If you’re reading this you’re far from the first person to frustratingly try to analyze your poor local search rankings for the keywords that matter most to your business. Living and dying over how you rank for any single keyword is likely a huge oversimplification, but the fact remains the same, you want to be found when potential customers are searching for the products and services that your business offers. If you’re not visible – whether it be local organic results, local pack, or some other SERP feature – you’re probably not going to get that business. You might be throwing your hands in the air because you’ve read some articles and you’ve already done x or y tactic to improve results with no success. Perhaps you’ve even hired an SEO professional and not only did that not work, you have no idea how to tell if they even accomplished anything.
Well, this article is no path to guaranteed success because even the smartest SEO folks don’t know exactly how all the ranking factors coalesce to create the results for any given search term. However, for the average local business this is a highly practical guide to inspecting your local search failures to weed out some common errors and put yourself on the right path. Keep in mind that proximity is a major factor for the local pack and map results. The location you’re searching from can make all the difference. Basically, don’t search from the other side of town and be surprised if your business doesn’t show up ( providing you’re in an industry with any reasonable competition where Google thinks the user will prioritize results that are close by ).
Google My Business
Local SEO basically revolves around Google My Business. It’s kind of like the self-obsessed movie star of the local search landscape. You can just ask the experts who think that GMB is far and away the most influential local search ranking factor. Unsurprisingly for reasons you can read about in my last blog post, it’s also the top lead generator for a lot of local businesses. Isn’t Google just the best? Well, let’s just say you should capitalize on the existing opportunity while it lasts. Let’s get into it.
1. Are You Eligible To Rank?
- Do you have a real address? Google has clear guidelines about what makes an address eligible or ineligible
- Are you located in the same city you’re trying to rank in? Proximity is a major factor
- Has your listing been suspended?
2. Are You The King Of Spam?
A lot of companies seem to get away with spam but getting caught could still result in soft or hard suspensions for your listing. Again you can reference the guidelines linked above for more details
- Are you keyword stuffing your business name? GMB should match your legal business name
- Are you using a category that isn’t accurate?
- Incorrect phone or website implementation.
3. Do You Have Duplicates?
I’ve worked with numerous companies that had duplicate Google My Business listings and didn’t even know it. Duplicates can divide the ranking strength of your listings and weaken visibility. You can remedy this by merging your duplicate listings. Joy Hawkins put together a helpful guide for how to handle GMB duplicates.
4. Do You Have Reviews?
Reviews are right up there as one of the most prominent local search ranking factors. It’s certainly not as simple as “the most reviews wins” but generating customer feedback should be an active part of your digital strategy and it requires a plan. If you’re looking for more information I wrote a post on why positive reviews are essential for your business.
Organic Ranking Factors
Now the idea that GMB is all you really need for local SEO success quickly proves to be ridiculous when you look at all the facts. The local pack results do tend to get the most engagement but people do still click on organic results ( and even ads ). Local pack rankings also rely to some degree on more traditional organic ranking factors. If you want to maximize your visibility across the board here’s a few things you should make sure you aren’t neglecting.
1. Local Citations
Do you have consistent NAP ( Name, Address, Phone ) information across the top location citations for your area? Citations seem to have diminishing value so you don’t need hundreds of them, the top 30-50 should be sufficient. If you have no idea what I’m talking about you can read my local citations guide.
2. Content + User Experience
If your users flee your site like it was some kind internet plague then Google will probably take notice. Google’s mission is to serve searchers the most high quality and relevant results. Your website should be fast, mobile-friendly, and have valuable content that’s easy to navigate for people who are interested in your products and services.
3. Link Building
Links are still a big deal when it comes to local ranking success. Here’s 5 local link building tactics to help you beat the competition.
Happy diagnosing! Have questions or comments about local search ranking factors? Want some input from an experienced SEO company in Edmonton? Let me know in the comments