Local SEO for Your Business
There are three main messages I want you to take away from this post about local SEO in 2015. The first is that local SEO isn’t a one trick pony; the ranking factors that matter are as complex as any involved in search. Second, that although local SEO, from your point of view, may not hit the headlines often, change IS constant. So, I’ll mention recent developments. Third, you can’t rely on focusing on only one variable. Social marketing matters, as do links and on page factors and so on. For the health of your business, it’s important to approach local SEO in a multi- faceted way.
Ranking for Local Searches
Where does your business concentrate most effort? Heavyweight analysis from the US, suggests local ranking factors can be grouped into 8 different categories. Notice I said categories. When it comes to the factors themselves, there are more than 50 and maybe more that have never been identified! The categories include Business Signals, Behavioural /Mobile Signals and External Location Signals. As you might expect, Business and Local Signals are relatively more important for ranking in the Places Pack than in local organic search. The important point is that the relative importance of each group of signals doesn’t stay the same!
Recent Changes to Local SEO
The most recent algorithm update for local search was dubbed “Pigeon”. Commentators’ have confirmed it changed the way local search results are ranked for both organic search and Pack Results (places). Domain authority is now believed to be the most important factor for local organic results along with the distance between the searcher and the business. The quality of inbound links is also more important. Different factors top the list for Pack Results. You should also know that Pack Results are now reduced to an expanded 3 pack. This is no doubt due to the increasing importance of mobile search. As you might imagine Pigeon has caused quite a storm.
How to Approach Local SEO
Keep an eye out for changes. You’ll also sometimes pick up chatter about changes before they happen. All your local efforts should start with great content and naturally optimised pages. You must not violate any of Google’s policies for local business listings. For example, it’s currently cracking down on virtual offices. Your Google My Business Listing also needs to be optimised. Location pages also need to be well written. Good content should bring good links and if these are from local sources even better.
Many local businesses are not using social marketing. If you’re active on Facebook, even if you have a small audience, it will see you through the ups and downs of algorithm changes. In many ways, interacting with a small audience you know personally is easy to manage if you run your Facebook page yourself.
Previously businesses may have thought testimonials and reviews were the answer to everything local. While they are not the be all and end all they are a ranking factor and inform searchers. It’s a win-win. Proactively seek reviews but don’t be a pest.