The Anatomy of Local Search Rankings (infographic)

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed shopping habits dramatically. One change that may have gone under the radar, however, is the shift affecting local businesses. 57% of consumers purchased from a local business for the first time because they offered pandemic-friendly services. The consumer favorite was curbside pickup, drawing in 49% of customers surveyed. When everyone is quarantining at home, how do people know which businesses have what services available? For a local business, they did a local search.

The key to local searches lies within the Google Local Pack. These results are displayed above organic search results and are highly visual in their inclusion of maps and star ratings. Businesses that appear in local searches are linked to their Google My Business (GMB) listing. The ranking factors affecting local searches vary slightly from those influencing organic search results. The most important consideration relates to GMB listing factors, followed by backlinks reviews, and domain authority, respectively. A business that wants to succeed in local searches needs to succeed on GMB.

The way to optimizing a GMB listing is straightforward; just follow 3 simple steps. The first is to claim the business profile. This ensures a GMB listing exists for the company in question. Second, the business owner should ensure that every section of the business profile is complete. Important information that GMB asks for includes business name, website, address, hours of operation, phone number, products/services, and so on. Once the listing is complete, the final step of importance is keeping the listing up to date. Ways to do this during times where the core information about the business isn’t changing includes creating weekly posts, responding to customer reviews, and answering questions from the public.

For a business with a single location, businesses that optimize their GMB listing and link to their website homepage are well on their way to success. But a business with multiple locations, however, has a few more steps ahead of them. They need to consider the use of local landing pages (LLPs for short). An LLP is a web page that stands on its own in dedication to a specific business location. LLPs allow business owners to link each landing page to a separate listing on GMB.

When creating an LLP, one should have the same considerations as they would for a normal web page. Consumers spend 74% of viewing time on the first 2 screenfulls, so put all important information there. Use keywords with conciseness and clarity in the main headline. Be consistent when formatting the vital information of the business, like its name, address, and phone number. Reduce the links local visitors have to click to create a shorter sales funnel.

However, there are a few unique things business owners should consider regarding an LLP. Features that improve an LLPs local search ranking are as follows: hyperlocal content, photos of the location, an embed of Google Maps, a Google 360 tour, and location specific profiles on social media platforms. Other items that help a small LLP are trust elements, like security seals or company awards, and geolocation meta tags that match the GMB listing.

One other thing websites of all sizes should consider is how their site appears on a mobile platform. 84% of local searches are made on mobile devices, so designing a mobile responsive site is more important than ever. If a customer can’t navigate a business’s site on their phone, there is no guarantee they’ll try again on a desktop. Features that can improve the mobile experience include call to action buttons, click to call phone numbers, and mobile friendly coupons.

The Anatomy of Local Search Rankings (infographic)

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