Top 3 Local SEO Ranking Factors in 2018

Written by: Jason Bayless | March 08, 2018

Small business owners know the importance of ranking for local searches. If you own a wedding planning business, for instance, you probably want your business’s website to appear in Google’s search results when someone around your city searches for keywords like “”wedding planner”” or “”wedding planning services.”” When these keyword searches are performed outside of the region in which your business operates, it’s not going to drive sales or otherwise directly benefit for your business.

Using local search optimization (LSO) can help you achieve higher search rankings for your local business’s website. It differs from traditional search engine optimization (SEO) in the sense that LSO focuses specifically on searches with local intent. Sometimes local intent is obvious; if a user searches for “”wedding planner Chicago,”” for instance, he or she is probably looking for a professional wedding planner in the Windy City. Other times, however, local intent is inferred. Regardless, you can encourage higher local search rankings by targeting the three following factors in your optimization strategy.

#1) NAP

Name, address and phone number (NAP) remains one of the most influential signals in LSO. When search engines scan this information, they’ll begin to associate your business with the listed address, thus promoting higher local search rankings.

You should display your business’s NAP prominently on your website, preferably in the header or footer where it’s visible on every page. Additionally, you should include your business’s NAP on other digital properties that you manage, such as social media profiles and blogs.

#2) Local Citations

Another powerful LSO ranking signal is local citations. So, what is a local citation exactly? Basically, it’s any online listing of your local business. It usually consists of the business’s NAP as well as other information like hours of operation, prices, slogan, website URL and more.

BrightLocal recently compiled a list of the top citation websites for U.S. businesses. The found the following citation websites offered the greatest benefit for local businesses:

  • Facebook
  • Apple Maps
  • Yahoo
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Yelp
  • Mapquest
  • Foursquare
  • Opentable
  • Angie’s List

#3) Backlinks

Backlinks play an important role in search rankings, and LSO is no exception. According to Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors study, backlinks are the most influential signal in LSO.

However, you won’t achieve a top search ranking for your local business simply by mass-producing backlinks. You must consider the quality and relevance of those links. Just a few high-quality, relevant backlinks are far more valuable than hundreds of low-quality, irrelevant backlinks.

Try to obtain backlinks from websites or web pages featuring the region in which your business operates. Using the previous example, a Chicago-based wedding planner should try to acquire backlinks from Chicago websites and web pages. One way to achieve these valuable links is to publish press releases. Press releases are typically picked up by local news websites.

These three LSO factors may hold the most weight, but there are dozens of other signals that can affect your site’s local search rankings. If you want to achieve and maintain a top ranking, you must use a multi-pronged approach towards LSO.