Google local search results are becoming more important every day. As Google expands its local maps listings businesses continue to try determining why some sites out-rank or appear above them, particularity, in the local maps based results on Google’s first page.
Recently, David Mihm, a search marketer who specializes in local SEO, released a study performed by 40 local search marketers from around the world (all of whom are listed on the survey results page). The study was focused specifically on finding and identifying the most important ranking factors when it comes to local search. I believe this is the second time I’ve come across really similar and valuable content on his site (there was a local study last year) and am very impressed with the detail as well as the value of this research report provided that it’s accurate, which I believe it is, so I will have to keep an eye on his material.
So why is this information so important?
The local results are the listings which are tied to Google’s Places pages, the pages driven by its maps service. These listings are tremendously important to local businesses as they generally appear above and much more prominently than standard results, which ultimately lead to more business inquiries. The Places service was originally rolled out in late 2010 as announced on Google’s Official Blog.
For some keywords (for example “landscaping service”), Google shows the local results at the top of the result list. These websites are listed at the top because they’re relevant to the geographic area of the searcher and not necessarily because it’s the site with the most trusted links or the site with the best on page SEO. Currently there is about half a page of these type results shown to searchers and then Google mixes in some traditional some web site listings below these, but as Google continues to improve this service (Venice Update), as well fights off antimonopoly regulators who accuse of cutting out their competition, like Yellow Pages web sites and other popular local sites like Yelp, or CitySearch, etc., Google is likely to expand this, to an entire page or two (or worse) which will be devastating to those not listed well within these results. Google has already also merged and transformed this from Google Places to Google+ Local.
In short, the time to start figuring this all out is now, not after you find yourself whipped out of search completely due to poor Google Maps placement. The report details what these 40 local search professionals found as being the most and least influential factors.
Top Ten Most Important Factors Which Influence Positioning (Positively) In Local Results:
- Physical Address in City of Search
- Proper Category Associations
- Proximity of Address to Centroid
- Domain Authority of Website
- Quantity of Structured Citations
- City, State in Places Landing Page Title
- Quantity of Native Google Places Reviews
- Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
- Local Area Code on Place Page
- HTML NAP Matching Place Page NAP
Top Ten Most Important Factors Which Influence Positioning (Negatively) In Local Results:
- Mis-match / Tracking Phone Numbers Across Data Ecosystem
- Presence of Multiple Place Pages with Same Phone Number
- Presence of Multiple Place Pages with Same/Similar Business Title and Address
- Mis-match Address on Places Landing Page
- Mis-match / Tracking Phone Number on Places Landing Page
- Including Location Keyword in Categories
- Absence of Crawl-able NAP on Website
- Absence of Crawl-able NAP on Places Landing Page
- Presence of Multiple Categories in Same Input Field
- Non-Compliant Categories (those that do not fit your business)
If your web site doesn’t have a crawl-able, visible, verifiable address which ties back to the region your marketing for, this could cause you big problems with local search. For instance, if you are marketing your site to a[[ear for local searches, but your address places you somewhere else in the worked, it is very possible or even likely, you will never achieve your rankings for local terms, when you are not, in fact, based in that area (your zip code for instance).
Visit David Mihm’s post on “Local Search Ranking Factor” for a full run down on the survey. Getting high rankings on Google local listings is very important if you want to get more customers for your locally based business.