- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On July 20, 2015
Welcome to Part 2 of our look at Moz’s annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey. There are so many things to keep in mind when building a local SEO strategy and the Moz survey is such a valuable resource that it warrants more than one post.
Check out Part 1 for an introduction and examination of the eight “buckets” that make up the local landscape for organic search results and Google’s “pack”/carousel results. This week we’re looking at the negative ranking factors, those that—intentional or not—could be driving your hospital brand down in search results.
The negative ranking factors section of the survey is just a list of 30 factors weighted by importance, so I grouped them into buckets like the positive ones. The highly scientific chart below shows those 30 factors divided up by how they relate to your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) info, Google My Business listing(s), business categories, reviews, keywords, website and map (or location) data. (Some factors fit into multiple buckets—primarily NAP and Google My Business.)
As with the positive factors, the importance of your NAP info and Google My Business listings becomes readily apparent when you view the data in this way. The two take up more than 60 percent of the chart, and more than a few of the surveyed experts point out their importance. If they aren’t up to par across the web, your rankings are almost certainly suffering as a result. Let’s take a closer look at these and more:
Don’t underestimate the importance of your NAP
If the chart isn’t enough, take a look at the top negative ranking factors:
|1||Listing detected at false business location|
|2||Incorrect business category|
|3||Mis-match NAP / Tracking Phone Numbers Across Data Ecosystem|
|4||Mis-match NAP / Tracking Phone Number on My Business Landing Page|
|5||Mis-match Address on My Business Landing Page|
Four of the top five have to do with incorrect or false NAP data on Google My Business and other directory sites. Given the fact that Google creates My Business listings for locations before their owners even claim them and that listings from key directories are propagated to hundreds or even thousands more, it’s not hard to see how their info could be incomplete, out of date or flat out wrong.
And with hospitals and health systems constantly shifting, merging and acquiring practices, data that’s correct today might not be correct tomorrow. If you want people in your community and surrounding areas to find you when they need medical care, this is the place to start.
Not many local search factors are on your website
Take a look at Moz’s list again and count how many of the negative ranking factors listed have to do with your system’s website. Assuming your visitors aren’t finding malware, the only other on-site factor is the absence of crawlable NAP info (we could include WHOIS info if we’re generous, but that’s set with your domain registrar).
Everything else has to do with off-site data, whether it’s Google My Business or other directories. It just goes to show that even a perfectly optimized website might not rank well locally, and even if it were #1 for every keyword, there are still nine other results on the first page (in addition to the “pack” and carousel results) that you could optimize.
Local search prefers local info
You wouldn’t list your hospital’s main address in the NAP for every location in your system, and you shouldn’t put down a generic number for all of them, either. Users prefer to be connected directly to the office they’re trying to reach, not a switchboard, and Google prefers local telephone numbers. Listing an 800 number makes it harder for Google to tell how local you are for a given search query.