Local Search Engine Ranking Factors and SEO
I read an article over at B2C.com by Bill Treloar on the factors that influence Local Search Rankings and I wanted to add to it and describe in detail how important these factor really are in Local SEO for organic rankings.
Physical address in the City of Search
For Local Search this is a must and one of the most important ranking factors. When people search for local Businesses they always put in the city and then the keywords they are looking for. Social applications like Google+ FourSquare, Zagat, Manta etc have local search integrated into their applications.
Proper business categories chosen in Local Page
Fill out your Social business profile and choose the proper category. This enures more targeted traffic driving click through rates and most importantly conversions.
Domain Authority measures the predictive ranking strength of entire domains or subdomains. Domain Authority takes into account how many linking root domains and total links to your site. the more you have the better, this means your site is Authoritative on a certain niche or subject.
City and State in the page title of your home page
I have both these on my home page and my contact us page including my services pages as well. When search engines crawl your pages and someone makes a query for local search, Location is one of the factors that will show up in the snippet of organic results.
Local area code on Local Page
I think this is good for directories, when people are looking for a phone number they can call to talk to someone directly, their queries might include the Area Code and the keywords for the product or services they are looking for.
Owner-Verified (claimed) Local Page
Most profiles for directories and social networks allow you to verify that this business is yours and gives consumers credibility that they are contacting a trusted source.
Quality of inbound links to your website
You want Quality links that correlate to your niche market. These links can come from sites that have higher page-rank or from sites that have Authority who know what they are talking about.
Number of inbound links to your website
Google and Bing use the number of inbound links to your website in their Search Engine Algorithm to determine rankings in the organic listings. Note* you can have a bunch of links, but are they quality and correlating?
Diversity of inbound links to your website
Having a diversity of links is a good thing thing now days in SEO. For your niche market having links with various Anchor Text gives importance and improves traffic as search queries can vary for many keywords or keypharses for example: "Body shop, Auto Body Shop, Auto Body," Dont forget to have keyword diversity in your Anchor text for your City and state as well.
Number of reviews
For Local search Google+ and other social networks are using reviews as ranking factors in their local search applications. I would encourage your customers or visitors to post reviews and include links to various sites like Zagat, Manta, Yelp, CitySearch, and Insider pages to list a few. make sure these links point to your local business profile or page on the respective sites.
Product or Service keywords in anchor text of inbound links to your website
This is one of the most common uses of Anchor Text. When using your products or services as keywords make sure to use keyword variation, you might want to put a description after or use the keywords in Context.
Location keywords in anchor text of inbound links to your website
Location, Location, Location. This is what it is all about when it comes to local search. Your location, the number of quality links with location Anchor Text will be one of the major ranking factors in Local Search.
Photos and/or logos on your Local Page
Photos and Logos are kind of like brand management. Your existing customers and potential customers will recognize your brand by the images from logos or photos at the physical location or on the web. Show your child a Golden Arches picture and they will probably tell you what the business is and where it is located. make sure these photos and logos have the Alt-Image Tag for search engines to read, you can even put in your address as the Alt-tag.
Age of your Local Page
I'm up and down with this one, if you have good local optimization with on and off page techniques no matter how old you site is you should have good rankings. you can quickly rank for Long Tail Keywords if you have a new local site, because most long tails are less competitive. Search Engines do take into account the age of your website. This is where Social Signals can help you quickly get ranked.
Percent of the information on your Local Page that’s completed
Fill out all your information completely, from address, phone number, name, business title, and products and services. The more the better. This gives consumers confidence they can know and reach you about any questions or concerns.
Number of +1s on your website
Google uses +1's as a social Signal, as of yet it is to early to tell how these social signals are being integrated into the Organic Listings, however if you have a load of +1's showing on your site this is a good thing. It lets users know that hey, this information is good and relevant and must mean some importance.
Number of followers of your Google+ page
The number of Followers on your Google+ page means allot, especially to me. Google+ lets you network with like minded individuals in your industry. These followers drive traffic to your site and share your content with their followers. If you have a Local Business with a large following for example in "Bullhead City" and you have a "Bar", you can share the latest happenings and events. Your followers on Google+ can share this this info resulting in driving foot traffic to your local business. Note* one feature of FourSquare I like is for local businesses that after a few check-ins they can get a free drink or appetizer from showing the code on their smartphone after checking in. I discussed this with Loretta Fowler owner of Lazy Harry's Bar and Grill in Bullhead City Arizona, and she said she will implement more social networking.
Number of likes on Facebook
The number of likes on Facebook can drive traffic to your site with the correct marketing. This is a Social Signal for Bing who is already like Google+ including Social Content into their SERP's. The thing here is to ask your followers questions on your niche and when a user searches Bing you can see those topics on the right hand side of the organic listings.
Number of followers on Twitter
Twitter is a great tool for short messages, and when you get re-shares from a large following, like Google+ and Facebook, of course your immediate traffic will be enhanced. use #hash-tags to find people in your niche market. gain a good following and you will gain some much needed traffic.
In closing, to add to the points mentioned above, don't forget Pinterest. If you have local products and services, by all means Pin Them. Include a short description and add your address in the Pin. Make Infographics and Good Content that can be shared.
Use the Google Author Tag and link it form your Google+ to your main site, this will give authority and increase the click thorough rate in the organic results.Local Search has gone Mobile and Social, I would do some research on these mobile platforms to see what applications are using local search and submit your information to these Map and review sites.
If you thank think about some other good Local Points that were not mentioned above, please do share in the comments below.
By "Shawn Lippert"
Local Business Website Design, SEO and Internet Marketing Blog
By "Shawn Lippert"