One of the more complex features that has been added to SEO ranking is a system of weights. Various factors in search return ranking are given weights that further help define where each result listing should fall in the results hierarchy. These days, if you want to get the most visits for local searches, you want to be in the “pack” results – the first two or three highest ranked local business search results boxed up neatly with website link and local address information right there in the first search results.
To get into these pack listings, the weight factors change slightly from normal SEO factors. Probably the main factors you want concentration on are local reviews, the local NAP (name, address, phone) citations, and the “My Business” signals. And while we’re talking about these factors, let’s mention that local SEO relies heavily now on Google pages, so if you want your business in these pack listings, it is essential that you get your Google My Business page created.
You want to be extremely consistent in all your factual and content information – proper links, correct NAP (don’t have one phone number on page three of your site because you forgot to update when you changed it), high res photos and profile photos along with your hours of business operation. If you can get real customer reviews to add to your Google My Business page, you are ahead of the game.
But it can’t be stated often enough – consistency is a major key to all of this working the way you want it to. You have to make sure everywhere your phone number or address shows up in your website, it is the same. Any deviation will cause an anomaly, and you won’t rank where you thought you should. This means that if you use St. Instead of Street in just one place in your HTML somewhere, you have inconsistency and therefore lower ranking. Same goes with other content and links. If you are not consistent with all of these bits, the weights given to your factors will not be what you need to climb up in the ranks.
With regard to local review ratings, these play an important role in getting you into the pack listing. Google reviews as well as ones from Yelp and other review sites go into the mix here. If you have a customer base that you have developed a relationship with, it might be a good thing to reach out to some of them and see if they would consider leaving a review for your business with a ranking. Offering an incentive to do so may also be appropriate depending on how important this is to you and your business (very important, in case you thought otherwise). Give your loyal customers a discount if they have gone out and rated you highly. The more high star-ratings you have, the higher you will be in the ranks, and this is one of your chief aims for local SEO.