Google’s Hawk update on local listings back in August has made appearing in local searches even harder.
The update originally existed to make sure a single business couldn’t dominate the results by having multiple listings, effectively booting competitors off the listings. However, what ended up happening in practice, was that the search engine filtered out pages from the local results that are similar to other pages on the web and picked the most relevant and unique ones to give them top rankings.
As with all things Google, this update was designed to give users a much better experience when looking for all businesses in the local area matching their search criteria.
So what can you do to improve your local SEO ranking post-Hawk?
If you don’t have a Google My Business Account relating to your website, you need to get one right away, because you won’t appear in the local listings without one. If you do have an account, it needs to be fully populated with the following information:
Your physical address may not be translating correctly on google maps and this can seriously affect your local listing. You can drag Google’s map pinpoint to your exact position on the map within Google My Business. It may take a week or two for the results to show up correctly in Google listings.
Social proof such as reviews, case studies, and testimonials are among the most important ranking signals that you can have, and Google has indicated several times that it pays attention to what your customers say about you to determine rankings.
Encourage your customers to give reviews by giving them a direct link to your Google Listing in your marketing and correspondence with them and include a QR code in your literature.
You will need to implement structured data (rich snippets) if you want to appear high in the local ‘knowledge graph’ of the search results. Use Google’s Structured Data Markup tool and select ‘Local Business’ making sure you highlight address and phone number from the content on your website.
Having good quality links pointing to your website is an important factor for appearing in local listings. Since you are trying to increase local SEO it only makes sense to try to build links locally. Begin with local online directories, partnerships with local businesses and local PR (newspapers, magazines online).
If you would like to improve your local search results, speak to one of our local SEO consultants at Broadplace.