Local SEO Ranking Factors
Local is of course a relative term. For one business local may refer to a suburb and another may refer to a city as local while a larger business is locally targeting people in a State. The term local however doesn’t ever mean Global. Even business websites that sell products to several different countries are rarely truly Global.
The Internet however, at least that part called the World Wide Web is Global not local. If you have the URL of a website you can visit and see it. The URL is a website’s address and you can find any online public website with it.
Used to be, if the URL has a phrase in it such as “ergonomic furniture” then the URL exactly matching this phrase will get the top spot on the search page for that phrase. eg http://www.ergonomicfurniture.com/ . For this example it does not and this ranking factor is no longer firm.
Exact match domain ranking has recently been downgraded in seo importance by Google, along with high quantities of inbound links, link wheels and many other SEO “techniques” . Local SEO ranking factors are getting more sophisticated all the time.
What is SEO ?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. There are still three major search engines and many smaller search engines, but Google has the largest share of users, with around 80%. Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo have most of the other 20%.
Search engine bots crawl or spider the web and copy what is there. (Please don’t ask me how because I don’t know! Anymore than I know how an airplane stays in the sky or a fax transmits a picture through a wire. They just do!) They then add the pages to their index according to their rank.
The data they collect is analysed against a list of features and ranking factors called an algorithm which is compared to data from all the other websites that is about the same topic, or appears to have a similar keyword phrase targeted. The bots “read” mathematically, so people that annotate their website pages with tags, in language the bots can translate, generally do better than those who don’t. Hence optimisation with a z.
The tagging process is called onsite seo optimisation. If you have written a great article and tagged it correctly you will get it indexed and receive traffic to it from search engine result pages.
If you don’t, it’s generally because other websites have a similar article, the bots can’t tell that yours is clearly better, and the other websites have “offsite” seo and gained “authority”. Wikipedia is the best example of this. If Wikipedia have an article on a topic it is often the first result on the page. Their authority trumps most other content.
Offsite seo used to mainly consist of gaining inbound links to your website, and this hasn’t changed that much. The more links you have pointing to your website the better off you are. However recently there have been qualifications to these links. Newly dated links are better as it says people like your website NOW. Social signals are measured – from likes on Facebook to reviews on Yelp, these social signals say quite clearly what people like and don’t like.
The last factor that may be measured is a Geo location factor. This is less important on a Global website but a highly important factor for local business ranking. This means that you are tagging your website to be seen in a local area. Your own address is the centre of a circle and the spread is according to what you set. As Google can tell where a customer is while searching, their search result page will first present those businesses that are closest to the searcher.
Local SEO Ranking Factors
When you are wanting traffic from Google you should try pleasing Google by using Google properties. They give you all the tools you need to rank well for free, you simply need to claim them.
Where? Check out Google Maps, Google Places, Google Plus, Google Local, You Tube & Panoramio.
Social media has been around five years or so now and we still don’t understand it, but we can click like and share and follow, and so can our customers. So we need those clicks for our websites if we want to rank.
The newest local seo ranking factors are review websites. Some of these are local and some Global, but all of them will have your information in their system if you had a white pages listing recently. Often the first time you realise this is when someone points out a new review about your business to you. You can claim these listings as well and most are free, although some you can pay for premium features. You cannot erase reviews from them simply by claiming or asking, but you can ask for removal if a review seems malicious.
Reviews are as scary and dangerous as a big dog barking. Just like a big dog however, its all in how you approach it. If you treat your customers well – you’ll get good online reviews. If you encourage reviews, the good reviews will outweigh the occasional poor ones. If you treat people poorly, they will complain online.
The reviews get noted (mathematically) and those with 5 stars go to the top of the search page. Bingo!