We left off last time with a video, and in case you did not get a chance to see the video, which was subsequently posted later (sorry), or missed the post all together, you can find part 1 of 3 on Local Search Ranking Factors Here. I also believe we got through about 5 of the initial 41 positive signals Google uses to rank Local Search Results Pages. Let’s get right back to dealing with the other 36 positive factors and 8 negative signals gleaned from the source document.
6. General Importance of Off-Page Criteria: These seem to matter more for more competitive industries like insurance, gambling and other niche keyword sets. The most important thing here to remember is links from local citations as well as a comprehensive industry and geo-targeted directory submission process.
7. Volume of Customer Reviews: The important thing to remember here is that you shouldn’t try and manipulate the signal. Yahoo has stated there is a threshold at which these reviews begin to play a part in the rankings, but what that threshold is, still a mystery.
8. General Importance of Customer Reviews
9. General Importance of on-page Criteria: How important are things like title tags, meta descriptions, geo-rss feeds perhaps, embedded maps to your location using your local listing as an end point.
10. Full Address on Contact Page: This seems simple enough, but many people argue that you can rank using a third party site, but having a website with a contact page that matches the address on other sites will validate there is indeed an open business at that location and also provide a single point of entry to visitors if this is what you wish.
11. Proximity to city center: This has been reduced as a reliable signal to both Yahoo (Bing) and Google as they have realized it is an arbitrary signal that is unfair to businesses serving say, the West Side of Chicago. Those businesses should be given the same score as a business in the city center, which I would guess would be the Loop area? Anyone else from Chicago can weigh in here, but anyway, this is becoming less and less of a factor as proximity to searcher location becomes a more stable and viable metric.
12. Quality of Inbound Links
13. HyperLocal/WebCrawl Citations: HyperLocal blog citations are becoming a stronger signal to Google, especially if the source is trusted as a domain whole, and the page your information is on, or link is on, is highly relative and targeted to your narrowly defined geographic niche.
14. Products and Keywords in LBL Description: Having this information in the description will help your listing stand out as a place to purchase certain items other outlets may not carry. This is where exclusivity of brand and brand equity plays a role. If you manufacture a respected brand, it’s important for those brands to be highlighted in the description, especially for those who want to make sure they sell a particular brand before even bothering to click through to the site.
15. Location in inbound anchor text or image alt anchor text (for images): This is important and should be taken in to account the relative off-page link building factors above to get a better understanding of how this fits hand in hand with that particular signal as well. This being probably one, if not the most important factor in regular SEO, I would guess it plays a pretty big role in local seo as well and disappointed not to see it higher. Especially considering what was/is above it.
16. Customer Reviews at Search Engine: These are reviews made directly on Google Maps under the business listing and Yahoo Local just the same. Some say these carry a bit more weight, especially if the profile of the person making the review is filled out, they have participated and reviewed before, and can generally be regarded as an “authority” on online reviews in a particular area.
17. Location keywords in LBL Title: This seems like it would be more important than keywords in the LBL Description, but not according to this study. Comes in as the 17th most positive signal you can give Google about your local business listing.
18. Product/Service Keywords in Inbound Anchor Text: Again, I would put this a lot higher and in one bucket called links. The breadth and number of different descriptions and titles for each unique link from each unique domain counts towards your Google link profile. This ideally has anchor text, varying by page but linking to the page it is pulling the meta data from. So if you use the text “Anti Wrinkle Eye Cream”, you should make sure your link is pointing to the page on the site that talks about the product which is an Anti Wrinkle Eye Cream.
19. Inclusion of City, ST. in Title Tags: This is important, especially for your contact page(s). Many people also find it useful, if they have a HQ or main location, one location, to put this address in the footer of every page. This is very powerful stuff when Google sees that you have that many references to that same address. Many blogs also use a city,st as a template in the dynamic title generation.
20. Customer Reviews at 3rd Party Websites