Every year, a “Local Search Ranking Factors” survey is completed by digital marketing local experts and published by Moz. This survey data is considered and referred to by SEO experts to determine what is most important when maintaining or increasing local rankings within Google.
Although we’re nearing the end of 2017 and looking forward to the next study to release its local insight, it is always beneficial to look back at what was leveraged at the forefront when starting the next year.
What’s the biggest piece of the local ranking factor pie?
The top local ranking factors are outlined in a pie chart, and percentages are determined by survey calculations from various digital local experts. There are a lot of different factors that go into these calculations, and the study focuses on negative ranking factors, as well. In this blog, we’ll focus on the positive.
Hands down the highest contributing local ranking factor is Google My Business Signals, which include the following:
- Keyword in business title
You cannot rank locally (within the local 3-pack or lower on Google Maps) without a Google My Business listing. Without an optimized listing, you cannot rank on Google Maps. Although proximity of the searcher to the business has become a larger piece of this, you absolutely cannot maintain a positive rankings streak without making sure your listing is optimized with the appropriate categories. If you have a listing for a law firm and inadvertently have an incorrect top category selected, such as “website designer,” there’s no way you would be able to rank for legal search terms. This is a big piece of the pie when it comes to ranking locally, because it is specifically and directly telling Google what field your firm or company is a part of.
Although searcher proximity has always been a local and organic ranking factor, the Possum update released in 2016 solidified this as one of the top, if not the very top, local ranking factor. If you do not have an office presence within a close proximity to the searcher, depending on competition in that area, it’s less likely that you will be visible in local 3-pack ranking results.
We know that this is not possible for all businesses and law firms to do, but right now having keywords in business titles has a direct and positive effect on local rankings. For example, “Ernie Personal Injury Law Firm” will most likely do better than “Ernie Law Firm.” This is not possible for everyone, and name changes can be a very long and difficult process, but this is definitely a piece of the pie to consider.
Other important pieces of the local ranking factors pie that can’t be ignored
To put it simply. All of them.
When reviewing all factors present in this study, there is not one piece that should be ignored. Every single element works together when Google considers who to rank for what search phrase. Coming in just below “Google My Business Signals,” are “Link Signals,” “On-page Signals,” “Citation Signals” and “Review Signals.” These are all over 10% of the local ranking factors pie, and higher on the consideration list when reviewing what to tackle first to increase or maintain an increase in local rankings.
Feeling Overwhelmed? Where to Start
Start from the biggest piece of the pie, and work your way down. Maintaining and/or increasing local rankings remains a large focus, and factors can change suddenly. A lot of these factors are constantly worked on (often simultaneously) as a part of an SEO campaign to ensure that the obvious foundations are there, and Google regards your site as an authority in your field for local searchers. Local optimization is not a “one-time task” that is completed and forgotten about. It is a priority within all campaigns and always fine-tuned.
We’re interested to see what the 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors will bring us. Stay tuned for a 2018 update very soon!