Round Up of 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors
2018 has been a big year in terms of Local Search Ranking Factors and there continues to be major growth and change happening in the field. Google has made some significant changes in the area of local search and it’s important to keep up with them in order keep your local business visible in the search results. Here are some key takeaways and insights regarding local search ranking factors in 2018 and changes we can expect to see coming up in the future.
Google My Business Signals
The biggest change we have seen in 2018 in happening in Google My Business signals. Google has been adding tons of extra features to Google My Business because they are aware of how much potential revenue lies in local search. They have distinctly separated Google My Business from Google+, which is shutting down in April 2019, earlier than planned, due to another data leak. Google is now on a clear path to make sure that local search ranking is further developed and monetized. In the last year, they have introduced the following factors in Google My Business:
- Google Posts available to all Google My Business Users
- Google Q&A
- Website Builder
- Local Search Ranking Factors Services
- Videos in Google Posts
It makes sense that Local Search Ranking is greatly affected by these features and Google My Business has seen incredible growth as a result. My Business Signals now make up 25% of the local pack/finder breakdown – a 32% growth rate in the last year. This is largely driven by Google My Business features like Google Posts, Q&A and image/video uploads but business of all sizes are not investing in these aspects of local search. That’s what makes them a huge advantage for local businesses – it’s time to get a head start on these features if you haven’t already!
Getting a Head Start on Local Search Ranking
In order to get on these features before everyone else is using them, there are a few activities that have become more important in 2018. Let’s take a look at how you can get a head start this year:
Start using Google posts right away! It’s important to use Google posts at least once a week, but even better to do so a few times a week to make the most of this feature. In order to maximize your time and efforts, you can re-purpose the same content for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to use on Google Posts. Just lightly edit the content in order to boost search rankings and make sure to use calls to actions to direct viewers to take specific actions and drive conversions.
Take advantage of Google Q&A by posting your own questions and answers to draw attention to your business. Don’t wait for relevant questions to come up on Q&A – feed the content to Google to yourself.
Use videos as often as possible. Regularly uploading photos and videos will ensure that you boost your local search ranking.
Don’t leave your profile incomplete. Empty fields in Google My Business will lower your local search ranking so make sure you log into your GMB account regularly in order to fill in all the fields – they are constantly adding new data points that you can fill out and take advantage of.
Taking time to partake in these activities will boost the relevance of your business and also help to engage your customers. Logging into your account helps Google recognize that you are an active business and are invested in your listing. This also help boosts your local search ranking because Google values sites that have more activity from site owners. Plus, if users have more content to engage with they will spend more time on your listing, which also makes your business more popular with Google.
Develop a Strategy for Reviews
2018 also saw an 18% growth rate in review signals over the last year. Investing in reviews can have tremendous benefits for small businesses. Search results are seeing reviews play a larger and larger role as local business search ranking becomes more competitive. It used to be possible to rank highly with just a handful of reviews but these days high-ranking businesses need to aim to have dozens of reviews – especially recent ones. It’s important to encourage your customers to leave a steady stream of feedback for your business.
Reviews help boost local search ranking for a number of reasons. First of all, review volume helps Google see that customers are interested in your business. Second of all, it’s possible that the keywords that reviewers leave help boost your ranking as well. Also, reviews have extra clout because they are organic and have more credibility. A customer searching for a certain business is more likely to be attracted to one that has active customers saying positive things about the business rather than the business itself describing its own benefits.
2018 has shown that reviews will boost your rankings and, more importantly, also boost your conversions. Having positive reviews will encourage people to pick up the phone and contact your business so you will have more luck making more sales!
The best ways to make the most of reviews are to:
- Ask all of your customers to leave one on Google.
- Ask customers to mention keywords in the reviews by mentioning a specific product or service.
- Leave feedback on every review – Google will notify the reviewer when you respond.
- In addition to leaving your own feedback, try to solicit customer feedback as well.
- Implement review management technology
The Importance of Citations
2018 also saw a rise in the value of citations. Although there has actually been a decline in the recorded value of citations over the past few years, businesses still need them. Google checks out citations in order to help understand the prominence of your business – popular businesses will appear in business directories in the industry otherwise Google won’t flag them as significantly.
The best part about citations is that you can get your business listed on important industry sites for just a few hundred dollars. It’s a worthwhile investment and you don’t have to concern yourself much with incorrect or duplicate listings – just try to get your business on the top 30 to 50 sites in your industry and Google will take note.
Local Search Ranking Beyond 2018
Google is full of surprises, so it can be hard to predict exactly what to expect in the future. But here are three factors that you can likely count on:
- Google will keep enriching their features and content so that they can provide answers to searches right on the results page, sending fewer clicks out to websites. Don’t worry if you see less traffic coming straight to your site – if you do things right, Google will display your number, contact info and driving directions which will direct people to your business anyway.
- Google will get smarter about using behavioral signals for rankings. They are going to assess the popularity of your business by looking at searches for your brand name, clicks to call your business, requests for driving directions to your business, engagement with your site and actual credit card transactions on your site.
- Google will keep monetizing local search ranking with things like Local Services Ads that appear in local panels and let you book appointments straight from there. This will help them become the ultimate resource for info on local services and products so you want to make sure your local business is involved in the mix.
If you want to learn more about how to boost the local search ranking of your business, contact us or call us directly at 1-866-477-4420. We can help you get your business more visibility on the web and increase conversions based on the changes that Google has made in 2018 and the future of local search ranking going forward.
Checkout a related article: Why Local Listing is Crucial for Your Business?!