Local ranking factors that help your local business' SEO

If you have a local business, selling products or services, you have to think about the local ranking of your website. Local optimization will help you surface for related search queries in your area. As Google shows local results first in a lot of cases, you need to make sure Google understands where you are located. In this article, we’ll go over all the local SEO things you can do to improve Google’s understanding of your location, which obviously improves your chances to rank locally.

Update: Since the 11.0 release, Yoast SEO builds a full structured data graph for every post or page on your site! A graph is a complete piece of structured data with well-defined connections to all the different parts. Search engines now not only know what all the parts mean but also how they fit together. Want to know what it does for your website? Read all about structured data in Yoast SEO!

Google itself talks about local ranking factors in terms of:

  • Relevance: are you the relevant result for the user? Does your website match what the user is looking for?
  • Distance: how far away are you located? If you are relevant and near, you’ll get a good ranking.
  • Prominence: this is about how well your business is known. More on that at the end of this article.

Let’s start with your address details

If you have a local business and serve mostly local customers, at least add your address in the right way. The right way to do this is using schema.org, either by adding LocalBusiness schema.org tags around your address details or via JSON-LD. Especially when using JSON-LD, you are serving your address details to a search engine in the most convenient way.

Our Local SEO plugin makes adding that LocalBusiness schema to your pages a breeze.

This is very much about what Google calls distance. If you are the closest result for the user, your business will surface sooner.

Google My Business

For your local ranking in Google, you can’t do without a proper Google My Business listing. You need to enlist, add all your locations, verify these and share some photos. Google My Business allows for customer reviews as well, and you should really aim to get some of those for your listing. Positive reviews (simply ask satisfied customers to leave a review) help the way Google and it’s visitors regard your business. This is pretty much like on your local market. If people talk positively about your groceries, more people will be inclined to come to your grocery stand.

Getting reviews is one. You can keep the conversation going by responding to these reviews and, as Google puts it, be a friend, not a salesperson.

Your site’s NAP need to be exactly the same as your Google My Business listing’s NAP

Even if your business has multiple locations, make sure to match the main NAP (name, address, phone number) on your website with the Google My Business NAP. That is the only way to make sure Google makes the right connection between the two. Add the main address on every page (you are a local business so your address is important enough to mention on every page). For all the other locations, set up a page and list all the addresses of your branches.

Facebook listing and reviews

What goes for Google My Business, goes for Facebook as well. Add your company as a page for a local business to Facebook here. People search a lot on Facebook as well, so you’d better make sure your listing on Facebook is in order.

Facebook also allows for reviews, like here for the Apple Store on Fifth Av. Note that this really is a local review, as the Fifth Avenue store scores a 4.6 average rating and the Amsterdam store just scores a 2.9 at the moment…

City and state in title

The obvious one: for a local ranking, adding city and (in the US) state to your <title> helps. Read this article (2014), as Arjan sheds some more light on other aspects of local SEO as well. And please keep in mind that the effect of adding your city to your titles might be a lot less for your local ranking than adding your business details to Google My Business, but it won’t hurt for sure.

Local directories help your local ranking

Next to your Google My Business listing, Google uses the local Yelps and other local directories to determine just how important and local you are. Where we usually recommend against putting your link on a page with a gazillion unrelated links, the common ground for a local listings page is, indeed, the location. And these links actually do help your local rankings.

So get your web team to work, find the most important local directory pages and get your details up there. I’m specifically writing details and not just link. Citations work in confirming the address to both Google and visitors. If a local, relevant website lists addresses, get yours up there as well. And while you are at it, get some positive reviews on sites like Yelp as well, obviously!

Links from related, local businesses

Following how directories help your local ranking, it also pays off to exchange a link with related local businesses. If you work together in the same supply chain or sell related products, feel free to exchange links. Don’t just exchange links with any business you know, as these, in most cases, will be low-quality links for your website (because they’re usually unrelated).

Social mentions from local tweeps

Again, there’s a local marketplace online as well. People talk about business, new developments, products on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more. All these social mentions find their way to Google’s sensors as well. The search engine will pick up on positive or negative vibes and use these to help them rank your local business. If a lot of people talk about your business and/or link to your website, you must be relevant. Monitor these mentions and engage.

Some say links, from other websites, directories and social media, are the key factor for local rankings. As always, we believe it’s the sum of all efforts that makes you stand out from the crowd. Not just optimizing one aspect. Take your time and make sure your Google My Business profile is right, schema.org details are on your site and you have the right links to your site, and the right people talking about you on for instance Twitter. And please don’t forget to do proper keyword research and simply make sure the right content is on your website:

Optimize your content for better local rankings

Google won’t rank your site for a keyword if that keyword isn’t on your website. It’s as simple as that. If your business is in city X, you probably have a reason why you are located there. Write about that reason. And note that these may vary:

  • You are born there or just love the locals and local habits
  • There is a river which is needed for transport
  • Your local network makes sure you can deliver just-in-time or provide extra services
  • The city has a regional function and your business thrives by that
  • There are 6 other businesses like yours, you’re obviously the best, and you all serve a certain percentage of people, so your business fits perfectly in that area.

These are just random reasons to help you write about your business in relation to your location. They differ (a lot) per company. Make sure your location/city/area is clearly mentioned on your website and not just in your footer at your address details!

Read more: Tips for your local content strategy »

One more thing: Google also uses prominence as a local ranking factor

Prominence means that when Google can serve a result first from a well-known brand or business, they actually will. And despite all your efforts to improve your local ranking, this might get in the way of that number one position. It just means you have to step up your game, keep on doing the great work you do and trust that eventually, Google will notice this as well. And as a result, Google might allow you to rank on that number one position for that local keyword!

Keep reading: Grow your business with ratings and reviews »

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13 Responses to Local ranking factors that help your local business’ SEO

  1. Sonia Woolley Ipswich Granny Flats
    Sonia Woolley Ipswich Granny Flats  • 3 years ago

    Great content, easy to understand for the novice !

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    Fotomaton para bodas Madrid  • 3 years ago

    Excellent article
    Thank you

  3. The Best Online Printers
    The Best Online Printers  • 3 years ago

    Interesting question, I see how important are the contents of the page as the inclusion in directories, and conversations in the social networks of clients and friends.
    Something that sloped slope, I will put “hands to the work”.
    Thanks for this great post. A greeting

  4. Shara Jones
    Shara Jones  • 3 years ago

    Hello Michiel, this is a great insights for Local Ranking Factors. I really admire the person who wrote this. Very informative and Great job!

  5. Tom
    Tom  • 3 years ago

    Thank you for the article. Is it worth to order some blog articles to boost the ranks or this is not so important with local seo?

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Hi Tom,

      What do you mean by ordering? I’d write them and make them include local keywords if they relate to the subject of the post.

  6. Gaurav Heera
    Gaurav Heera  • 3 years ago

    Thanks Michiel…………………….For providing such an informative and helpful article. I hope this will help me to do quality SEO for my website according to these changes. Really you’ve done nice job. Thanks for sharing this article please keep posting such an informative article.

  7. Isaac Perez
    Isaac Perez  • 3 years ago

    Great advice from the Yoast team as usual. I followed these steps and my site now ranks in the maps. Thanks for the helpful post.

  8. Yoyo
    Yoyo  • 3 years ago

    Thanks for the information. Now how can we rank on a national level when we’re selling online with only 1 business address?

    • Michiel Heijmans

      Don’t optimize for local :) Seriously, in that case you just don’t need to optimize locally that much because your business isn’t targeted to that local audience.

  9. Jasa Pembuatan Website
    Jasa Pembuatan Website  • 3 years ago

    Thank you for the information. Very helpful for me

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  11. Chris Grant
    Chris Grant  • 3 years ago

    Thank you Michiel,
    This is a simple and very helpful post. I live in the USA but my website is based and target students in Jamaica and I have always been searching for help to get my website https://scholarshipjamaica.com as local as local gets. This post is helping me to do so and I am hoping the Yoast SEO local plugin will do the task as well.

    Thank you,
    Founder & CEO