For local businesses, showing up at the top of the search engine results page is extremely important. With the ever-changing search engine algorithms it’s getting harder and harder to figure out what works to get you there. There is no exact formula to accomplish this goal, but there are some known factors which you should consider priority SEO tasks.
Each year the Moz website posts a complete list of Local Search Ranking Factors based on their survey of SEO industry experts. In addition to this exhaustive list, a recent Moz Blog post, Top 20 Local Search Ranking Factors: An Illustrated Guide, provides more details around the top 20 local ranking factors.
If you don’t have time to read through all of this excellent information, here are the top 5 factors discovered in this year’s survey:
#1 – Proper Category Associations
Adding your business details to the top business directories (Google Places for Business, Google+ Local, Bing Places for Business and Yahoo! Local) is very important and selecting the appropriate categorization for your business is crucial. This categorization has a huge impact on when your business is shown in local search results.
The category you select should be completely relevant to your business. If you are selecting more than one category, be sure to select the most relevant category first. For instance, if you are a car dealer that also offers repair services and car rentals, you should select a category for Car Dealer before selecting categories related to car repair or rental services.
#2 – Physical Address in City of Search
This next factor is out of your control, but is good to be aware of. When a potential customer executes a search on a search engine, the results they will see at the top of the page will be closer to their physical location or to the location they are specifying in their search query. So, if you own a donut shop in San Diego, CA, don’t be surprised that you don’t show up too high (if at all) in the search results for a searcher in Brooklyn, NY or a searcher who includes “Brooklyn, NY” in their search query.
#3 – Consistency of Structured Citations
As already discussed, having business directory listings is very important. Ensuring that these listings are consistent across the board is also very important. Your name, address and phone number should be the same across all business directories, this will add authority to your directory listings. If you move to a new location or change your phone number, you’ll want to go to each business directory and make the necessary changes (and go through the verification process again, in most cases).
The more quality, consistent listings you have the better your ranking.
#4 – Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
Getting your business information included on other website or business directories is a great way to improve your visibility, however, being included on low-quality sites just to increase the number of links to your site can be counterproductive to what you are trying to accomplish. Focus on getting your business listed on quality directories to improve your ranking and your site’s authority. At the very least, get your site listed accurately on Google Places for Business, Google+ Local, Bing Places for Business and Yahoo! Local.
#5 – HTML NAP Matching Place Page NAP
I sense some eyes starting to close as you read this. No, I’m not referring to that kind of nap. In this case NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. It is very important that the NAP on your website matches exactly to the NAP on your directory pages. In some cases, directories may not let you submit your listing if these do not match.
So Where Do You Start?
So now you know some of the things that are important to local search rankings, so how do you go about accomplishing these tasks?
A great tool you can use to find out if your business is listed (and listed properly) in some of the most important business directories is GetListed.org. Simply enter your business name and zip code, and then click the “Check My Listings” button. This will bring back a list of companies that fit closely to what you entered. Select your business (if you see it) and the site will show you directories you missed, directories with an entry that have not been claimed and directories that have been completed.
Using the information provided in GetListed.org will give you a jump start in getting the improvement you want in your local search ranking.