Search Engine Optimization is more important than ever for a local business to bring in consumers.

In a time where everyone is wired to their smartphones and computers, local businesses need to make sure they are providing easy access to the information that their customers are looking for.

Are customers really using search engines for my business?

In a consumer study conducted by Google in May 2014, researchers unveiled that 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find information on local businesses with 88% of those people with their smartphones.

What are these consumers looking for?

During the study by Google, Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior, researchers determined that the main intent of consumers searching locally was to find information on business hours, directions, and local address.

While searching for local information on their smartphones, it was found that:

  • 54% searched for business hours
  • 53% searched for directions
  • 50% searched for the address

If this information is not readily available with a few seconds of any consumer’s search, you could be losing valuable business to other local businesses.

Not only does having this information consistent and correct help a user find what they are looking for, but it also helps with your rankings on search engines.

What are the most important Local Search Ranking Factors?

survey conducted by the researchers at Moz in 2015 shows the most important SEO factors attributed to local businesses ranking well within search engines.

On-page SEO Signals (20.3%)

On-page signals consist of the presence of business information on local directories, keywords in titles, and domain authority.

Local Directories

There are so many business directories out there to add your local business’ information! Include your business information on listings such as USDirectory.comand Superpages.com, but also look for any business directories that might be specific to the town that you are located in.

For example, here in Durango Colorado, we have 360Durango.com and the Visit Durango business directory.

Finding a way to list your business on as many directories as possible will increase your visibility and your search engine optimization efforts.

Keywords in Title

This is one of the most important methods in on-page SEO and it is also one of the leading factors for local searches. When optimization your website for search engines, make sure you are matching your website title tags to the most relevant keywords that your consumers are searching for.

The <title> tags are located on each individual page in the <head> HTML section of your website. While this may seem technical, depending on the website builder or web design services you use, there are common ways to update these tags.

For example, if your website is built using the popular platform WordPress, you can download a plugin like Yoast SEO that will serve as a central hub for updating your title tags for keyword optimization.

Domain Authority

This measure is determined by the overall website’s SEO efforts. This can include anything from linking to the page, relevant content, on-page SEO, and reputation. Domain authority takes an incredible amount of time and effort and can be best served by an expert at search engine optimization.

While there are many great resources on learning search engine optimization, we know that as business owners, it can be hard to find the time to allocate towards these efforts. Feel free to reach out at Animas Marketing to learn how we can help your business rank higher in search engines.

Ok, the sales pitch is over.

Link Signals (20.0%)

These signals include the anchor text on inbound links, the linking domain authority, and the number of links achieved.

Inbound Anchor Text

When a website links to your business website, you want to make sure that the anchor text (the linkable message used) is relevant to your business without being overly keyword based.

Here is a great resource if you’re would like to learn more on anchor text.

An important thing to note when addressing the anchor text of a link is to make sure that it is not a generic message such as “Click Here” or “This Website”.

Linking Domain Authority

Just like we discussed previously on the domain authority of your website, the same goes for other websites that link to you.

Simply put, the higher quality and reputation a website has that links to you, the higher reputation you gain from the link. Obtaining a link from the Huffington Post is going to be much more authoritative than a link from a small, new website that has little relevance to your business.

Quantity of Links Obtained

While it is better to have fewer quality websites linking to your business, the number of backlinks is a large factor in ranking high on search engines. Just make sure that the links you obtain to your business are relevant and are from reputable sites.

Factors such as this also have a large effect on a website’s domain authority.

Business Signals (14.7%)

These signals include the keywords in a business title and the proximity to a consumer.

Business Title Keywords

While it is important to have your own unique brand, having relevant keywords in your business name will help your ranking efforts.

For example, if I were to type in ‘local auto repair’ into the search bar at Google, a business name of “Mike & Ike’s Auto Care” will rank much higher than the generic version of “Mike & Ike’s”.

Proximity

When 88% of consumers are searching for local business information on their smartphones, you better believe that most of those consumers are searching on the go. 72% of people who searched for local information on their phone visited a store within 5 miles of their location.

Convenience is a large factor for consumers and if their search shows your local business in proximity to their location, they will be more likely to come shop at your store.

External Location Signals (13.6%)

These include business directory consistency and citation volume.

Business Directory Consistency

This is one of the largest issues with local businesses ranking on search engines. Many businesses fail to update or keep an eye out for the consistency of their business information on directories.

This is an issue with reliability and reputation. If Google sees that your business has different phone numbers listed in different locations, it loses trust for you and you lose rankings on the search engine. Keep your information updated constantly.

Citation Volume

While a citation does not have to be a business directory, it is a reference to your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). This is yet another role in Google evaluating the authority of your website.

Behavior Signals (9.5%)

These signals are related to your business website click-through rate, mobile click to call, and bounce rate.

Click-through Rate

Think about it. If people search for terms and your website is ranked in the top 5 results without receiving many clicks, then your content might not be relevant to the user. Google understands this and if your website has a low click-through rate (CTR), it will dock your website in the search engine results.

Mobile Click to Call

Most modern browsers on smartphones have links to call a phone number of a business. If a consumer is searching for a business phone number and finds it through the link, they can click on it directly to call the number rather than enter the digits themselves.

This is a great metric when evaluating your local search relevance and is used by Google as a ranking factor.

Bounce Rate

If consumers are landing on your web page to only leave after a few seconds without going to other pages, then Google sees that as an irrelevant site over a website where a user can spend a few minutes on.

If your bounce rate is extremely high, then it would be wise to evaluate why consumers are not finding the information they are looking for on your web page and to fix the issue.

Personalization (8.5%)

This includes the personalization of search results for each individual user. If a consumer is constantly searching the phone number at “Bob’s Pizza” since they order there frequently, then when they search for pizza near me, that result is more likely to show higher in the results.

Google is getting better at understanding their consumers’ behavior each year and as of 2017, they tailor the results for a user biased experience.

Review Signals (8.4%)

These include review quantity, velocity, and diversity.

Review Quantity

While it is not one of the largest factors, the number of reviews plays a part in search engine optimization.

Remember that the goal is Google is to provide the most relevant results to a customer query so if they see that a business has a large number of reviews, it can understand that many people have been to that business and have much to say about it.

Review Velocity

Are all your business reviews outdated? If reviews are continuously streaming in then Google sees this as a signal that your business is active and relevant to consumers.

Social Signals (8.4%)

Social signals include how your business is placed on social media such at Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

While this is the lowest ranking in a search engine displaying local results, it is important to keep all of your information updated on social media accounts and keeping people engaged on those platforms can help a search engine see that your brand is active.

SEO for local business is different than SEO for an online business

It is true. When searching for search engine optimization needs for a local brick and mortar business, make sure that the specialist or service that you use is geared around these important ranking signals above.

Feel free to contact us at Animas Marketing to find out more about how SEO can provide tremendous value to your local business.

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