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Local SEO is a Bigger Ranking Factor Since 2020 Google Updates

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Goepps 2020 core update local seo png

Google Core Updates are significant rollouts that impact which content and site architecture factors Googlebot will prioritize and rank higher when crawling pages, indexing those pages, and displaying them as search engine results.

In late 2020, we began noticing an important shift after the November and December Core Updates. In short, localization became a more influential ranking factor, which means local SEO moved to the top of the digital marketing priority list for us and our clients.

If you have more local-focused content, your rank may be more likely to increase. Alternatively, you may see a drop in overall rankings, but a lift in organic traffic (which often includes searches from users in your area looking to do business).

Make sure your performance marketing approach is adapting to these changes. Based on the data we’ve seen, we suggest starting with these content/site elements.


Local Keywords and Phrases

When reviewing our own SEO KPIs since the last core update, we’re noticing a drop in traffic from out of area and an increase in local traffic.

Our content marketing efforts that focus on local identifiers are getting more traction. So our keyword strategy now includes a greater focus on:

  • Geographic Info: Adding city, state, area, or neighborhood keywords into your content is a simple but effective way to get ahead on local SEO. You can pepper wording into the body of your web pages if doing so makes sense for that topic.
  • Web Page Changes: Including service area keywords in your footer and top nav is a great way to get that information on every page without keyword stuffing or clunky wording.
  • Local News and Events: Whether it’s about how GoEpps was impacted by tornadoes that ripped through Davidson County, or how much we’re enjoying our new downtown Nashville headquarters, we take advantage of opportunities to take pride in who we are and where we come from.
  • “Near Me”: Search terms and queries that include “near me” show the user has high intent to engage with a business, and that they’re actively searching for a product or service to meet those needs. Adding “near me” to product and service keywords is an effective way to get your web pages in front of them on search engines.

Location Pages

Location pages are simple pages, usually linked to location keywords, that highlight the products, services, and special offers available at a particular location where you do business.

If you have a grand opening, are renovating or expanding a location, or are adding to your service offerings, location pages are a great way to highlight those changes, and to streamline the user’s experience on your site.

Localization Pages

Localization pages similar to location pages, but are created to improve local SEO for surrounding neighborhoods and communities you serve. While your location pages (for your actual, physical locations in your area) will be linked in more prominent areas of your site, your localization pages will take a more “behind the scenes” role in improving local SEO.

When creating localization pages:

  • Start with a list of all the neighborhoods and towns near where you do business.
  • Create content that promotes your key products and services in each of those areas.
  • Include geographic keywords in your introduction, call to action (CTA), and page title.

Don’t forget: meta titles and descriptions, image names and alt text, and URLs offer more chances to include local keywords on localization pages or any other content you create.

Google My Business (GMB) Listing

Claiming your Google My Business (GMB) listing and keeping it up to date is another critical way to improve your rankings in local searches. Be sure all fields on your listing are complete with current, accurate information. Add high-quality photos of your location, products, and services so people have a sense of what to expect. And engage with Google reviews proactively to keep that star rating up.

Grounding your content and web page creation in your community will keep you from getting left behind by the recent Google Core Updates. It also gives a human element to your content that makes it easier for people to relate and reminds them that you’re there to help when they’re ready to reach out.

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