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There’s a good reason search engines like Google like hiding their top local SEO ranking factors and algorithms. They publish countless guides and articles outlining the best SEO practices, but ultimately, they hoard the exact ranking formula determining which businesses appear first in search results. 

Search engines also update their algorithms regularly so advertisers don’t pick up on their secrets. By keeping their algorithm a secret, search engines ensure that genuine, high-quality content ranks higher. 

SEO agencies and marketers could easily manipulate them and ruin the user’s experience if they knew the exact priority of local search ranking factors. However, based on years of experience and observation, we can confidently identify a few factors that could significantly influence your local search rankings. 

Which Are The Major Local Search Ranking Factors?

Let’s start by stating you want to apply general SEO best practices to your website. For example, speed, mobile-friendliness, and user experience are among the five keys to small business SEO.

At Adopt the Web, we collect data and investigate theories about the local SEO ranking factors contributing to higher rankings in local search. While there is no definitive formula, the following are the major local SEO ranking factors you must know about.    

1. Google Business Profile

A verified and optimized Google Business Profile (GBP) is crucial for local search rankings. Google My Business allows you to publish important information about your business, including:

  • Name.
  • Address.
  • Phone Number. 
  • Hours of Operation.
  • Photos. 
  • Reviews. 

A verified Google Business Profile also qualifies you to compete for the “Google Map Pack“. Access to such prime digital real estate allows for reaching more potential customers. 

Beware: If you’re not careful to feed accurate information to Google and other important local directories, it can negatively impact your rankings. Consistency across all listings is key, as inconsistency signals to search engines that the information is untrustworthy. 

It’s not easy to claim and verify Google Business Profiles, but it’s worth the effort. You may need an expert to help you through the process, but setting it up correctly can greatly benefit your local search rankings. 

It will also help you collect verifiable customer reviews and ratings. Remember, you need all the verifiable ratings you can get to convince search engines you’re a credible business. 

We also recommend leveraging Google My Business platform to:

  • Post updates about your business.
  • Interact with customers.
  • Respond to reviews.

All these perks make GBP the perfect platform for managing your local presence. To learn more, find out what local presence management is.

2. Local Citations

You get a local citation when someone mentions your business name, address, or phone number (NAP) on their website. For example, if a local newspaper writes an article about your business and includes your NAP, that counts as a citation. Another example is if a local blogger reviews your business and includes your NAP in the post.

Why are local citations important for local search engine optimization? For starters, they signal to search engines that local publications and users find your business relevant and trustworthy enough.

So, the more local search listings you have, the higher your website could appear in local search results. Local citations can also improve your online visibility by making it easier for potential customers to find your business information. 

Additionally, local citations can also increase brand awareness and credibility as they act as a form of social proof for your business. 

To get local citations, you can contact relevant websites in your area, such as local directories, review sites, or industry-specific blogs, and ask them to feature your business information.

Some examples of local citation sources include:

  • Yelp.
  • Yellow Pages.
  • Facebook.
  • TripAdvisor.

Always update and ensure all the business information published across all local citations is accurate and consistent. If you find inaccurate or inconsistent information, take the necessary steps to correct it, contact publishers, and request to update the information if you can’t do it yourself.

3. Verifiable Customer Reviews and Ratings

Humans are wired to learn from other people’s experiences and opinions. Search engines know this, making reviews and ratings important local ranking factors. Remember, people are always looking for local solutions and are likely to trust online reviews like they would personal recommendations. 

Many positive customer reviews improve your business’s reputation, communicating to search engines that your business is locally relevant and trustworthy. 

Request all your happy clients to honestly review your business on social media, Google, Yelp, and popular review websites. The best platform to collect customer reviews is Google Business Profile. It allows you to respond to reviews, address negative comments, and showcase excellent customer service. 

Make sure to respond to any negative reviews professionally and promptly, communicating to existing and potential clientele how much you value their feedback and your willingness to address any concerns. 

But avoid buying fake reviews or posting them on behalf of customers as the platform forbids it. Therefore, it can attract penalties that cause you to be deindexed. 

4. On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization involves tweaking individual web pages to rank higher in search results. You need to optimize page elements like title tags, meta descriptions, headers, URLs, and content with local keywords. 

For example, if you’re a florist in Chicago, your title tag could be “Chicago Florist – Best Local Flower Delivery Services,” and the meta description could mention your location and services.

If you publish images on the website, optimize them by compressing their size and adding alt text that describes the image. You can also add geotags to images to help search engines know where your business is located.

It’s also important to have a consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) across all your web pages and listings so search engines understand your business’s relevancy in a particular location. 

5. Localized Content, Marketing, and Ads

Creating localized content specific to your target location can also improve your local search rankings. This type of content includes blog posts, articles, and web pages tailored to the interests and needs of people in a particular geographical area. 

One way to do this is by incorporating local keywords and phrases into your content. Naturally placed local keywords help search engines tag your content as relevant to that specific location.

For example, if you are a restaurant in New York City, using keywords like “best pizza in NYC” or “top restaurants in Manhattan” will give you an edge when folks in NYC search for the best Pizza or top restaurants. 

In addition to utilizing localized keywords, it helps to include information about local events, scholarships, businesses, and landmarks in your content. 

It helps to show that you are involved and knowledgeable about the community, making your business more appealing to potential customers. It also helps attract backlinks from other websites in your area, which can further boost your local search rankings.

Another strategy is to create content specific to cultural events or holidays in a particular location. For instance, if you offer catering services, creating a blog post about traditional Thanksgiving dishes in your area can help attract customers during the holiday season.

Localized content also plays a significant role in social media marketing. By creating posts and ads targeting specific regions, you can:

  • Access a bigger, relevant audience.
  • Impress potential customers in your local areas.
  • Boost engagement.
  • Convert cold and warm leads.

Moreover, when creating localized content, it’s essential to consider cultural sensitivities and language differences to avoid any misinterpretations or offenses that could harm your brand’s reputation.

6. Local link-building and Outreach

One of the best ways to improve your local SEO is by building links from other websites in your community. Search platforms believe that credible publishers will only link to quality content.

Thus, if trustworthy publishers in your local area trust your website enough to link to it, Google and its competitors will be inclined to believe you offer quality services and content that solves issues for users on local searches.

So, how can you go about building local backlinks? One effective strategy is outreach. Reach out to other businesses, organizations, and influencers in your community, and ask them to feature one of your pages or blogs on their publications. 

Another option includes writing and pitching guest posts, and you could also collaborate on joint initiatives. Such efforts are likely to boost your visibility and reach a larger audience.

Another way to build local backlinks is through participating in local events, such as sponsoring a charity event or attending a business networking event. These opportunities provide the chance to connect with other businesses and organizations, leading to potential link-building opportunities.

Final Thoughts on Ranking Factors for Local Search Engine Optimization

Local SEO is a multi-faceted process that requires attention to various aspects. From optimizing your website and business listings to managing reviews and building local backlinks, every factor plays a significant role in determining your ranking on search platforms.

Remember, the ultimate goal of local search engine optimization is not just to rank high on search engines, but to attract relevant traffic and convert them into loyal customers. To learn more, read: “How to Build an Online Presence for Your Local Business.

Contact us to learn more about Adopt the Web for your business

Author Jarod Thornton

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