Key Local Ranking Factors To Understand
April 13th, 2023
Is your local business getting buried in online search results due to the lack of a strong local SEO presence? You’re not alone. Many companies – from small businesses to large enterprises – struggle to get local search visibility on the web.
But if you think about it, it only makes sense that local businesses get the short shrift when it comes to organic search engine rankings. After all, why would a national search query lead users to a store down the street? That’s why you need to understand how Google’s algorithms incorporate local ranking factors into their calculations.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at four key ranking signals for local businesses: physical location proximity, NAP citations, sentiment of online reviews from customers, and the number of interactions with your location/Google Business Profile. We’ll explain what each of these factors mean for your site and how you can effectively use them to improve your SEO rankings.
What Makes Local SEO Different?
When it comes to search engine optimization, local SEO is a unique beast. Unlike traditional SEO, local SEO focuses on optimizing for searches that occur in a specific geographic area. The goal is for locals to be able to easily find information about your business when making location-based search queries.
To accomplish this, there are several key local ranking factors you should be aware of:
User’s Physical Location: Local results are largely determined by the physical location of the user making the query. For example, if someone searches for “restaurants near me”, then the top results will be restaurants located closest to them.
NAP Citations: NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number — and having consistent NAP citations across your listings on various websites and directories will help your business appear higher on the local SERP (search engine result page).
Sentiment of Online Reviews: Studies have shown that reviews with strong sentiment (whether positive or negative) often have an impact on local SEO rankings. This can include reviews from websites like TripAdvisor or Yelp as well as reviews left directly on your Google My Business page.
Number of Interactions with Location/Google Business Profile: Finally, how often people interact with your Google My Business profile (e..g viewing photos, getting directions) can have a positive impact on your local SEO rankings.
By understanding these key ranking factors and implementing them effectively into your strategy, you’ll be well positioned to earn those coveted spots at the top of relevant local search results!
Understanding the User’s Physical Location
Google looks at the physical location of whoever is searching for something and tries to provide the best results accordingly. This means that if you want potential customers to find your business when they are searching in a specific location, then you need to make sure that it's optimized for that area.
This includes understanding how local geography and density of competition affects the search results.
Factors such as the size of the city or town, nearby landmarks, highway exits, population density and distance of competitors will all factor into whether or not your business is on page one in local listings.
So it pays to make sure that your business is correctly registered with Google so you can get an accurate physical location included with your listing as well as other local SEO optimizations such as NAP citations.
You should also have a well-rounded local search presence by claiming your business with services such as Yelp, Angie’s List, FourSquare and other similar services so that you can appear in multiple types of searches.
Doing this will help you increase visibility in those locations and make sure your business is seen by potential customers who are searching locally for what you offer.
The Importance of NAP Citations
When it comes to local SEO, you can't overlook the importance of NAP citations. That's because a NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) citation is how Google — and other search engines — know that you're an established business, with an actual physical location.
NAP citations are one of the local ranking factors that help Google to establish your legitimacy in a particular geographical area. And not only is having the right information necessary for your customers to be able to find you, but it's also critical for getting the most out of your local SEO efforts.
So make sure that your NAP citations are consistent across all business listings and that the information is up-to-date and accurate. This means ensuring that your business name, address and phone number are identical on every citation. Not only will this send signals to Google about legitimacy and trustworthiness of a business, but it will also help with ranking as well.
The Sentiment of Online Reviews
Online reviews are some of the most important local SEO ranking factors. Your customers’ opinions on review websites can greatly influence your local search rankings, so understanding their sentiment is key.
Google’s algorithm takes customers’ opinions into account when giving out rankings, making online reviews an essential part of your local SEO efforts.
The number of reviews you have isn’t as important as the sentiment behind them. If a customer has a negative experience with your products or services and leaves a negative review, you could suffer from lower rankings.
On the other hand, when customers comment positively about their experience with your business and leave glowing reviews of your business, this could be beneficial for improving local search results.
You should also take the customer experience itself into account along with the customer reviews. Most customers are likely to leave a positive review for their experience if it was enjoyable and hassle-free.
However, if they experienced traffic issues, slow service or something else that had an effect on their overall experience it’s likely that they won’t leave a positive review—even if they liked your products and services.
To ensure you have consistently positive reviews online, make sure you are offering excellent customer service every time someone visits your store or interacts with your brand online. Making sure all customer needs are met every time will go along way in ensuring a good online sentiment for your business—and improved local search ranking positions.
The Number of Interactions With the Location & Google Business Profile
When it comes to optimizing locally, the number of interactions with your business profile is an important factor. Every time a user interacts with your location or your Google Business Profile, it tells Google that you’re a reliable local resource.
The more physical visits to your location, the better. Whether it's from customers on-site at your business or by passersby who just happen to be nearby, each visit counts for something.
Reviews and ratings of Products & Services
Getting good reviews and ratings of your products or services can also have positive effects on your local SEO ranking. When people look up local businesses online, they tend to check reviews and ratings first—these signals help tell search engines that you’re a legitimate business and provide quality products or services in the area.
Additionally having customers write helpful reviews is beneficial as they indicate that they found what they were looking for when they visited your physical location or website.