Local SEO has been all the rage for local businesses for some time now. Most SEOs are very skilled at optimizing a website for local using on-page, backlink anchor text, and Google Places pages.
At the same time, Social Media has become a critical piece of the overall SEO puzzle. Shares, likes, follows, and +1’s are all known to positively impact overall ranking for a website.
With the two disciplines now permanently intertwined, it is important to consider how social impacts local SEO. Let’s review the main pivot points where the two provide collective momentum for locally-targeted websites and companies.
Geotagged Content: Check Ins and Media
Check Ins are important indicators of your physical location
Both Foursquare and Facebook offer the ability to check in from the business. Similar to how Google uses Web citations of your physical address for verifying location on Google Places and for local organic ranking, check ins have become a key part of their algorithm.
Geotagged media is also key to verifying location
Most smartphones automatically geotag photos when they are taken. The vast majority of users either don’t know how to turn this feature off or simply don’t care. When they upload images to Flickr or videos to YouTube, it includes metadata about the time, date, and location of when the media was created.
Especially if the media appears on your website or Google Places page, it serves to further confirm that your physical location is actually where you say it is.
Google+ Adds/Shares and +1s
Make no bones about it—Google+ is here to stay. Google+ activity and +1’s, as a whole, have been shown to be positively correlated to improved rankings on Google. Well, it has the same impact on local SEO.
Google looks at multiple dimensions of Google+ and +1 activities:
- Adds and/or Shares on Google+: Location of the individual making the adds or shares on Google+ is important, but some of the tried and true factors from overall SEO are also at play. Specifically, Google looks at the number of shares, the authority of the people doing the sharing, and the speed (acceleration or deceleration) of sharing. If these all work in your favor, your website will benefit.
- +1’s on your Website itself: It is absolutely important to earn +1’s on your website. Not only do they help your site rank overall, but they hold similar weight to Google+ shares. The volume of +1’s, the authority of those doing it, and the speed at which you are earning the +1’s all play a part.
Authority Reviewers On Social Sites
Sites like Yelp and Places are great for earning reviews about your business. It is, as usual, most important to get more reviews from authoritative or influential individuals. It is also important that those individuals provide high ratings on whatever review scale the sites use.
If your location is correct on these sites and the reviews start to flow from the “elite,” it will help your site rank locally.
Twitter Followers/Mentions and Facebook Shares/Likes
Google combines your ability to influence your social network as a whole with the above to decide which sites are most important to rank in any particular locale.
They apply a similar three-dimensional measurement system for both Twitter and Facebook:
- How many combined Followers/Mentions your business account has on Twitter and Shares/Likes you have on your Facebook page and website content
- How authoritative the individuals are who Follow/Mention or Share/Like
- Whether the pace of growth for Follow/Mention/Share/Like is accelerating or decelerating
SEO and Social Media are interdependent now, and that connection extends to Local SEO. Indicators like geotagged media and check ins are key to ranking based on location, but overall, social media profile health and activity also influence whether Google will rank you at the top or not.
This is still an evolving model (as are all facets of SEO), so we are sure to see new signals added, as Google works to continually improve the SERPs. Based on what we have seen to date, they are making rapid progress toward that objective.
Data Source: Local Search Ranking Factors, an annual survey of industry SEO professionals, provided by DavidMihm.com. If you are interested in Local SEO, I highly recommend you give a read to the full article.