Local SEO ranking factors are the specific things marketers focus on to help improve the position of businesses in search results. Essentially, it’s what search engines like Google look for when deciding which businesses to display in prime positions like the local pack (or three pack).
Google has been somewhat forthcoming about which local SEO ranking factors it considers important, but the specific algorithm is a closely guarded secret. So, based on what Google has told us, as well as Semrush’s significant industry experience, we’ve pieced together several actionable tips to improve your local search rankings and bring in more business for your company.
Now we know a bit more about Google local ranking factors, it’s time to get to work on improving your business’ local search engine rankings. First, you’ll need to distribute your business listings to all the top online directories. To make sure your business has the highest chance of being seen as relevant to the user (one of the most important local search ranking factors), complete as many details as possible in your profiles. Name, address and phone number are essential (this is known as NAP data), but where possible, you should also include your logo, opening hours, onsite photos, categories, products, services, and a detailed description.
Top tip: Once you’ve got a large number of citations online, it’s important that you make sure everything is correct and that there are no duplicate listings out there. Semrush’s Listing Management tool makes it really simple to fix errors in your citations, suppress duplicate listings and update details across all directories in one simple interface.
Pay special attention to your Google Business Profile (GBP), which is what appears in the results page when people search your business name and also where Google Maps gets its data from. Of all your online citations, GBP is considered one of the biggest local search ranking factors, especially for Google results (for obvious reasons). Add content to your GBP, such as local photos and updates, to make it clear your business is active in your location.
Warning: Don’t try to game the system by cramming your Google Business Profile name and description with keywords or claiming a location as open to the public when it’s really a work-from-home address. Infringements against Google’s guidelines for representing your business can seriously impact your local SEO ranking.
Next, you’ll need a solid review generation campaign. This doesn’t need to be any more complicated than sending out a message (SMS, ideally, as they have the highest open rates) with a polite request for a rating, along with a link to your GBP.
When the reviews start coming in, be sure to reply to them in a timely fashion to thank people for their feedback or find out more about why a customer wasn’t satisfied (yes, you need to reply to negative reviews as well).
Optimize your website for local keywords and consider location-specific landing pages with an embedded Google Map and schema code so Google can easily check your NAP data.
Create relevant content about the local area and share on your social channels, email lists and GBP. Also reach out to relevant local website owners and encourage them to link to your content.
Make sure any content you create is high quality and optimized for local search. If users click on your content and immediately decide it's not for them, you’ll end up with a high bounce rate, which sends a signal to Google that your content isn’t solving users’ queries. If you’re not confident you can write compelling local content yourself, consider hiring a writer with experience in SEO. Reach out to local newspaper websites whenever you have anything interesting going on (like a grand opening or fundraising event) and encourage them to link to your site in the write up.
Once you’ve started making moves on influencing the local SEO ranking factors that will determine your online success, you’ll need to get an objective view of how well you're doing. Looking at Google search results doesn’t give you the most accurate representation of where your business ranks locally, because even in incognito mode, Google is influenced by you as a user.
For the most useful data on your local SEO results, use tools you can trust to give you a genuine average local ranking. Semrush’s Listing Management tool lets you create clear reports on your local rankings progress so you can be certain all your hard local SEO work isn’t in vain.
Prominence boost: Semrush’s Listing Management tool is the quickest way to get your business listed on more than 70 directories and improve local search engine rankings
Attract more customers with listings in top local directories