Mastering local SEO is achieved through two different avenues depending on where you’re trying to rank. Pushing your Google My Business ranking is achieved very differently to boosting to local organic search rankings. Local SEO is becoming more and more competitive post-Google algorithm update, Google Possum, in 2016 and its threatening to sweep some businesses into obscurity. With that said, there are a number of local SEO tasks you can adopt to help organic rankings and your Google My Business page visibility, but you’ll need to segment off some time for each…

Google My Business local listing results

There are two different ways that your Google My Business profile and location is displayed in search results when you search for a service or business and a location name. Your Google ‘local pack’ appears as a map with location pins on it that correspond to the resulting 3 listings of Google My Business profile results, before the rest of the page 1 search results are displayed. Naturally, this is a very lucrative spot that encourages click-throughs to your website if you’re in the top 3 before you even scroll to the first position of page 1. Your Google ‘local finder’ appears when you click on the ‘More Places’ link that expands into more business listings and a full-page map.

They look a little like this:

The benefit of Google My Business listings

If your hard work pays off, of which we’ll detail shortly, then your website could experience a lot of click-throughs through your Google My Business ranking. Appearing in the top 3 results of your local pack often allows your website to appear before the top-ranking sites on page 1, which is clearly a feat in itself. This means your website is more likely to be engaged with than those that have placed more stock in their organic SEO efforts.

Ranking factors of local pack/local finder

In descending order…

  • Google My Business signals (including proximity to the locations searched, business categories, keyword in business title)
  • Link signals (the number of good-quality websites linking to your website and how relevant these sites are)
  • Reviews (the quantity of reviews, how recently and frequently they are added to)
  • On-page optimisation (on-page SEO such as keywords, content, and titles)

Ranking factors of organic SEO

Interestingly, this is almost a direct contrast of the top 4 ranking factors of GMB rankings.

  • Link signals
  • On-page optimisation
  • User behaviour signals (your bounce rate, click-through rate, mobile clicks to call)
  • Google My Business signals

This means that you need to focus your SEO efforts in two different directions to master local SEO for organic and Google My Business. So, lets break down what you need for each…

A breakdown: Local SEO for Google My Business ranking

1. Google My Business Signals. Kit out your Google My Business profile with all of the relevant information including business name, phone number, website, opening hours, business category, photos, and you can even link your social media presence to it. This fleshes out your GMB profile and provides all of the relevant and user-friendly information searchers and therefore Google places value in.

2. Link Signals. Google will place importance on the number of good-quality websites linking to your own website and how relevant their link anchor text is. Link anchor text is like this: if we wanted to link to our About Us page we’d link it as ‘find out more About Us’. This keeps the anchor text relevant to the page its linking to, and when this is done from other sites to your site it benefits your SEO. For this, you need high-quality link building across business directories and other third-party websites to increase your website’s domain authority.

3. Reviews. Google’s recent push towards increased user experience means giving searchers the metrics they need to make informed decisions about the websites they visit and the services they enquire about. This means reviews, the frequency of which they’re gained, and how recently new ones have been posted are now a positive ranking factor and actually the third most powerful in getting your Google My Business ranking higher up the directory results.

4. On-Page Optimisation. Content will always play a big part in any ranking, be it GMB or organic. The presence of NAP (name, address, phone number) is another key ranking factor in your content that Google knows your site visitors want to see, so your website needs to include this. Domain authority is also a key player in on-page signals, as are relevant keywords in text and titles.

A breakdown: Local SEO for organic SERPs ranking

1. Link Signals. As above, link signals also positively influence your chances of ranking highly on organic search engine results pages (SERPs). Good-quality and relevant websites linking back to your website with keyword anchor text helps to improve your organic ranking and makes it more likely for web visitors to find you on Google’s search pages.

2. On-Page Optimisation. Content plays a much larger role in organic ranking for local SEO. Relevant key words, NAP, titles, page length, amount of content, and lack of duplicate content all combine for some of the best on-page optimisation. What Google boils this down to is whether or not human readers will get what they need from your website content and whether it is therefore ‘quality content’ that answers questions and informs. Usability and user experience is key to pleasing Google and featuring on SERPs, so clear and concise yet strategically optimised content will help you rank amongst local competitors.

3. User Behaviour Signals. A high click-through rate with a comparatively low bounce rate are two key metrics that signify your web user behaviour and will positively influence your local SEO rankings. Actions on the page will also be tracked and positively rewarded by Google, such as clicks to call from mobile searchers (if mobile optimisation is still something you need, you need to take a look at why it’s so important on our blog post 5 Reasons Why People Leave Your Mobile Site). This is another reason why usability and user experience positively influence your SEO, because the more your website is engaged with then the higher Google could rank you organically.

4. Google My Business Signals. This is why organic local SEO and Google My Business SEO needs two different channels of concerted effort, because it is the top most important contributor for GMB ranking and the 4th most important for organic SEO. Still, making sure your GMB reflects all of the important contact information and links to your business positively influences your organic local SEO, but not as much as above top 3.

Local SEO is as competitive as ever because of the density of small businesses realising their digital marketing potential. If you’re considering SEO services for your business regardless of size or location, then speak to a member of the Cosmetic Digital team. We’re well known for our SEO services in even the most competitive of places (Harley Street and London are two of such). Call us on 01159 140 640 to discuss your needs.