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Local SEO Ranking Factors in 2016 and Beyond

Local SEO has never been bigger – this much is true – but with Google having recently moved a number of goalposts relating to the way in which local search results are delivered to web users, the chances of even the most advanced web design getting seen and picked up through local SEO technique have changed fairly dramatically.  The local SEO ‘window’ has shrunk somewhat, meaning that local SEO ranking factors used to ensure that businesses appear in such search results now have to be as comprehensive as ever – as local competition tightens up.

But what changes have been made to the ways in which we employ local SEO ranking factors in recent months?  How can we ensure that our web design has as much of a fighting chance as ever of getting picked up and highlighted for all to see when users look for local services?  Luckily, there are many techniques that still pull in results, and while more scrutiny and care is required as the competition has grown so fierce, ensuring that your local SEO works on your behalf is less hassle than it may sound.  The goalposts may have been moved, but there’s no reason as to why Google’s latest algorithm and rule changes can’t be adhered to and used to our advantage!

Local SEO infographic

The ranking factors of local SEO vary – especially as there have been such algorithm changes in recent history – but analysing local SEO ranking factors and narrowing down how each can be used to an individual advantage is less hassle than you may think.  So, what is it that makes up the majority of local SEO ranking in 2016 – and what techniques should be employed with regard to ensuring that sites get seen locally for years to come?  While Google may implement further changes at any given time, it is useful to know exactly what you’re dealing with and how to handle it effectively for future knowledge!

Keeping Relevant with On Page Technique

Generally, the best way to appeal naturally to searchers looking for local results is to ensure that your web design and content on page is as relevant to the area you are targeting as possible – meaning that you will need to do considerable work behind the scenes to ensure that everything on-site points to local relevancy.  The simplest way to tackle on-site technique is to keep a clear idea of the audience you are trying to attract – are you an interior design firm based in Kent?  It’s likely you’ll want to use keywords and phrases that fall into this remit.

It’s also therefore a great idea to appeal to your particular service and the area in which you are hoping to cover throughout your meta descriptions, tags, headers and general web design – ensure that your page titles point towards local relevancy, too.  Keeping relevant accounts for a huge chunk of local SEO credibility in 2016 – meaning that you should always be as clear as possible when identifying where you’re based, what you do, and who you are.  Even by adding in your name, address and contact details on page – you’re staying relevant and you’ll help local searchers find you easily.  It’s not hard to see why on page technique is one of the most important local SEO ranking factors.

While link-building makes up much of the authoritative nature of a website when it comes to SEO, you can also create a credible impression and even further increase your chances of being picked up in local search by including an embedded Google map and testimonials from your local customers.  Believe it or not, both work behind the scenes in your HTML and tags is just as important as keeping things relevant in your front-of-house web design – particularly in the current climate!

Building Authority

A large part of getting seen on Google via local SEO ranking factors comes from link-building – that is, linking to authoritative sources and doing your research – ensuring that Google can see that your website is genuinely focused upon the area of business you are portraying, and can therefore offer you more slack in terms of SEO.  When it comes to local SEO, you may not need to build many links – particularly if you’ve made use of Google’s online business tools – but linking back to credible sources in the local industry or even to local sources hyper-relevant to your area will only do you good.  That is, of course, providing you are organic in your approach – link stuffing is just as unproductive as plugging your web design full of keywords when it comes to getting Google to approve of you!

Local SEO ranking factors in 2016 and beyond


Use Google’s Online Tools

Outside of your web design, Google has, in fact, made it easier than ever for businesses to get seen online – thanks to their integrated business tools and services.  Google’s My Business service allows you to build a profile for your company and services, meaning that you’ll be able to give an often detailed overview of what you offer via a simple multi-step setup process.  Think of it as filling out a questionnaire of sorts – adding yourself to Google’s business listing, effectively, lets them know that you exist – and if you’re particularly clear upon where you’re based (without going overboard), this will in fact help you be picked up via local SEO.  This side of local SEO falls in to local pack ranking factors – how Google will highlight you in what is known as the ‘local pack’.

Similarly, making sure that you have plenty of reviews for your business via Google will also do you more good than harm – you may have noticed when searching for local firms that certain companies will be highlighted in a right-hand pane along with a list of reviews from genuine customers.  If you want your business to be highlighted in such a vantage point, you’re going to need to encourage previous clients to offer reviews of your services – pursue happy customers, of course – and this, again, will add to Google’s impression of you as a business, and as a local authority.  Local SEO ranking factors can be found off page as well as on page!

Basic SEO is Still Valuable

No matter what some might say, the old techniques are still amongst the best – making sure that your web design and basic SEO strategy is up to date, is organic and focused upon a certain locality will ensure that you get the best possible chance of getting seen online.  Keywords, meta content, titles, image filenames and more besides – getting the basics down will provide you with the perfect foundations on which to build fantastic local strategy.

Stay Social

Social media is here to stay – while it may evolve, the worth of social media in business today should never be undervalued.  This doesn’t mean that you have to possess an account for every service, however – but keeping active and locally relevant on sites such as Facebook and Google+ will only help to strengthen your local profile.  Posting regularly on such services is a must – and even if it’s merely a case of ensuring that your basic profiles are filled out with local information, you are already doing more than enough to help your cause in terms of local SEO ranking factors.

Getting Cited

You shouldn’t just appeal to Google when listing your business online – while they should absolutely be your first port of call, getting cited on a number of authoritative websites, listings and business directories should be your aim – but you need to do so succinctly, and without over-egging your description or spamming your presence.  Providing you offer the minimum information of a brief description, your business category and your location to as many business directories or citation listings as possible, you will do wonders for your own personal local SEO.  Reviews, again, will always come in handy – as Google certainly takes into account citations and listings from alternative sources as much as they do from their own stock.  This is just one of several local pack ranking factors that will help the big G ensure you appear relevant in local searches.

This is all part of taking ownership of your brand’s online presence – be as all-encompassing as you can, ensuring that you include all relevant information relating to your company and its location as possible, and you will be well on your way to local SEO greatness.  It’s also a great idea to keep an eye on the competition, too – where are your rivals cited, and can you match up to them?  This can really make the difference between failing to pick the right local SEO ranking factors and turning your business around.  Getting seen online is no longer restricted to web design alone – meaning that you’re really going to need to shift focus to local pack ranking factors to get the best results.

Other local pack ranking factors you can harness include ensuring that your business and location are highlighted and obvious within Google’s business tools – and that you have categorised your business correctly for Google to pick up on.

Best Practice in On Page SEO

As stated earlier, making sure that the basic SEO and web design of your landing page (at the very least) is up to scratch will also impact heavily and positively upon your local SEO score.  Are your keywords, headings and citations relevant?  When it comes to local SEO ranking factors, ensuring that you stay relevant to your field of expertise as well as to the geographical area you are aiming to advertise to is extremely important – have you ensured that your local area is included in tags and descriptions?  Is your landing page title and description relevant and pinpointed to the geographical area you are aiming for?  Furthermore – are your links of good quality?  Any website can attempt to link-build, but unless you link to websites of genuine local interest and authority, you may find that this part of your strategy backfires a little.

Local SEO infographic second part

Perfect Your Landing Page

Your landing page web design is your key to success in being found by Google – while you may have tackled any number of basic tried-and-tested SEO techniques and everything is looking pretty comprehensive, you’re also going to need to make sure that your content is both appealing and engaging.  This, hopefully, should go without saying!

When it comes to any kind of SEO, local or otherwise, Google is always going to track your landing page first – after all, it’s pretty much the face of your business that you present to the world.  Therefore, it’s surely worthwhile ensuring that you not only have everything ticking over under the hood – and that you have location and business keywords relevantly applied and meticulously arranged – but that you also appeal to the individual.  Local SEO ranking factors and marketing are not just about appealing to Google, using the right keywords and ensuring that you are given as much advertising as possible – you’re going to need to make your advertising work, too – and this is still particularly relevant in 2016 in all walks of web design.

Your web design and content is going to need to make clear and organic links between your location and your service – throughout your text, in your headings, and in your tags – and you should always try to ensure that inbound links to your landing page are authoritative – but beyond such points, you should ensure that you describe who you are, what you do, the products you offer and why you are relevant to your local area in a way that is both applicable to your line of business and isn’t too wordy.  More people are likely to be engaged with a few well-chosen words than several that may or may not connect.  It’s therefore always worthwhile consulting with an experienced content writer with knowledge on how to connect with a range of audiences.

As mentioned earlier, tackling local SEO ranking factors on page via web design can be very easy – ensure that you have an embedded map, contact listings, connections to local businesses listed wherever appropriate, and – of course – testimonials.  Testimonials that you can link back to Google’s reviews or even directly to websites for other businesses will always impact positively – and, beyond this, you should always consider integrating your social media.  People make up their minds often based on word of mouth – meaning that now really is the time to make the most of the social tools available to you.  Don’t forget calls to action, either – as they can really make the difference between non-engagement and future custom.


In conclusion, tackling local SEO ranking factors on page and off page in 2016 shouldn’t be a difficult process in an experienced pair of hands – Google’s changes merely require us to think outside of the box when it comes to tackling the avenues that are likely to affect our local profiles the most.  Essentially, while making sure all external boxes are ticked and that Google and other citation sources are well aware of your business is fairly paramount, you should never neglect on page SEO and the basics of web design – as basic keyword and tag strategy is just as important for getting your rankings in 2016 as it ever has been.

If you’re interested in harnessing effective local SEO for your business but are unsure where to start, call SEO CoPilot today on 01246 540869 – or contact us directly via web form – and our team will look forward to helping you and your business get seen locally for less!

Guy Tomlinson

Guy Tomlinson is the owner and founder of SEO CoPilot Ltd. As an organic SEO specialist and SEO trainer with over 15 years of experience, he has the knowledge when it comes to helping small businesses succeed online – and shares his expertise through SEO CoPilot’s blog (mentioned in Top SEO Blogs to Follow). Follow Guy’s profile on LinkedIn for more SEO Tips!
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