What Local SEO Factors Matter in Search Ranking?


Small businesses rely on local SEO to help them get found online. But what local SEO factors matter the most when it comes to search ranking?

According to a recent presentation by Local SEO Guide at this year’s SMW West, the most important factors are:

  • Proximity
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Google My Business
  • Reviews
  • User Experience

Let’s break down exactly what these mean.

Reverse Engineering Google's Local Search Algorithm: What Local SEO Ranking Factors Really Matter

At this year’s SMW West, Andrew Shotland & Dan Leibson, from Local SEO Guide, presented findings from their in-depth, local SEO study.

For their local SEO research study, Shotland & Leibson looked at “over 100 factors across 30,000 businesses, resulting in over 1.5 million data points.” In partnership with Places Scout, they analyzed all of the data & provided their interpretation.

Here’s what you need to know about local SEO:

Proximity, Relevance & Authority are Important Factors for Local SEO.

According to Leibson & Shotland’s research, proximity to the searcher plays an important role in determining search ranking & results.

While this piece of information may not be new, what they found was that search engines search results are first broken up into tiers – based on relevance & authority. Proximity is then used to determine ranking & placement.

When Google, for instance, determines which local listings to display, priority is given to relevance & authority first, followed by proximity to the searcher.

For this reason, it’s important to focus on having a properly optimized website first; then targeting local customers via traditional local SEO techniques.

Google My Business Plays a Role in Determining Local SEO.

When we think “SEO,” we typically think “Google.” For this reason, Google My Business plays an important role in determining local SEO results.

Businesses with more organic reviews on their Google My Business page ranked higher in search results; especially on Google Map results for local businesses.

Moreover, local businesses with completed profiles & images also ranked higher.

According to Google, local businesses with real reviews, completed profiles & uploaded images were strong indicators of authority, trust & user-endorsements.

To improve local SEO results, small businesses should make sure to claim their listing on Google My Business, complete their profile, upload engaging images & encourage customers to leave honest reviews.

Location Pages & Locators Both Have Value in Local SEO.

SEO experts & digital marketing specialists have long-debated which has more local SEO value: location pages or locators.

According to recent findings, both have value for local SEO. In fact, pages which included both types ranked better than those with only one.

What this means is that small businesses with multiple locations should concentrate on providing an easy-to-use & effective user experience. Rather than worrying about which feature to utilize (location page or locator), businesses should focus on making it simple for users to find their most relevant location.

As with all SEO, the important thing is to concentrate on designing & developing a great user experience, rather than trying to appeal to search engines.

Searches with “Near Me” Included Can Be Targeted with SEO.

As digital assistants & voice searches continue to grow in popularity, so do search queries with “near me” included. Luckily “near me” as a phrase can be targeted with organic keyword implementation.

The phrase “near me” is one of the most commonly used search queries for searches looking for local businesses. This presents an excellent opportunity for small businesses to target relevant, local searchers.

Including long-tail keyword phrases, which also include “near me,” or close variants, can & should be added to location or locator pages. This will help increase the page’s relevance & improve the chances for the local business to appear in the top tier of results.

Even More Helpful Local SEO Tips.

While these findings should provide a great starting point for small businesses when it comes to developing their local SEO strategy, there are even more helpful tips available from the guys at Local SEO Guide.

To see even more helpful local SEO tips, check out their entire presentation, titled Reverse Engineering Google's Local Search Algorithm: What Local SEO Ranking Factors Really Matter on SlideShare.