3 Steps to Improve Local Search Engine Rankings

There are many articles on the ranking factors of local search engine optimization. Most of the time, these articles contain information on the hundreds of variables that contribute to how your website ranks for local search queries.

We've simplified these ranking variables into three steps that can help you increase your local search engine rankings:

  1. Controlling Local Listings
  2. Improving On-site Variables
  3. Managing Limited-Control Variables

Controlling Local Listings

The first step to improving your local search engine rankings is taking complete control of your local listings and properly categorizing your business. One-third of the local search algorithm relates to the accuracy of your local listings. It's important that your name, address and phone number (NAP) are accurate on the highest valued search engines and Internet Yellow Pages (IYP), such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yelp. The quantity is also important. The more Internet Yellow Pages there are with your correct NAP, the higher your site will rank.

The search engines don't know if your information is accurate. The only way they can tell is by comparing NAP to other Internet Yellow Pages.

In addition to having your correct NAP on the most popular Internet Yellow Pages, it's important to have your business accurately listed on city websites, such as the Chamber of Commerce or local lifestyle sites (Ex: www.SanFrancisco.com).

Check the accuracy of your local listings across the most popular Internet Yellow Pages.

Improving On-site Variables

The second step to bettering your local search engine rankings is boosting the value and relevancy of your website. One-third of the local search algorithm is strictly related to variables on your site. It's important to make sure every page of your website includes the same name, address and phone number as your local listings. Each page of your site should have browser page titles that reflect your location and the products and/or services mentioned on that page.

If you have multiple locations, your website should have a page dedicated to each location with the correct NAPs. These will act as landing pages that can be linked from your local listings. In addition to browser page titles, these pages should include information on products, services, and any other important details about your business and that specific location.

In order to boost the value of your website, you should develop a unique content strategy that will be valuable to people searching for your services or products. That will increase interest, time spent on your website, and referrals through links and word of mouth. For example, if you are sponsoring a seminar or putting on an event, it's valuable to add information about the event to your site, and then actively distribute details to local media outlets in order to drive their audience back to your website.

Managing Limited-Control Variables

The third step to improving your local search engine rankings is establishing a plan to manage the uncontrollable variables that affect your ranking. One-third of the local search engine algorithm is weighted on variables that you have limited control over. The quality and quantity of reviews from the most trusted sources such as Google, Yahoo or Bing are the most important, followed by the quality and quantity of reviews from other Internet Yellow Pages, such as Yelp, Yellowpages, etc.

You must put a plan in place to encourage positive online reviews. This starts with the employees who interact with your customers every day. They have to understand the importance of great customer service and what a positive review means to your business. In order to rank well in the search engines, you don't need a lot of reviews, just more quality reviews than your competitor.

Another variable that is out of your control is your proximity to a searching customer. The closer your business is to that person, the higher you're likely to rank in his search results. Also, it's important to note where you are in relation to the centroid of your city. Search engines work from the center point of a zip code. That means that a customer searching for a service that you provide could be standing in your lobby and there search results may indicate that your company is two miles away. That's because of the city centroid determined by the search engine. But Google, Bing and Yahoo are getting more accurate each day by identifying more centroids within a zip code.

Finally, it does matter if there is a common search term in your business name; for example, Toledo Limousine. They will naturally rank higher for a search query containing "limousine" because that word is in their name. However, don't add a common search term to your business name if it's not already part of your company's legal name. You could risk penalization. If you wish to gain this advantage in search engines, consider legally changing the name of your business.

There are many other variables in the local search engine algorithm that will help your website's search engine performance. These are the three steps we've identified to give you the bump that you need in a reasonable amount of time. For more details on improving your local search engine rankings, contact us today.

Brad Timofeev

Brad is an energetic thought leader on digital marketing.

Since joining the WebArt team in 2009, he's guided the agency's unique perspective on search engine optimization, content marketing, and other digital strategies. Book Brad for your next speaking arrangement.

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