The most important local search ranking factors for 2024 (Organic & Google Business)

The most important local search ranking factors for 2024 (Organic & Google Business)

January 11, 2024

Written by: Ryan Walsh

Date: 11/01/2024

 

For some businesses, it’s a matter of the business surviving and thriving or the company ceasing trading- that’s important getting on the first page of Google is.

To appear in Google’s results, there are three main ways to go about it: to create a Google Adwords account, which most people commonly call “Pay Per Click”.

The remaining two options are creating a Google Business account or optimising your website to appear within Google’s organic results.

 

The downside of Google Business

Okay, so we shouldn’t start this article with a negative point, but its one that business owners should be aware of.
That is, it’s hard; no, let’s rephrase that, it’s blooming difficult to get a business to appear in Google Business results today in 2024. That’s compounded if your business is located in heavily densely populated cities, where your business faces a lot of competition.

And why is that so?

Well, there’s a good reason why it’s so difficult to get a business to appear in the Google Business results. That’s because, generally speaking, there are only ever three businesses appearing here. We have been optimising company websites for so long now, where we can remember back in the day (we sound old) that there were seven businesses on average in the Google My Business results, but now this has been greatly reduced.

So, getting a business to appear in the Google Business results is more complex than ever. But do not despair; that’s because Google does use “Proximity” as a ranking factor. That’s when working out which businesses to show in the Google Business results. And we shall elaborate on that now and why that’s important.

 

Proximity

 

Proximity of the shopper to your business

So, let’s say a pipe has burst in someone’s house, and they need an emergency plumber, really quickly. They pick up their Google Android phone and say, “Google, find me an emergency plumber”.

In this situation, the kitchen might have started to resemble something of a swimming pool, and the place is gradually getting flooded. So they don’t want a plumber to have to drive miles to get to the house. Instead, the homeowner will want a company that’s just around the corner.

So, Google knows that people want to buy products quickly or obtain local services that are closest to them in terms of geographical location. So, when working out which businesses should appear in the Google Business results, Google uses proximity as a ranking factor.

Google uses location data plus, the NAP information on your company’s Google Business listing to decipher which businesses are closest.

Proximity

So we have already mentioned that Google uses the proximity to work out where shoppers are in relation to distance to your business. If your business is much closer to the customer, then this places your business at a direct advantage to the competition that might be on the other side of the city. Other ranking factors to consider include business reviews, how long you have had the Google Business listing, and how good your company’s onsite SEO is, such as backlinks.

Lets provide a quick run-through of some of the factors Google algorthims use when working out which businesses to show in the Google Business results

– Distance (Proximity)
– Relevance (onsite and offsite ranking factors)
– Number of business reviews and how positive they are
– Consistency of NAP (Are business citations NAP consistent)
– Business description
– Authority- (does the business have a lot of quality backlinks)

 

 

Relevance

It’s important to note that Google, ever since the Google Hummingbird update, now produces even more precise answers to queries.

For example, if you were to say “ Google find me a local electrician,” the focus would be on finding local electricians who are the closest to where you are at that very moment in time.

However, if you were to rephrase that question, for example, you were to ask, “Hey, Google find me local electricians who have the best reviews left by customers”,- the results are likely to change, with a greater emphasis on the Google results, now displaying businesses with more positive business reviews.

Google Business listing relevance

It’s essential to optimise the Google My Business listing. You can do this in the following ways:

 

Correct business classification

So, it’s easy to do this, yet many businesses do get this wrong. Yet, it’s super simple to do; you want to optimise your company’s Google My Business as well as you can- so set aside enough time.

Don’t create a Google Business account, and leave empty gaps in terms of adding information, as this means your account will not be optimised correctly. Businesses which regularly appear in the Google Business results, are those which have spent huge amounts of time updating their account. Adding photos, updating the listing if opening hours change, and writing detailed business description. So, do make sure the NAP information is accurate. Yet, also make sure the business is added to the classification that best suits your business.

So, do take your time to add your business to the proper Google Business classification. So, if you primarily offer roofing services, pick “roofing contractor”- rather than just choosing a more general business classification, such as “general builder”.

 

Custom business description

Do take your time to write a custom business description. So don’t copy and paste a section from your About Us page on your website to your Google Business account, as Googlebot will have already crawled and indexed this text on your company website, and knows its been copied. Instead, write a unique business description.

Don’t use stock photos.

Add photos of your business, staff, and business premises, and vehicles if this is relevant to your company, for example, if you run a haulage business. Then, add these to your Google Business account.

 

Relevance onsite

You must also make your company website relevant to the products and services that you sell.

Now, at that last point, you might be thinking, well, that’s obvious.

But sometimes it’s not for some businesses. They may have been so busy getting the business up and running that the website is an afterthought, or they have paid for a cheap website to be designed that’s just too basic. It may not even state all of the services that the company can offer.

We see some companies approach us for our SEO services at our agency, and sometimes, we can’t start work until they have redesigned their website. Sometimes, the website is so basic, dated, or has been incorrectly designed.

A type of website worth avoiding is “one-page websites”- these sometimes work by selecting the main menu tab buttons, yet instead of moving to a new page once clicked, the website scrolls to a different section of the page. These websites are tricky to optimise because they’re limited in terms of what SEO work you can do with them. So, do split the main products and services onto their page.

 

How can our business improve our websites relevance?

So, as we mentioned earlier, relevance is an essential consideration that Google’s algorithms use when deciding whether your website is relevant to be displayed on the first page of Google or not.

Let’s say two local businesses offer employment law services, yet if one website is more relevant to that service because of extensive onsite and onsite SEO, it’s more likely to rank higher on Google. One website may have extensive onsite seo for that keyword, where the other may have a page that’s not optimised. The business with extensive onsite SEO, for that keyword, will therefore rank higher in Googles results.
Some businesses offer a range of services, such as a solicitors practice, but often, if that business wants to rank higher on Google, extensive onsite SEO will be needed.

 

This often involves:

Adding relevant content marketing over a sustained period of time

There’s no point in cranking up the coffee machine and, say, writing 3 articles, then expecting to rank at the top of Google the following Monday morning- sadly, SEO doesn’t work like this. (if only it did, things be much easier!).

However, Google is interested in “crawling and indexing” new pages / blog posts over a sustained period to work out the main services/products the business retails. So that Google’s algorithm can decipher which keywords the business is more relevant for.

Lets provide an example:

For example, let’s say you add a single piece of content marketing once a month. Let’s say you are blogging about car waxes for luxury and classic cars.

Googlebot will crawl and index these articles; over a sustained period of time, Google’s algorithm will notice that you are mainly offering advice on car waxes for high-value and prestige cars. The algorithm may also see that the time spent on-site by readers is very high. The bounce rate is low, and many other pages are read rather than returning back to Google’s search results to find another business. Which means engagement from shoppers is high. So, your website offers a good U.X (user experience) plus the main keywords seem to be “car waxes”.

 

Create quality content marketing

So, to make your website relevant for a keyword or set of keywords, patience is vital. Take your time, and write work which your customers will want to read. Think about answering questions your business often gets asked, and offer your advice and expertise over time; if your shoppers read this work and take a long time reading it (dwell time), you should start to see your business’s Google rankings improve.

 

Track and monitor progress

Track and monitor your business’s SEO progress using Google Search Console to see how the keywords are improving regarding where your business ranks. Click the “Average Position” button for that keyword; you should see it improve if you are doing your SEO work correctly, say from position 80 to position 57, then speak to set 17- then you know you’re on the right track to get your business on page one of Google.

 

Genuine business reviews make a difference.

Let’s say your business starts to gain more and more business reviews. Well, Google will notice this, especially if the business reviews left by customers are left on Google My Business. This is an excellent way of improving your company’s local SEO. The reason is you might be competing with, let’s say, 500 businesses in just one city.

If your Google My Business listing has a lot of positive business reviews, you have the edge over businesses with no business reviews. Your Google My Business profile is, therefore, better optimised.

 

Prominence

Sometimes, a business can get ranked organically on page one of Google and in the Google My Business results, but by completing no seo work, so how is this possible?

Well, often, it comes down to the fact that the business is prominent.

It may have thousands of followers on its social media accounts; it may have a large number of quality links from well-known brands and local businesses. It may have a lot of business reviews on its Google My Business account. So, because this business is so well known, it might not even need the services of an SEO agency like ours. Because the ranking signals have been improved because the companies is such a well known “entity” within Google’s Knowledge Graph.

So, for example, let’s say a law firm has just opened and started trading, and lets say it sponsors the Welsh rugby team. Millions of people will see this through banners on the pitch or the rugby shirts that will show the companies logo, resulting in huge amounts of brand awareness.
This will therefore improve the companies SEO in the following ways:

Greater brand awareness and more followers on social media.

Greater brand awareness, more backlinks.

Greater brand awareness means more customers flock to your website and more business reviews are generated.

Yet, generating brand awareness through such marketing can sometimes be expensive. This is why SEO agencies like ours are never short on business. Because the alternative to generating brand awareness is to improve a company’s “SEO ranking factors”, – Google algorithms notice this, and the business can start to rise through Google ranks. This does take a considerable amount of time and effort to do. Yet, if a business gets on page one of Google, for some companies, this can mean millions in extra sales.

Don’t cut corners- Google- E-EAT.

When creating content marketing for your business, it’s your business’s chance to show off your business’s level of expertise. You therefore need to understand how Google’s algorithms use EEAT to workout if a piece of content marketing is good quality, and which businesses should rank on the first page of Google’s organic business results.

Google’s EEAT stands for “Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
So, it would be best if you aimed to demonstrate each of these in all of your written work; here’s how you can achieve that:

 

Experience

Your company’s content marketing should be written by someone who’s walked the walk, so to speak. So, what we mean by that is someone with real-world experience.

We realise that often; this is simply not possible; for example, a dentist will not have the time to sit down and write 2,000-word articles once a week- they are busy running other aspects of their business, and meeting patients. However, the marketing company should work closely with the experts and gain their knowledge, so this could be just having a quick call or exchanging some advice via voice notes on WhatsApp with the expert. This way the work will be better quality.

 

Expertise

This leads back to our last point, which is that to show real-life experience of something, you will also need to have the expertise in that. So, to learn how to install a Velux window to a roof, you must talk to a builder.

The builder will know about installing the windows first-hand, so they have experience and expertise. Then the seo agency can write advice into the content marketing, so again the written work will be better quality.

 

Authoritativeness

So, to get authoritativeness the written work and the website should obtain a lot of quality backlinks. You may also want to increase the number of followers on social media, so they are more engaged with your posts.

Trustworthiness

To improve trustworthiness, write the author’s name at the top of the work so that it can get indexed by Googlebot. Then link to the authors bio on the website, and also link to a LinkedIn page.

Haven’t got the time?

We work with businesses from a wide range of business sectors. We work with companies here in Cardiff, South Wales and further afield. We specialise in offering organic SEO as well as Local SEO.

We want to partner with your company to help you gain more customers.

If you would like a free and no obligation quote, why not call us?

 

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