MEC has contributed to a white paper which will be published by Linkdex that reveals ground-breaking findings about how the location a search is made from affects Google rankings. 

67% of the time, if you rank in the top 30 for a keyword in one location you will not rank for that keyword across all other locations.

Also, when location is not set, the average keyword ranking deviates by four whole positions.

What are geo-rankings?

This research clearly demonstrates what we’ve been seeing for several months now: that rankings change significantly based on the location where the search was made.

Essentially, if you’re checking your rankings in one location (e.g. London) you won’t have a full picture of your ranking visibility across the whole of the UK. Only by getting a view of your rankings in different areas of the UK will you have an understanding of your nationwide ranking.

Why are geo-rankings important?

Understanding how rankings fluctuate based on geographic location is imperative, particularly when organic rankings are used as a KPI of the SEO campaign.

How should your SEO strategy change as a result of geo-rankings?

Our reaction to geo-ranking changes has varied, dependent on the client and vertical involved.

We have seen, as confirmed by Lindex’s research, that some sectors are more acutely affected than others (with local tradesmen being highly affected, while the finance vertical is relatively unchanged).

However, one of the interesting take-outs from the research is that, of the 2,000 non-brand keyword rankings across 10 locations, no keyword ranking remained stable.

As a result, it is clear that some consideration of local variation must be taken into consideration when carrying out an SEO campaign across any sector.

How geo-rankings are impacting SEO:

1. Location specific optimisation strategies

Location-specific optimisation strategies are becoming increasingly more important. Location specific optimisation methods include on-site recommendations, link-building and local social/event activation.

2. Geo-ranking reporting

Use a system where a client’s rankings will be reported across key locations, providing average rankings based on this aggregated data. These average rankings will be weighted by geographic location determined by either the client’s presence by region or the population in that particular area.

3. Moving away from rankings as a core KPI

Rankings shouldn’t be used as a primary performance indicator, as traffic and conversions have proven to be a much more effective, and representative, measure of success.

The introduction of geo-rankings makes any reliance on rankings even more misleading than before (especially considering existing factors, such as personalisation, social recommendations etc.). 

While rankings alone should not be a primary measure of success of an SEO campaign, it remains very important for us, and clients, to be aware of on-going geo-rankings to be able to identify opportunities for local optimisation.

If you’re not ranking well in one geographical location, how can you improve your ranking in that location?

We have found the following approaches to be highly effective:

  • Adding a specific locally-targeted page (or pages, where appropriate).  

    These pages should include relevant information about the store or service being provided in that particular area, along with contact details and any relevant addresses.  This holds true for any location where the client has a physical presence.

  • Ensuring the page has internal link equity. 

    The page/pages then need to be given internal link equity, ideally from links within both site-navigation and body content, allowing  Google to understand that the page is fully integrated within the whole site architecture. 

  • Garnering links from external sources that point to the page.  

    In order for this to be effective, some reference to the location should to be conveyed through these links. This would include gaining worthy links in regional sources (e.g. local blogs, newspapers or directories) or developing links with appropriate local keywords as part of the anchor text.

How will geo-rankings affect your SEO campaigns?

I hope this post has been helpful in terms of sharing some of the insights into what geo-rankings are, the extent of their impact and how your SEO strategy should incorporate location specific optimisation.

How important is visibility on rankings by geographic location to your SEO campaigns, and how will you be adopting your strategies as a result?