Wondering why potential local customers are unable to find your product or service when doing a mobile search? By failing to do a few simple things to improve your ranking factors and making sure your online presence is properly optimized for local SEO, you are missing out on potential new business.

Many local brick and mortar businesses lack the skills necessary to increase their visibility in local search. Here are the five most important hyper-local SEO ranking factors that you should pay attention to or understand when working with an SEO consultant.

Wait… what’s the difference between local or hyper-local SEO and traditional SEO?

Simply put, local SEO focuses on the on-site and off-site optimization necessary to show up on searches conducted in the physical area you serve. Regular SEO is not location targeted and would focus on the whole internet, like a blog or an ecommerce site.

The All-Important Google 3-Pack

You all have seen it when doing any type of local search. Just below the paid ads and above the organic search results is the ‘Holy Grail’ of local search. But how do you get there? Well, when Google’s algorithms detects that a search query has ‘local intent’, it will feature three local businesses as a group or a ‘pack’, along with a location map showing all three. The 3 Pack listings typically feature the business name, phone number, reviews, photos, videos (if uploaded) and business hours. So you can see how being in the Google 3-Pack is a huge advantage to growing organic traffic for your business.

A well-balanced local SEO strategy will focus on both improving rankings in the organic search listings while also focusing on optimizing for the Google 3-Pack. Now a good comprehensive local SEO strategy is one that is customized for your business and uses ongoing data to constantly improve your results.

The Top Five Ranking Factors for Local SEO

Here are five of the most important factors Google uses to determine search ranking – follow them and leap frog over your competition.

1) Google My Business

Claim it or create it – the very first thing you need to do is to optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing.

Some things to remember:

  • Make sure your business is in the correct category.
  • Make sure to include relevant keywords in your GMB title
  • Verify that the link to your business website is correct.
  • Verify the accuracy of the listed business hours
  • Also verify that the business address is correct! This is so important, as the Local Pack listings consider the businesses’ proximity to the searcher’s location
  • Add your company logo
  • Upload high quality photos or videos.
  • Add your services or menu etc.

2) Inbound Links

The more inbound links to your site from websites that Google considers ‘high-quality, authority sites’, the better. What constitutes a high authority site? Examples are local government sites, local media sites, universities, professional organizations and high profile local social media.

Also important is the link anchor text you use. This tells Google the content of the page that your link points to, such as listing ‘Seasonal Landscaping Tips’ on your local newspaper website.

3) On-Page Ranking Factors

Before investing too much time off-site, you or your web developer need to make sure that your website is properly optimized. Your content should relate to your local audience and include targeted keyword phrases that offer value to current and prospective customers.

Here is a list of some key on-page factors to review:

  • Page Title
  • Meta Description
  • URL
  • Heading Tags
  • Image Alt Text
  • NAP or Name Address Phone: Make sure this prominently displayed on every page of the website (usually in the page header and footer).

4) Consistent Citation Links

A ‘citation’ usually refers to your listing in a business directory or review site on the web. But when it comes to your local SEO ranking, making sure that your NAP info uses the same format every time it’s published. The top four data aggregators distribute your info to over 1,600 different directories, so if you get it wrong, it will spread pretty quickly and affect your ranking factors.

5) Customer Reviews

These days, most people go straight to the reviews when deciding whether to do business with your or not. And online business reviews are another key factor when it comes to local SEO. Some of the major online review platforms include:

Reviews help form your company’s online reputation. And one of the worst things you can do is to ignore the reviews you receive. A quick daily review by a designated company staffer will help you stay on top of your game and manage your customer feedback, both positive and negative. And while it’s never comfortable to get negative reviews, they are a great opportunity to turn unhappy customers into happy ones.

Get Started Today!

The 5 Google ranking factors presented in this post should provide a great start to any company looking to improve their local SEO visibility. However, designing and implementing a comprehensive local SEO strategy can quite complex. But don’t worry…Smaht! can help.

Smaht! offers many services that can help your local business succeed with your online marketing goals, including on-site optimization (comprehensive on-site audits, title tag and meta description rewrites), local business listings, reputation management, content creation, and more.