According to the latest Pew Research Center survey, roughly 68 percent of all adults in the United States use smartphones – a significant jump from their last survey, which took place four years ago and showed that rough 35 percent use smartphones. These numbers indicate a mass migration of internet users, as more people are using their smartphones and tablets to access the web than ever before.
Widespread use of the smartphone has many implications for online stores. Not only do online stores have to create a responsive and reliable mobile website or app, but many must adjust their SEO strategy to account for local SEO rankings in Google.
What is local SEO?
When a business has a brick and mortar store, their website will be subject to Google’s local SEO rankings. Local SEO takes a number of factors into account, and provides Google users with accurate, location-based information about businesses in their area. Google introduced a separate ranking system for local businesses in order to give them an advantage in relevant searches. In order to get the most out of those advantages, business owners must know how to optimize their website for Google’s local algorithm.
Our studies show that Google uses about ten factors to determine a business’s rank when local searches are made. The main factor in determining a business’s local rank comes from Google My Business. Google My Business was introduced to work alongside Google Maps seamlessly. It allows search users to see everything about a business, including photos, reviews, descriptions, and menus (if applicable). Every business can claim a Google My Business page.
In order to get the most out of your Google My Business page, you’ll want to include the following information:
- A long, accurate description of your business and the types of services/products you provide.
- Accurate categories that describe your business.
- Photos (no less than 5 professional photos).
- Up-to-date information (address, hours, menu, payment methods, etc.).
Once you’ve established your Google My Business Page, you’ve taken the first major step in the local SEO process. After you’ve set up your Google My Business, ask your customers to leave reviews on your page. The more positive reviews your business gets, the higher it will rank in Google’s local rankings.
Google My Business plays a major roles in your business’s local SEO ranking, but there are other factors at play. Google recently updated its local ranking algorithm to include “traditional SEO signals” in order to better serve its users. As with traditional SEO, links are of increasing importance with local SEO. Much like traditional web pages, the more backlinks your business’s website has, the higher it will rank in Google’s search local search results.
Earning backlinks takes time, but you can track your progress by using one of the many programs available online. We recommend using SEO PowerSuite’s tool, which helps you find link building opportunities, as well as track the backlinks your website already has. Remember to pursue only quality backlink opportunities. Google also has an algorithm to determine which backlinks are legitimate and which are not, so avoid any tactics that may leave you with untrusted backlinks.
In accordance with Google’s move to incorporate traditional SEO signals into its local SEO algorithm, both word count and keywords now play major roles in determining your business’s local rank. Unfortunately, there is no ideal word count for every business, but our studies show that longer content ranks highly. SEO PowerSuite’s tool can also be useful for optimizing your webpage’s word count. By inputting your content, the program searches for similar content that ranked highly. After analyzing the top ten results, the program will give you an ideal word count range for your content. If you don’t have access to the tool, we recommend publishing content between 1500 and 2500 words.
In addition to word count, Google’s local SEO algorithm now takes keyword occurrences into account. Because of changes in Google’s algorithms, keywords are far less important than they used to be, as Google can more efficiently determine a page’s rank based on other factors. However, keywords are still very important to your page’s rank, and should be taken into consideration. Do a keyword search to find out what others are searching, and incorporate relevant keywords in your content. Remember not to spam keywords, as Google’s algorithm will detect this, immediately lowering your rank.
How did you optimize your website for local results? Are there any tips or tricks for local SEO we missed? What tools do you use to achieve better local rankings? Let us know in the comments below!