Changing Rank Factors in SEO’s Local Search Explained

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By | Oct 26, 2015

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SEO is a multifaceted process which has 100's of variables.  I've been tracking the changes and how it relates to our client work; local and national goals and have come up with six (6) changes in SEO which should be noted and considered when making changes to your search engine optimization program.

1. Google’s local search algorithm showing steady progress

Google has shown increased growth as it continues to reward quality in all aspects such as links, citations, reviews, etc. This is becoming increasingly significant as more companies continue to implement most of the general requirements such as keyword and location-relevant title tags, site architecture, claiming their Google My Business pages, etc. It, therefore, means that quality and authority now makes the difference, especially in competitive markets.

2. The influence of Google+ on the local results continues to diminish

This follows the removal of links to Google pages from Maps and the primary SERP which has now rendered the integration between Plus and Local virtually pointless. In fact, the Google My Business provision can only be viewed as only important as a UI for structured data as well as for use with AdWords. Google may have had their “business builder” vision still on track, but it’s obvious that it no longer lies under the social umbrella of Google+.

3. Behavioral signals are continually becoming more important

A majority of experts have found out that behavioral and/or mobile signals contribute to 9.5% of the algorithm in 2015 as calculated across pack and the localized organic results. Well, the number may not seem high enough, but when compared to last year’s 6.9%, this indicates a 38% increase. The research, conducted by Darren Shaw and others in the last one year, has reflected this growth at least in certain markets.

In localized organic results, the clickthrough rate was regarded as the no. 4 overall factor while in the competitive markets, it rose eight spots in 2014 to make a debut in the top ten factors. Besides, various experts found out that there could be several other behavioral factors beyond clickthrough rate that may be influencing this trend. This includes pogo sticking or post-click time spent on the site.

4. Citations remain vital- however, concentrate more on quality and consistency

Peculiarly, citations’ popularity as a general factor declined from 15.5% to 13.6%. However, citation quality and consistency are still in the top-five factors for both pack results as well as in competitive markets.

This can be attributed to the declining importance of the horizontal citations on traditional directories especially after most of these sites were hit hard by successive Panda releases that targeted thin content. This means that any authority passed by mentions on such sites has declined steadily.

5. Are links becoming even more important?

With the roll out of the Local Stack/Snack Pack (only 3 local listed at the top of search; after pay-per-click campaigns), more focus has been placed on quality links, which perhaps explains why links may have grown by 9% as a general factor when compared to last year. Besides, diversity of inbound links as one of the ranking factors in the pack results rose 22 positions compared to 2014, while in competitive markets, it moved ten spots to occupy position 14. In localized organic results, location keywords in anchor text, locally-relevant links as well as product/service keywords in the anchor text all rose at minimum ten positions in 2015.

6. Pigeon’s shift to user as centroid seems to have hit a dead end

With Google becoming better by the day at location detection, the use of proximity to centroid (The centroid is the intersection of the various medians which connect to other key points. Think of it as a web with your location in the center.) as a ranking factor seems to have finally come to an end. This change seems like it may have been implemented with the release of Pigeon last summer and since the rollout of snack pack/ local stack.

Conversely, proximity to searcher has moved up four spots in the pack-specific rankings while also rising ten positions in the competitive markets. This shows how immensely a business’ location matters to Google in regard to the physical position of people conducting a related search.

Local SEO Search Conclusion

With that in mind, it is important to be a little keener and align your business to ensure it accommodates these changes. This will help it compete better as far as SEO and Local Search Ranking is concerned. To be sure about keeping up with the latest SEO changes in the industry, it would be prudent that you seek professional help from reputable SEO firms such as 92 West. Contact us today for more personalized SEO services that have proven results in your local search ranking and other SEO related issues.

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Detailed Analysis of Current Site, Recommendations for Improvements Needed to Acquire Page 1, Rank 1 Results. Executive Summary and Action Items to Complete to Achieve Outlined SEO Goals.

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Hourly Rate: $75.00 Hourly
Time: 10 Hours $750.00

Hourly Rate: $75.00 Hourly
Time: 10 Hours $750.00

Hourly Rate: $75.00 Hourly
Time: 10 Hours $750.00

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