The keys to high rankings in Google's local results

Google is encouraging being listed in local searches. So depending on what you do, being listed in Google local results can be profitable and less stressful in getting higher ranking in Google. Google's local results use a different ranking algorithm than Google's organic results. So how can you make sure that Google will list your website? What are the things you need to do to improve your rankings in the local results?

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What is Local Search

There are three ways to understand local search. These definitions will guide our discussions and the context in which we will use the word "Local Search" in this post

  1.     Local search is any search aimed at finding something within a specific geographic area. Example: “hosting in Port Harcourt.”
  2.     Local search is seeking information online with the intention of making a transaction offline. Example: “MTN sim replacement center in Lagos.”
  3.     Anything that you would traditionally look for in the printed yellow pages becomes a local search when it is conducted online. Example: “Business Center on Kaduna street Abuja.”

Also read:

Best Link Building Techniques Recomended For Higher Ranking in Google

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A Guide to Google Website Ranking

Why Is Local SEO Important?

According to a study released by Chitika, more than 60 percent of traffic share (clicks on a search page) are attributed to the first three search results in Google. Take a look at a full breakdown of the top 10 Google organic listings and their average traffic share:

#1 – 32.5%
#2 – 17.6%
#3 – 11.4%
#4 – 8.1%
#5 – 6.1%

#6 – 4.4%
#7 – 3.5%
#8 – 3.1%
#9 – 2.6%
#10 – 2.4%

The implication is that a top three ranking on Google could mean much even if it is for a local search. Therefore, investing in local SEO increases your business’s chances of ranking within the top three results for the search.

How Does an Optimized Local SEO Appear on Google?

Should you be really concerned about getting traffic beyond qualified search traffic, then you should find reasons to invest in and optimize your website for local SEO. Earning a ranking in the local search could mean your company appears above every organic listing on a search results page and appear in a corresponding Google maps location.

Optimizing for local search greatly improve your online search visibility in addition to overall organic rankings.

How Does it Improve My Website’s SEO Performance?

This has been a very common question from local business owners who want to know if local citations improve overall website SEO performance. We will answer this question but let us explore a bit.

Google and other leading search engines use a lot of factors to determine the ranking for a site. Some of these factors are on-site factors while others are offl-site factors. They all negatively or positively affect the ranking of any website on search engines.

Factors like social media mentions and engagement, inbound links, number of Google +1’s, unique IP’s linking to your website, and local citations all play a role in determining how a web page ranks on SERPs (search engine result pages).

Because of the way Google and other major search engines rank web pages, when it comes to local SEO, you want to make sure your company’s online local citations are consistent in order to maximize each web page’s online performance.

There are lots of factors you need to pay attention to in ranking for local search.

  • Consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)

Please pay much attention to consistency in the information you provide about your business when building local citations across the web. For example the information you provide in Google My Business, Yellow Pages, Facebook listings Twitter, Linkedin etc. must be consistent. Critical contact information needs to be uniform across all platforms to enhance user experience, provide up-to-date contact information for potential customers, and to improve search rankings.

Google and other search engines don’t like inconsistent business information on the web, including your company's basic data.. That means you must be careful to update all information regarding the name address phone number and other vital information you provide about your business.

Lets assume you are a dress maker in Victoria Island, Lagos and you want to better your chances of ranking at the top of search results. You’ll want to make sure that your company name, address, and phone number are identical across the web, local directories, and more. Apart from providing your name, address and telephone number in a consistent manner, you also need quality reviews from local customers and ensuring that your service categories on local directory sites are consistent. All these will be important as they will affect Google's decision on where to place your website. Also try to always check up your data and reviews to address negative comments and update your personal information.

Will Inconsistent NAP Impact My Search Rankings?

Here we can simply say yes! Inconsistency in your name address and phone number in local citations will negatively affect your search rankings and UX (user experience). As we have consistently maintained Google is truly very interested in user experience and so anything that frustrates users or tend to distort their capacity to decide freely can affect your site negatively.

Inconsistent name, address or phone number will make the customer unsure of which company they are dealing with. How do customers know which phone number to call if more than one are listed? If different numbers appear on different pages, how do customers know which to trust? Instead of displaying one phone number across all of your citations, multiple, inconsistent phone numbers could result in frustrated visitors to move on to a competitor instead of calling your company for service. The same goes for addresses.

So, our candid advice is that you maintain one phone number for each location of your business and make sure they are consistent on every platform to be able to improve your site’s SEO success and user experience (UX). This includes listings on your website, social media platforms, and online directories. Continually monitor and build your local citations.

It is also worthy to mention that Google uses unique variables in the local ranking algorithm. However, Google's local algorithm and the organic algorithm are quite interconnected. For this reason, websites with good SEO elements also get good rankings, and sometimes even better rankings in Google's local results.

How to Improve your Position in the local search results

1. Create a Google My Business account

If you do not have one already just visit the Google My Business homepage and get started. You should be listed on Google My Business if you want to get listed in the local results. Listings with about 3 or more photos, business hours and a lot of information about the business tend to get better rankings than other listings.

2. Try to get reviews and respond to them

Though not commonly mentioned, reviews are a ranking factor for Google. Listings with many reviews tend to get better rankings than listing without reviews. However, Google frowns at unnatural reviews or paid reviews. In addition, it helps if the keywords that you are trying to rank for appear in the reviews. There's also a correlation between high rankings and a mention of the city in the review text.

We recommend that you follow up with reviews and respond to them where necessary. Businesses that respond to reviews tend to be ranked better or higher than businesses that do not respond to reviews.

We recommend that you have at least 5 reviews for you to be sure that your reviews will show up. You may want to contact old reviewers and tell them to do it again as their reviews are now useless.

3. Optimize your links

Links are a top ranking factor. Infact, external links contribute to page authority and is one of the top three factors that determine how Google rank a website. Links also help you to get higher rankings in the local results. If the links that point to your website contain the keyword and the city in the anchor text, it is more likely that your website will get high rankings.

4. Optimize your pages

Optimizing a page basically means optimizing for organic listings of a particular search term. This gives more advantage to be included in the local search results. It is better to include your keyword on the web page. Don't forget other important elements such as making sure that your website is mobile-friendly, meta descriptions, etc.

5. Be Very Mindful of Your Basic Information.

This had been emphasized throughout this post. Make sure you complete all your profile details and treat every field as important. Do not consider any field to be less important. Having a 100% profile completeness factor is crucial. We suggest having your Google+ profile picture somewhere on the site is a way to authenticate the site and build customer confidence. Having your Logo in the listing is also a recommended practice.

Make sure that your business name, physical address, website and real phone number (exactly as they appear in your profile) to a text file; appear exactly as they are, in the footer of your website’s landing pages, in directory listings, etc. Google verifies these listings using your phone number, so don’t make the mistake of using different phone numbers in different places, even if all of them are yours – this could make Google think that you are trying to duplicate your listings. But there is an exception here - if you have a branch in Lagos and another branch in Abuja and a third in Port Harcourt for instance, let us assume the three branches use different contact telephone numbers you can add all three but you will have to list the three locations separately with their full details listed.

6.Use Images

Google+ Local allows you to upload up to 10 images on your page, but you should also upload as many images as possible to authority photo sharing websites like Flickr, Panoramio, Photobucket, Picasa, and so on. Add your business name, website, address and phone number to their descriptions wherever possible.

You can also take advantage of the Geo location features on some of these websites to add the latitude and longitude of your business to each photo.

7. Add our Multiple Locations

If your business have multiple locations as briefly explained above please ensure that they are all listed. You will have to create a separate page for each one of them. Make sure that the separate pages reflect their different addresses, separate phone number and their other information.

8. Get as many reviews as possible on third party sites

Sites like Facebook, Yellow Pages and business directories, TripAdvisor, and so on accept reviews. Get reviews on these sites. Notwithstanding the gains of being mentioned in numerous reviews, the best results come when the reviews are on industry-related directory sites and local review sites.

9. Use Video Citations

Although this is not very common it is a good way to gain user attention and keep them on your website. Videos can present in 5 minutes what a thousand words in text will struggle to explain. Create accounts at the top video sharing websites like YouTube and then upload at least a high quality company video, adding the name, the website address, the physical address of your company and its phone number to the video description field.

10. Take SEO Seriously

Do not neglect other SEO efforts for they do really matter. Websites that rank high still get listed in local searches despite not being listed in the local directory. Google has a smart way of detecting quality and still pushes those quality websites ahead of others. Besides if your website has got a powerful backlinks profile, this will propel your G+ Local page to the top.

Last Words

Every effort at putting you first in Google for any keyword or location search at all will work to your advantage, drive traffic to your site and bring you more sales. The factors listed above if diligently followed will help a great deal in bringing you better results. Additionally, some few more tips like adding your address in schema mark-up, having your best reviews added to the website in the hreview microformat will help. Generally speaking, take them all seriously.

Remember as Google says : your website needs to be relevant, important and well regarded, in order to get one of the top spots in G+ Local search. So put in your best, be patient and consistent and you will surely and soon begin to see better results.

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