Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great strategy for every business targeting potential customers. It is something every business should be thinking about given the rise of smartphone usage and better internet connectivity around the world. A recent research by Google found here indicated that 94% of the smartphone users look for local information on their phones, while as many as 84% take an action such as contacting the business and making a purchase. A recently released study about the ranking factors for local search in 2015 by Moz found here shows that factors that help brands rank higher in local search continue to evolve as technology evolves. It is important to get a website audit by Gauss Digital found here to find out how to improve visibility of your product and services. Here are the top ranking factors that your business should be focusing on in 2016.

Overall ranking factors

On-page signals

On- page signals will still remain to be a significant local search ranking factor. It refers to the presence phone numbers, address and name (NAP), keywords, domain authority and more. The pages of your business must match with search locations and optimized as much as possible to boost local relevancy. To show local relevancy, it is important to add location in the page title, page URL, image URL, keyword density, image title, Heading 2 tag, Heading 1 tag, image Alt Text, Google Webmaster submission Bing Webmaster submission and schema Markup among others.

Link Signals

The quality of the links in your business domain is an indication of how much authority links from the external websites to the business website. When more links are coming from external domains and that are relevant to the business website and have authority, the higher the ranking in the local search and traffic which comes to your business website.

However, it’s not all about the authority and quality of the links that lead external websites to your site, it is also important to shape the text used in linking your site to ensure it has relevancy. It is most important to avoid texts like “click here” but instead use tactics like location to boost local relevancy. If a location keyword is used together with other right keywords, there is a high chance of boosting the local relevancy and ranking well for the targeted phrase.

My Business Signals

Having a profile page using the Google My Business (GMB) profile age could be an important step in raking your business high in local search. It is one of the thing you should consider for your business if you want it to appear in this section. What Google does is to evaluate the relevancy of your business on your location listed in the GMB landing page title. Closer attention must be made to ensure where your business is listed is not in the wrong category. Go ahead to include all the information about your business, such as website URL, NAP and opening hours.

External local signals

A citation involves the mention of your business name, phone number and address in other sites. It is not necessarily important to have links pointing to your site. Citations will still be valuable in 2016 because search engines has to pay extra attention to the brand and its directories such as Internet Yellow Pages (IYP). According to Moz Local found here “with all factors constant, business sites with greater number of citations are likely to be ranked higher than those with fewer situations”. It is an important exercise for local visibility.

Social signals

The impact of social media in 2015 was enormous and the impact is expected to improve in 2016 and have a big impact to the site’s rankings. Google takes into accounts the social signals such as number of twitter followers, number of Facebook like, shares and comments, number of tweets mentioning business brand names, number of people that have you in their circles, number of Facebook fans and content being shared, retweeted, liked, and recommended.