Blog Post - 10 Ranking Factors for Local Search
It can be so maddening—the website is up, online, and looks good…and yet, there you are on page five…or ten…or worse…when you do a local search for your category. What’s the story here? Why aren’t you ranking as high as your competitors? Why does that one business seem to pop up at the very top of most search pages? Here’s 10 ranking factors that can explain why he’s there and you’re not.
1. You’re not listing your NAP the same way each time.
That’s Name, Address and Place, and it’s how the search engines track you. List your business as Harry’s Tuba in one search engine and Harry Smith Tuba Repair in another, and pardon the pun, you’ve blown it. Furthermore, there are often duplicates of your business name—because you have several trade names or you’ve changed your name in other on- or offline directories, or because organizations—from which this data can also be drawn—insisted you list yourself in a particular way. Moved to a new location? You may now show up as two different listings. As the Google bots (spiders) crawl the web gathering information, they’re looking to amass data proving you’re a trustworthy source with good content. As they locale your NAP around the web, they collect the info over and over. Discrepancies are noted. (These mentions of your NAP are called citations.) Then Google does one of its complicated and mysterious algorithms and decides where you should rank. These duplications and errors confuse the bots, and affect your local rankings. You need to review your search engine listing every few months to manage and maintain consistency of information.
2. You don’t have a physical address listed.
Maybe Harry Smith fixes tubas in his basement and his wife doesn’t want their home address spread all over the web. Too bad for Harry’s business, because without a physical address, he won’t be able to list himself at all. And here’s a strange thing—Google ranks your listing in part by how close you are to the center of your local geographic area. Harry’s Tuba Repair is in Nixa, just south of Springfield, but his local search area is Springfield. Harry convinces his wife to let him list their address, but he’s probably going to be rankedlower in local search than Sunshine Music Wind Instrument Repairs, a shop on Sunshine St, right in town.
3. Your categories don’t match.
Harry categorizes himself as Tuba Repair in Springfield for Google, But locally – in other sources--he’s listed as a music teacher. When the bots find these non-matching categories, it will again cause confusion and mistrust and lower his ranking. So once again, you have to review your listings and make corrections as needed.
4. You don’t have quality links to your site.
Those darned algorithms. They decide which links are more valuable to you than others. Google wants you to have lots more domains linking back to you links going out. Take Harry—he has links to several schools and music shops, and those links often point to each of his pages. But that’s not as valuable as having lots of links from lots of different sites…even if they only connect to a single one of Harry’s pages. And one more note about links…some sites are ranked as having Domain Authority---they’re the big guns. If Harry’s one page blog about the joys of tuba repair gets one link from the State University Music Dept., he’s going to get a lot more “link juice,” as they say in the trade, than if every one of his site pages is linked to the site of a newly minted tuba repair guy in Kansas. Link building is critical to web success! Every business needs a good link-building strategy and someone to carry it out. You’ll need a site that offers value---quality content, videos or images, useful tools or information—that impels other sites to link with you.
5. You don’t have your city and state in your Places landing title page.
This is the one of the best ways for the local algorithm to verify your location, so lacking this information does some serious damage to your rankings. However, you’ll have to view the source code on the page to verify the information is there.
6. You didn’t manually verify your Place Page and Citation Profiles.
When you add more information to the basics listed on Google Places and other search engines, your business is contacted by the search engine to verify that you are, indeed, the owner of the business. Since there can be misinformation, or a lack of important details, check your listings and add your extra data (hours of operation, description, categories, etc.). This will help move you up in the rankings.
7. You don’t have enough Traditional Structured Citations.
New businesses probably won’t have a lot of citations, while companies which have been around for a while will have hundreds, maybe more. But not all citations are as valuable as others. Government-level citations are considered very valuable—business licenses, tax records, membership in esteemed organizations. You can check your citations by entering the name, location and business phone of your company in Google: the query response will tell you how many citations Google has indexed.
8. Your Places Page address and phone number don’t match those on your website, and aren’t crawlable.
Do you have multiple phone lines? You’ll need to pick one number and use it across the board for all the search engines, to avoid confusing the bots and creating distrust of your information. Also, always have your vital info (NAP) in text format on your site somewhere. Even if you have killer graphics and the best logo in the world, be sure to add your company name, phone and address in text somewhere in the body of your site.
9. You’re lacking page rank and domain rank.
Every single website and domain, and every page on the internet is ranked by Google’s algorithm. Google does not make this information available to the public, so the proof of success will be seeing your company listed towards the top of the first page of local search. The best way to get there? Read entries 1-8 and either make the time to do them yourself or find an SEO expert to do them for you.
10. Your business title lacks product/service and location words.
Does your business have your product or service keyword in its name? Harry Smith’s Tuba Repair does; his wife’s jewelry company, SparkleWoman doesn’t. Nice name, plenty of room for a sexy tag line, but not much help when Google wants the keyword in the business title. Of course, since Google wants the business name exactly as it reads offline, Emily has to keep her company name consistent.
The truth is, getting up in the rankings, and staying there, is a bit of a dance with the search engines. If you don’t have the time or inclination, Red Kite Marketing would be happy to pull on its tap shoes and do your SEO for you. Email us today, or call us for more information. 417-225-0054.