The Impact of Local Behavioral Signals
Local behavioral signals are one of the least understood components in local search, and yet they play an important role in how businesses rank on Google and Bing.
Given Google’s mission to reflect the real world as accurately as possible, it makes sense that the company’s algorithm was designed to incorporate certain behavioral ranking signals. However, the details of Google’s ranking algorithm are closely guarded, and most businesses are unaware of the role that behavioral signals play in the way their websites rank in local search.
Given the secrecy, most of what we know about the impact of local behavioral signals is based on trial and error and informed assessments. Regardless, the following behavioral signals are likely to play a role in the way business websites rank in local search.
More people are conducting searches on mobile devices than ever before, and that gives Google an excellent view into user locations. It’s widely believed that Google uses the distance of a business from the location of the searcher when determining local SERPs. If all else is equal, Google will rank the business that’s closer to the searcher above other businesses in the same category.
Businesses can’t control where people are located when they search on mobile devices, but they can make sure to fill out their Google My Business profiles completely and accurately, as this is the best way to ensure that nearby searchers will convert. If you need help with creating and optimizing your Google My Business profiles, SOCi can help with that.
High click-through rates (CTRs) have long been a coveted metric, but most people don’t realize that CTR may be used as a local behavioral signal. Evidence suggests that websites with strong CTRs rank above those with lower-than-average CTRs, even when the spike is temporary. High CTRs serve as an endorsement of relevancy for certain keywords or queries, signaling to Google that the website should rank higher for those searches. One way to improve a website’s CTR is to create accurate title tags and meta descriptions across all pages.
Interactions on knowledge panels send a powerful signal to Google. Click-throughs on knowledge panels are widely considered to be one of the strongest brand endorsements. Phone calls, driving directions, and direct bookings or reservations send the message to Google that searchers have a direct interest in the business and they plan to convert. This kind of interactivity is an important behavioral signal, and it’s one of the reasons why we recommend that businesses claim their listings and update them regularly.