The importance of your business’ local search ranking on Google is undeniable.
- 50 percent of mobile users visit stores within one day of performing a local search.
- 18 percent of local searches on mobile devices lead to a sale within one day.
- 92 percent of users choose a business that appears on page 1 of local search results.
Simply put: higher local rankings increase in-store visits (traffic) and sales (revenue).
How does Google determine your local ranking?
According to Google, local search rankings are based on three primary factors:
- Relevance refers to how well a business listing or the content of a website matches what a user is searching for. Complete, detailed, and up-to-date business information improves your relevance and helps match your listing to relevant local searches.
- Distance refers to the distance between your listing’s indicated location on Google and the location term used in a Google search query. The location term is simply the user’s location, so: the closer your business is to the user, the higher your business is likely to rank.
- Prominence refers to the offline and online prominence of your business. According to Google: “Some places are more prominent in the offline world — famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands.” Online prominence is determined on the kind of information available on the Web about your business — including quantity and quality of online reviews and online scores and ratings.
9 Tips for improving your local ranking on Google
TIP 1: Manage your business information using Google My Business (GMB). One of the most effective ways to improve your local search ranking is by claiming your business listing and managing your information using Google My Business.
A well-managed GMB listing fosters significant improvements, particularly in the “relevance” factor of local search. Listings that boast of strong reviews and ratings are also the ones most likely to rank at the top of local search, or even be featured in the “local pack.”
TIP 2: Ask happy customers to post reviews. More and better reviews improve your local search ranking on Google. So it makes sense to craft a strategy for collecting feedback and reviews from happy customers, who may already be poised to give you 5 stars and just need a little nudge.
TIP 3: Have at least 2 reviews (on Google) to get your star rating to show. Did you know that your star rating will appear in local search results after you have collected 2 or more reviews on Google? This can be a great eye-catcher on the search results page.
If you have less than 2 reviews on Google, it’s crucial that you’re able to reach out to customers who are likely to leave a positive review of your business. (You definitely don’t want your first 5 reviews to have mostly 1- to 2-star ratings.)
TIP 4: Get more citations and ensure NAP consistency. After claiming your listing on Google, do the same for other platforms or channels where your business may be listed: Yelp, Facebook, Citysearch, TripAdvisor, what-have-you. This helps you build out citations — mentions of your business name on the web, along with other key information, with or without a link back to your website.
Consistency in your NAP (name, address, phone number) info is particularly important, since this relates to all three primary factors that affect your local ranking. It’s easy to end up with variations but avoid this as much as possible. For example, if your location is at “24 Fort Collins Street,” stick to that way of spelling it, instead of using a variation like “24 Ft. Collins St.”
If your local data appears to be unstable, inconsistent, or outdated, Google is less likely to reward your business listing with a high local ranking.
TIP 5: Build your visibility on social media. Social signals are another key factor in local search rankings. The more proactive you are on social, the more likely your pages and your business will attract fans and followers and, therefore, rank better in local search.
- Promote your content — photos, videos, blog posts, company news and updates, etc. — to your social media communities.
- Share your best reviews on social media and highlight stories that are relevant to your audience.
- Respond to comments and customer feedback posted on your pages.
- Tap into paid social ads to open up your funnel to new targeted audiences.
Greater visibility on social media lets Google know that people are talking about and engaging with your business online. It also helps drown out any negative noise that may be hurting your business reputation on search results pages.
TIP 6: Incorporate review content into your website. Another way to use user-generated content (i.e. reviews and feedback) for improving your local search ranking is by adding review content to your website.
This leads to improved user interaction and on-site content density, increased triggers for search engine crawlers, and improved search relevance for long-tail searches.
- Page visitors who read and interact with reviews on brand websites convert at a 58 percent higher rate than those who don’t.
- 800 words of substantive review text can make up as much as 70 percent of fresh content for a website page, which search engines will reward with higher search results.
- According to Search Engine Journal, reviews can influence up to 10 percent of a company’s search ranking.
TIP 7: Create location pages. Running a business with multiple locations? One great way to improve the local search ranking of each of these locations is by creating dedicated pages for them on your site.
Be sure to add location information in the URLs and title tags of these pages: for example, “www.JohnsPlumbing/Chicago” with the corresponding title tag, “John’s Plumbing | Chicago, IL plumbing services”. These location pages, once built out, are going to be crucial in improving the local ranking of your specific locations over time.
TIP 8: Respond to your online reviews. More reviews and ratings of your business on Google (as well as on other third-party review sites) can lead to greater online “prominence”.
Not only does responding to reviews help drive engagement and create the kind of fresh content that is typically crawled by search engines; it also shows that your business values feedback, helping boost shopper confidence and foster consumer trust.
TIP 9: Apply geo-location filters to your keyword campaigns. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool for identifying your most relevant keywords and driving traffic to your business. As you build your website activity and campaigns around these keywords, take time to also find new keyword ideas based on users’ local searches.
When conducting research, apply filters on Keyword Planner based on geographic regions (country, state, county, city). The results should help you determine the local demand for the keywords that you entered, as well as generate new ideas for your campaigns.