In the past two years, we’ve seen a lot of changes in Local SEO, from algorithm updates to increased personalization, new listing features, and much more. It’s clear that a brand’s local SEO strategy needs to evolve with the industry. In light of our most recent Local Brand Report, we’ve found that brands have become more invested in their local business listings over the years, yet their rankings have plummeted. In an effort to help brands earn higher rankings in 2020, here are some of our best tips for increasing your business’s local SEO rankings.
Before we begin, let’s take a look at how the world’s biggest search engine, Google, ranks a business. In December of 2018, Whitespark released the results of its Local Ranking Factors survey. In the chart above you can see the types of ranking factors and how much of an impact each factor makes. Over the years, the ranking factors have fluctuated. For example, both review and Google My Business (GMB) signals have gained importance since 2017, while things like social signals and citation signals have lost value. Here is a look at how the ranking signals have evolved since 2018.
#1 – Citation Quality Over Quantity
One of the biggest changes over the past few years is how listing directories value citations. In the past, it was essential for businesses to be listed on as many directories as possible. Since then, we’ve seen a shift from the number of citations a business has to the quality of citations.
In 2020, it’s important for brands to make sure their listing information is present and accurate on the following tier 1 sites:
After claiming tier 1 directories, brands should make sure to list their locations on the top sites for their industry. For example, restaurants should be listed on Open Table and doctors should be listed on Healthgrades. From there, businesses should create and maintain listings on tier 2 directories like Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Merchant Circle, and other sites that regularly drive customers to your business. Smaller tier 3 sites are no longer as important for businesses to claim. Managing local business listings takes a lot of work, don’t waste time on the sites that don’t improve your local search rankings.
#2 – Focus on Reviews
Reviews are still one of the biggest local ranking factors that a brand can control. Studies show brands who respond to reviews see both an increase in ratings and in review quantity. Reviews account for 15% of how Google ranks a business, and yet most brands have yet to respond to reviews.
Responding to reviews has tremendous value when it comes to your rankings. Review responses are the perfect place to add in the unbranded keywords you’re looking to optimize for. Reviews are crawled by most listing directories to help connect users with the best options for their search query.
Review management is an essential part of a brand’s local SEO strategy. Every brand needs to be monitoring their reviews in order to improve the customer experience both online and in-store. Leveraging tools like Chatmeter’s Pulse, to analyze the customer sentiment found in reviews can help brands streamline their review management process.
#3 – Build Engagement
Consumer engagement with a listing shows the directory that people are interested in your business. Adding photos and videos, answering questions, and sharing posts are all ways a brand can encourage consumer engagement. The more people interact with your business listing the more likely search engines will rank your business higher.
25% of how Google ranks a local business is influenced by Google My Business signals. These signals have the biggest impact on your local rankings. Google has added and removed several engagement-building features to GMB over the years making it hard for businesses to keep up with it all. Don’t take on more than you can handle, try out new engagement features one at a time, starting with Google Q&A.
#4 – Organic SEO Drives Better Local SEO
One thing people often forget is that Organic SEO (also known as Web SEO) for your website also helps with Local SEO, and vice versa. In fact, organic and local SEO has a lot of crossovers. Things like GMB signals, review signals, on-page, and link signals all help to improve your local and organic search rankings.
SEO isn’t a one and done job. You have to continuously be working on your SEO in order to grow the traffic. By collaborating with your web SEO team, you’ll be able to increase search rankings for your entire brand, across all locations.
#5 – Implement Better Rank Tracking
The only way to truly see if your rankings are growing is by tracking them. Chatmeter’s Local SEO Rank Tracker helps brands track rankings across all of their locations. Because proximity plays such a big role in how directories rank a business, it’s critical that brands choose the right rank tracking system. The closer the system can simulate a local search, the more accurate your rankings will be.
Many tools rely on the city or zip code to simulate a local search. This isn’t always the best practice for big cities. Large cities are made up of dozens of zip codes and it can make it hard to pinpoint the exact area the consumer is searching. On top of that, zip codes don’t always reflect the area that someone is searching in. Sometimes the closest businesses are in the next zip code. Because of this, Chatmeter tracks rankings based on the neighborhood. This gives our users much more accurate local rank tracking.
Businesses have more control over their local rankings than they may think. Give these five tips a try in 2020 and watch your local search rankings grow across all locations. Not sure where you’re currently ranking? Try our Free Instant Brand Audit tool.
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