Chris Heiler, internet marketing expert, offers the following insights and tips into local search rankings.
Each year, local search marketing expert David Mihm releases his annual Local Search Ranking Factors report that includes contributions from more than 40 top local search marketers from around the world. The report analyzes various search ranking factors and measures the impact they have on how a company’s Google+ Local* page ranks in Google’s local search results.
Here are the top five factors impacting your company’s local search rankings:
1. Physical address in city of search. It will be more difficult to rank for the keyword “lawn care service” or “landscaper” in Atlanta if your business is actually located in Decatur.
2. Proper category associations. When you submit your business and website to Google+ Local (Google Places) you have an opportunity to select your “category” of business. Be sure to select the category that best reflects the services your business offers.
3. Address proximity. Businesses located closer to the center of a city have an advantage in local rankings.
4. Domain authority of website. Many factors impact your domain’s authority, e.g., number and quality of inbound links, age of your website, and your site’s content. You can use OpenSiteExplorer.org to discover your website’s domain authority as well as that of your competitors.
5. Quantity of structured citations. This refers to the local search directories where your company may be listed, such as Yelp, SuperPages and Manta.
Other Standout Factors
The following important ranking factors also made the top 20 annual report:
Quantity of native Google+ Local (Google Places) reviews. The number of reviews by Google+ Local users is a major factor in your local rankings.
Individually owner-verified Google+ Local page. If you haven’t claimed your Google+ Local page for your business, do it today! Get started at google.com/business/placesforbusiness.
Quality/authority of inbound links to website domain. Inbound links (i.e., when another website links to your website) play a critical role in your ability to rank in local search results.
Quantity of inbound links to domain from locally relevant domains. The report also reveals that the quantity of inbound links to your website—from locally relevant domains—also has an impact. This makes a lot of sense because we’re talking about local search results here. So, generating inbound links from local vendors, suppliers, business partners, and other local community organizations should play a key role in your search engine optimization (SEO) and inbound marketing strategy.
Page authority of landing page specified in Google+ Local. Your Google+ Local page should point back to your website’s home page. Your home page will have higher “page authority” than any other page on your site, typically. Don’t link back to your “services” page or “contact us” page. Play it safe and link back to your home page.
Social Media Impact
The impact of social signals from Google’s very own social network, Google+, such as number of +1s and number of shares on Google+, were minimal (#57 and #61 respectively). However, we expect the impact of social signals from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and especially those from Google+, to play a larger role in local search rankings in the future.