Category: SEO

Riley Hope On Women In SEO & Automotive Search


In part one Riley Hope and I spoke about her SEO career, how she did her thesis on ethics in SEO and we spoke about the automotive SEO space. In part two we talk about women in SEO and more on the automotive space and search results.

Women In SEO:

We spoke about how Melissa Fach, who has been in the SEO community for a long time, is now in the auto SEO space. But I reminisced about the old days of the SEO space, with SEO leaders who were female, like Jill Whalen, Christine Churchill, Heather Lloyd Martin, and many others.

More On Riley:

We then moved into more about Riley’s history, talking about being a Floridian versus a New Yorker. We spoke about how her husband is in the US Air Force, working on top secret and classified stuff that we can’t talk about. She is a military wife and she describes what it is like to live like that, huge credit to her and her family. But yes, they need to have perfect eye sight to be in the Air Force but not to do SEO.

Automotive Search Results:

We then jump back into automotive SEO and search and I bring up the controversy over the new features Google Search launched around auto retail search, by the way, Google said they license this data.

She does enjoy doing SEO in the automotive space because she doesn’t have to deal with everything for the client. She can focus on the SEO and doesn’t haver to worry about hosting, DNS, development and so forth. But she does miss working with small businesses, it was a bit more rewarding because there is more of a direct impact on what they do.

You can learn more about Riley Hope at RileyHope.com or follow Riley on Twitter @reillyhope13.

You can subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here so you don’t miss the next vlog where I interviews. I do have a nice lineup of interviews scheduled with SEOs and SEMS, many of which you don’t want to miss – and I promise to continue to make these vlogs better over time. If you want to be interviewed, please fill out this form with your details.

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Local SEO Ranking Factors: What Affects Local Rankings?


Key Findings

  • The most important grouped factors for ranking in the Local Pack/Finder are: 1) Google Business Profile, 2) Reviews, 3) On-page optimization

  • To rank in localized organic results, the most important areas to focus on are 1) On-page optimization, 2) Links 3) Behavioral signals

  • Google Business Profile has increased in importance since 2018—rising from 25% of Local Pack/Finder ranking importance to 36%

  • Links have decreased in importance as a Local Pack/Finder ranking factor since last year, with on-page SEO now seen as more important

  • The top individual Local Pack/Finder ranking factors are: 1) Primary GBP category, 2) Keywords in GMB titles, 3) Proximity of searcher to business address

  • The top individual localized organic ranking factors are: 1) Quality of inbound links, 2) Volume of quality content, 3) Internal linking across entire website

Google’s algorithm to rank local search results relies on a wide variety of different signals, so it can be difficult to know where you should dedicate your efforts. To ensure a local business ranks well for relevant search terms, it’s important to pay attention to a number of different local SEO ranking factors.

As more and more local businesses grasp the importance of SEO, ranking well in the search engine results pages (SERPs) will naturally become harder. As striving towards search success becomes more competitive, understanding how to dominate the SERPs becomes all the more valuable.

In this article, we’ll explore the most important factors for ranking—in both the Local Pack and the localized organic results—based on the data from this 2021’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey from Whitespark. We’ll also highlight how these results have changed over time, and discuss which tasks you should focus your energy on in the year ahead.

Where does this data come from? The Local Search Ranking Factors survey has been conducted near-annually since David Mihm kicked it off in 2008, with Darren Shaw of Whitespark taking over in 2017. The survey polls around 50 local SEO experts for their opinions on the most important actions and factors for local business rankings.

The Top Local SEO Ranking Factors in 2021

Local Pack Local Organic
1. Google Business Profile (36%) 1. On-page (34%)
2. Reviews (17%) 2. Links (31%)
3. On-page (16%) 3. Behavioral (11%)
4. Links (13%) 4. Citations (7%)
5. =Behavioral (7%) 5. =Personalization (6%)
5. =Citations (7%) 5. =GBP (6%)
7. Personalization (4%) 7. Reviews (5%)

This table shows what the expert survey respondents believed were the most important local search engine ranking factors throughout 2021. As you can see, they’re separated into Local Pack and localized organic.

What’s the difference between the Local Pack and localized organic results?

These two sets of results are treated differently in this survey because the underlying algorithms Google uses to surface them are different. The Local Pack is made up of Google Business Profiles, while the localized organic results are the traditional ‘blue links’ that lead to websites.

We’ll go into the individual factors in more detail shortly, but first let’s look at how the Local Ranking Factors survey has documented ranking trends over time. This should help to give you a snapshot of what impacted local search rankings in 2021 and where things are likely headed next year.

If you’re working towards improving Local Pack and localized organic rankings at the same time, then it can be helpful to see the average importance of the local SEO ranking factors when combined:

1. On-page optimization (25%)
2. Links (22%)
3. GBP (21%)
4. Reviews (12%)
5. Behavioral (9%)
6. Citations (7%)
7. Personalization (5%)

It’s important to remember that each of these factors will require different amounts of time to be invested; the percentage does not correlate with the amount of time that should be allocated to each.

For example, link building is an ongoing task that is quite time-intensive, whereas Google Business Profile (GBP) setup and management should not take too much of your time.


Local SEO Ranking Factors 2013-2021

As with Google’s regular search algorithm, the local algorithm is often updated by Google. This ongoing fluctuation means that doing the best job for your clients will require you to pay ongoing attention to what’s happening in the SERPs. This is a task you can stay on top of by using Local RankFlux—the only ranking fluctuation monitoring tool for local search.

If you’re an agency working specifically with local businesses, being vigilant to the changing local environment can be critical to success. The factors that have the biggest impact on local search engine rankings can make a huge difference to customer conversions, so changes in importance should be monitored closely.

As with the 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors survey, social signals aren’t included in the 2021 results. Social signals have been decreasing in importance in relation to local search rankings for a while, so it makes sense to exclude them entirely from the survey.

It’s worth noting that the exclusion of social signals has shifted voting power to other factors, which may account for slight inflations in the past two years.

Local Pack / Local Finder Ranking Factors Over Time

Local Pack Data

Since 2015, Google Business Profile has continued to increase in importance for Local Pack/Finder ranking importance, leaping from 15% in 2015 to 36% in 2021. Links, citations, behavioral signals, and personalization have all seen drops in importance during this time.

Local Organic Ranking Factors Over Time

Local Organic Ranking Data

The Local Search Ranking Factors survey has revealed that on-page optimization and links are the most significant factors for localized organic rankings, accounting for a combined 65% of ranking importance.

Although the remaining factors reportedly carry less weight, they’re still important to give some attention to, and doing so could give you the final push you need to outrank your competitors.

Interestingly, citations have begun to increase in importance again, after being on a downward trend since 2018.


The Top 15 Individual Local Search Ranking Factors

Local Pack/Finder Local Organic
Primary GBP category Quality/authority of inbound links to domain
Keywords in GBP business title Volume of quality content on entire website
Proximity of address to the point of search Internal linking across entire website
Physical address in city of search Topical (product/service) keyword relevance across entire website
Additional GBP categories Geographic (city/neighborhood) keyword relevance of domain content
High numerical Google ratings Keywords in GBP landing page title
Completeness of GBP listing Website’s degree of focus on a specific niche
Quality/authority of inbound links Keywords in anchor text of inbound links to domain
Keywords in native Google reviews Quantity of inbound links to domain from locally-relevant domains
Removal of spam listings Domain authority of website
Keywords in GBP landing page title Quantity of inbound links to domain from industry-relevant domains
Quantity of native Google reviews (with text) Mobile-friendly/responsive website
Verified GBP listing Volume of quality content on service pages
Quality/authority of inbound links to GBP landing page URL Diversity of inbound links to domain
Proper placement of map pin Keywords in GBP landing page H1/H2 tags

Concentrating your efforts on the individual factors from the table above is a great way to move forwards when optimizing for local search. However, don’t overlook the fact that there are many more contributing factors beyond those featured here, therefore it’s important to give your attention to a wide range of optimization tasks.


Google Business Profile Signals

Important individual ranking factors within Google Business Profile include the primary category, the use of keywords in the business name, and the use of additional relevant categories.

The impact and value of GBP for Local Pack/Finder rankings has been on an upward trajectory since 2018. However, it has fluctuated slightly in importance for the localized organic results.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 23% 20% 22% 19% 25% 33% 36%
Localized Organic Results 10% 10% 8% 7% 9% 7% 6%

This overall increased significance of GBP for local rankings correlates with how Google continues to evolve and improve this tool. New features are often being added to enhance the user experience, so it makes sense that GBP is becoming even more valuable to local business owners.

If we look back at the two lists for the top 15 individual local search ranking factors, we can see that many are directly related to Google Business Profile. This includes actions such as setting the primary GBP category, completing and verifying the GBP profile, using keywords on the GBP landing page, and more.

It’s clear that there are certain actions on these lists that are great for rankings, but that you don’t have much control over or potential to optimize.

For example, the primary GBP category is the most important ranking factor for the Local Pack/Finder, but as soon as you’ve set the relevant category, there’s no more work to be done here.

Similarly, having keywords in the business name listed on GBP can boost rankings, but if the business in question doesn’t have keywords in its name, then there’s not much you can do (without violating Google’s guidelines). Once you’ve entered the name into the listing, this task won’t require any ongoing attention.

What you can do, however, is ensure the ‘completeness’ of your Google Business Profile. This means making sure you’ve filled out all of the relevant sections and that you continue to add photos and make new Posts.

Data from Google highlights how important this is, stating that, “Customers are 70% more likely to visit and 50% more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with a complete Business Profile.”

Google Business Profile Factors That Don’t Impact Rankings

It’s worth noting that you don’t need to take advantage of every aspect of GBP if you’re only focusing on improving your rankings.

The 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors survey experts are in agreement that several GBP-related factors don’t impact rankings.

These include:

  • Geo-tagged photos uploaded to GBP
  • Keywords in GBP description
  • Keywords in GBP products
  • Keywords in Google Posts
  • Keywords in GBP services
  • GBP messaging feature enabled
  • Frequency of Google Posts
  • Setting service areas

Remember, there’s more to Google Business Profile than just rankings. The actions that don’t influence rankings could still contribute to conversions, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to the bigger picture.

A Note on Google Business Profile Name Spam

2020 was the first time that GBP spam fighting was included as a possible ranking factor in the Whitespark survey, and this task has remained relevant throughout 2021.

Although this is an action that doesn’t improve your own listing, it can still give you a boost if higher-ranking competitor listings are penalized for spam violations.

Fighting spam has been the third top action that the experts have given more focus to this past year when working towards Local Pack/Finder rankings. This task is behind completeness of profiles in second place, and keywords in the business title in at number one. Arguably, as long as keywords in the business title remains a top ranking factor, some listings managers will continue to try to violate the guidelines by inappropriately including keywords.

In 2020, only 23% of local businesses were investing time in actively fighting GBP spam, which means that vast numbers of GBP profiles could still be winning with spammy tactics.

Tools that show GMB profiles and business names on a map as part of a grid tracker can make the process of combating spam a lot easier. This is because all of the appropriate information can be easily seen on a map display.

To learn more about Google Business Profile, check out these resources:


Review Signals

Individual review signal factors include first- and third-party reviews, review quantity, review velocity, and review diversity.

Reviews have grown slightly in importance for Local Pack/Finder rankings over the last few years, moving from 12% in 2018 to 17% in 2021. Although this increase is small, it reflects the ongoing value of reviews among consumers. Reviews have consistently been the second most important Local Pack/Finder ranking factor since 2018, when links were knocked out of this spot.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 12% 12% 11% 13% 15% 16% 17%
Localized Organic Results 6% 7% 6% 7% 6% 6% 5%

If we look at the top 15 Local Pack/Finder ranking factors, we can see high numerical Google ratings, keywords in native Google reviews, and quantity of native Google reviews all to be of high importance.

The experts also revealed that a high Google rating from reviews is the leading factor driving conversions in GBP. So as well as helping local businesses to rank, reviews can also increase sales.

Wondering how to get more reviews from your customers? You might be surprised to learn that, generally, all you have to do is ask. Figures show that 67% of consumers who are asked to leave a review will go on to do so!

As online reviews continue to grow in value for local rankings, developing processes to monitor, grow, and display reviews can be extremely beneficial. This helps save time while also enhancing a local business’s online reputation and rankings.

Review management software, such as BrightLocal’s Reputation Manager, can automate review monitoring. This helps to ensure that you don’t miss important feedback. This tool can also help you to grow the quantity of your reviews.

It’s easy to believe that consistently getting five-star ratings is the only way to dominate reviews, however, this isn’t the case. In November 2021, Google shared that a mix of positive and negative reviews actually makes a business appear more trustworthy.

Remember, Google isn’t the only place that you should be getting reviews. Third-party review sites can also impact rankings and encourage conversions.

To learn more about online reviews, check out these resources:


On-page Signals

Individual on-page optimization factors include NAP data, keywords in titles, and domain authority.

On-page signals are incredibly important for both traditional and local SEO. As we can see from the table below, on-page optimization has been consistently important for rankings since 2013, and especially so for the localized organic results.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 18% 15% 14% 14% 14% 15% 16%
Localized Organic Results 27% 27% 26% 24% 26% 32% 34%

In particular, the volume of quality content on a site, the topical keyword relevance across the entire site, and domain authority can make a difference to local rankings.

The importance of optimizing your local business website for the search engines shouldn’t be overlooked. Optimizing increases your chances of being discovered in both general organic and localized searches. On-page optimization is always going to be essential, so it’s wise to master this aspect of SEO.

Keyword research is a huge part of on-page SEO, and you should always be thorough with this when building your strategy. Be sure to get into the mindset of your target audience and tailor your content towards the words and phrases you know these people use. Essentially, you need to think like your customers in order to better appeal to them.

To be a serious competitor in the local search results, you’ll need to feature the name of your location (city, town, state etc.) in multiple places across your website. You’ll also want to use location-specific keywords in the metadata for titles and descriptions across your site.

To further boost your local authority in the eyes of Google, create dedicated pages on your website for local content. You’ll also want to make frequent mentions to your location within your blog posts—and if you’re not writing blog posts, then you’ll need to start!

What about multi-location businesses? In this case, you’ll need to create separate pages on your website for each location. Be sure to include all of the relevant NAP data on each page, as well as your opening hours, and any additional relevant information.

Not only is this helpful from a customer perspective, as they can easily find the information they’re looking for, but it can also impact local rankings for each of the locations listed.

If you’re working to boost the SEO efforts of a business with multiple locations, then enrolling in BrightLocal Academy’s How to Perform Local SEO Audits for Multi-location Businesses course is a great place to start. This course will equip you with the knowledge you need to comprehensively audit a business with two locations or 200!

To learn more about on-page optimization, check out these resources:


Individual link factors include inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, and linking domain quantity.

Link signals have long been known to be very valuable for boosting organic search rankings, and the same is true of localized results.

Links make up 31% of the localized organic ranking factors in 2021, having risen up from 24% since 2013.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 12% 12% 15% 17% 17% 15% 13%
Localized Organic Results 24% 25% 25% 29% 28% 31% 31%

The Whitespark survey placed the authority of inbound links to a website as the eighth most important factor affecting Local Pack/Finder results. The authority of the links to the landing page named on the GBP listing is also ranked as important.

Earning quality backlinks can be a difficult and time-consuming task, but they go a long way to improving the authority of a site, and are a worthwhile investment of your resources.

A word of caution: Bad backlinks can actually be harmful to your site overall, so it’s critical to assess the quality of the websites you’re getting links from. A simple way to do this is to download the MozBar Chrome extension.

The MozBar tool will show you the domain authority of the website you’re visiting, as well as the page authority of the individual page you’re on. The higher both of these numbers are, the better the quality of the site.

You can also use this tool to check the spam score of a website. If the spam score is high, then it’s probably best to avoid this website as a link could be detrimental to your SEO efforts.

In terms of the localized organic ranking factors, the quality of inbound links is the most important consideration, with internal links across the entire site also being of high importance.

Use of relevant keywords in the anchor text of inbound links is the eighth most important ranking factor for localized organic results, with quantity of inbound links to domain from locally-relevant domains coming in ninth.

To learn more about local link building, check out these resources:


Behavioral Signals

The individual behavioral ranking factors include click-through rate, mobile clicks to call, and dwell time.

In terms of importance as a Local Pack/Finder ranking factor, behavioral signals have been in steady decline for three years, dropping from 10% in 2018 down to 7% this year.

Behavioral signals saw a slight increase in importance for localized organic search, jumping back up to 11% this year after a previous decline.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 5% 7% 9% 10% 10% 8% 7%
Localized Organic Results 5% 7% 10% 11% 12% 10% 11%

Behavioral signals are a reliable source of information for Google because they’re much harder to manipulate than other factors. These actions are taken by the searcher, and therefore can only be influenced to a certain degree.

Instead of thinking up innovative new ways to influence user behaviour, why not spend this time optimizing your GBP profile to give the user the best possible experience. This involves creating optimized copy for titles, meta descriptions, Posts, and more. Make your listing as valuable and coherent as possible, and you’ll move closer to winning at rankings and conversions.

Try to remember that the end goal of SEO isn’t just to improve rankings, the focus must also be to attract the right customers to a business for those all-important sales. When you start getting seen by the right customers—those who want to learn more about your business—these users will naturally help to enhance the behavioral signals towards your site.

To learn more about influencing user behavior, check out these resources:


Citation Signals

Individual citation ranking factors include location data, IYP/aggregator NAP consistency, and citation volume.

Citations have decreased in ranking importance over the years, dropping from joint second for Local Pack rankings in 2013, down to joint sixth place this year.

We can see from the results of the Local Search Ranking Factors survey that citations began to decrease in value as a ranking signal in 2015.

In relation to Local Pack/Finder importance, citations dropped from 17% in 2015 to 7% in 2020, and held steady at 7% this year.

In terms of importance in localized organic search results, citations have decreased from 10% in 2015 down to 6% in 2020, and back up slightly to 7% this year. Although the percentage amount only improved slightly, its position in this list has gone up, moving from joint-sixth important in 2020, up to position four in 2021.

Even though citations have gradually decreased in overall importance, they’re still valuable for visibility and for building trust with consumers. When a potential customer can observe that a business’s information is correct and consistent across the web, then this helps to establish credibility.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 18% 20% 17% 13% 11% 7% 7%
Localized Oranic Results 11% 11% 10% 8% 9% 6% 7%

There are two different types of citations—structured and unstructured.

Structured citations, which are listings made by a business on relevant directories and third-party websites, are the most common type. These citations provide a quick and easy way for a business to earn backlinks.

Many of the websites that structured citations appear on are seen as trustworthy and authoritative by Google, which makes these backlinks valuable to the business in question. This can help a business to begin building the authority of its website, as well as to give an established website a boost.

Take a look at the example below of a recent Google search for ‘Cafe in Sacramento’. You can see that there are several results from business directories, including the top three spots!

Sacramento Cafe Highlight

To learn more about citations, check out these resources:


Personalization Signals

Individual personalization ranking factors include search history, search location, and device.

Personalization essentially boils down to how you’re more likely to see results from websites that you’re already familiar with and have visited frequently. However, it’s also influenced by the location a user searches from and the language that they use, among other factors.

In relation to Local Pack/Finder ranking importance, personalization peaked at 10% in 2017, and has held at 6% since 2018. For the localized organic results, personalization was rated consistently at 9% throughout 2013 to 2017, and has been at 7% since 2018.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 7% 8% 8% 10% 6% 6% 4%
Localized Organic Results 9% 9% 9% 9% 7% 7% 6%

Although personalization can have an impact on general search results, this is much less likely to impact local search results. This means there’s not much you can do from an SEO perspective to optimize a website for personalization considerations.

Businesses that serve customers in countries with different native languages can translate—and therefore personalize—their content to reach the relevant audiences. Multilingual SEO is a largely underutilized resource that local businesses can tap into where appropriate.

It’s worth noting that in the US, 60 million people—almost a quarter of the population—aren’t native English speakers. So if you operate a business in a multicultural city, then it’s likely worth targeting your website at the languages besides English that are commonly spoken.

To learn more about personalization in search, check out these resources:


What’s Next?

As you likely already know, there are no guarantees on the path to SEO success. This is a process that requires ongoing research, effort, and a willingness to adjust your strategy as you go.

Although there are a number of different factors influencing search rankings, some of the associated tasks require much more ongoing effort than others. Understanding where your priorities should lie—and being able to adjust your focus accordingly—will be key to staying one step ahead of your competitors.

The insights provided in the latest Local Search Ranking Factors survey should serve as your guide as you assess your local search strategy for the year ahead. This expert advice helps to take the guesswork out of local SEO so that you can dedicate your time and energy in all the right places.

Finally, we’d like to send our gratitude and appreciation to Darren Shaw, the Whitespark team, and everyone who contributed their expertise to the survey!

Alix Coe

Alix is the Content Marketing Manager at BrightLocal. They focus on sharing insights into the world of local SEO, with a particular interest in reporting on the latest industry news.



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Bryan Cush On Health Consumer Searches, Doctors With The Same Name & Health Brand Defense


In part one, Bryan Cush, the co-founder of Tidal Health Group, and I spoke about how to use health data for content and search marketing and in part two we dug into using medical databases, local search and E-A-T & YMYL. In part three we talked about schema and structured data for health content. Here in the last part, part four we talk about health related searches and doctors that share the same name, plus reputation management for health brands.

How Consumers Search For Health Conditions Compared To How Professionals Talk About Those Conditions:

Bryan explained that typically 85% or so of the terms they track in search in the health space are layman searches and conditions. The client always leads with the doctor’s name, the device name or the technical term of the condition but they need to tell their clients that no, consumers do not search that way. Tidal has a ton of data already to use in order to bridge this information for their clients. Tidal often doesn’t need to tap into patient notes or testimonials but if they are in a blind spot, they will use that information. They often will look at the CPT codes, the Current Procedural Terminology codes they use for billing insurance companies and also look at the ICD codes, the diagnosis codes which is a bit closer to the layman terms used in search but still not close enough. Those are some of their research tools they use but more often than not, they have a place to jump off on.

Doctors Who Share Names Or Family Doctors:

I then brought up the concept of how Google knows which doctor with the same last name is a different or the same doctor. Because many doctors do end up working at multiple practices or in a practice and also in a hospital. How does Google know that doctor is the same doctor or a unique doctor. Bryan said there is an authority aspect to this where that specific doctor might now have a Wikipedia page but his father may, and they map that in Wikipedia, in the medical directors and through structured data to convey this information on the web.

Brand Defense In The Healthcare Space:

Bryan spoke about the challenge of defending your brand in the healthcare space because often practice names are generic. Such as Urgent Care Nyack, there are many brands with that name, and some without that name but also offer urgent care services in that area. So paid search comes in handy here but also you need to be great at local search for this reason. But you need to test and retest to see what works for your clients in this space.

You can learn more about Bryan Cush at Tidal Health Group.

You can subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here so you don’t miss the next vlog where I interviews. I do have a nice lineup of interviews scheduled with SEOs and SEMS, many of which you don’t want to miss – and I promise to continue to make these vlogs better over time. If you want to be interviewed, please fill out this form with your details.

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What Should Local Marketers Pay Attention To?


This September, iPhone users around the world were treated to the arrival of iOS 15.

This much-anticipated update delivered on a number of promises from Apple, such as:

  • Security enhancements
  • Bug fixes
  • Changes to the interface
  • New features and functions
  • Improvements to native apps

When it comes to app improvements, Apple Maps users have not been left behind by iOS 15. There are noteworthy developments for local SEOs to be aware of.

These improvements to the Maps app have prompted some in the tech industry to declare that Apple could finally be offering a worthy alternative to Google Maps.

“Far from the fiasco of a launch it experienced in 2012, Apple Maps has recovered to become a legitimate challenger to Google Maps” – Neuf.tv

“Apple Maps hot on the heels of Google Maps with new iOS 15 updates” – T3.com

The Google Maps vs Apple Maps battle has been ongoing for many years, with the consensus generally being that Google has remained the champion throughout. However, the Apple Maps revamp through iOS 15 is already proving popular to Apple users. What’s more, it is clearly already enticing some people away from the Google alternative.

What’s new with iOS 15 for Apple Maps?

There have been a number of exciting improvements to Apple Maps with this latest upgrade, including:

  • Better filtering options for local business searches
  • Enhanced navigation and travel experiences
  • Updates to curated guides

Better Filtering Options for Local Business Searches

Apple Maps users now have access to better filters for local business information, and this update should catch the attention of those responsible for enhancing discovery of a local business.

For example, search results for a nearby restaurant can now be filtered according to a number of options. Users can filter by those that are currently open, or by the type of cuisine on offer.

These new filter capabilities mean that users can enjoy more relevant results. This will be an important time-saver when making decisions.

The filter upgrade makes it even more important that local business information is comprehensively provided and accurately kept up to date. If it’s not, then customers may easily overlook a good match in favor of one that they can clearly see meets their needs.

Many aspects of the Apple Maps experience have enjoyed a 3D upgrade, making it easier for users to identify their real-life surroundings. The improved navigation system, which now offers turn-by-turn direction instructions, gives users greater confidence in the route.

Enhanced Navigation and Travel Experiences

The navigation upgrades have clear benefits for those who are walking, driving, or taking public transport:

  • Walking – iPhone users on foot can now scan nearby buildings to better understand their current location. Doing so enables them to obtain more detailed directions, which are demonstrated by arrows superimposed onto the screen.
  • Driving – Drivers will appreciate that the conventional 2D map transitions into a 3D model when approaching an interchange. This will help drivers to better identify which lane they should be in, which could reduce mistakes and increase road safety.
  • Public Transport – Public transport users now have the option to pin their favorite routes and obtain up-to-the-minute departure information. What’s more, alerts will be received as a user nears their desired stop.

Ios15 Apple Maps Update Navigation

Source: Apple

Updates to Curated Guides

Although Curated Guides is not a new iOS 15 feature, it’s still worth knowing about as a business owner or local marketer, and it has been enhanced with this latest update.

Since iOS 14, Apple Maps users have had access to information on great local places to visit. All of the Curated Guides are regularly updated, so users can be sure to discover the latest and most relevant information.

The Curated Guides are crafted using the expert opinion of brands such as Time Out and The Washington Post. Users also have the option to create their own Guides to share with friends and family.

Being featured in a Guide—whether an expertly-crafted one or one that has been created by individual users—could lead to greater exposure and more customers.

What does this mean for local business owners and marketers?

As Apple focuses on improving its Maps app—by introducing new features and continuing to enhance existing capabilities—Google Maps users may be increasingly tempted to jump ship.

At the end of the day, everyone wants to have the best experience with each of the apps they use. This means brand loyalty may take second place to the desire for a seamless experience.

Apple Maps currently boasts up to 100 million users in the US alone, and this number looks set to grow as the improvements keep coming. As more people embrace Apple as their map provider of choice, it will naturally become more important that the businesses you manage are easily discoverable on the app. By paying attention now, you can ensure you are not going to be left behind in the future.

How can local businesses enhance their visibility on Apple Maps?

The first step to being visible on Apple Maps as a local business is to add or claim your Apple Maps listing. The process of claiming this business listing is incredibly quick, especially in comparison to Google My Business, so there’s no reason to put off getting started with Apple Maps.

Once the listing has been claimed, a local business can begin building a strong presence. Providing accurate location information—such as address and opening hours—is essential for a positive user experience and should always be a priority.

It’s also important to optimize business listings to make them more discoverable by users seeking a relevant product or service. While considering how to do this, it’s useful to know that Apple Maps still relies on third-party review data, primarily from Yelp, Foursquare, and Tripadvisor. So in order to optimize your listing with positive reviews and photos, it’s important to build a presence on these sites. 

A Word on Voice Search

Since Siri uses information from Apple Maps for location-based queries, being visible here is important for local businesses. 

More than 500 million devices around the world have the potential to use Siri to find information, with as many as 62% of iPhone users reporting that they use this voice assistant to get answers while driving. This means that if someone is searching for a local business while at the wheel, those succeeding at Apple Maps are going to be front and center in the results. 

Ready to take action?

Now that you know all about the Apple Maps update, you will want to consider how to use this information to your advantage.

By evaluating your existing strategy for Apple Maps, you can determine how you can enhance and optimize your presence.

With the long-reigning dominance of Google Maps, you could be forgiven for overlooking the Apple alternative in the past. Getting ahead of the curve now could prove invaluable in the not-too-distant future!

Alix Coe

Alix is the Content Marketing Manager at BrightLocal. They focus on sharing insights into the world of local SEO, with a particular interest in reporting on the latest industry news.





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Why my website is slow?

A website can be delayed for many reasons, and the main is the web hosting. However, the most important and the ones that appear most often are the following.

1. Website Hosting

The most common problem faced by today’s websites as when choosing a hosting provider we usually look first at the cheaper results which provide a shared hosting package which however does not guarantee good speeds and usually results in a slow server response. Another reason that the server may not respond properly is because the server may not be optimized for the applications to be run (WordPress, Joomla, Opencart etc).

A proper hosting package should thus provide fast loading of the website, proper and immediate support on server-side issues as well as optimization for the specific application to be used. The issue of scaling is also very important, ie your package can be upgraded easily and quickly if your page traffic increases.

2. Image Size & Dimensions

We all know the expression “A picture equals a thousand words”.The size of the images plays a very big role in the speed of your website, so you better pay special attention to it. By size I mean the Kilobytes or Megabytes (better not get there of course) of each image. So the images must be uploaded to the website in the ideal size so as not to spoil the result that the user sees.

Most of the time, the images we upload to our website contain “junk” bytes, making it slower and slower. Also, the images that must be uploaded to the website must always be in the dimension we need them. For example, if we need an image of 800×600 pixels, then we need to upload such an image and not an image of 1600×1200 pixels. Because it automatically means that we are uploading twice as much image as we need, so more data, therefore a slower website.

3. Bandwidth Thieves

A typical example is the plugins of a CMS (WordPress, Joomla etc). Many of them you may find useful for your page, but their code is so burdensome that it may be better to rethink their usefulness. Another example is the CMS templates as some of them are not optimized enough in terms of speed. Also, bandwidth thieves can be considered the ads we have on our website to earn revenue as they significantly burden the size of our page.

4. No or incorrect use of tools to speed up the page

We are referring to tools that will help you shrink your page in size, keep photos in faster accessible memory (commonly known as cache) to not load every time from the beginning or even select the nearest server to display your website from the nearest geographical distance. These tools may several times not be set up properly on your host server or may not be used at all due to an omission.

But the truth is that they play a huge role as they can make a huge difference in the loading speed of your website. The time it takes for your website to load and be seen by the user is one of the most important factors for its success and increase your sales, whether we are talking about an eshop or a service company.

5. Bulky and Messy Code

Inefficient and / or bulky code is the enemy of any website, and in most cases it is difficult to manage. For example, many developers use spaces in the CSS code to make it more read-friendly, but in the end they cause a slight delay in the whole web page.

Condensing / shrinking the code can lead to a noticeable improvement in speed. If you have a good knowledge of Web Development, take a look at the CSS files for unnecessary spaces and line breaks.

6. Excessive Flash Use

In fact, using Flash can greatly slow down your website. Indian web developers describe Flash as “The Sumo of the Internet” – large, bulky and displaces responsiveness on mobile phones.

So do not sacrifice the speed of your website for a few more effects, which few smartphone users will have access to.

So why is it so slow to load a website?

And when we say one of the most important factors, we mean first of all the users who visit your page (we have all closed pages that take a long time to load, going straight to the next Google results) but of course also for Google and your position in search results. In fact, the two are usually interlinked as the bad user experience brings more bounces (users who come in and out) which shows Google that the page is not good enough to show it to users. A website can be delayed for many reasons. 

Charley Spektor On Importance Of Link Building For Home Depot


Charley Spektor is the co-founder of Saratoga B2B Group and has a very deep and rich career in digital marketing, from working at IDG, TechTarget, Cheapflights, and Stone Temple Consulting with Eric Enge who I also interviewed. At Stone Temple Consulting he ran the SEO team working on the Home Depot client.

He actually said there was a ton of link building done on Home Depot. They used the Home Depot brand to email people from the Home Depot name in order to publish external content on third party sites with links back to Home Depot. Charley had a blast working on the Home Depot account because he loves hardware stores.

The big difference working on Home Depot’s retail site and working with B2B clients is link building. He said with B2B, he has not built a single link. I found it interesting that Home Depot needed links but B2Bs did not, but Charley explained that most B2Bs don’t have many links, so there is less competition there. The internal linking is key here, he said. They build internal content ecosystems that helps Google understand what the website is about.

His team writes a lot of blog posts and pillar pages, the pillar pages link to the blog posts and the blog posts link to the content hubs. They work very closely with their clients, who are the subject matter experts, to produce that level content. With the nature of technology, there is always something new coming out and it gives a smaller company an advantage with content development and competing in SEO. Also, if the content doesn’t work for SEO, it is great content from a user perspective that simply works for the web site – so it is a win win he said.

You can learn more about Charley Spektor at saratogab2b.com.

Part two is next week!

You can subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here so you don’t miss the next vlog where I interviews. I do have a nice lineup of interviews scheduled with SEOs and SEMS, many of which you don’t want to miss – and I promise to continue to make these vlogs better over time. If you want to be interviewed, please fill out this form with your details.

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How to Set Up Google My Business Listings


Google My Business is a core element of local SEO, so it’s important to highlight at this point just how crucial it is that your listing data is accurate and kept up to date.

Research suggests that 50% of consumers visit a store or business the day of performing a local search, such as ‘dry cleaners near me’, and that 80% of consumers lose trust in local businesses if they see incorrect or inconsistent contact details or business names online, so you’ll want you keep your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) consistent across all your listings, not just GMB.

Setting up your Google My Business profile is a critical part of local SEO. Get it right the first time with the following guide.

While there are lots of ways to monitor and improve GMB performance, to start with you’ll need to set up your basic profile, free of the bells and whistles that will come later.

1. Set up a new Google Account

If you want to use any Google service—be it Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs or Google My Business—you need to have a Google account…that’s just the way it is. Fortunately getting one is free, and businesses just need to go here and click the “To manage a business” button.

If you want to create a new Gmail address then your username can only contain letters, numbers and periods, or you can choose to sign-in with an existing personal or business email address. Use an email that you’ll have immediate access to, as you’ll be asked to login and retrieve a security code.

After being asked to provide a phone number, date of birth and gender (and to agree to the ubiquitous terms and conditions), you can now start to build out your business profile and get noticed!

2. Head to google.com/business

This area is your Google My Business gateway. You’ll be coming back to it regularly so take the time to save it as a bookmark, and when you’re ready click ‘Manage Now’.

3. Enter your business name

If you have the same name as another business in your region, you’ll see the autocomplete function suggest those businesses for you. This is to allow you to see if your business listing already exists (to avoid accidental duplication), and to add a new GMB profile to an existing business if you’ve just opened a new location.

Example of Google My Business business name entry form

4. What to do if your business is already claimed

Click the “Request access” button and submit the form with as much detail as possible. You’ll receive a confirmation email of the request, and Google will contact the email currently associated with the business.

Unfortunately it’s then a case of wait-and-see for 7 days before you can reach out to Google Business Support.

How To Set Up Gmb Screenshot

If during this time you receive confirmation that account ownership has been passed over you, then great!

If you receive an email saying that you’ve been denied ownership, then the best thing to do is to raise a question with the GMB Help Community and get advice from one of their volunteers.

5. Enter the address of the business location

(Only if this is where your business engages in face-to-face interactions with customers).

Google My Business address input form example

If you’re a Service Area Business that delivers goods and services to your customers, you’ll need to tick the box at the bottom of this form. SABs have two options here:

  • If you can receive customers at your business address, enter your address here, tick the box and click ‘Next’.
  • If you don’t have any premises where customers can visit you, leave the address field blank, tick the box and then tick the ‘Hide my address (it’s not a store)’ box that appears below.

All businesses that deliver goods and services directly to their customers will have the option to specify a Service Area in the next step.

Form to specify a service area on Google My Business example

6. Specify service areas (Service Area Businesses only).

Before you can choose your business category, you’ll need to specify the areas you serve, so that Google can accurately surface your business for searches in those areas, even without a physical address. Enter one or more regions, cities, or ZIP codes that your business serves.

Google My Business service area selection example

N.b. At the time of writing, Google My Business is phasing out the ‘Distance around your business location’ option and has stated that these will be replaced, so we’d recommend forgoing this option and specifying regions, cities, or ZIP codes instead. Some businesses are also finding that they are being forced to provide a physical address as a method of fighting spam.

7. Choose your business category.

This is a very important field that will not only strongly influence the kinds of search terms you appear in Google for, but also appear within your Google My Business profile. It’s also something worth testing when you come to update your Google business listing.

Google My Business category choice example

While you are able to adjust this later (which will require re-verification – more on this later), we’d recommend researching competitors and looking through a full list to find the most accurate category for your business.

N.b. Some Google My Business features are category-specific. For example, hotel listings show class ratings and list any amenities offered. Food and drink businesses can also add URLs to their listing for online orders, reservations, and their menu, and they can even add menu items directly into GMB. Services and health and beauty businesses may be able to add a booking button to their listing.

These are just a few examples of the sophistication that Google is developing for GMB, so it’s worth staying up-to-date on new additions to Google My Business.

8. Add a contact phone number and website URL.

Neither is compulsory but are strongly recommended if you want to take advantage of GMB functionalities like call tracking. If you ever need to change this when updating your Google business listing, be sure to make those changes to all other business listings, too.

Google My Business add contact details example

If you don’t already have a website, Google will even give you the option to create a new ‘Google Website’ based on the information you’ve provided. However, as we’ve shown before, there are plenty of reasons local businesses need their own unique websites.

9. Complete your Google My Business Verification.

Google My Business verification example

Google obviously needs to be able to prove that your business is where you say it is, and for entirely new GMB profiles, you have three options:

  1. Postcard verification. This is the most-used verification process, and is available to all businesses. With this process, a verification postcard will be sent to the address you entered earlier (it should reach you within five days). Once received, you can enter the code in your GMB account to verify the business. If your code doesn’t show up, you can click the ‘Request another code’ banner at the top of the screen in GMB.
  2. Phone verification. Some businesses have the option to verify their listing over the phone. You’ll know you’re eligible if you see the ‘Verify by phone’ option at the beginning of the verification process. Using this process, you’ll receive an automated message with a verification code, that you’ll then need to enter into GMB.
  3. Email verification. Like phone verification, this is only available to some businesses, and you’ll know you qualify for it if you see the ‘Verify by email’ option. This simple process sees you receive a verification code in the inbox of the Google Account associated with the GMB listing and entering it at the verification stage. Be sure you have access to this inbox before proceeding with this option.

The two other options are instant verification, which is only available if you’ve already verified your business’s website with Google Search Console, and bulk verification, for businesses managing ten or more locations. You can read more about both of these options here.

What’s Next?

Once you have an officially verified listing, it’s time to optimize your Google My Business!

Now you can:

To benchmark your business’s GMB performance against others in your industry, take a look at our Google My Business Insights Study.

Boost your local marketing with BrightLocal

Setting up your Google My Business profile is just the start of your local marketing journey. Competition is rife, no matter how niche your business is, so it’s crucial that you have the local SEO tools on hand to help you understand your local search presence.

That’s true of your website as well as your Google My Business listing (remember that the Local Pack appears above organic search results for local searches and is only made up of GMB listings), so you’ll want a toolset that gives you an overview of how both are performing.

BrightLocal’s Rank Checker, Local Search Audit, and GMB Audit are great ways to get this up-to-date and accurate performance data for you or your clients. Get started with a free 14-day trial today!

Jamie Pitman

Jamie heads up BrightLocal’s content team, ensuring we produce insightful articles, research and resources that enable businesses and SEOs to get even better results in local search.



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Udit Mhatre On AI & Dark Patterns SEO


In part one of my interview with Udit Mhatre, the Senior SEO Manager at DuMont Project, we talked about doing SEO in India vs the US.

How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Google SERP

Now Udit said he is spending a lot of time studying how RankBrain and BERT work and he is seeing the quality of content is adapting to satisfy Google’s new algorithms. He said it is now more about content than building links. He said content is more important to Google’s ranking algorithms more so because of RankBrain and BERT. He also said linkless mentions (citations without hyperlinks) do matter because it builds sentiment with Google.

Google did say that there is no way to optimize for RankBrain and BERT. But the type of content that Google matches on for the most relevant for searchers. We then dive into a bit on the history of links vs content. Content won out by the way. He also brings up some examples of how passage indexing might help.

UI/UX Dark Pattern Hacks:

There are some brands that make it very difficult to terminate your account with them and consumers do not want you go through all those steps to terminate. So anything that a brand can do to not impact their website publicly but help their brand, from a UI/UX perspective, is called a dark pattern. Companies sneak items in your cart or subscribe you to a service without you knowing, it is sneaky. Google did come out with methods to check some of this behavior for merchant center. Also, using various colors and text to push your website visitors to click on buttons, but some sites are using these methods to trick people into actions they do not want to take.

Right now, he said most of this is not hurting SEO right now but he thinks one day it will hurt your SEO and rankings. Here is the example of the story of the site who mistreated its customers to get negative reviews.

You can learn more about Udit Mhatre on LinkedIn.

You can subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here so you don’t miss the next vlog where I interviews. I do have a nice lineup of interviews scheduled with SEOs and SEMS, many of which you don’t want to miss – and I promise to continue to make these vlogs better over time. If you want to be interviewed, please fill out this form with your details.

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What’s New in Local Search Grid? More Reasons to Put Your Rankings on the Map!


In the months since we launched Local Search Grid, we’ve been hard at work adding new functionality and updates to make it the de facto geo grid of choice.

Alongside the usual, subtle quality-of-life updates you’re not supposed to notice, we’ve launched some big new features that take understanding and improving your local search performance to the next level.

Here’s why there’s never been a better time to put your rankings on the map!

New Key Metrics in Competitor Tables

One of the really neat things you can do with Local Search Grid is to track your competitors and find out why their Google My Business profiles might be winning in local SERPs. You can view the business category they’re using on GMB, see the number of reviews and their average review rating, and find out where you might have an angle to beat them.

We’ve since added two key on-site SEO metrics to this table, number of backlinks and website Domain Authority, so competitor espionage can uncover more routes to winning than ever before!

 

What's New in Local Search Grid? More Reasons to Put Your Rankings on the Map! - 0

Links: This is the number of links we’ve found on the internet that direct to the business’s website. Comparing the number of links between competitors allows you to understand where you might be able to beat them in organic and local search by building links back to your site.

Authority: This number, out of 100, tells you how likely a business’s website is to rank in organic search, and is a good indicator of their overall SEO performance. If all of your competitors are beating you here, you might want to look at improving your website’s SEO.

SERP Screenshots

We’ve all been there: you’re talking about rankings and your local SEO client says “well, when I looked on Google…” With this update you can now roll your eyes back to the front of your head and calmly present your client with proof of the true picture of their rankings positions.

This much-sought-after update allows you to see what a Google Local Finder search looked like, in-browser, when our system performed it.

 

What's New in Local Search Grid? More Reasons to Put Your Rankings on the Map! - 1

 

This will help you communicate rankings performance to skeptical clients and stakeholders by showing results in a format they’re familiar with. It also really helps inform and educate clients about local SEO!

Visit the FAQ to find out more.

Purchase Addons

Regularly running out of credits or tired of manually buying more?

Good news! We’ve added bundles of Local Search Grid credits to the Addons page, making it easy to customize the number of credits you get every month.

 

What's New in Local Search Grid? More Reasons to Put Your Rankings on the Map! - 2

 

Note: only BrightLocal Account Owners can view and purchase Addons.

Archive Report Runs

There are many reasons why you might want to clear the decks in Local Search Grid. No longer have use for a report run but don’t want to delete it? Have a report run you’d rather not appear in your white-label report?

Well, now you can archive individual report runs with ease, and access your Report History at any time from within Local Search Grid.

 

What's New in Local Search Grid? More Reasons to Put Your Rankings on the Map! - 3

 

​​Visit the FAQ to find out more.

Support for Enterprise Plans

Great news for agencies and brands managing 100+ locations: you can now set up custom plans for Local Search Grid credits!

This means no more repetitive manual purchasing of additional credits for businesses working at scale.

Speak with the Enterprise Team to get these set up in your custom plan, or read our launch article for more info.

Local Search Grid Module Added to Brightlocal Academy Course

Want to get the most out of Local Search Grid? We’ve added a module focused on doing just this to our Level Up Your Local SEO with BrightLocal course in BrightLocal Academy.

 

What's New in Local Search Grid? More Reasons to Put Your Rankings on the Map! - 4

 

In it you’ll learn how to use Local Search Grid to get the clearest picture of local rankings, alongisde using the powerful competitor benchmarking features to reveal where you should be focusing your ongoing optimization efforts!

You can find out more and join BrightLocal Academy for free by following the relevant link below.

If you’re an existing BrightLocal Academy member, enroll on the course, or if you’ve enrolled already, jump straight in and complete the Local Search Grid module (you don’t have to worry about re-taking the final exam again!).

We hope you enjoy these improvements as we continue to make the most affordable geo grid on the market. Want a particular feature? Let us know in the comments below!

The post What’s New in Local Search Grid? More Reasons to Put Your Rankings on the Map! appeared first on BrightLocal.



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