Add this to your must-read list – the Local Search Ranking Factors report.
As I mentioned last night when posting about another report – the Google Ranking Factors study – any SEO advice published on the web should be taken with a grain of salt.
However, there are many points in David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors report that just make good sense.
The report is based on a survey of local SEO practitioners who were asked to rank 90 possible positive factors and 18 possible negative factors in Google’s Local Search algorithms.
There are a few really interesting negative factors in the list, such as a mismatch of phone numbers and the presence of multiple Place pages with the same phone number. The latter may be common for companies operating in various states, but primarily working through a single phone number.
A couple of the most powerful positive factors according to the survey’s respondents is having a physical address in the city being searched on and the closer to the city center, the better. This is difficult for many businesses located in the suburbs outside cities, but still associated with the city – unless Google does factor X distance in without favoring a competitor who may be say a mile closer.
This point is one I’ve found in the past to be a little iffy; but if you really want to address it, open a virtual office in that city center – there are many services that can provide this. Basically they just give you a physical address in the city’s CBD for mail to go to, which can then be forwarded on – it’s all quite legitimate.
I have seen the use of virtual offices by some SEO savvy businesses, but again, how big an impact it has, I’m not convinced of – and how Google views this practice I don’t know; so treat this strategy with caution. I’m thinking if a thousand businesses are all claiming the same address, that might trigger some of Google’s alarm bells. It would certainly disappoint any customers attempting to visit that address and while you can hide addresses in Google Places, that is considered a negative ranking factor.
Still, this report is worth a good chunk of your time in perusing and while putting some of the recommendations into action may not do you any good, most shouldn’t do you any harm if you keep in mind Google’s webmaster quality guidelines when considering implementing anything.
You can view the Local Search Ranking Factors report here.