In this article you'll learn...
- The Top 5 factors for local search ranking
- Seven strategies for building citations
The importance of local search has been growing steadily for some time now. Google pointed out in 2010 that location-related searches make up over 20% of all desktop searches, and that number was closer to 40% for mobile users. And with the much-talked-about recent release of Google's Venice update, which sought to improve local search results, those figures have surely increased.
All of which means one thing: If you don't have a strategy for local search optimization, you're doing it wrong.
Based on David Mihm's most recent survey of local search ranking factors, the following are the Top 5 factors that impact local search results:
- Physical address of the business
- Manually owner-verified Google Place page
- Proper category assignments on the Place page
- Volume of traditional structured citations
- Crawlable address matching Place page address
Notice that nowhere in the Top 5 do "inbound links" or "website homepage authority" appear (though they are No. 6 and No. 7, respectively). Local search optimization, then, is not the same game as regular SEO.
Some of you are already raising your hands, calling out that this survey data comes from last year—before Google's Venice update, which according to Google "improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of [Google's] main search results as a signal." So, you argue, doesn't that mean those first five factors will now be less important as Google gets closer to mirroring its main SERPs in local search?
My annoying response: Maybe, maybe not. It's complicated.
Because in the more talked-about part of the Venice update, Google has also started regularly presenting local search results, even from location-agnostic queries, any time it finds it relevant to do so. Which is quite often.