Every year the folks over at Moz come out with what has proven to be the authoritative annual report on local search ranking factors. They poll experts from the field and come up with an easy to read and comprehend report that details the empirical evidence of how Google is ranking local pages.
Sometimes it can be difficult to wade through the SEO-speak, so simply speaking, here are our takeaways from the latest report, issued October.
Review Signals – Even more during this COVID-19 period, customers are going local – and what is the first thing they do? Look for reviews. Search engines naturally wants to show quality results to the users, so their algorithms are paying close attention to customer reviews, but not only that – the engagement of business owners with the customers. Don’t just focus on Google reviews – keep in mind that Bing and Yahoo will show Yelp and Facebook reviews in their local listings.
Would you be interested in knowing how to get more 5-star reviews than your competitors? Download this free comprehensive guide.
User Behavior matters – Google is now paying particular attention to what your user does while they’re on your website. They are viewing click-throughs, filling out forms, length of time spent on the site, actions taken, even getting directions – all as a sign that your site is providing a good search experience. Good content is always a top foundational necessity for user engagement and social signals – and always will be. Does your business have a regular blog content strategy?
Proximity to the searcher – This used to be high, but in recent times, it dropped to 3rd. Proximity is still important, but it appears that the optimization of your Google My Business (GMB) listing and reviews have a higher influence on placement in the maps listings. If your local pages are GEO optimized, you stand a far better chance at Google being able to connect the dots and show your results for searches in your area. Google has also gotten better at knowing desktop locations, something it had not done well the past.
Domain authority – Another signal that is flying upwards. Though it is still possible to find lots of spammy results in local, the tide is clearly in your favor if you are a brand that continues to build authority and presence. This one obviously has many pieces to it. Useful content in various places that gets shared lots in social media and other places will be a huge boost.
Citations – Citations, even from an unlinked authority site, appear to be a big part of Google’s mission to reward brands. Making use of citations is still a large part of ranking well locally. (Citations are mentions of your company name, phone, and/or address on other sites).
On-Page SEO signals and GMB optimization rules – The largest factor in other year’s surveys was again on-page SEO. This time, the optimization of Google My Business is the top factor. The presence of NAP data, (name, address, phone) keywords in titles, domain authority and GEO locators among others are still leading the way in regards to getting you great results in local rankings. If you’re planning to get a new website, make sure your web-design person or company KNOWS these factors, and you know if your price quote includes these on-site factors. Some web designers claim to know, but don’t implement it on your site in a way needed for local search ranking factors.
The whole state of local SEO in 2020 report is well worth reading and can be found on this page. (Image is from the Moz report).
In short, if you want potential customers or patients to find your business, it is vital that your GMB listing is filled out with searchable terms, captures attention with photos and video – in other words, well-optimized. It’s also vital you have ongoing posts in your listing, as they get more attention over time and can increase clicks to your site or phone calls.
How would you like a free Google Listing Q&A over a screen-share consult? Book a time here, I’d love to help.
If you’d rather just go step-by-step through a comprehensive path toward getting in the local 3-pack on page 1 of search results, then you will want this GMB training portal that gets updated every year.
In 2013, Dimensional Research carried out a study sponsored by a software company. While the research was about customer service and how it affects sales of midsize companies, researchers uncovered nuggets that changed the way people look at online reputation management forever. Those nuggets are as follows:
In today’s online world, it will be a huge mistake to ignore reviews about you or your business on the Internet. More so, it will be a bigger mistake to leave everything to chance, wishing that satisfied customers post the best testimonials while disgruntled ones keeping their opinions to themselves. Your target buyers are out there researching for you on the Internet and are looking for an excuse not to deal with you. Don’t give it to them. Continue reading
To give your business a solid online presence, you need the help of an online marketing agency. Research shows that in 91% of small businesses, the CEO also serves as the primary marketer. Playing double roles doesn’t come as a surprise as 96% of these businesses have a staff of five or fewer.
Unfortunately, business owners and managers like you simply do not have enough time to dabble and experiment online. The core business – be it a bakery, carwash, dental clinic, or restaurant – needs you. You need to be running operations. Trying to learn the technical aspects of online marketing and sacrificing time for the business is not worth it.
Business owners are reluctant to engage in online marketing activities not because they don’t want to see their website online, or they don’t have the budget for it. Mostly, it’s because they struggle to track Internet marketing’s return on investment or ROI. Indeed it is difficult to invest in something whose value is not obviously apparent. Good thing there’s PPC or pay-per-click advertising.
PPC not only gives businesses quick results, it also tracks these results – allowing owners to see exactly what they are making through this channel. In fact, a recent study showed that 50% of marketers that use PPC do so because they want to achieve or increase their measurable ROI. PPC is indeed the online advertising model businesses need right now. Continue reading
According to statistics, an overwhelming 78% of consumers research about products and services on the Internet before buying locally. The message consumers are sending local business owners is therefore clear: be visible online or get ready to close shop.
A lot of business owners have responded to this message by getting a website done. They also pay for SEO or search engine optimization services to make sure they appear on Google when their prospects look for products they offer. But is this strategy good enough to keep your cash register ringing every day? Or is there a better way to ensure your business dominates “locally”?
Social media optimization is a known business necessity. Owners understand that for their venture to withstand the competition and survive in the current economic environment, they need to be on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. They need to update fan pages, upload photos, and interact with their audience. After all, 67% of all Internet users use social networks, according to Pew Internet research. Indeed no online marketing strategy is ever complete without it. But at the end of the day, its sales—not likes, retweets, or repins—that keep the business going. So the question now is…
“Do businesses actually get sales from social media?”
Mobile Internet users are expected to outnumber desktop users by next year. It is therefore no surprise that Google is paying close attention to this development. And so should you. Because if your website is not yet “mobile responsive,” you may be turning away prospects who browse your web pages via smartphones, tablets, or laptops. And frankly, mobile users are prospects you wouldn’t want to lose.
Most people think of cute animals when they hear the words “Penguin” and “Panda” but for many search engine optimization service providers, these two words are to be feared. Google’s Penguin and Panda are algorithm updates that play separate roles in improving the overall experience of online users.
While algorithm updates should be primarily a concern for companies providing online marketing services, business owners who use SEO services should also know about them. That’s because if your SEO service provider happens to violate Google’s SEO guidelines, these algorithm changes will drastically affect your website’s ranking and your business will suffer the consequences. So before it’s too late, read our guide on the dreaded Google Penguin and Panda updates and what they mean to your business.