Google’s Top Ranking Factors for Local SEO in 2019
Whilst a strong SEO strategy offers businesses of all kinds the opportunity to enjoy a global reach, the importance of reaching local customers remains incredibly relevant to this day. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) – many of which rely on local business for their survival – are the lifeblood of the economy. With that being said, many businesses overlook local SEO in the grand scheme of things, leading them to forfeit the many commercial opportunities offered by the local marketplace.
This represents good news for businesses eager to catch the attention of customers in their local area. Although local SEO differs from regular SEO in some areas, familiarising yourself with its key principles can go a long way in increasing your local visibility in search engines. With this in mind, we take a look at Google’s top ranking factors for local SEO in 2019.
The Difference Between SEO and Local SEO
One of the main characteristics that sets local SEO apart from regular SEO is the type of result businesses are competing for. Whilst regular SEO is mainly focused around securing high rankings in organic search results, local SEO adds another element into the mix.
A local search on Google will automatically produce a box that contains the three most relevant results for any given search term. The box – which is often referred to as the “3-pack” or “snack pack” – appears above the organic search results, meaning that featured businesses enjoy a significant advantage in capturing the attention of the user. Unsurprisingly, many businesses utilise local SEO services in an attempt to find their way into the snack pack, as well as focusing on achieving high rankings in organic search.
Now that we’ve covered the importance of local SEO as well as its key characteristics, let’s take a closer look at its top ranking factors.
Google My Business (GMB)
Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most common tools for businesses to manage and verify their business information online. As such, it plays an important role in determining how business information is displayed across a range of Google services, which includes its search engine and Google Maps.
A 2018 study by Moz suggests that Google My Business is the most important ranking factor in local SEO. For this reason, you should ensure that:
Address and opening hours are stated correctly You use relevant keywords in the title You provide a functional and crawlable website link You list your business under the right category
The quality and quantity of inbound backlinks has continued to play an important role in SEO over the years, and its importance to local SEO is no less significant. Links have a considerable impact on your rankings in both the snack pack and organic search results, so it’s important to pay attention to them accordingly.
There are three key points to consider when using link building to boost your local SEO efforts. Firstly, it’s important to make sure that any websites that link to your page are authoritative. This is most commonly measured by assessing a website’s Domain Authority (DA), which plays an important role in determining the quality and value of the link. The higher the DA, the more likely it is that the link will boost your SEO efforts. Focusing on large quantities of low quality links will do more harm than good, as Google is likely to penalise you for doing do.
Secondly, the number of high-quality backlinks also plays an important role in supporting your local rankings. Last but not least, the anchor text (which is the text used to display a link) can also determine which types of search terms you’re able to rank for, so make sure it’s relevant to your business.
The term “citations” refers to the information Google uses from other sources to verify your business details. If your business information appears consistently across a high number of credible websites, you are likely to benefit from a boost in rankings. For this reason, try to ensure external information on your business is as consistent, thorough and accurate as possible.
The phrase “content is king” has been widely used in SEO circles for many years, and content continues to be an important ranking factor in both regular and local SEO. Some particular areas to focus on include:
Including your location and the name of your business in the title of the page Including relevant keywords in any on-page headings Referencing the location of your business in the webpage URL where possible Including a meta description that is within the recommended length Using alt text to add context to any relevant images, referencing your location or business name where applicable
Personalised content is one of the most significant developments in online search, and its importance shows no signs of slowing down in 2019.
Search engines use information specific to the searcher to better display the search results that are most relevant to them, which has implications for the way in which businesses approach local SEO. Factors such as location, mobile-friendliness, and your website’s capability to tailor to voice search are all important here.
Reviews can play an important role in influencing our product choices in daily life, and their importance in the digital sphere is no less significant. These days, users are able to easily share their experiences of a given company through Google reviews. Other users will often take account of previous reviews in deciding whether or not to purchase the products or services on offer.
Ensuring that their business enjoys a high number of authentic reviews can help support businesses in moving up the local rankings, so it’s important to consider this when setting out their respective local SEO strategies.
Google considers information on how users engage and interact with your business to determine your local ranking position. There are a variety of factors at play here, but some of the most common indications are:
- Bounce rate: the percentage of visitors who leave a website having viewed a single page
- Check-ins: the number of people who check-in to your business online
- Click-through rate: the percentage of users who click through to your website Mobile call clicks: the amount of calls that are being made directly from the search results page
The exact impact of social media signals isn’t completely understood. According to Moz, however, social media can have a modest impact on your local SEO rankings. Engagement across channels such as Twitter and Facebook is thought to play a role, with engagement via Google adding further to the mix.
Although its effect may be considered relatively minor in comparison to some of the other factors detailed above, taking steps to improve engagement on your social media channels will likely improve your ability to connect with your online customer. Conceived in this way, any further improvements to your local SEO rankings are an added bonus.
If you’d like to learn about local SEO, or would like to enquire about our range of SEO service, please get in touch with the Champions Digital team via firstname.lastname@example.org, or by giving us a call on 08453313031.