By Jeff Carrier

Throughout the year, Google makes several changes to its algorithm to make it more accurate. Ultimately, Google’s goal is to find the best way to answer the search query typed in by each user.  Google even confirmed that it releases small algorithm updates every day.

These constant updates send digital marketers in a frenzy, especially considering that Google doesn’t divulge information on exactly what changed in their updates. The positive side of Google not telling everyone all the changes they made is that it helps limit the ability of someone using black hat techniques to manipulate the search results.

Instead, marketers must test measure results and share the information with other colleagues in the industry to see what is working and what is not. Rinse and repeat as often as possible because, as crazy as it sounds, Google releases 500 to 600 algorithm updates a year according to MOZ.

So, if you aren’t a digital marketer working full time on SEO, how do you keep track of all this stuff? Luckily, there are great platforms that track this data and report what changes are affecting search rankings. We could break down all 50 local map pack and local SEO ranking factors, but for the sake of time, we have handpicked the most important ones to go further into detail. This is broken out into two sections: Local map pack and local organic SEO ranking. Without further ado, here is your 2019 rankings report guide.

Local map pack

Everyone wants to be in the local map section. It shows your company is nearby. It’s easy for prospective clients to connect to your website, see your address, and use the quick click-to-call feature — a favorite for Google users and a target for marketers.

Rising 32 percent in 2018, up to the #1 most important SEO ranking factor, was your Google My Business (GMB) signals. By merely filling out your GMB profile and keeping it updated, you have completed the top SEO ranking factor to be featured in the local map section. Be a pro and complete these additional tasks:

  • Regularly use GMB post.
  • Use GMB as your company’s FAQ section — right on Google!
  • Regularly post both videos and photos.

Total SEO ranking factors
for local map packs

  1. GMB signals – 25 percent: See above.
  2. Links – 16 percent: Continuing to be one of the most challenging tasks in SEO, yet one of the most significant difference makers, links come in second place for local map pack ranking factors and are also the #1 factor for local organic search, making link-building arguably the most important SEO factor.
  3. Reviews – 15 percent: Reviews have increased in importance by 42 percent over the last three years. Here are factors to consider:
    • Get more reviews. As obvious as this is, the weight of reviews is becoming so impactful in local map search that it is imperative you set up a yearly budget and campaign to acquire new reviews.
    • Respond to all your reviews.
    • Use keywords in your reviews, a factor on the rise. If you can, try to encourage people, when they leave you a review, to mix in the use of your services and keywords.
  1. On-page signals – 14 percent.
  2. Citations – 11 percent.
  3. Behavioral – 10 percent.
  4. Personalization – 6 percent.
  5. Social – 3 percent.

Local organic SEO ranking

  1. Link signals – 27.94 percent
  2. On-page signals – 26.03 percent
  3. Behavioral signals – 11.5 percent
  4. GMB signals – 8.85 percent
  5. Citation signals – 7.32 percent
  6. Review signals – 6.47 percent
  7. Social signals – 3.47 percent

Links, links, links

Links are so important that they make up six out of the top 10 organic factors. Why are links so important? Links are an excellent way for Google to use human behavior as an indicator that is (for the most part) out of the web marketers’ hands. An inbound link to your website tells Google that your site is reputable enough for someone to send their visitors to your site, also called link equity (or what we like to call link juice). This link also indicates to Google what topic people view you as an authority.

If people are linking to a particular page on your site about mold, Google can see you are a go-to resource for mold damage. That’s why it’s also important (and in the top 10) to get links from industry resources and have the topic keyword in the anchor link text pointing to your website. The more “link juice” you direct to your website from other people’s recommendations (links), the more authority your site will gain. More authority equals more confidence, so Google should rank you higher. That’s the quick version, but how do you get links?

Here’s a few ways:

  • Citation building
  • Sign up for industry groups/associations: These sites typically have member directories that point back to your website. Many cost money, but many are also free.
  • Blogger outreach
  • Write blogs/articles for industry sources. (This is what I am doing here.)
  • Resource pages: Many times, a local organization might have a good resource page they can spotlight you on. Or a friend you have might have a company that compliments yours, such as carpet cleaning. You can each write something for each other’s website and link to each other.

There are many other strategies to help improve your link signals. Talk to a digital marketing company specific to the restoration industry to really increase your SEO ranking through this method.

Click through rate

The click through rate (CTR) is precisely what it sounds like. When your website comes up in the search engine results page, how often is it clicked? This action is important because it is driven primarily through human behavior. What better way is there for Google to determine if they are delivering the correct results for a search query than to see how often someone clicks the link. Instinct would tell you, that if link #10 gets clicked three times as much as link #8, then it’s likely that the website at link #10 should and will be moved up because it is better serving the searchers’ intent for this particular keyword.

So how do you fix this?

  • Page title: I could create a whole blog on this category alone, but remember the goal is to entice someone to click your link. Be sure to use:
    • Numbers for 24-hour emergency service,
    • Dates, for example, “local owned since 1982,”
    • Use appropriate length, not too short and not too long where you can’t read the full title description,
    • Use keywords in the title like, “Water damage removal in your home,”
    • Call to action: Use words like, “buy,” “call,” “watch,” “learn,” etc.,
    • Use questions like, “Did you find mold in your home?”
    • Capitalize the first letter of each word like, “Call Us Today For Your Water Damage Removal Needs!”
  • Meta description: The meta description appears below the page title. While this doesn’t have a direct impact on search SEO ranking, the meta description could be the difference between someone clicking your link, which increases your CTR and, thus, has an indirect effect, and someone moving on.
  • Schema markup: Without trying to get too technical, putting schema markup on your website is a way to let Google’s crawlers know what kind of site you are and other pertinent information about that page. Ever see a website with stars underneath the link with a review rating? Try adding a review section on your site with proper review schema added to the code. Google may add it to your search snippet, making it much more visible and increasing your CTR.

Let’s recap

There is a lot here to digest, so here is a quick checklist for you to follow and accomplish. If you need any assistance implementing this for your web presence, talk to a digital marketing agency specific to the industry.

GMB

  • Fill out your profile 100 percent.
  • Upload photos/videos on a regular basis.
  • Post daily with GMB post.
  • Get new reviews on a regular basis and respond to them.

Local organic SEO

    • Make sure your citations are built out properly.
    • Join local/industry associations.
    • Get more links.
    • Make sure all your page titles are attractive. Don’t use the default.
    • Rewrite all your meta descriptions so they are specific to your page and condensed to catch the reader’s eye.
    • Add a review section on your website with review schema markup (talk to a developer).

Jeff Carrier is marketing director of First Restoration Services in North Carolina and Restoration Digital Marketing, which aims to serve and help fellow restoration companies with their marketing needs. Contact him at contact@restorationdigitalmarketing.com