Like most Local Search practitioners, those of us at LocalU are continually approached by businesses who ask for help in ranking better in the Google Local results. By Google Local results, I’m referring to the results in Google Maps, in the Local Packs that appear within the organic results and in the localized organic results. (Localized organic results are personalized either according to the location of the searcher or around the geographic term included in the query or both.)
There are no quick or easy answers to questions like, “How can my local business rank better?” or “Why doesn’t my company rank anymore?” In addition to the 200+ ranking factors in Google’s organic algorithm, we must also consider dozens and dozens of additional ranking factors that come in to play for Local Search rankings. There is simply no way anyone can take a look at your website and your local presence and solve this highly complex problem for you. They may be able to give you a few suggestions on best practices and make certain your instructions aren’t blocking your pages from the bots, but I can guarantee that for most businesses there are multiple things that must be accomplished to gain upward movement in the Local results.
SEO Is Evolving
SEO has evolved significantly since its inception. Over the past three years, on-page SEO and link building have undergone extreme makeovers. With billions of web pages to deal with, Google has made a serious commitment to weeding low quality sites out of its index. It’s doing so by instituting algorithmic updates with the names Panda, Penguin, PayDay Loans, EMD, Pigeon, Page Layout, Pirate, etc. In many cases, the more effort one has put into manipulating the results for a particular search query, the more likely Google’s formulas are to demote it for that keyword phrase. As a result, many tactics that brought success in the past are now toxic and most of the websites employing them are fading out of the search results.
Just as you would not expect your doctor to be able to diagnosis complex medical issues with an email, phone call or a quick look, it’s unrealistic to think SEOs can diagnosis your SEO or Local SEO problems from any of those experiences, either. While many people still think SEO is a game that can be won with tricks or some kind of secret sauce, that simply is not true anymore. It has matured into a demanding profession requiring on-going investment in an appropriate education, and in tools for discovery and analysis. It also takes practical experience, excellent problem-solving skills and a strong work ethic to be successful.
In other words, there are no easy answers to ranking well in Local Search!