Local search results are heavily influenced by three main factors: the local 3-pack of results, targeting specific long-tail keywords, and link building. Understanding how these factors work together can help businesses optimize their local SEO and appear at the top of local search results. The local 3-pack of results is a set of three results that appear for most local search terms. This type of 3-pack appears for branded terms such as Starbucks, as well as for store and gas station terms.
For restaurant, hospitality, and entertainment terms, the results have a photo, but no phone number or link to the website. Targeting specific, long-tail keywords that have a large number of related keywords associated with them is a great tactic to ensure you appear in the SERPs. If the keyword is long tail and specific enough, ranking is usually not too difficult. However, if you can find ones that have a good amount of related keywords - you can actually rank for most of those related keywords and get traffic from them as well.
Link building is an important factor in local SEO. When a reputable site links to your site, that's good. When dozens or hundreds of sites link to you, you're doing something very right. Simply put, the more reputable links you have pointing to your site, the better you will rank in search results.
Site speed and performance also play a crucial role in SEO and search rankings. Anything from compressing images, leveraging browser caching or reducing redirects can affect site performance and page speed. Google's PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom are excellent tools to help diagnose any problems with site speed. Meta information is the content on the back end of your website that only web crawlers like Google and Bing see. Meta descriptions are still an effective way of telling search engines what a particular page is about.
In addition, meta information can help crawlers index new content faster and more efficiently. Duplicate pages and duplicate content cause problems when it comes to being indexed by search engines. Using canonical tags to redirect duplicate pages works wonders, and today most content management services like WordPress offer plug-ins and easy-to-use tools to discover, adjust and remove your duplicate content. Surprisingly, many businesses completely forget about using local SEO citations and opportunities. Adding and verifying your business with Google can jump you to the top of the local search results. Make the most of the local SEO citations you can. David Mihm of Moz produces the valuable "Local Search Ranking Factors Survey" each year to help demystify local SEO rankings through the opinions of 35 local marketing experts.
Participants evaluate the influence of key ranking factors and prioritise those they believe contribute to local SEO rankings. When planning your local SEO strategy, always keep in mind that different factors will require very different time investments. In addition to the Google local search results package, the local results pages also produce organic results just below the Google package. Rather than focusing solely on the overall value of a link building strategy, businesses should look for ways to get engaged with their local community that also earns links, social shares and gets them in front of potential customers. Local SEO takes time, knowledge and ongoing effort to do well; it should never be a case of 'set it and forget it'. By focusing on the big picture, if an entity has a great site, great local SEO citations, and a strong link building strategy - they will be well on their way to appearing at the top of local search results.