The Ultimate Checklist for the Greatest Impact on SEO
Every year at the Local Search Summit, SEO experts gather and share their findings related to the organic factors that have the greatest impact on the Google Search algorithm. They take into account multiple factors and conduct several experiments throughout the year to figure out the weight each of them may have in the algorithm.
For this report, seven factors have been analysed: Google Business Profile, reviews, on-page SEO, links, behavioural analysis, citations, and personalisation.
- Google Business Profile: Your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business, or GMB) is a platform where brick-and-mortar businesses can upload information for their stores, such as addresses, telephone numbers, opening hours, business categories, descriptions, etc. This ensures they are visible in Google Search and Google Maps.
- Reviews: Reviews are the comments and ratings clients leave on a company’s profile in Google after having visited the store or interacted with the business. Companies can reply to reviews directly through their Google Business Profile.
- On-page SEO: Also known as on-site SEO, this is the practice of optimising web pages for specific keywords and content in order to improve search visibility and traffic.
- Links: Links have historically been the factor SEO experts focus on to improve a website’s positioning. A strong network of links signals to search engines that a site is legitimate and of high value.
- Behavioural Analysis: Analysing users’ behaviour while they navigate a site can provide invaluable data. This analysis can address a variety of actions, including how long visitors stay on the page; whether they close the site immediately after visiting or browse deeper into a website; the sequential actions people follow when on the page; and much more.
- Citations: There was a time that citations were one of the most impactful SEO factors. Citations refer to those locations where your stores’ information can be found on the internet. Years ago, the volume of citations across different platforms (Google, Apple, Bing, Foursquare, etc.) was the biggest citation factor for improving positioning. However, nowadays, the quantity of citations is less important than being listed on the better-known business directories.
- Personalisation: As the word indicates, Google takes into account the specifics of a user to provide better, personalised results. These specifics can include where the person is located, their search history, their device, and more.
The Results for 2022
Upon reviewing these factors, among the main takeaways is that Google Business Profile listings are easily the single-most important factor driving an enterprise’s visibility. The next most important factor is reviews, followed very closely by on-page SEO. Meanwhile, citations are increasingly looking less valuable with each passing year.
If we check the different factors’ historical data, we can appreciate how taking care of your Google Business Profile account has become the most important task in your Local SEO checklist, followed by managing your online reputation and the content/keywords on your local store pages.
If you want to make the most of your online presence and generate a greater impact in Google’s SEO algorithm, we recommend that you review the following checklist. We created it so you can ensure you’re doing everything to boost your online visibility compared to your competitors. It will also help you create an action plan to keep growing the reach of your business.
The checklist to impact your Google Business Profile (36% of the algorithm)
- Have you selected as many Google Business Profile categories as possible? If you are, for instance, a supermarket, don’t forget to select all the relevant product categories, such as convenience store, grocery store, green grocer, bakery, lottery retailer, and gas station. Diversifying your categories is important, but keep in mind that the first category you select will be your main one, and therefore the one that will provide you the highest visibility. Select wisely!
- Are you regularly removing spam/duplicate listings and user edit suggestions? The cleaner and more streamlined your online presence is, the easier it will be for Google and your customers to find the correct store’s information.
- Are your stores’ addresses and coordinates ideally optimised? Google shows your store on its first page when you are close to the point of search for a user, so make sure this information is correct. You should be aware, if your info is not accurate and users are forced to suggest edits, Google will understand that your business is not taking care of its own information. That will negatively impact your ranking.
- Have you completed your store listings? Google’s algorithms prioritise store profiles that have complete and valuable information for the customers. That means your store profiles should include, at the very least, telephone numbers, opening hours, the full business description, a list of store services, and anything else a customer might need to know.
- Are you uploading new photos to your listings? Google understands that visuals attract more users; images are extremely powerful for the customer experience and Google encourages companies to upload store pictures (exterior, interior, products, collections, etc.). The more views your photos get, the better your SEO positioning will be, so it’s good to make sure those images are up-to-date and interesting.
- Are you posting on Google? Last but not least, you should be using Google to post your stores’ offers, news, and events. Invest time in crafting these posts because the keywords you use in the text copy will be indexed by Google. If, for instance, your store has a Google Post with “iPhone 13” as a keyword, a user who types “buy iPhone 13” will be shown your store before your competitors. (For more information, check out this Google Justifications article).
The checklist to impact your Reviews (17% of the algorithm)
- Are you replying to all customer reviews? Google explains the importance of online reputation management for visibility: “When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.” You should be replying to every review, good or bad.
- Are you replying to customer questions in a timely manner? Again, it’s impossible to overstate how important it is to engage with your customers online. Think of each comment and question as a potential sales opportunity. Keep in mind, every time a customer asks a question, such as, “Are you open right now?”, “Do you have the new iPhone in stock?”, or “Do you have this t-shirt available currently?”, you have a limited time to respond before they potentially move on to your competitors.
- Are you proactively encouraging customers to give you reviews? When Google sees a business getting a large number of reviews, it determines those stores are more relevant, and therefore it includes them in more searches. Furthermore, our own metrics show that, on average, more reviews leads to a better company rating.
The checklist to impact your one-page SEO (16% of the algorithm)
- Have you included a store locator and individual store pages on your website? This directly relates to the customer’s journey from online search to walking in your store. It’s important to ensure your Google Business Profile is up to date with each store’s specific opening hours, phone number, etc. But too many businesses then redirect from the Google listing to a generic company website, completely interrupting the local journey and potentially losing the customer in the process. Make sure the information on your own website is specific and relevant to each store location.
- Have you optimised your store pages for SEO? It’s one thing to have a page for each store, but if you aren’t also optimising each site for SEO, you’re not getting the full impact. In addition to each stores’ general information, be sure to also include the services and stock they provide. Optimising on-page SEO can have a tremendous impact and help drive in-store traffic.