Local searches are a massive ocean of traffic. But without knowing the local SEO ranking factors, it’s impossible to optimize for them.
This article discusses the local SEO ranking factors so you can start dominating the SERPs.
How Is Local SEO Different To “Regular SEO”
When it comes to local SEO, it’s important to note that much of it is the same as regular SEO.
Google uses the standard ranking factors + some local ones to determine which website is the most relevant result.
So, regular ranking factors like backlinks, content, or even site speed are essential for local SEO.
The other main difference is that you can also rank with the Google my business listing – so that’s something where you’ll want to put a lot of your effort into.
Local SEO Ranking Factors
Great, we’ve covered the basics. But we still wanted to walk you through the ranking factors in more detail so you know how to optimize for them.
GMB relevance is the main thing that will help your GMB listing come up before other competitors.
Optimizing it mainly involves filling out all the info, adding photos, and ensuring the information is consistent with your website.
We’ve got a complete guide on how you can optimize your GMB here.
Reviews are another critical local SEO ranking factor for your GMB. However, we don’t recommend getting fake reviews because the algorithm has become quite sophisticated and can tell them apart.
Instead, we recommend that you ask clients or customers for reviews as much as possible.
Check-ins are also similar to reviews and are correctly additional “proof” that people use your business.
When you get customers to check-in, it’s a good signal as well. Now, if you’re in the real estate industry, this may not be as relevant, so just make sure to optimize the other factors well.
Citations are also one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO.
They’re basically when people mention your NAP (Name, address, phone number) somewhere on the web.
Google will then recognize this and use it as a “popularity” signal. Almost like a voting system, although not every vote is equal.
Another significant ranking factor when it comes to local SEO is the proximity between you and the searcher.
While there isn’t any way you could manipulate this, you must make sure your location is in your content, GMB, etc.
Otherwise, Google may not be able to suggest your listing to searchers near you.
Regular Ranking Factors (For Your Website)
So, the ranking factors we have covered so far are mainly local-specific. However, as mentioned earlier, the regular ranking factors are just as crucial if you want your website to rank.
We can break these down mainly into three categories
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
As, the name suggests, on-page SEO is everything you do on your page – which is mainly to help Google understand your website.
This involves including the keyword in certain areas of the page – so Google understands what the page is about.
But don’t make this beginner mistake: Avoid adding the keyword in everywhere, hoping that it will get you results. This is called keyword stuffing and it does not work.
Steal our on-page SEO checklist:
- Main Keyword in title (ideally at the beginning)
- Main Keyword in URL (while keeping it as short as possible)
- Main Keyword in one or more alt tags
- Main Keyword & related ones in subheadings
- Used keyword throughout content
Off-page SEO is everything you do off your website, which is mainly backlinks. However, this also includes things like ensuring all your social media pages are up, and active.
The main off-page SEO ranking factors are:
- The quality of links (determined by Google’s algorithm)
- The number of links (Again, counted by Google’s crawlers)
3rd party tools like Ahrefs or Moz, have made their own metrics to indicate the power of a domain.
And while they are a useful indicator, you should keep in mind that they are 3rd party metrics, i.e Google doesn’t actually use them.
For example, we could spam a domain with trash backlinks and it might have a 70 domain rating (Ahrefs metric), but it wouldn’t actually rank.
So the best way to get an idea of your competitors or your own backlinks is by looking into them yourself.
Technical SEO refers to all the ranking factors around the technical aspects of your website. Usually, if you have a lot of technical errors, it will either harm the user experience or it may make it harder for Google to index your site.
Some of the key technical SEO checklist points include:
Behavioral Ranking Factors
Finally, we have behavioral ranking factors that have really developed over more recent years. Here, Google uses the behavior of searches to determine which results they like most.
Here’s an example:
Imagine, you are ranking in position #2 behind your competitor but they have a horrible page that doesn’t even work properly.
Users click onto that page but immediately come back and then click on yours.
If most of the searches do this consistently, then Google will switch the rankings around, and you’ll be in position #1.
This could also be the case if their content doesn’t deliver what the headline promises or if you simply have a much relevant title – meaning searchers won’t click on the other result in the first place.
Behavioral Ranking Factors Are Also For GMB
One thing to note is that behavioral ranking factors also influence your GMB rankings. For example, CTR will also affect GMBs.#
If your listing is generating more clicks than your competitors, you will eventually rank above them.
Final Thoughts: So Which Ranking Factors Are The Most Significant?
That’s it! We hope you have enjoyed our explanation of the local SEO ranking factors. Finally, we just wanted to share with you the MOZ study on local SEO ranking factors.
It found how much the following local SEO ranking factors contributed:
- Google My Business Signals (25.12%)
- Link signals (16.53%)
- Review signals (15.44%)
- On-page signals (13.8%)
- Citation signals (10.82%)
- Behavioral Signals (9.56%)
- Personalization (5.88%)
- Social Signals (2.82%)
As these percentages don’t come from Google, they may be slightly different. However, the study is pretty reliable given that it’s come from a company like Moz – and it should give you an idea of what to optimize for.