Boosting Local Rankings: The Power of Social Factors

When it comes to local rankings, understanding the key factors that influence them is crucial. In my previous discussions, I covered keyword selection, PPC campaigns, and the impact of business listings in online directories. Now, I want to emphasize the growing importance of social factors in local search rankings.

Ensuring accurate business listings across important web sources is vital. Google relies on information from its own Google Places page and gathers data from trusted online resources, including platforms like Yelp. This social aspect plays a significant role, making it essential to have reviews of your business on platforms that matter.

We firmly believe that social factors will continue to influence rankings. User reviews, Facebook “likes,” and other indicators sourced from trusted communities are becoming increasingly important.

Understanding Google’s Clues: Unlocking the Ranking Puzzle

Deciphering Google’s ranking algorithms can sometimes feel like a guessing game. However, Google often provides clues about what it considers important. We just need to learn how to pick up on them.

During a conversation with an SEO analyst at Bruce Clay, Inc., they shared a useful analogy for interpreting Google’s cues. “Google doesn’t do anything by accident,” they explained. “Think of it like a movie; every scene serves a purpose, whether you comprehend it immediately or not. It’s the same with Google. If Google displays reviews under a top-ranked local listing from Yelp, it’s worth considering getting your business reviewed on Yelp.”

We suggest researching the keywords your business aims to target and analyzing the top-ranked local listings to identify where those businesses are reviewed.

Leveraging Rich Snippets: Enhancing Local Rankings

Another element we’ve discovered to improve local rankings is the use of Rich Snippets. These snippets, marked up with Google’s embedded data, resemble regular SERP snippets but with added emphasis on specific information extracted from web pages.

For instance, you may have noticed “stars” beneath a business’s name, denoting reviews about the business. This integration of social aspects into a business’s web presence is further supported by incorporating social networking information.

Unveiling Other Influential Factors in Local Search Rankings

Our research at BCI suggests that additional factors can impact local search rankings. For example, the amount of traffic directed to a Google Place page or Google Maps favors popular new restaurants or those that are challenging to find. The hypothesis is that these types of establishments generate more traffic to Google Maps or the Places page.

Another consideration is the traffic to Google Maps itself. By prioritizing businesses that people want to visit, Google aims to provide more relevant results. Websites like Yelp and InsiderPages linking to Google Maps and Google Places pages further drive traffic to these platforms.

The Significance of Local and Social: Embracing the Changing Landscape

Understanding the influence of local and social aspects on internet marketing is vital in today’s landscape. Google is rapidly evolving into a local-focused search engine with a strong integration of social elements. Thus, it’s crucial to adjust our strategies accordingly.

First, focus on optimizing keyword selection and PPC campaigns with a local perspective. Building a social network community, particularly on Facebook, is also essential. Facebook’s presence and popularity must be addressed.

If you haven’t, setting up your Google Places page should be done right now. In my next blog post, I’ll delve into optimizing your Places page to cater to the new local search results we are witnessing.

Social Media Strategies for Enhanced Local Visibility

For businesses already possessing a Google Places page and a presence on Yelp, it’s crucial to actively seek more reviews. Although Yelp discourages direct solicitation for reviews, it does provide tips on promoting your business on its platform.

Implementing the Rich Snippets I mentioned earlier is also highly recommended. By displaying ratings and reviews directly in the SERP, you enhance the attractiveness of your business. Providing ample information to potential customers before clicking through can significantly improve engagement.

Understanding the Motives Behind Local and Social Changes

Relevance and profitability are the driving forces behind the local and social changes we observe in search engine result pages (SERPs). A discussion between Bruce and Didit CEO Kevin Lee at Ad Tech some time ago shed light on this topic. Bruce highlighted how Google’s local focus has the potential to increase profits through PPC. Doofinder’s report stated that over 58% of Google’s revenue comes from online ads.

By making it easier for local businesses to establish an online presence and compete, as seen through their renewed local focus, Google stands to gain more revenue. This approach also ensures SERPs are more relevant to users. Google has already revealed that approximately 46% of searches are local, and this number is expected to grow with their ongoing search engine modifications.

Furthermore, when users have narrowed down their options to a few local businesses, they rely on their immediate social circle to aid their decision-making process. This is precisely why reviews are playing a crucial role in rankings.

Taking Action: Navigating the Local and Social Landscape

Even experts are still grappling with the complexities of local and social search. However, taking steps now will put you ahead of the curve. Previously, Bruce predicted that Google would predominantly function as a local search engine. Considering its significant increase in the percentage of local searches, they are well on their way to fulfilling this prediction. If you haven’t already, we recommend that you start focusing on local and social optimization today to prevent your competition from outpacing you.

Integrating social factors into local search rankings cannot be ignored. Optimizing for local and social aspects will enhance your business’s visibility and align your strategies with the evolving search engine landscape. Stay ahead of the game by embracing these changes and ensuring your online presence thrives in the increasingly local-centric and social world of search.

Ready to boost your local visibility? Take charge today by leveraging our expertise in optimizing local and social factors for enhanced rankings and greater online success. Contact us

FAQ: How can I boost my local search rankings with social factors?

Optimizing your local search rankings is crucial for businesses seeking online visibility. A key strategy often overlooked is the integration of social factors into your SEO efforts. Let’s delve into the intricacies of this approach, exploring effective methods to enhance your local search presence and attract the right audience.

Understanding the Dynamics:

To comprehend the impact of social factors on local search rankings, one must first recognize the symbiotic relationship between social media and search engines. Google, in particular, values the authenticity and engagement associated with social signals. These signals include likes, shares, comments, and overall social media presence. Search engines interpret this as a sign of relevance and credibility when users engage positively with your content.

Strategic Content Creation:

Crafting compelling and shareable content is pivotal. Align your social media content with local events, trends, and community interests. By naturally including location-specific keywords in your posts, you signal to search engines that your company is part of the local scene. Reviews and testimonials are essential in building credibility and trust between businesses and their target markets.

Consistent NAP Citations:

Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) consistency across your social media profiles and local directories is crucial for search engine algorithms. Ensure that your business information is accurate and up-to-date on platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook. Consistent NAP data reinforces the legitimacy of your business, positively impacting your local search rankings.

Harnessing the Power of Local Keywords:

Integrating locally relevant keywords in your social media content and profiles is a strategic move. Understand the common search terms your target audience uses for local businesses. Tailor your social media strategy to incorporate these keywords naturally, enhancing your chances of appearing in local search results.

Encouraging Local Engagement:

Foster community engagement through your social media channels. Actively participate in local discussions, events, and groups. Respond promptly to comments and messages, showing that your business is attentive and engaged with the local community. This enhances your social presence and contributes positively to your local search rankings.

Step-by-Step Guide: Boosting Local Search Rankings with Social Factors

  1. Audit Your Social Media Profiles:

Ensure your business information is accurate and consistent across all platforms.

  1. Keyword Research:

Identify locally relevant keywords and seamlessly integrate them into your social media content.

  1. Engage with the Local Community:

Actively participate in local events, groups, and discussions on social media.

  1. Create Shareable Content:

Craft content that resonates with your local audience, encouraging likes, shares, and comments.

  1. Manage Online Reviews:

Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, building trust and credibility.

  1. Utilize Local Hashtags:

Incorporate locally trending hashtags to increase the discoverability of your content.

  1. Monitor Social Signals:

Keep track of social engagement metrics to gauge the effectiveness of your strategy.

  1. Consistent NAP Citations:

Ensure your Name, Address, and Phone Number are consistent across all platforms.

  1. Leverage User-Generated Content:

Showcase positive testimonials and user-generated content to build credibility.

  1. Optimize Google My Business:

Regularly update your GMB profile with accurate business information and engaging content.

  1. Stay Informed about Local Trends:

Stay updated on local events and trends to tailor your content accordingly.

  1. Collaborate with Local Influencers:

Partner with local influencers to expand your reach and credibility.

  1. Use Location Tags:

Tag your business location in social media posts for increased visibility.

  1. Promote Local Offers and Discounts:

Attract local customers by promoting exclusive offers and discounts.

  1. Cross-promote with Local Businesses:

Collaborate with other local businesses for cross-promotional opportunities.

  1. Create Location-Specific Landing Pages:

Develop dedicated landing pages for the different localities you serve.

  1. Optimize for Mobile Users:

Ensure your social media content is mobile-friendly for on-the-go local users.

  1. Monitor Analytics:

Regularly analyze social media and website analytics to refine your strategy.

  1. Adapt and Evolve:

Stay flexible and adapt your strategy based on changing local trends and algorithms.

  1. Encourage Social Sharing:

Actively encourage your audience to share your content, expanding your reach organically.

Integrating social factors into your local SEO strategy is not just a trend; it’s a necessity. Understanding the symbiotic relationship between social media and search engines, crafting strategic content, and actively engaging with the local community can significantly boost your search rankings and establish your business as a trusted local entity. Embrace these practices, stay informed about local trends, and watch your business thrive in the competitive digital landscape.

This article was updated on December 15, 2023.  

Jessica Lee is the founder and chief creative for bizbuzzcontent Inc., a marketing boutique that focuses on digital content strategy and professional writing services for businesses.

See Jessica's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (7)
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7 Replies to “Boosting Local Rankings: The Power of Social Factors”

Hello Cheree,
Our research on local search shows that traffic to Google Maps and driving direction might be influencing local ranking. That said, when a restaurant is “difficult to find”, regardless of its proximity to the city center, the restaurant’s map in Google would get more hits. And as it was mentioned in the article, traffic to Google Maps may be playing a role when it comes to local ranking.

You brought up an interesting question about how this relates to proximity to the city center. It has been known that proximity to the city center plays an important role in the local algorithm. The farther a business is from the city center, the less chance it has to show up in the results when its targeted keywords are coupled with a city name.

So theoretically, a restaurant that is closer to the city center, and is difficult to find, may result in more traffic to the map and therefore, would have an advantage over other restaurants that are easy to find. This is because those restaurants wouldn’t garner many points for map traffic due to the fact that they are easy to locate. This analogy seems to be correct in theory; however, I would like to mention that we, at BCI, haven’t conducted any specific research or study on this topic to see how proximity to the city center and “being difficult to find” correlate and influences the ranking results.

This would be a nice topic for our next research and development meeting. :) Thanks for the idea.

Cheree Dohmann

Hi Jessica,

I really enjoyed your article. I have a question. You said – “For example, we’ve seen results for a query such as “restaurants in (city name)” that seem to favor popular new restaurants or restaurants that are difficult to find.”

When you say a “restaurant that is difficult to find”, how does this relate to “proximity to the city center”?? Is it difficult to find because it’s on the outskirts of town? I enjoy watching “Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives” on the Food Channel because he features so many obscure dining locations AWAY from the big cities. I wonder if Google is considering this when deciding local search for restaurants. Or, do you mean “difficult to find” because it’s tucked away in the city behind a dark alley. ha!

Can you shed some light on that?

Also, BTW, in my research, on comparing local results for plastic surgeons, dentists, chiropractors, etc. – I am noticing a very consistent trend. Seems Google is giving top listings to those doctors who are older, and have more seniority – that is, for example, those doctors who registered their website back in 1999!!! I compared the Domain Creation Date for all the top results – and discovered this across the board. Secondly, after Domain Creation Date, it seems Google gave priority to the QUANTITY of reviews a doctor had. Not the Quality of reviews. Big difference.

When I consider your research on local restaurants and my research on doctor verticals, BCI is right. Google is giving priority to those suspecting sites that get ALOT of traffic. More traffic for Google means more opportunity for ad revenue.

Anyhow, thanks for letting me share. I look forward to your reply.

– Cheree

Hi, Cheree — good to hear from you and great comment! Excited to hear you liked this piece. The questions you have for me can be best answered by someone on our SEO analyst team, since much of what I wrote concerning that is based on research they did. Hang tight and we will have someone get back to you soon. And thanks for the added insight with your research, love it when people share stuff like that on the blog! Hope to see you around here again.

Best New Years wishes to you Jessica another useful and helpful contribution from one of the best search bloggers

Well, thank you, Rob! Hope 2011 is a success for you and don’t be a stranger!

Great Article Jessica. Keep ’em coming.

Thank you, Jeff! Happy to hear you found it valuable!


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