In the ever-shifting sands of local SEO, it can be hard for small businesses to know how to make the most of local search. And, it doesn’t help that Google released yet another update just a few months ago, which makes understanding the current landscape of local search ranking factors even more dicey.
Even so, there are still some golden rules that local businesses can confidently use to dominate local search, regardless of the latest Google shakeup.
Following these do’s can dramatically affect your local search ranking:
- Increase your domain authority. Domain authority is measured by a website’s age, popularity and size. Both your domain authority and that of the inbound links to your site can radically affect your ranking. Ideally, you want a big, beefy website with lots of high-quality, inbound links. But if you can’t be big and beefy, make sure you’ve got a good link-building plan and that you’re optimized for mobile viewing.
- Watch your GMB data. It shouldn’t be a big surprise that Google is leveraging their Google My Business platform. If you’re not already there, get your business on GMB, and make sure that your business info is correct and consistent with the rest of your business directory listings. (Putting your city and state in your landing page title for GMB is a good idea too.)
- Watch your click-through rates from search results. CTRs have been a strong ranking factor for awhile now, and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon. One of the best ways that you can increase or maintain your click-through rates is by producing highly relevant, search engine optimized content.
- Don’t forget those keywords. Yes, keyword-focused optimization isn’t the SEO workhorse it was a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean that it’s dead. Maintain topical keyword relevance and be sensitive to user intent.
- Diversify your inbound links. The more good inbound links that you can get, the better. Remember, however, that if your inbound link strategy focuses on directory listings, your business information should be consistent and correct across all of them. Mismatches will hurt you.
Here are five local search mistakes that hurt your SERPs:
- List under incorrect business categories. If you sell yogurt, don’t list yourself as a gym. ‘Nuff said.
- Use false business addresses. It can be tempting to try and list your business under a false address to break into a local search market. Resist that temptation: It will only hurt your rankings.
- Have NAP mismatches. NAP stands for “name, address and phone,” and it’s the business info that consumers (and search engines) use to identify you. Keep that info consistent across your various directory listings.
- Keep your website clean. No one likes being hassled by malware, so make sure your site doesn’t have any. It’s a surprising negative ranking factor for local search but a good one. Having a solid hosting provider is the only way to mitigate this issue.
- Have GMB mismatches. There’s Google again, leveraging their directory listing platform. Mind your p’s and q’s by keeping correct NAP data on GMB. (Try and say THAT fast five times.)