Google is always changing and keeping up with them can be hard.
However, over the past few years, they have become much more transparent, particularly with regards to SEO. Drawing from the sources on the highly respectable blog, Search Engine Watch, Google recently ‘hinted’ at the ways it determines your local business ranking. Now, knowing what we know from Andrey Lipattsev (the Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google Ireland) about the importance of ‘content’ and ‘links’ in general search engine optimising, it is no coincidence that the key ideas for optimising local search are very similar.
The key points to consider are:
Relevance: how relevant is your local listing and how much of the content will match what your local customers could be typing into Google. This is where detail, keen marketing strategy and good copy play a key role in the optimising of your business. Make sure the content of your company’s information sections are rich, detailed and extensive. Don’t be afraid to be explicit with every facet of your organisation.
Distance: how nearby you are to the customer searching for your service. This one is quite simple really, and not much can be done to change your location, just make sure all your location details are up to date. Remember, relevance is a ‘stronger’ ranking factor; Google would rather put a business with better, more relevant services, higher on their local rankings than a business that is closer.
Prominence: this is the interesting information. Essentially, this translates to how well-known your business is in the ‘offline world’. Google collates all manner of information they have on your business from a range of sources. Predominately, they consider links and articles concerning your company and positive reviews online. This means SEO best practices apply, as well as prompting customers to review favourably. Which leads us on to…
Customer Reviews and Google My Business: We now know that customer reviews are of serious importance to your local search ranking. Thus, logic follows that Google reviews and Google My Business information sections are of equal importance, if not more. Make sure to have complete Google My Business and Google + accounts, and prompt all your customers to leave Google reviews.
In short, the devil is in the detail. You can never have too much information surrounding your company. Combine that with SEO best practices and keen market research, and you have the best way to improve your local search rankings.