Optimising Google My Business can be tedious work, no matter how many articles, podcasts and YouTube videos you’ve devoured. While maintaining your GMB is key to staying on top of discovery searches, there are other elements that could affect your visibility on the first page of Google SERPs. These are local ranking factors. We’ve discussed local SEO ranking factors in a previous posting but there are other signals worth mentioning that could potentially improve or boost your chances of appearing on the knowledge graph and the Google 3-Pack.
The Latest Local SEO Stats
Before we get started on which local SEO ranking factors to prioritise on your GMB listing, here are the most recent local SEO stats you should know about:
- 46% of Google searches have local intent. ‘Local intent’ simply means that a user is searching for a local result – which ranges anywhere between a few metres away from them or around 8.5km (approx. 10 miles) at the most. This often relates to mobile search, as 87% of mobile users go to search engines at least once a day and will search for the nearest or most relevant local business.
- 93% of the time, the Google 3-pack shows up. This appears after Google ads and before organic search results. This is where many local businesses want to be because to appear on the first three results means that a business has more chances of being clicked or tapped.
- In early 2020, ‘near me’ searches have grown over 200%. Less than a year later, that rate has doubled, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Google Maps is proving to be more relevant as around 86% of users search for a local business there, in addition to Google Search.
- Online reviews heavily influence consumers, with 67% of potential buyers looking at reviews on GMB and other online listings before clicking on a business’ website, searching for products, contacting that business or visiting their brick-and-mortar store.
Which Local SEO Ranking Factors Should You Prioritise?
Most of the time, you want to prioritise all local SEO ranking factors. It’s all doable and one action will have several outcomes that could benefit you. But it might be difficult to identify which factor you should spend more time in and where exactly you want your GMB listing to rank higher in (3-pack, knowledge graph or both). For example:
- To stay in the Google 3-pack, be sure to optimise your Google My Business, monitor reviews and star ratings and improve on-page SEO
- If you want to simply rank higher in local search results, focus on on-page SEO and link-building (the quality of inbound links matter)
If you want to focus on maintaining your Google My Business listing but want to give an equal amount of attention to monitoring reviews and on-page SEO, you can choose to outsource on-page SEO activities, especially if this is not your strength.
Since early 2020 until today, local businesses saw the importance of Google My Business, which is why digital marketing teams would prioritise this in their SEO strategies while giving low priority to other factors like social signals, personalisation and citation. They can be somewhat helpful to some strategies but maintaining your GMB listing while working on your on-page SEO greatly impact your visibility.
On the other hand, if you prefer to rank in organic results, you can devote more time in on-page SEO and have another team work on the more extensive and time-consuming link-building activities. These two signals affect your ranking more than other signals but you shouldn’t dismiss other factors such as citation, social and personalisation signals. These could also help you achieve your goal of ranking high in SERPs. As well, GMB could take the back seat if this is your goal.
What to Do for Local SEO in 2021
Given that signals such as GMB, on-page SEO and reviews matter to ranking in local search results, you do need to focus on them. But just how? Read through this list.
Optimise your Google My Business
- Make sure your business name contains the neighbourhood or city you’re located in (best for businesses with multiple locations)
- NAP should be complete and updated if you decide to move to another location
- Respond to reviews and Q&As
- Write in your business description and use the right categories to help users identify your business between your competitors
- Update your Google Posts at least weekly
- Be sure to be truthful about your address
Optimise your website
- Inbound links should be high-quality – you can use GMB as a legitimate backlink for this, for example
- Ensure that you have high-quality content on your entire website, including static pages and blog posts
- Keywords should be relevant across your website (and your GMB listing)
- It is important that your website is mobile-friendly and responsive, as more and more users are using their smartphones to search on Google
Local SEO ranking factors may be hard to determine at first but with this guide to help you, you’ll understand which of your online real estate should be given high priority. DigitalMaas is in the business of boosting your local SEO game. Attract your target market and bring them to your website or store with a fully optimised Google My Business listing. It’s that easy when you’ve got the local SEO experts by your side.