As Google continuously adjusts the algorithms that determine how different websites rank among search results, businesses must educate themselves on which factors have the greatest impact on those algorithms. Understanding the most influential factors will help businesses effectively allocate their marketing budgets in ways that yield higher search rankings—and expand visibility to potential customers.
In a recent webinar entitled “Reverse Engineering Google’s Local Search Algorithm,” Dan Leibson of Local SEO Guide presented the results of an extensive statistical study of the factors that comprise Google’s local search algorithm. After examining over 100 different factors and their impact on the search rankings of 30,000 businesses, the study found that backlinks to a website and factors on the website itself are two of the most important determinants of a site’s position among results. Here are some of the key takeaways from the webinar:
• Links to a website are becoming increasingly important. Of the various factors examined in the study, backlinks had the strongest correlation to higher rankings. Therefore, businesses should focus on creating high-quality backlinks to their sites. One way to achieve this is to write blogs or articles to be published on other websites. These posts should highlight the business’s expertise on a particular subject and include well-placed links back to the website.
• The website itself is critical to search ranking. Websites should be rich with informative, well-written content and optimized with target keywords and title tags. Businesses should also invest in creating a positive user experience and ensuring that their websites are mobile-friendly. According to the study, businesses with mobile-friendly sites attained a near full rank higher than those that did not.
• Businesses should develop their Google My Business pages and ensure that they include accurate business information, thorough descriptions, keywords, and photos. This will encourage user engagement with the page, which contributes to higher rankings. Google’s Toolbar PageRank also correlated strongly with positive ranking.
• Although citations—or online references to the business along with the phone number or address—did not appear to have a significant impact on rankings, businesses should still make sure that some exist, as citations are a foundational element of SEO.
• Businesses should optimize their websites for “near me” searches, which are increasing exponentially. For example, a user is now more likely to search for “dentists near me” than “dentists in (a particular city).”
The world of SEO is constantly changing, and it is crucial for businesses to keep abreast of the latest factors that influence search rankings. Need assistance in developing an SEO strategy? Contact LuCorp Marketing today!