The year is almost over, and many businesses are starting to look forward to 2015 and discuss their marketing plans. Luckily, David Mihm, the local search guru at Moz, just released his annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey, which helps give us local marketers more insight into which ranking factors matter the most.
The survey shows a definite shift toward more traditional web ranking factors. Last year’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey had Google Places and Citations weighted heavily, but this year’s study shows that on-site signals and links are the most powerful factors.
This shift is consistent with Google’s recent local ranking algorithm update, Pigeon. Many Local SEOs claimed they weren’t hit by Pigeon – but it’s more likely that, because they took a more wholesome approach to local SEO, their sites simply had more authority to begin with.
The most important point we try to hammer home to potential clients is that you can’t fool the nerds at Google. Everything you do, both on and off your site, should be working toward the end goal of making your user experience awesome… not trying to fool Google into placing you higher on search results pages.
So, taking what we’ve been able to figure out about the Pigeon update and adding in the results from the 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors survey, here are two simple tips to help you set the stage for Local Search success in 2015:
Yes, it’s really that simple… but at the same time, it’s really not that easy for local businesses. Take a look at your competitors in your vertical – nearly every website has the same or similar content, and most sites don’t have that many inbound links.
The best thing you can do for Local Search success in 2015 is to take all the energy you put into trying to fool Google and instead use that energy to make your site better.
Take a long, hard look at your site and look at your competitors’ sites. What can you do to be better? You know that your potential customers will be looking at multiple sites, so make your site the best in your vertical.
Make sure you’re avoiding these common pitfalls – they’re all basic, but we still see far too many sites tripping up on these:
With on-site signals now carrying so much weight, it’s more important than ever to have your local optimization ducks in a row. It won’t do you any good to bang out a ton of citations if your site doesn’t include the local signals that Google expects it to have.
Again, these are old-school basics, but we hardly see any websites correctly optimizing for local areas:
These are all just specific tactics to help with the main goal: to make your site more awesome. Stop thinking about how to make your site rank, and start thinking about how to make your site the best in your niche. That’s how you’re going to get your site to rank better and convert more visitors.
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