Local Search Ranking Factors that Matter in 2020

How to Know What Local Search Ranking Factors You Need to Worry About

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.

What’s working in local search ranking in 2020

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.

Call 778-578-1202



How to Promote Holiday Offers Free on Your Local Google Listing

Did you know you can post expiring coupons, videos, and update posts on  your company Google My Business listing?

Did you know that you don’t have to pay for online advertising to benefit from local search traffic?

Your Google My Business listing is the ultimate key to driving more local traffic to your store. It’s free to have: you’ll soon notice a rise in online traffic when you create your online listing.

The best thing about your local Google listing is that you can change it whenever you want. That means you can use it to make the most of seasonal promotions so that anybody looking for your services in the area will immediately be tempted by your offers!

This quick guide will show you how to get your free listing – and how to use it for seasonal promotions, too.

How to Claim Your Google My Business Listing

There are just a few quick steps to claim your free online listing:

1. Visit www.google.com/business and select the Start Now button.

2. Create or sign in to your Google account for your business.

3. Follow the instructions step-by-step to create your listing.

4. Verify your listing to make sure you appear in local searches.

When you’ve completed the above, your free local listing is live!

Everybody Loves Something for Free

The great thing about using your local Google listing to run holiday promotions and offers is that both you and your customers benefit!

Your marketing budget is kept low and your customers will receive money off (or free gifts) when they make a holiday purchase. It’s a win-win situation!

Some businesses feel that running offers can devalue their product offering. This can be true if your shop always has some discount area or constant sales.

However, irregular seasonal offers can be a great way to tempt back wayward customers as well as finding new ones. Customers feel they’re getting a bargain when they see discounts or special offers and that can be enough to help them choose your shop over another.

With that in mind, let’s look at how to boost your holiday offers without spending any extra money on marketing.

How to Promote Seasonal Offers on Your Local Google Listing

Now you’ve got your online listing it’s time to make the most of the free marketing opportunities.

1. Add a Post About Your Seasonal Promotions

You can add an offer in your post as an update, or specifically as an OFFER.   Update your Posts by going into your Google Business account and selecting “New Post” on the left-hand menu and choose the “Offer” tab in the new pop-up.  Add an image, and in “offer title” and “details” give information that is memorable and grabs attention as this is the first thing people will see of your offer.  You can add a start and end date, an optional coupon code, terms and conditions, and a link to your offer redemption page.

If you do a regular update post instead of offer, it’s similar. Add in a short amount of text and an image that shows off your related promotions. For example, if everything is ‘buy two get one free’ in a certain range for the holidays, include this in your post. You may also include coupon codes for your online store.

Once the post is published it will show up under your Google My Business listing when a related search is made.

2. Promote Your Holiday Event

Are you open late for a special evening shopping event? Do you have a special networking dinner for your business customers?

You can use the Posts function to add a new event, too. In the pop-up, just choose the “event” tab. Add the details, such as date, location, and start time, and hit publish.

Users will be able to click on this promotion to book their place on the event. This will help you to manage your attendee list so that you know how many to expect.

You can also create a list from those who have expressed an interest in the event to send further targeted marketing communications about the event and related products.

3. Shout About Your Seasonal Products

There’s one more function of ‘Posts’ on your listing: the What’s New section. This is the perfect place to shout about your holiday-related products.

Add a post as above: the What’s New posts have more space for additional information, images, and even videos. This is a great way to tempt local shoppers to visit your website and your bricks-and-mortar store during the run-up to the holiday season.

Ask an Expert to Help

If you’re having trouble setting up your local Google listing to make the most of free seasonal marketing opportunities, it’s time to speak to an expert.
free offer in GMB
A GMB and local SEO expert will be able to use the perfect keywords, based on customer psychology and keyword research, to make sure your free online promotions are effective in boosting sales. Get in touch with our team today to find out more!  Need help?  I will post your offer FOR you – not cost or obligation.  Just book a call time here.

Here’s a sample of a posted offer in GMB.  Take advantage of our special offer we posted on our GMB listing.

Dragon’s Den, Websites, and Arlene

Rant about Misunderstanding of Websites by Smart Business People

When watching Dragon’s Den Wed. Nov. 19, 2014, (see video episode below) a BC man shocked everyone asking for $2 million for just 4% of his business.
(Disclaimer: these are not direct quotes – but by memory).

What does his company do?
Generate traffic and leads to real estate agents and companies.

How does he do it?
Through creating well-optimized websites, ranking them, getting traffic to them, and generating leads from them for the real estate firms.

He said it takes a year to build the search positions through SEO (& website), but once done, it can bring huge returns.
This sounds like a long time for people, but he’s right – real estate is a VERY competitive niche in search engines, and there are SO many keyword phrase variations.

Frustrated rantAnyway, Arlene Dickinson, who I respect as a business person, just didn’t get it this time.  She said there must be huge competition of other companies trying to do the same thing.  The man (Morgan Carey) said, No, amazingly not.  Very few deliver comprehensive web services to real estate agents.
Arlene then kept smirking in disgust as if the man knew nothing, and insisted,
“Come on, there must be many who are making websites for real estate agents.” and later she muttered something like,
“You’ve been had. They just make websites. Alot of companies do that.”

Here’s my rant.
1. She wasn’t listening.  That’s one of my beefs with these know-it-alls. They are awesome at business in general, and their respective fields they do business in, and investing, but it gets annoying when they suddenly know all about an industry having done no market research about it themselves, and less than the person pitching to them.  I remember several occasions when they were adamant about something, but very wrong.  We all make mistakes. Now the main one.

2. To continue – I could tell she wasn’t listening, because she thought they “only did websites”.  She didn’t seem to get this. She should know marketing. You can’t bring leads to agents if ALL you do is “websites”.  Websites do not bring more leads or business.  THey need TRAFFIC and CONVERSION to contacting the agents.  In competitive niches, there is a HUGE amount of work between the “A” of “website” and the “Z” of “leads”.  Let me educate a little.

* Make website  (majority are not made with search engines in mind, nor with marketing conversion in mind).
* Optimize the website for search, and for marketing purposes (they include great tools like a CRM integrated with it).
* Establish a web presence beyond the website to increase reach and exposure to the brand and website
* Populate those external web properties with content that establishes the company as an expert in it’s field
* Drive traffic to the main website from other web properties through social media, syndication, press releases, etc.
* Make and rank VIDEOS to help ranking and promotion, and other marketing activities.

She’s right that there is no shortage of freelancers and companies “just making websites”.  But she totally missed the main point – anybody nowadays can make a website – it’s the integrated tools for marketing, the traffic and ranking combined with that which has very little competition.
What is still very rare?  Being able to turn that website into a money-making machine for your business.  THAT skill has very little competition. Business owners have no patience for that skill to get put to work, nor the budget for the time and work it takes to achieve it.
The reason? They don’t understand it.  They don’t realize all the work involved between “making a website” and getting to the point of getting lots of leads through that website.

So, in the end, the business owners decides:
1) I don’t want to take the time it takes to make my website visible and effective, or to educate myself on what is really needed.
2) I don’t want to invest in experts to get my site more visible through other web properties.
3) I only expect a website to solve my problems, and some basic on-site SEO (rather than continual content marketing from external sites which are required also as part of “seo”)   At this point, I must say that many web design companies are deceiving.  They leave the impression to business owners that a “well optimized website” will rank them in search engines.  So they advertise, “search friendly websites”, or “includes SEO”.   What they MEAN, is they intend to make the website structure search friendly, and perhaps add the meta tags needed.  This IS necessary for search rankings, HOWEVER, it is only the required FOUNDATION for good rankings.
Without on-site SEO, you will NOT be ranked well.   However,
WITH on-site SEO, it is USUALLY NOT ENOUGH to rank well (unless you have very little competition in your city).
What is required is OFF-SITE optimization of external web properties – (create them, brand them, populate with content that LINKS to your site, get Social Media buzz about them).
Nowadays, even ranking well is not enough – an online REPUTATION is needed to get more conversions from traffic to prospects and sales.

THIS is where (1) those who rank well and (2) those who don’t differ.
(1) is willing to invest time or money in the ongoing external content & brand marketing (Offsite Optimization).
(2) is NOT willing to invest time or money into ongoing external optimization.

Don’t follow the mistake of Arlene and equate these statements
there are tons of people doing websites”   with
we make websites AND optimize them AND work at it until it gets LEADS for the business“.

There’s a whole lot more time, effort, and expertise separating those statement, and few are really doing comprehensive packages (partly because many businesses aren’t willing to pay for it).  That’s why the competition is a lot LESS than people realize.

Please leave your comments or observations.
No disrespect to Arlene – a far better person and business person than I, I’m just pointing out how even smart business people don’t get the difference between “just doing websites” and even SEO, and overall optimization of not just the website, but other web properties to make it all work together to get leads.

People know that Marketing is needed beyond websites, but perhaps this is where the confusion happens.
Modern SEO is a form of marketing, they are not separate services anymore, but integrated.  Many good marketing activities WILL increase the rankings of the website, and good marketing content on the website will increase conversions.  So part of any good SEO package will be what is often considered in the “marketing” category.  But the focus in external optimization are the parts of marketing that increase search rankings – popular articles linking to your site, social media buzz about the site, videos, etc.

Optimization of the website is crucial and is a foundation of good search rankings.  But then the broader activities need to BUILD on that foundation for it to be complete.

Call us for the latest SEO packages and deals.   778-578-1202

If you see the Dragon’s Den episode with Nanaimo’s Morgan Cary, you’d notice how he says they do way more than websites, but people only hear “you do websites”. This is very typical – it’s the only part people can understand and relate to, and it’s what feeds the GoDaddy model of cheap websites – and people wonder why they get no customers – because it takes MORE than just having any old brochure website to get new customers – it needs to speak the language of both search engines and target customers.  (There was a video here, but was removed from Youtube).

We helped a real estate agency in New Westminster with website + SEO.  It does take time, and while researching a system, we did come across this company mentioned in the video, but not everyone can afford their excellent high-end system, so we chose a plugin instead that feeds the property info, and has some better SEO features than most out there.  I assure you, boiler plate real estate sites (which ARE in abundance) are NOT good for SEO (in spite of some company’s claims) – since they are either framed, or don’t allow for individually optimized pages and urls.  There really are very few real estate websites that are really designed with search engines in mind – but it takes more effort.

Beat Negative Reviews about Your Business with Effective Online Reputation Management [Video]

Online reviews can impact your reputation and eventually your whole business. That’s a fact. Want proof? According to research, a massive 80% of consumers can change their purchase decision after reading a negative review online. They do this even if the business in question was referred by a family or friend as a separate study by LMG showed that of those who searched online for referred businesses, 52% looked for reviews or ratings. Online reviews are that powerful.

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[Video] Online Marketing Company and Services Overview: How Does Our Agency Actually Work?

The necessity for your business to have an outstanding online presence and website has never been greater. For this reason, many local business owners like you are trying their best to find digital marketing agencies that can assist them in their online business goals. However, those who have yet to work with a consultant or a marketing group have little idea on what exactly these types of companies do. So how does an online marketing and web design agency actually work? Using our agency as a case study, here’s how. Continue reading

Appear, Engage, & Influence: Get the 10 Benefits of Online Reputation Management [Infographic]

Online reputation management (ORM) is an important aspect in the online marketing arena. While it is used to improve a business’s or a person’s reputation on the World Wide Web, ORM carries a negative connotation to some professionals and business owners. That is because it is sometimes wrongly equated with posting fake consumer reviews on various popular websites, including social networks. In reality, the proper practice of ORM does not rely on fake reviews, but on positive content, genuine consumer feedback, and sharing via social media.

Having ORM performed on a business may also imply that this business has a bad reputation already, but this is not necessarily the case. ORM can be a reactive or a proactive measure. Consumers nowadays are greatly influenced by opinions of other consumers found online – where they actively look for information about businesses, products and services – that not having a bad reputation isn’t really enough. The good word about your business should be out there online more than your competitors so that your target customers will choose you over them. Continue reading

Online Reputation Management: Leveraging Content & Social Media, Not Fake Reviews

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:

  • 86% of respondents said negative reviews influenced their buying decisions
  • 90% said positive reviews influenced their buying decisions

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

How to Evaluate Your Online Marketing Agency Partner [Infographic]

Business owners nowadays understand the importance of working with an online marketing consultant or agency. Owners won’t need to learn the technical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), social media, web design, and other Internet marketing-related services. They can focus on the core business by employing the help of agencies. Now, the only problem is finding the right agency. But unfortunately, many business owners struggle in this aspect.

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Qualities of an Effective Online Marketing Agency: Guide for Business Owners

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.
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PPC Marketing: Go ‘Non-Traditional’ Advertising for Instant Website Traffic [Video]

When business owners notice a drop in leads and sales, they typically launch a promotion and advertise it. They publish ads on traditional media – TV, radio, print, outdoor. And if they’re a bit technology savvy, they put promotions on their website. Problem is, these channels don’t always bring in the urgently needed store visits or the much-awaited online purchases. They should have gone with Pay per Click (PPC) advertising instead. Here’s why. Continue reading

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