What Factors Are Important for Ranking in Local Search Results?

It can be hard to keep up with the ever-changing nature of Google’s local search ranking factors. Google is constantly evaluating and altering the factors they consider most important when it comes to local search results, and they’re not exactly upfront about what those entail. Let’s walk through a few of what experts think are the top local search ranking factors for 2015.

Quality Links, Content, & Website Design

Quality has long been a factor when it comes to organic search results, but Google has changed what they consider “quality” with various algorithm updates. Currently, experts gather that Google favors quality inbound and outbound links, content, and website design.

  • Links: Inbound and outbound links have always been important when it comes to local search results, but now Google is digging deeper to make sure the links you’re using are relevant, trustworthy, and local. Including local links on your site and having local businesses mention you or provide a link back to your website can give you a boost in local search rankings because Google recognizes links to your website from 3rd party sites as authoritative.
  • Content: Google looks at the content on your website to see how readable, relevant, and frequent it is. Rather than focusing strictly on keyword matching, Google puts an emphasis on whether or not your content is fresh, useful for readers, and topically related to the search query, so keep that in mind when putting together your content calendar.

Tip: Compile a list of helpful and relevant local sites you can pull links or curate content topics from when creating your content calendar.

A Good User Experience

User experience goes hand-in-hand with quality. Google looks at your website to determine whether or not it’s user-friendly, how people are using it, and how long they’re interacting with your site. Google measures this through on-page signals such as click-through-rate, mobile click-to-call, and time spent on site, among other factors.

  • Website Design: 80% of smartphone owners use their phones to search for local information, so Google has put renewed emphasis on mobile-friendly and responsive websites because they know these sites are typically well designed and give mobile searchers a better overall experience. Mobilegeddon is just one example of how important mobile-friendly website design is to Google, so make sure your website is following those guidelines closely, or you may be left behind in local search results.

Tip: Invest in a quality website design and optimize it for conversions to make your website more user-friendly, extend the time users spend on your site, and increase conversions like calls and form submissions.

Consistency Across the Web

Consistency across your claimed properties, like listings and social sites, helps create a quality web presence that can boost your website’s search results. Google looks for consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) across the web and for consistency in other aspects of your online presence. This includes consistent information on your website, social sites, Google My Business page, and local listings. Providing consistent information for users not only helps your local presence but also helps your business by making it easier for customers to reach you.

Tip: Regularly audit your local presence by searching for your business online to determine whether or not your business information is consistent across the web. Fix incorrect information to increase your chances of appearing in local search results for your products and services.

Key Takeaways

Google’s latest update to the way it displays local search results – taking the 7-pack down to a 3-pack – is evidence that Google is constantly changing and evaluating the way it measures and shows local results. A renewed focus on website design – specifically mobile – and emphasis on how users are interacting with your website and business online are great places to start when it comes to evaluating your chances of showing up in local search results. What are some ways Google’s local search ranking factors positively or negatively impacted your business? Let us know in the comments!

Stephanie Heitman

Stephanie is the Strategic Communications Marketing Manager at ReachLocal. She has experience in digital marketing, social media management, and content creation for SMBs. Stephanie specializes in helping businesses improve their online reputation and appreciate the impact social media and digital marketing can have on their brand. When she isn't researching the latest online marketing tips and trends, she enjoys eating pizza and watching too much TV with her husband and her dogs.

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