New Data Shows What’s Working for Local Small Businesses on Google

Local Small Businesses on Google

Knowing which digital marketing levers to pull for a good Google ranking can be difficult for small businesses. But the Local Rank Factors Survey for 2020 can help. It defines what’s been working and what hasn’t over the last year.

Small Business Trends contacted Craig J. Mount, the founder of Classy Brain, to find out where SMBs can best spend their SEO dollars. Mount and Darren Shaw are members of a group of local marketers. They do a large survey yearly that highlights the do’s and don’ts of ranking with the search engine.

Small Business Local Search Trends 2021

He started with a primer if you’re still making the jump from a brick and mortar shop.

Higher Position

“Google rank is a concept people tie to positioning in the search engine results in Google,” he writes. “It is generally known a higher positioning in Google’s results leads to more visibility for a website.”

And that means more sales. Mount says the search engine even supplies a pathway to digital success.

“Google provides general direction on how to improve ranking in local search results in its support documents.”

Local Search Results

People shopping online who are looking for shops in their area focus on local search results. They look at Google organic results and Google map results most often. That’s why many small businesses focus on improving in these two areas.

Mount says if you look under the hood of what drives the rankings, you’ll see one common part.

“Local businesses should be investing time and/or money into search engine optimization (SEO),” he says. “SEO is the practice of optimizing the rank factors Google uses in its algorithm.”

Long story short is this. The more a small business invests in SEO, the higher your rankings for your goods and services. And that means customers looking for what you sell have a better chance of finding you.

What Works

And that’s where The Local Rank Factors Survey for 2020 comes into play. Mount explains how it gets put together.

“There are leading experts in the local SEO industry,” he writes. “Every year, Darren Shaw, founder of the company Whitespark, surveys them. The information gets compiled into the Local Search Ranking Factors Survey.”

That said, here’s the list of what works. According to the experts, the top Google My Business rank signals are:

The Primary Google My Business Category 

Putting your business into a category where clients will find your goods and services makes sense.  When you add in the SEO element, search phrases become important. You can start by looking at the ones your competition is using. 

Keywords in Google My Business Title 

A simple tip here will get you the best results. Make sure any keywords you use are relevant to your business. They need to flow too. Have someone read the title back to let you know if the keyword sounds spammy.

Proximity of Address to the Point of Search

Simply put, how close someone is to where you sell your goods and services when they search on Google  is important. That’s why this is become a critical ranking factor.

Mount explains something SMBs need to know about this.

“How close a local consumer is to a business cannot easily be optimized,” he says. That means there is no need to worry about things like keywords here.

Other Factors

The survey also pointed out a few things small businesses should avoid. The following don’t amp up your rankings although some businesses think they do.

Don’t worry too much about keywords in your Google My Business description. The same goes for keywords in Google My Business services. Having the Google My Business messaging feature enabled doesn’t really bump up your rankings either. Likewise for geo-tagging photos that you upload.

Think you can bypass the combined power of a Google listing and SEO?

“Google is responsible for a lot of transactions,” Mount says. “If a local business does not invest in SEO, the competition in the market will.”

Image: Depositphotos

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.