As more and more people prefer to do business closer to home, local search results continue to play an ever-expanding role in the success of small- to medium-size businesses. In an ever-increasing competitive landscape, it’s more important than ever that companies recognize and capitalize on the most essential local SEO ranking factors. Let’s dive in and take a closer look these factors, so you can work to improve your local search presence.

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1. Claim and Optimize Google My Business

A critical aspect of a prominent Google local search ranking is properly utilizing Google My Business (GMB) to drive both online traffic and foot traffic to your business. You can control and correct important information about your business, like your name, address, and phone number in Google My Business. Companies that verify their information are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers. Optimize your GMB profile can also help you to improve your rankings in Google “local map pack” listings.

After you’ve updated your information and it’s been verified by Google, you can also upload videos and photos to your business profile. Photos are valued by potential purchasers and can have a substantial impact on your online traffic. Google has found that adding images to your profile increased Google Maps requests by 42% and website clicks by 35% over sites that don’t have photos.

2. Manage Online Reviews

High-quality, positive reviews from happy customers improves your business’s visibility. Many people trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. Good reviews can increase site traffic, click-through rates, and foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar locations. You can be proactive about getting good local reviews by encouraging your customers to go online and post a review on Google or another platform, such as Yelp or Foursquare.

Occasionally, every business experiences a bad review. You can’t please everyone. It’s important to be proactive in responding to any negative reviews people post on Google. Some customers will change their negative reviews when you reach out to resolve issues, and it also shows others that your business is proactive and you care about your customers.

3. List Your Business in Online Directories

There are several areas you can check online to be sure that your company information is up-to-date and accurate. Google scans your website for your information as well as directories like Yelp and BBB. These local citations can help users find your business and also have an impact on your local SEO. You’ll want to check citation websites and make sure the information is correct.

When it comes to local SEO ranking factors, the number of local citations you have and the accuracy of data across your citations is important.

Consistency is key when it comes to your name, address, and phone number in online listings. Something as simple as using the word “Street” in all of your listings instead of using the abbreviation “St.” in some can make a difference in your search engine ranking and results. When search engines discover consistency across your citations, it is more verifiable and trustworthy, and they’ll be more likely to improve your rankings.

4. Use SEO Best Practices with a Local Flavor

On-page SEO and content creation is just as important in terms of local SEO ranking factors as it is nationwide. Optimizing your title tags and H1 tags is important for your website’s SEO. Local SEO requires a slightly different approach, however, because your potential customers are searching for information on businesses in a specific geographic area. For effective local search, your title tags, meta descriptions, and body content should incorporate geo-specific terms like the name of your neighborhood or city. For instance, if you are running a coffee shop in Charleston, SC, your Home page title tag may be something like “Coffee Shop Charleston SC | Company Name”.

If your business has more than one location, you should create content that is specific to each location and use keywords relevant to those locations. Producing dedicated landing pages for each of your locations and optimizing on-page SEO to geo-target those locations is best practice. Combining local SEO strategies with general SEO best practices, like quality backlinks, proper keyword usage, and engaging content will help your business rank well in local search results.

5. Utilize Social Media Effectively

Having a strong social media presence affects Google search and can complement your website. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are excellent platforms to share posts you put on Google My Business or your blog and can help boost your website traffic. Google even provides shortened links that are easier to share on social media.

Social media posts on Google My Business will only appear under the Local Knowledge Panel for seven days. However, information regarding engagement and how often your post was viewed are recorded and viewable even after the post is no longer being displayed. You can view the number of clicks generated, the date of the posting, and you can even delete the post and any information associated with it.

Improve Your Local SEO with ClickGiant

Understanding local SEO ranking factors is essential, especially for any business with brick-and-mortar locations. At ClickGiant, we have years of experience optimizing businesses’ websites for local search, and we can help you get discovered in a noisy online world. Contact us today, and let’s talk about getting your business the online recognition it deserves. We’re always ready to help!