This has been a pretty hot topic around the office lately. One big question that people ask is, “How do local (map) rankings help or affect organic rankings, and vice-versa?”
It’s a great question.
In general, they act independently. Local rankings take physical location into account as the key driver. Organic rankings, on the other hand, are driven primarily by relevant content and context, along with authoritative backlinks.
So this bring us to another question: “How are they similar, and how do they work together?”
The answer to this question will provide insight into just how closely related each SERP type is to the other and how they function together.
What are the differences between local and organic results?
As mentioned above, physical location is the core basis for the local/maps ranking results. Another specific part to this would be the location itself. Of course, this is typically related to the business type, which is an additional difference between maps and organics.
Other key differences include the local customer reviews and the consistency of business information. They play a big part in conversions and trust, although they are not direct ranking factors.
One other distinction would be that maps need engaging photos and videos that support the legitimacy of your business. Plus there’s the ability to help promote your local profile with coupons or offers to help attract potential customers to your local profile.
Now let’s look at organic rankings and the pieces that help content rank in the organic aspects of search engine results. One of the simplest points taken into account would be content and the keywords within it—although a layer of complexity has been added over the years, with search engines getting better and better about understanding the context, semantics, and intent within a website and its pages.
Link building is another pertinent factor that goes into the trust and rankings of content published. Specifically, it comes down to how, when, and where the links were created. If a website has a lot of natural links, they’re usually pretty diverse in origin. Naturally, that means they provide a higher degree of authority, as well. Conversely, fabricated methods of link-building are accomplished rapidly. However, these are often similar to each other (if not the same).
Complex and ever-changing algorithms crawl, index, and assess all of these factors. The entire process repeats constantly.
What are the similarities between local and organic results?
When gauging the similarities in local and organic ranking, it is good to note that they are typically created separately, but that they ultimately (ideally) draw from the same information. Things like the business name spelling and punctuation should be identical. Business descriptions or content should also be the same (or provide similar context). The services and service areas should also be uniform. It would be very confusing to search engines and users if a local profile stated a business works in City A, while their website only mentioned City B.
Cross-post pictures, videos, testimonials, and other media posted on a website or local profile to the other site. By posting on both, you create a common thread or theme for the overall online presence.
How do local and organic results interact with each other?
Not only do local and organic results draw from similar information, they interact with each other significantly.
Let’s take an example search for “burgers,” and apply it to ‘Papa C’s Burger Shoppe’ to show the potential use of profile and website. Hopefully, this will give a more clear picture of how they work together.
If we look at how users like to find local vendors, we can see an immediate favor towards maps listings. If we dive a little bit closer, we see that the local (map) results actually serve as a funnel to the website. This, in turn, brings the user into the domain (website) and allows them to find out more about services, location, quality, pricing, and much more.
From here, it is usually a combination of the site and local profile that either sells or engages the customer to visit, call, or leave their contact information. Website interactions create signals (pages viewed, time stayed, and so on) that our website was right for that user’s query.
Lastly, the user may need directions or further information to contact the company, which gives the business profile the chance to show off one of its features: navigation. Navigation is a great way to help direct potential customers effortlessly to your business’s doorstep. Ultimately then, the personal engagement with the customer can ensure branding recognition and return visitors to either your website or map profile.
Summary and Thoughts
Although on the surface these two SERP types may appear completely separate (complete with different efforts and core signal), it is important to understand that, at the end of the day, local and organic rankings truly do work together. Working hand in hand, they can create a flawless conversion path for customers, which then provides revenue to your business. Naturally, if these paths work together, you will see an amazing return in brand loyalty, reviews, and even rankings.
My final thought and challenge are to change your mindset and begin viewing these portals as one and the same. Without one or the other, you only have half the story—a much smaller funnel for your local business. That will ultimately lead to frustration and even failure. Changing that perception and making any necessary changes or adjustments can lead to more customers and success.