LOCAL SEO RANKING FACTORS 2022

Matthew Carter
Hello friends, my name is Matthew Carter. I’m a professional link builder for a large SEO agency in New York City.

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It’s important that we clarify that this doesn’t mean we recommend putting keywords within the business’ name that are not part of the actual name. However, if you were to do this, this could cause the listing to get suspended at worst. The lightest penalty would be Google automatically renaming the business name to what they believe it to be.

Did you know that our Enhanced Google Business Profile Tool offers a review-management component that makes it easier for agencies to respond to reviews. While responding to reviews is not one of the top factors according to this study, it is extremely important, which is why we included this as part of the Google Authority Score we created.

A consistent business name, address and phone number (NAP) data is important. Not only does this impact the business’ visibility in the local pack, but also elsewhere on the web including mapping apps.

What Local Ranking Factors Will Be Important in 2022?

As a reminder, Google My Business recently rebranded to Google Business Profile. References to GMB throughout the ranking factors report are in fact referencing GBP. This survey was completed prior to the renaming.

It’s worth noting that the business’ website optimization, specifically on-page SEO went up significantly in importance in the 2021 Local Ranking Factors’ analysis. For those who are in the website SEO game, they know how important this is, but for those offering other local marketing services (not specifically website SEO), they do not always prioritize it.

In particular, the signals that stood out to the contributors were the primary GBP category, keywords in the GBP business name, proximity of the address to the searcher, and additional categories on the listing.

Customers do not like getting lost en route to a business and this means making sure your local business clients are easily found in mapping apps. And when the business is found online or in an app, make sure it is the correct information about the business.

Businesses often have added keywords within their business’ name on a Google Business Profile. And in some instances, have actually renamed their businesses, filing a new DBA, etc.

The report starts by looking at the important ranking factors for the local pack/finder results. Participants were asked how much weight Google placed on each factor. The results were as follows:

3. The Business’ Website On-Page SEO Comes in Third.

The local experts were asked to give their top GBP conversion factors and four of the top five results highlighted the importance of reviews. A high numerical Google rating and positive sentiment in review text led the list, with quantity and recency of reviews at four and five respectively. The third position – completeness of the Google Business Profile – is another factor we frequently recommend.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Local Search Ranking Factors report, each year local search experts are surveyed for their thoughts on SEO rankings and conversions. We discussed the 2020 survey results on the Advice Local blog and now it’s time to see what, if anything, has changed.

Here are the top 20 local pack/local finder factors you’ll want to use when evaluating your local business clients’ Google Business Profiles.

Results revealed significant increases in local pack visibility when these businesses had their data pushed to more than 10 directories, compared to only the big four platforms. We discuss this further in our Advice Local blog.

Where Does Citation Building – Listing Management Fall?

There are many other signals in between building citations within this survey, but we are going straight to it. While citations are not as important as they were in the past, listing management is a very important key factor in a comprehensive local marketing strategy. And we are not the only ones who feel this way. Whitespark has addressed this topic in the past and Moz recently did with its survey of more than 6,000 enterprises.

And remember, results won’t always mirror your own findings – we certainly don’t agree with everything in this report – but they are a good gauge for what the industry is thinking and the local marketing strategies that are working for others. Apply these findings to the businesses you represent in 2022 and you can expect to see improvements to local marketing results.

So now we ask, have you tried our listing management solution yet?

Last week, we looked at the disastrous effects of a poorly optimized Google Business Profile. This week, we’re switching focus to the 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors report – an industry survey developed by David Mihm originally in 2008.

As we have discussed before and in our free Google Business Profile guide, there are many other GBP factors to consider like E-A-T (expertise, authority and trustworthiness).

Publishing high-quality web content won’t make an impact if your site is impossible for users and Google site crawlers to navigate. For this reason, you need to make sure that your site is built around a clear hierarchical structure and places focus on the user experience.

You can also use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to see how fast your site is loading and find tips for how to speed it up.

Responsive design is still the gold-standard solution. To better understand how your website stacks up to mobile design standards and where it needs improvement, you can use Google’s mobile usability test tool.

Mobile Optimization.

Optimizing your content for Google Ranking Factors isn’t easy! There’s a lot of information out there, and it changes often. Marketing Insider Group has writers and SEO teams that can create optimized content for you on a weekly basis for one year (or more!).

If you haven’t yet made the move from http to https, now is definitely the time to do so. Your domain security links in with your trustworthiness — one of the main contributors to EAT rating and top factors Google uses to rank your content. Google doesn’t want to send its users to a site that may not protect their data or be otherwise harmful.

Today, you can use keyword analysis to develop your content plan and find topics that are relevant for your audience. You can also position keywords in your titles, headings, and text body to help push your rankings higher. But you cannot depend on keywords alone.

A successful SEO strategy has many facets but one of the most important and simplest is ensuring that your Google My Business listing is set up and optimized, and that your business information is listed correctly in relevant local directories.

Local SEO has grown in importance over the last few years. As mobile searchers continue to dominate, any business that has a physical presence must focus on their local SEO for improved results on a national and global level.

Nobody (apart from maybe Google themselves) has a crystal ball that can say for sure what these ranking factors for 2022 will be. But we can still evaluate available data, look at current trends, and use official advice published by Google as a guide.

There’s no one way to earn the coveted featured snippet, but making sure your content is high-quality and relevant, checking it on the Google Search Console, and staying consistent with your content publishing will help you increase your chances. It sometimes requires patience too, as your brand develops authority and moves up in the search rankings.

Metadata.

When you do earn a featured snippet, you can expect to see a major increase in visibility, brand authority, and organic traffic.

Google has now implemented mobile-first indexing, meaning that the mobile version of many sites is considered to be more important and useful than the desktop version. This makes sense given that more than half of all web traffic is generated via mobile devices and Google’s share of search engine queries is at 96%.

Google recently confirmed that its AI-powered algorithm RankBrain is the third-most important factor in deciding where a particular web page ends up in the search results. RankBrain analyzes user activity with search listings in an attempt to quantify their relevance and quality. For example, if a user clicks on a page that provides useful information and stays on the page for several minutes, this is likely to result in a higher ranking than a thin page that’s not useful or has a high bounce rate.

Google uses this information to decide which businesses will appear in the Google 3-pack – the three local businesses that appear as a featured result at the top of a local search. Business directories will also send more traffic to your site and boost your number of incoming links.

And while we’re on the subject, maybe add some extra domain security from your domain provider. DDoS and CDN protection, as well as tools that look for SMTP anomalies are a great idea.

Site Speed.

Quality is still the focus over quantity. While it is true that the more links you have, the better, your focus should be on building links from high-quality, high-authority sites.

Just as trends in web design change and evolve over time, so do SEO best practices. Google is constantly evaluating which factors indicate a high-quality website for their users. It’s important to keep up with these ranking factors if you want to stay on top of the search engine rankings pages (SERPs).

Have you ever clicked on a Google result, waited a few seconds for it to load, then gone back to another result that will load immediately? You’re not alone. Today’s web users are impatient!

We’ve already mentioned RankBrain and how it uses time spent on a page as a measure of its relevance and quality to each searcher. RankBrain also looks at another factor— clickthrough rate.

If you’re planning a site refresh for 2022, make sure speed is near the top of your list of priorities when it comes to development. Otherwise, there are many other things you can do to speed up your existing website, including compressing images and using a CDN.

As a result, it’s become vital that you optimize your site to be as fast as possible. Shaving even a few microseconds off your site load time could make a significant difference to your ranking.

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