Top 8 Local Pack Finder Ranking Factors – Infographic

Sep
Mon
2019

Top 8 Local Pack Finder Ranking Factors – Infographic

The Local Search Ranking Factors is a biannual survey of respected digital marketers. Participants are asked, “In your opinion, to what extent do each of the following thematic clusters contribute to rankings across result types at Google?”. Each marketer then assigns a percentage to each of the main categories. The collated results can be seen below.

Why is this important?

  1. Local organic results and local search continue to see significant growth.
  2. Ranking high on local results can bring in quality organic leads and sales.
  3. Many businesses do not invest in local search. So implementing the below could give you a competitive advantage.

As such, and for SME’s in particular, it’s a vital digital marketing option. To do it right, you should simply follow the steps outlined in the below video, infographic and, for those who prefer to read, explainer post!

 
Top 8 Local Pack Finder Ranking Factors

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Google Local Search Ranking Factors

 

Let’s look at each of the ranking factors in greater detail.

 

1. Google My Business

 

The starting point for any business is to ensure that your Google My Business listing is in your possession and fully optimised. Particular care needs to be taken to ensure the name, address and phone number are accurate and will be used in all other citation sources and directories on the web. This helps to establish a line of credibility for Google that you are who you say you are and based where you say you are.

 

2. Backlinks

 

Next up are the number and quality of backlinks to your site. These are essentially seen as votes by Google. The more sites that Google already trusts that link to your site, the better. It’s a signal to Google that they should trust that the information on your site is trustworthy.

To have links from websites in your own industry niche as well as geographical area are key components and should be sought out wherever possible.

This can include, for example, coming from your local business chamber of commerce, a local shops and services directory, other local businesses and online publications, blogs, magazines and journals in your market.

Link building is a really involved process and crucial for positive SEO results. There’s to much ground to cover in this short section. So please check out our full in-depth post on 9 killer link building strategies that have stood the test of time to look at this subject in greater detail.

NB: Backlinks are where businesses often can fall foul of Google’s Terms of Service. So make sure you read Google’s Terms of Service to ensure you keep everything above board and don’t incur a Google penalty which can see your site potentially removed from their index!

 

3. Review Signals

 

The number and quality of reviews that customers leave about your business on your GMB listing are another strong signal to Google. Again they indicate whether the service you are providing is appreciated in the local community. It’s therefore vitally important that you seek reviews from best customers and ensure you respond to each review.

To encourage reviews, login to your Google My Business account and, on the homepage, scroll down until you see the “Get More Reviews” section as shown in the following screenshot.

Then simply copy this URL and paste it into any digital correspondence you have with clients and customers so that they can leave you a positive review.

It’s vitally important that you reply to all reviews no matter whether they are positive or negative. In fact, it’s more important to respond to the negative reviews as it demonstrates to potential customers that you are reactive and prepared to improve your service.

Also, it shows a high level of customer service and care especially when it’s clear that the reviewer has been unfair in their criticism. Rising above such unfair, potentially personal attacks can be a great way of showing the watching world that you are worth their custom.

 

4. On-Page Signals

 

This is all about how well your site is built, structured, designed and the quality and relevancy of the content on your site. You want to aim for:

  • Speed: A fast loading site, especially your Mobile page load speed, is particularly important for SEO. More people access the web via their mobiles than desktops. So the site speed is essential for a good user experience. Where possible reduce image file sizes, install compression plugins like WPSmush and get your developer to custom code your site and reduce as much unnecessary code as possible.
  • Security: It’s essential that you install an active SSL certificate. Again security is a user experience (UX) issue. So you want to ensure your website appears as https://www. and not http://www. Browsers like Chrome highlight unsecure sites so people will be wary of visiting your site anyway.
  • Meta tags: Ensure each page of your site is optimised for a target keyword and that it’s clear to Google what that it is. Don’t overdo it and keyword stuff at every opportunity. But if you are a local plumber then, by all means, your homepage title tag could say “(LOCATION) Plumbers – Boiler Installation & Heating”. Nice, clear and concise.
  • Schema Mark-up Code: Use plugins like Yoast local and Yoast Premium to ensure your site is telling a deeper story about your site content. For example, Yoast Local will advise Google as to your exact location, opening hours, main services, etc. Yoast Premium will allow you to add FAQ’s and other Schema which can help make your search results more attractive. And in turn, improve your Click Through Rate (CTR).
  • Canonical Tag: Again Yoast’s Premium plugin will take care of this for you automatically. A canonical tag basically tells Google which source of data should be the one they index. For example, sometimes a web developer will forget to tell Google you want the https://www. version of your site to be the main version to index and leave the http://www. version of your site also indexable. The canonical tag is a safety net of sorts that tells Google “hey can you make sure to index the https version”.

These are all starting points on your road to on-page excellence.

 

5. Citation Signals

 

Citations come from trusted internet portals and directories like Apple Maps, Bing Places, Yelp, Four Square, etc. They are seen as trusted sources by Google. So you want to ensure the information you registered in your Google My Business listing exactly matches what you register at each citation source.

The most important data to accurately register at each citation site is your company name, address and phone number (that NAP I mentioned before). This info needs to 100% match what you’ve registered in your GMB listing.

It’s like in the movie Goodfella’s where people ask “Do you know this guy?” and they respond “Yeah he’s a stand up guy”. It means they’re vouching for him. And citation sources act in a similar way. They’re telling Google “Yeah this is the info we have on this company, it all seems legit, good to go.”

It’s vital to check if a member of your company has previously registered your company info with each citation site. If they have then you need to get access to the account to correct any out of date info so your NAP matches your GMB listing.

You can use a tool like Yells Connect Scan to check. Simply enter your company details and they’ll go and check with the major citation sites as to the info they have on file for you.

NB: Heads up, you’ll probably end up with a Yell salesperson calling you shortly after trying to sell you on their services. Normally best to ignore as their prices tend to be double what an agency like ourselves would charge for a similar service.

 

6. Behavioral Signals

 

Google watches how people interact with your site and web pages. So, for example, when your result appears on Google, they measure how many people click through to your site and whether that is above or below the average click-through rate (CTR).

Likewise, they monitor how long people remain on your page having clicked through. Whether users click back to Google to find another result or navigate deeper into your site.

Also, when your GMB listings appear, they monitor how many people ask for directions or click the phone number next to your listing (click to call action).

These signals help Google to build a picture as to how relevant and engaging your content is. And in turn, these signals have a bearing on your rankings.

 

7. Personalisation

 

With the advent of mobile web browsing came ever more personalisation of results. Why? Because Google is now able to pinpoint your geolocation and serve search results based on that data.

So, for example, if you search for “Pizza near me” when in the East End of London, you’re going to get a different result than if an hour later you travel to the West End of London and make that same search. That’s personalisation at work.

Likewise, Google builds up a history of your past searches and preferences. So again, your search results are likely to be different to the person sitting next to you who will have their own personalised factors in play.

As a site owner, there’s not a great deal you can do about this signal. Assuming you’ve done a great job with the other seven signals, this one should fall into place.

 

8. Social Signals

 

The amount of traffic you receive from social sites, the location of that traffic and the amount of general buzz around your brand, all have a bearing on this final signal. It’s by far the least important for this measurement.

However, as a rule of thumb, you do want a well planned and structure social media campaign running alongside your SEO efforts. All discovery is good discovery. And users, on average, need seven interactions with a brand before the feel confident in making an enquiry or purchase.

As such, a social media campaign, including a paid retargeting campaign, are a great way of building that brand confidence.

 

Conclusion

 

As you can see, there are a lot of elements to a highly successful local SEO campaign. Start with the fundamentals most under your control. Namely, ensure your GMB listing is fully optimised and that you adhere to on-site SEO excellence. Register with all the relevant citation sites and correct any information they have on you that is out of date.

Then start your backlink outreach. This is the hardest piece of the puzzle. But, so long as you do a little at a time and regularly, you will get to where you need to be.

Just remember, this is not a set it and forget it process. Build these elements into your weekly workflow so that you’re always chipping away a little at a time and you will reach those top 3 local pack results.

About The Author

Alistair Dodds
My name is Alistair Dodds and I am the Marketing Director and Co-Founder of London based Digital Marketing Agency EIC Marketing. I have over 20 years of experience as an online marketer and business owner with clients in the USA and Europe.