Introduction to Local SEO
– Local SEO originated in 2003-2005 when search engines started providing localized results and additional information.
– It has evolved to provide a targeted online marketing approach for local businesses.
– Local SEO focuses on local search signals and prioritizes relevance based on the searcher’s location.
– Optimization for local search involves using platforms like Google, Yelp, and social media channels.
– Local SEO allows businesses to attract more customers from relevant local searches.

Local Search Results
– Local searches trigger two types of results: local organic results and the Local Pack.
– Local organic results include web pages with local relevance, such as directories like Yelp and Facebook.
– The Local Pack displays businesses that have claimed their Google My Business listing.
– Information in the Local Pack can come from the business owner, the business website, user-provided information, and other sources.
– Google can show relevant local results in Google Maps or Search on both mobile and desktop devices.

Google Maps and Google Business Profile
– Google Maps has a Q&A feature that allows users to ask questions to business owners.
– The Q&A feature is tied to the associated Google My Business account.
– Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is a free tool for businesses to create and manage their Google Business listing.
– The accuracy of these listings is a local ranking factor.
– Google Business listings appear when customers search on Google Maps or in Google SERPs.
– The listings must represent a physical location that customers can visit.

Ranking Factors
– Major search engines have algorithms that determine local rankings.
– Factors that impact local rankings include proper categorization in business directories, crawlable NAP information on the website, and citations from relevant websites.
– Backlinks, content, and reviews on Google My Business strongly correlate with high rankings.
– The quality of citations, such as consistency and a fair number of citations, matters for showing in Local Packs.
– Geotargeting elements in the GMB landing page title do not have any impact on rankings, according to a study.

Updates and Fake Reviews
– The Hawk update implemented on August 22, 2017, filtered similar listings within the same building or on the same street.
– After the Hawk update, filtering only applies to listings within the same building or close proximity, while listings located further away are not affected.
– Reviews are an important ranking factor.
– Business owners lack a proper process to report fake reviews on competitors’ sites.
– GMB support only considers requests from business owners themselves.
– Google does not warn users of abnormal review behavior for businesses that buy reviews or receive unnatural numbers of negative reviews.
– Current Google algorithms do not identify unnatural review patterns, leading to the need for human intervention.

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