What are the Most Important Ranking Factors in Local Search?

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| Posted on | Just The Tip, SEO

There’s no such this as a “one-size fits all”, or “set-it-and-forget-it” SEO solution. When we talk about “Organic SEO” it’s important to recognize the reason why we use the term “organic”. It’s because SEO and the algorithms involved are constantly evolving, and your dealership’s strategy needs to evolve with them. Factor in the unique challenges of the automotive space, and the nuances of your dealership’s geography and it’s easy to see why so many dealerships have stopped trying to manage their SEO in-house. But it’s for those of you who still want to try, that we offer up this series.

So, what are the most important factors you need to be focusing on to rank higher in local search? Well, it depends.

When you perform a local search query, you’ll see both the Organic Rankings and what’s referred to as the Local Pack. These are slightly different, valuing each ranking signal differently and are evaluated periodically by some of the best SEO minds in the business. So, here’s what they have to say about what factors into both.

Organic Ranking Factors:
On-Page Signals (32%).
Link Signals (31)%.
Behavioral Signals (10%)
Personalization Signals (7%)
Google My Business (7%)
Citation Signals (6%)
Review Signals (6%)

These same ranking signals are broken out slightly differently when it comes to ranking in the Local Pack:
Google My Business(33%)
Reviews (16%)
On-Page (15%)
Links (15%)
Behavioral (8%)
Citations (7%)
Personalization (6%)

But let’s be honest, in a perfect “local search scenario” your dealership is performing well in organic rankings and appears in the local pack. So, what happens when we average all of these together? Well, we get:
On-Page Signals (24%)
Links (23%)
GMB (20%)
Reviews (11%)
Behavioral (9%)
Citations (7%) and
Personalization (7%)

Based on this, it’s easy to see why we spend so much time talking about the optimization of on-page signals (such as content, page performance and overall site health), Link Building and Google My Business. They account for more than two-thirds of the most important ranking factors. In fact, we’re going to be refreshing your understanding of each in the weeks to come. But if you think we’re rehashing old territory, remember that the rules for each are constantly changing.

Take Google My Business, for example. While it’s considered one of the most important factors now (especially in terms of ranking in the Local Pack) that importance has jumped up significantly since 2013. By contrast, Citations have decreased in importance within that same timeframe.

So, if the goal is optimize each your ranking signals, where do you start? And what are the actionable steps your dealership should be taking right now to focus on the most important ranking factors?

1. Create unique, and authoritative content in the form of landing pages, comparison pages and blog posts – around the topics or keywords you want to rank for – and design your content to anticipate and answer the questions prospective car buyers will have.

2. Employ a multi-tiered Linking Strategy so the authoritativeness of your content becomes more recognizable to Google.

3. Optimize all facets of your site’s Page Performance, ensuring that it meets Google’s 2021 standards for Core Web Vitals, and

4. Take the proper steps to optimize your dealership’s GMB listing, as well as any nested listings.

If your head isn’t spinning yet, we applaud you. Optimizing for any of these ranking factors is no small task….and trying to optimize all of them? Well, you’ll have your work cut out for you. But rest assured, we’ll be covering each of them in greater detail in 2021. So, if you’re looking for the best tips in Automotive SEO and Digital Marketing, join us next Thursday – and every Thursday – and we’ll have ‘Just the Tip’ for you.

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