Google Signals for Local Business Ranking – Monte Huebsch

Monte Huebsch is the CEO of AussieWeb and AussieWeb Conversion. His company is a Google Authorized Reseller and they were invited by Google to be the first Authorized Reseller in Queensland and the third in the entire Australia. Monte is known as the “Google Guru.” His company and his team are all AdWords Qualified.

In this interview, Monte speaks about e-commerce sites and local business rankings. He explains the benefits of having consistent NAP of their business on web pages. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. Aside from consistency in NAP usage, Monte gave his advice that “Best practice is still best practice.” To increase your local search rankings, you have to: (1) get credible and reliable links; (2) get honest reviews; and (3) provide fresh content.


Wayne Bucklar:   My guest today is Monte Huebsch CEO and founder of AussieWeb. Monte has been a regular in the program with us. And he’s previously talked about the 200 Google signals for SEO but today he’s talking about the Google signals for Local Business Ranking. Monte welcome to the show.

Monte Huebsch:   Hi Wayne, it’s good to be back with you.

W:   Now Monte this idea of Local Business Ranking, what is local SEO and how is it different from the regular stuff?

M:   (Laugh) That’s a good question. Simply put, as you would know from your knowledge and background there are lots of sites that sell products online that are e-commerce sites Amazon, eBay, whatever. And many of these are global sites and they operate predominantly and purely on the internet, so their actual physical location has little and no bearing on their products and service delivery. And “local search ranking or local business ranking” is all about establishments that trade from a physical location. So let’s say restaurants, hairdressers, a bakery, grocery stores – all of these businesses that conceivably have an online presence, they also trade from a physical location. And sometimes the outcome they want from an online presence is somebody to walk them into their store.

W:   So Google’s taking a big interest in this I gather?

M:   They are. Google looks at elements relative to their algorithm that ranks physically located businesses in a different light than it does to a pure internet only play.

W:   Now while you were answering that first question, I did pop into Google just for a moment to see about local SEO, not that I would doubt you for a minute of course. And I found there were 7 signals they kept telling me about – these 7 key signals. So what are the 7 signals for local SEO?

M:   Okay, there’s actually kind of hidden question in that because I am providing a lot of the information we’re sharing today from an updated study from arguably the most recognized local search expert, a fellow named David Mihm, who now works for a company called “MOZ” and he surveys over 50 people that operate in this space every year and consolidates that data to create the survey data outcome.

W:   Because we should be clear here and just say that Google does not published their algorithm, do they? They don’t tell you how they’re working things out.

M:   Absolutely not. So that’s an excellent segue at a good point Wayne. The only way to get around that is to take industry experts who operate in this space for a living and survey them and then aggregate their responses to see if we can identity trends. So the key element in that is that they identify 7 key trends and they are: Business signals (your regular my business signals), external local signals, on-page signals, link signals, review signals, social media signals, and lastly some behavioral mobile signals.

W:   Now none of those sound to me to be terribly unusual in terms of the sorts of things that Google looks for generally in all its search. What’s changed since the last time the survey was done?

M:   Excellent question. What we in the industry call the “NAP” N A P which stands for “Name, Address, Phone number” – A company like Amazon or eBay doesn’t have a lot of locations and different phone numbers or anything else, but a local business or even a franchise business conceivably will. So consistency of NAP in local business directories or in internet Yellow Pages are important and that signal maintains its importance. But the interesting modification if you’d like because this study is conducted every 2 years, the most growth in signal strength has actually occurred in link signals which is now 20% they believe of the algorithmic weight and it’s gone up 9% from where it was 2 years ago.

W:   Now this is the idea of links coming in to your website. Does it matter where it come from or is it just a numbers game?

M:   No, excellent question. Link quality is extremely important. So links from what we call in the industry “bad neighborhoods or purchased links or link farms” will have almost no weight in the signal. But links from an internet Yellow Page directory or local community website or a local review site will have some significant impact,  which actually segues into a couple of other things which is  review signals have been growing in significance. So Google is adding a little bit more weight to the review signals. And in fact review signals is about 8% where actual social signals, likes, and sharing on Twitter and Facebook is only really 5% and even Google’s own G+ has been downgraded in its significance.

W:   Monte, can we draw any conclusions from these changes? Is there a piece of advice you can give to people who are looking to get there Local Search Engine Optimization improved?

M:   Surprisingly the congruencey or the conclusion particularly from the volume of authors is that “Best practice is still best practice.”

W:   Okay.

M:   You know getting reliable, credible links is important, asking for honest reviews, not from staff or employees or your mother, is still valuable. And checking the data to see whether you’re optimized for mobile devices or desktop is still valuable, content is king,  fresh content is still valuable. The lines have shifted a little bit and link signals are up and social signals maybe down a bit but in reality continually generating fresh content, having consistency of your NAP and your keywords and your title pages throughout your site, it’s all going back to the traditional best practice. So there is no “Aha” moment of something that’s just got up and taken the world by storm, it’s just good old best practice.

W:   Monte that’s a very sharp and precise summary of what’s in the survey. If there are people who are keen to read the whole thing, where can they go?

M:   Excellent, excellent comment, that there is a site called, it is on their blog and it is their 2015 local search ranking factors result which they can search on that site. And they can actually see the 50 plus contributing authors, they can see the comments from each one of those authors. And if they so like they can enter the conversation, and maybe provide a contrasting view or just add their auto leads for the quality of the data or just say “thank you”.

W:   That website is called in my broads Australian accent

M:   That’s correct.

W:   It’s been a pleasure having you with us Monte Huebsch, Google guru and Founder and CEO of AussieWeb and Aussie Conversion, thank you for your time today.

M:   Thanks Wayne, always a pleasure I look forward to it next month.

Video interview is also available here.


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