-Page Optimization
There are over 200 ranking factors search engine crawlers use to determine what a page is about and where it should rank.
These are the most important on-page ranking factors:
- Secured Site (HTTPS Vs. HTTP)
- Content Length & Quality
- Domain Age
- User Experience (UX)
- Optimized Images
- Title Tags
- Schema Markup