Is Your Business Set Up to Rank Well on Google?
The most recent version of the Moz Local Ranking Factors came out a few weeks ago. For local businesses trying to gain a foothold in search engine rankings, this offers incredible insight as to what you should be focusing on.
But let’s back up a little and remind ourselves why we want to rank higher in search. Ranking higher, especially on the first page, brings in more clicks, which can lead to more sales. According to Moz, 71% of searches did not go past the first page before the searcher clicked on a link. Pages two and three got only 6%. Furthermore, the top three organic listings on a search results page accounted for roughly 61% of the total clicks, with the next 3 positions, numbers 4, 5 & 6, totaling 18%, while positions 7-10 accounted for just 11.6%.
Obviously, it’s important to rank for keyword phrases that get searched more than others, but that’s a discussion for another time. We’re here to talk about what factors lead to your site and pages to getting ranked above your competitors. And that leads us to the report. Moz ranks factors in order of how much they contribute to your site’s overall ranking. This year’s rankings have changed somewhat from two years ago—the last time this report came out.
Number 1 Factor: Google My Business Signals
Google My Business (GMB) is Google’s free tool that allows businesses to manage their Google presence. When you search for a business on Google, information including category, phone number, address, reviews, and more are pulled from the business’ Google My Business page to be shown in the results. This information allows Google to determine where your business is in relation to where the searcher is. So, proximity is a key factor. It also allows them to determine what type of business you have–another important factor. While GMB is still the number one factor in local rank, it has gone down from 22% to 19% in the two years since the study was last done.
Number 2 Factor: Link Signals
Links (aka backlinks) are just what you think they are: links from other pages “back” to yours. But not just any link adds value. To be valuable, links must come from high domain authority sites. Domain Authority, another term coined by Moz, is a predictor of how well a site will rank on a search engine. The precursor to this was PageRank, developed by Larry Page of Google, which was a more simplified measurement of links and link equity. As you can see in, link signals are now quite valued, making up 17.3% of total factors involved in where your website ranks.
Number 3 Factor: On-Page Signals
On-Page Signals have everything to do with what’s on your site. The first on-page signal is the presence of something called the NAP, which stands for Name, Address, Phone. It’s important to have this information on every page of your site, preferably in the same spot. The second signal is whether you have keywords related to the search in your page titles, header tags, page urls, and meta data.
Number 4 Factor: Citation Signals
Simply put, a citation is any mention of your business and address on the internet. You’ll typically find these on internet directories such as the Yellow Pages, Whitepages, Yelp, and other places. These will normally have your name, address and phone number (NAP), possibly your web address, and a description of your business. There are some key citations that are very important. We call these data aggregators, of which there are four main ones—Express Update, Neustar/Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual. Getting listed on these is paramount. But getting your business listed on as many high domain authority directories as possible is also smart, as citation volume feeds into this signal. One last determinant is the consistency of your listings. Your business must have the same NAP across all these aggregators and directories to get the most value.
Number 5 Factor: Review Signals
Finally, a signal that is easy to understand. We all know what reviews are. You may have gotten a few reviews here and there, some good and some bad. But reviews are very important to ranking well. A few of the important factors inside this signal include the volume of reviews your site or product page has gotten, their “velocity” or how frequently they are posted, and their diversity, meaning reviews on a variety of different sites, like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and more. Review signals increased 21.53% in importance between 2015 and 2017.
Number 6 Factor: Behavioral Signals
One of the biggest changes from the last survey to today is the increased emphasis on behavioral signals. These include your site’s click-through rate (the number of times your site link came up in the search results divided by the number of actual clicks to your site), as well as mobile clicks to call and check-ins. While this signal accounts for only 10% of the total ranking factors, it’s up by 18% since the last report.
Number 7 Factor: Personalization
Personalization means that the search engines, including Google are increasingly delivering search results that are compiled based on the searcher—what country, city and neighbrhood they live in (determined by the searcher’s IP address), the searcher’s search history, and their click-through history. Google’s goal is to deliver increasingly personalized results based on these parameters. There isn’t much a company can do to affect this, other than making sure their NAP (Name, Address, Phone) appears consistently throughout their site and on other sites.
Number 8 Factor: Social Signals
With all the talk of social media, one would think this factor would be at the top of this. While it’s only at #8, it’s still important. Just having a Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or other social media page isn’t enough. The amount of engagement with visitors these pages get is also factored in. By engagement we’re talking about comments, shares, and likes. The amount of engagement isn’t a direct ranking factor, but rather a pointer. To quote Searchmetrics 2016 Rebooting Ranking Factors White Paper, “The correlation between social signals and ranking position is extremely high…”
As the search engines (read: Google and all others), continue to evolve their algorithm for determining rank, it’s important to pay attention to the latest data out there and focus your energy on the factors that will move the needle.
If you feel like you don’t have the bandwidth or the knowhow to implement these suggestions, you may want to consider hiring a SEO professional like Raven Marketing. We have a track record of boosting our client’s rankings and can work with you to get your company to the top of the search engines.