One thing that is constantly changing in this world is Google. The search engine has undergone several changes over the years and internet users witnessed Google’s transformation. Recently, people noticed the ads that are displayed at the top most list of local search results. With the removal of the sidebar ads, people are now left with no choice but to scroll further down just to glance at the results of their Google search. As a consequence, there is now a more intense competition in the field of SEO and some people are also at a loss regarding its status.
To help people in this regard, it is highly important that they are able to determine their primary goals first. It is pertinent that they have sense of direction of the place that they want to head to. For example, if a person’s primary goal is to market a specific place, like a hotel, then his focus should be on attracting more people to book reservations. In relation to this, people must aim at increasing their ranks in Google’s local results that are related to sites, such as Tripadvisor, that provide good reviews.
THE TRUTH ABOUT LOCAL SEARCH IN 2016
At present, various factors that affect the local SEO, such as the algorithm, the business owners’ efforts, and the marketers’ hard work, are now different from those of the previous years. In the past, not all businesses are into the field of local SEO but nowadays, it seems that everyone wants to get involved with it.
When talking about local search results and SEO, most people focus on the tactics that would land their pages higher in Google’s search results. However, what most of us don’t understand is how Google determine the rank of the pages that come out with their local search results.
In addition, people should also not focus on landing their pages on the top of the search results. The ranking of their pages does not really guarantee the success of their websites.
Meanwhile, from the perspective of internet users, how they perceive the search results may mean an entire different things and can greatly affect their perception of the list of websites they found through the local search engine.
Let’s for an example a person looking for plumbing services. When that person decides to do some search in Google engine, he will see the familiar lay out of the paid ads preceding the local search results. It is possible that the user would forego the paid ads and just proceed on looking at the local results. The user may click first the website with the most positive reviews. Then afterward, he may check the other sites in lists and assess other websites that received positive reviews from various customers. In the end, the use will pick the one that appealed to him the most even when the website is not number on Google’s search results.
The situation above only proves that people may have different practices when it comes to scrutinizing the Google search results. It is very possible that internet users will not click the first link that arises, whereas other people look for those with good reviews first. And with such variety, what website owners should really focus on identifying their primary goals and not increasing their rankings in the local search results.
In a study conducted by Local SEO Guide and PlacesScout.com on local SEO ranking factors, the researchers focused on the data at hand in forming their conclusions. In relation to the study, there numerous data points that the researchers were able to analyze though there were also those which they could not access.
In the study, the top 5 ranking factors were as follows. (In reality, many data points could have been considered aside from the five that were mentioned below)
Highly reviewed locations are more like to have higher rankings.
Based on observations, local listing that are highly reviewed are associated with increased click. However, on the other hand, it is noteworthy that some sites without a lot of reviews also have the tendency to acquire higher rankings.
Profile views are correlated with higher rankings.
For those who are not very familiar with SEO, the click-through rate studies conducted by Darren Shaw of Whitespark and Rand from Moz indicate that results with more clicks are correlated with higher rankings in the search engine results.
From the statements above, it is only logical to think that a site with good reviews may also have higher rankings in the search results. However, aside from just clicking the websites with good reviews, internet users should spend some time in analyzing the pages that they visit.
A strong correlation has been found between sites with high Majestic AC Rank and high local rankings.
Internet users can measure their backlinks using a variety of tools. These tools may include those that are used by Moz, Majestic SEO, Ahrefs, and many others. When assessing backlinks, it is better if the users utilize a variety of tool in order to gain more comprehensive comparisons. Though link tools can be very useful in detecting links, their work is not as detailed as the one that is done by Google.
On the other hand, it has been found that 3 out of the top 5 correlation factors include the link signals of webpages. Thus, there is still some hope for the use of SEO. In fact, links still play a great role in choosing the more useful webpages form the search results. Moreover, SEO can still help in determining the good quality links which in turn can aid in the progress of business companies.
Referring subnets are highly correlated with strong local rankings.
The total number of referring IPs are also indicative of their high correlation with strong local rankings.
OTHER MISSING FACTORS
Aside from those mentioned above, citations and website landing pages are also important factors that affect the rankings of the search engine results.
HOW TO BEAT THE COMPETITION IN THE SEARCH RESULTS
In improving their ranks in the search results, people must learn how to be competitive enough and they should not solely rely on the results provided to them by internet tools. Thus, first and foremost, they should have their Google My Business listing optimized. It is important that webpage owners make sure that their listing is in accordance with Google’s guidelines.
Meanwhile, people may need to exert extra effort if they are not thinking of ranking organically based on their keywords. In fact, they should not assume that they will get ranked locally unless their websites do really deserve a spot and if such ranks are organic. In short, webpage owners must address some major issues about their sites first.
FIXING THE MAJOR OUTLYING ISSUES
When webpage owners are already pretty sure that they have addressed some underlying problems with their websites, they can start focusing their attention on some more pertinent problems that can affect their rankings in the search engine results.
INTENDING TO RANK FOR A KEYWORD
Webpage owners may have trouble increasing their ranks when they are not located within the vicinity of a targeted area.
AVOID USING SHORT CUTS AND MAKE SURE TO NOTICE THOSE SPAMS
Competitors may resort to spamming and other webpage owners should be aware of this. In fact, it is imperative that they report any incident involving spamming. At present, people can now address this issue much easier thanks to the improvements made by Google. Practicing ethical and professional conducts is important in every aspect of the business industry even in the case of increasing the rankings in the search results.
TRADITIONAL SIGNALS ARE STILL GOING STRONG
Though there are now some changes that can be observed with the ranking process and results, it still cannot be denied that companies with high rankings in the organic and non-local search results also tend to have high placements when it comes to the local search results. Thus, webpage owners should properly manage the organic optimization of their sites and ensure that they do this from a ranking and user experience perspectives.
DO MIND THOSE REVIEWS
A study has shown that millennials place great importance to reviews and they are commonly observed using their mobile devices in reading user reviews and obtain information from various social media websites. And with the advent of modern technology and the prevalent use of mobile devices, millennials spend most of their time in various media platforms that are found over the internet. The importance given by millennials to the reviews on website indicate how reviews may play role in ranking a webpage based on the local search engine results.
In reality, reviews can positively affect the ranking via the increase in click-through rates of the users. In addition, people tend to put more trust in business with good reviews, and in turn, businesses can profit more if a lot of people trust them.
CONSIDER ADDING REVIEWS AND CUSTOMER FEEDBACK IN THE CREATION OF A BUSINESS MODEL
Since reviews can be very important when it comes to rankings, then website owners must ensure that their customers can leave feedback on their pages. A means for receiving feedback should be considered when constructing business models. For those who do not have any planned review strategies yet, they can check out companies, such as Get Five Stars, which specialize in providing review services. With such services, people can easily monitor that feedback and reviews that come from their customers and they can also use a review widget on their websites in return.
CREATING A REVIEW LINK FOR THE CUSTOMERS
Marketing systems, such as InfusionSoft, can help webpage owners in creating review links that can be included in outgoing emails. Direct links to review screen can be created, especially when the users are logged in to their Google accounts.
DISPLAYING THE REVIEWS ON THE WEBSITE
It is not that hard to include reviews on a specific website. In fact, people can use starts, the customer’s profile pictures, and quotes from other webpages when adding reviews to their sites. On the other hand, a review schema may help in increasing the number of stars of a website when it comes to organic search results.
ON-PAGE AND TECHNICAL SEO
In most cases, people think that what is important about SEO is just merely showing up in top list of the search results. However, people should realize that marketing efforts should also be rewarded in other forms and not just by high rankings. In fact, there are some aspects of SEO that they should also consider to get the optimum results.
The website speed is another important factor that webpage owners must pay attention to when they are trying to increase their rankings. They can check their website’s page via google and assess the traffic leading to their pages.
When contemplating about their ranking in the search results, webpage owners should ask themselves several questions. First, they should ask themselves whether a particular user would prefer clicking the link to their websites than those of other competitor companies. Moreover, should that user decide to click the links to their websites, owners should think if their visitor would be satisfied with contents of the pages. And in case that they think that customer dissatisfaction is highly probably, they should think about the factors that can lead to such conditions.
Though most consider first getting high rankings for a certain keyword, webpage owners should also think about the experience of the users when browsing the internet. For instance, owners should entertain the possibility of the users clicking other websites after visiting their own. In case such things happen, webpage owners must be able identify whether the visitors did not succeed in finding the information that they were looking for, their pages are taking too much time to load, or whether visitors encountered some usability issues.
WHAT TO DO WHEN IT COMES TO CITATIONS
It is previously mentioned that citation was not included in the top 5 factors that can affect the rankings in search engine results. Citations are not much of a problem anymore since Google has already improved their functions concerning data and data sources. In the field SEO, considerable attention has been paid to devaluing citation as a ranking factor. Though some people think that something must be done to clean up the citations, it won’t probably help people that much when it concerns their rankings. And in relation to this, webpage should learn about some things with regard to citations.
First, people should have an idea about citations, which basically are links or are capable of accommodating links. There is little chance of increasing the ranking of a webpage when the link is buried beneath the results for millions of other businesses. However, webpage owners should still place importance in their citation sources as a form of link sources.
Next, it is important that data on the data aggregator and top citation levels are correct to avoid incurring issues concerning bad data. Providing the correct data is not that hard for newly established business but relocated business ventures are a different case, and thus, information on them must be thoroughly updated. Webpage owners should not worry about this kind of problem that much because they can easily sign up for Moz Local when the need to address such issue arises.
Third, third party websites are also used for promoting business. This is best exemplified by the hotel owners who aim at including their establishments on TripAdvisor’s list. The use of such third party websites can greatly help in reaching a person’s primary goals for his webpage.
On the other hand, webpage owners should focus addition attention to the top citations, especially when their websites rank a bit too far below the topmost search engine results. During such cases, they should focus on things that can greatly change things for them when it comes to website rankings.
Links should also be given outmost importance because neglect on these can lead to diminishing returns. In the long, proper use of links on webpages can bring positive results on the improvement of rankings.
Meanwhile, some people also think that proper indexing of citations can also help in the rankings of a website.
OBTAIN USEFUL LINKS AND AVOID GETTING CRAPPY LINKS
When attention is more focused on using links, webpage owners should ensure that all the links that they use are working because they can really affect their ranking status. It is important that the links pose certain authority and that the users are able to place their trust in them.
In some cases, webpage owners may be more successful if they decide to use chamber of commerce links, local scholarship links, hyper-local directory links, local newspaper links, and links from industry partners. The success associated with such links can be observed when webpage owners have already managed their keyword targeting, citations, content, NAP, site design, and other pertinent factors.
For some business clients including the city name and the business type in the anchor text may prove to be useful as long as the webpage managers ensure that they won’t overdo it. In relation to this, it would be a great help if people learn about some great links that may have some benefits to their businesses.
The website for Help A Reporter Out (HARO) provide their email subscribers with some notable information everyday. There are also email indicating the desire of some journalists to conduct interviews on certain business experts. With HARO, business owners may be able to participate in an interview, which in turn, can help in promoting their businesses.
SPONSORING A LOCAL EVENT
Sponsoring local events is one great way of promoting businesses across the internet. During sponsored local events, sponsor logos and links to their websites are commonly included in an organization’s landing pages. Thus, when a business is sponsoring an event, it is very likely that will be included in the town’s local website.
AIM TO BE INCLUDED IN LOCAL BUSINESS DIRECTORIES
It is also important for webpage owners to be included in local business directories. To accomplish this, they can try searching their city name in the Google search engine and looking at the highest ranking websites for their city. Based on the results, they can join the websites that are on the topmost search results.
DO SOMETHING FOR THE COMMUNITY IN RETURN
All people should not forget doing something for their communities. For business owners, they can do this by implementing various projects that are aimed at helping the locals of a city and using these projects to provide the people with some idea regarding the kind of work that a specific business does.