As the digital landscape continues to evolve at break-neck speed; so too must the strategies local businesses use to get a fair chance of being found by potential local customers. The tough competition for customer attention has made it even more imperative for businesses to strive to stay ahead of the game when it comes to attracting new local customers.
Before we dive in deeper, it would help if we pointed out a few reasons why is local search so important and why it is a game-changer for local businesses:
- 46% of all searches have to do with location
- 86% of consumers use Google Maps to find local businesses
- 72% of consumers searching for local businesses visit stores within five miles
Unfortunately, Google’s closely guarded algorithm doesn’t easily give away its ranking factors. Besides, we’ve seen more advanced personal search and discovery tools designed to detect unnatural, spammy, and unscrupulous business practices come up in recent years. This makes it even more difficult to pick out the exact ranking signals that search engines use to determine your place in the local search results.
So we’ve compiled this list of the top seven local SEO ranking factors for 2022 and beyond.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is all about making your brand visible to people who are looking for services or products in their local community. It’s all about ensuring that your business is accessible and visible to local consumers. Local ranking entails optimizing your business so that local customers can find you.
Local SEO is ultimately a game of context. That is to say; the more directly relevant your products and services are to the needs and desires of local customers, the more likely you’ll rank on Google’s top local results.
If you’re wondering what local search results look like, Google displays a map first, followed by three top businesses for the user’s search called Google’s 3 Pack. In other words, while the top-ranked results in any given market will be similar, the order in which you appear in those results will be specific to that area.
For example, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and are looking for a local plumber, Google’s top-ranked search result would show you a listing for a local plumber. However, if you live in Kannarpady, India, and are looking for a local plumber, Google’s top-ranked result would show a listing for a top local plumber in that area.
To become more visible in local search results, businesses have to focus on what affects local SEO. This includes:
- Relevant keywords;
- High-quality site content;
- Optimizing your site for mobile;
- Optimizing for local rankings with voice search;
- Ensuring your site conforms to Google’s local guidelines;
- Providing quality products and services.
Without further ado, here are the top 7 local SEO ranking factors to look after in 2022.
Google Business Profile Signals
Google My Business is a relatively new addition to the ever-expanding collection of location-based tools built into Google’s search. The Google My Business API makes it easier for local firms to manage business location information, optimize, and promote their online presence across the local region.
As such, businesses that want to rank in local results start by sharing their physical location with nearby customers. Other information can also be shared; hours of operation, location, menus for restaurants, and so much more.
The Google My Business feature is available to all businesses that have registered with Google and can be configured to display information about your business across both Google Search and Google Maps. When done right, a Google My Business listing can help drive more traffic and lead to your business.
If you want to learn how to use and optimize Google Business Profile for multiple locations, generate free Google Reviews, use them in your marketing, and track your performance – check this article with 5 ideas for generating free Google reviews.
Authority of Inbound Links
It’s no secret that the number of backlinks on your website is a key Google local ranking factor. The more authority your domain has, the higher up in the SERPs it can appear. That’s why it’s important to make sure your website is as authoritative and well-positioned as possible.
That said, it’s worth highlighting that the authority of inbound links should be taken with a grain of salt. While there’s no doubt that having a large number of authoritative inbound links is a big plus, it’s also important to remember that these links are generally acquired in two ways:
- Some inbound links are given freely by websites that choose to link to you because they wish to highlight their own authority, brand, or content
- Some backlinks are purchased from third-party link sellers that seek to profit from link spamming
The latter poses a higher risk to your business’s local search rankings. For what it’s worth, you should focus on acquiring genuine links from authority websites. Google hates spam, and low-quality, spammy backlinks could hurt your local search engine rankings.
Unlike old-school rankings which were largely based on the ability of Google’s search crawlers to find a site’s pages and links, local search engine rank factors are based on a number of different Google local ranking factors. Your domain’s authority is one of the most important ranking factors.
Domain authority describes the relevance of a website in a specific subject area. It is a score developed by Moz that indicates how high a particular domain ranks in Google SEO local results.
In other words, the higher your domain’s authority, the higher the rank of local SEO.
You can check your domain authority for free here.
Customer Reviews and Ratings
Over the past few years, Google has made a number of changes that have been largely focused on improving the customer experience when conducting local searches. Are your customers raving about their experiences with your brand? If they are, that’s a big plus for your business. As we’ve seen in recent years, the ability to rank well in SEO local results is far more than just about having an amazing product or service.
The arrival of more and more sophisticated algorithms designed to detect unnatural, spammy, and unscrupulous business practices has made it now more important than ever to make sure your business is as transparent and professional as possible.
The best way to achieve this is by keeping your customers happy, offering high-quality products and services, and most importantly, maintaining high customer service standards.
Quality Service Page Content
The quality of service page content (and all the other content on your site) is yet another local SEO ranking factor that has come into focus over the past few years. By now, it’s no secret that Google is far more likely to trust and rely on information that comes from authoritative sources.
Ensure that your business’s online presence is optimized with your most important keywords. Be sure to provide the products and services listed on your service page. Make sure your content is relevant and original, and that it reflects an authentic view of your business.
Last but not least, it’s important to keep your content consistent with the way you operate and ensure that it doesn’t contain serious errors or misleading information.
Mobile search is the future, and local SEO rankings should not be treated differently. Mobile devices accounted for 63% of organic search engine visits. It’s easy to see why you should focus more on being able to reach potential customers on mobile devices and effectively monetize that traffic.
Mobile SEO is also about optimizing your site for mobile search and creating a mobile-specific SEO strategy to ensure you’re getting the most out of every customer who clicks through from a mobile device.
The speed at which your site loads is one of the most crucial factors that Google and other search engines use for determining how well your site ranks in search results. If your site is slow, Google will often punish you by ranking you lower in SEO local results.
If you want to remain competitive, it’s imperative that your site loads quickly, especially as more and more users are using mobile devices to access the internet.
Ready to level up your SEO game and dominate local search rankings? Head over to our article about the best local SEO tools for multi-location businesses, where we analyze the pros and cons of each software.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, these are not the only local SEO ranking factors 2022 has in store for you. List your business and create a website that highlights your expertise and offers helpful information if you’re not sure where to start. Next, publish helpful and informative content on the site and on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and build trust with your customers.
When done with the basics and ready for a tech upgrade to accelerate your local SEO successes, we recommend checking one of the best tools for multi-location businesses – PromoRepublic.
With PromoRepublic’s insights and digital marketing tools, it’s easy to uncover growth opportunities for locations and manage local SEO, listings, reviews, and social media posting & ads all in one place. Book a demo to see it in action.