You know your business needs to show up (and rank high) in local searches, but do you know how search engines decide which businesses belong in which searches?
And, how do they even know if a search is locally focused?
Well, search engines will assume that some searches have local intent — for instance, when you search for “pizza” or “salon.” Other times, the searcher will give the search local intent by adding “near me” or other location info to the search.
Think “pizza Short North Columbus.”
Once the search engine knows (or assumes) that you are looking for a local business, it will decide which businesses are right for the search.
Here’s how it works.
Search engines like Google use many factors to rank local businesses in what they assume are locally focused searches.
The main local search ranking factors (according to Moz) are:
- Google My Business (GMB) signals
- Link signals
- On-page signals
- Citation signals
Read on for a detailed breakdown of each of these signals!
Google My Business Signals
First off, if you haven’t claimed/verified/optimized your Google My Business listing, now is the time. This is the top-ranking factor, and you can’t afford to ignore it.
When a local consumer is searching for a business, Google uses your Google My Business info to determine if you’re the right fit for that search.
The search engine wants to know if you’re near the searcher and whether or not your business is what the person is looking for.
Search engines also know when other websites link to your website.
These are called inbound links, and high-quality inbound links help prove that your website and your business are trustworthy. Because links help search engines see that they can trust you, those links can have a positive impact on your local search ranking!
Learn more about link building here.
On-page signals come from your website.
Search engines will look for things like your NAP (name, address and phone number) as well as relevant keywords in page titles. And, they will take your website's domain authority into account.
Citations are mentions of your business on other websites (like online business directories).
If you have enough high-quality citations, you are more likely to rank higher in local searches. Check out our post about citation building to learn more about this!
Both search engines and people care about your reviews and star rating.
Your local search ranking should improve if you have a steady stream of positive reviews coming in from happy customers.
And, people are more likely to click on your business in the local search results if you have good reviews.
Read this post to learn how reviews impact your click-through rates.
Don’t Forget About Proximity
And, proximity has a lot to do with whether or not your business shows up in searches. If the search engine can tell where the searcher is (if they are using a phone and have location services enabled) it will try to provide the closest relevant businesses for the searcher’s needs.
So, to rank higher (or at all) in local searches, you'll need to work on these ranking factors. Need help? Let's talk!