The Most Important Local Search Ranking Factors

local search optimization ranking factors

What Local Search Optimization Looks Like This Year

Smart Local SEO Experts whether in Niagara, Hamilton or Toronto and effectively anywhere in the world, will tell you that a solid local search optimization or Local SEO strategy is essential for any local business in a competitive environment. To me that means pretty much every local business – small, medium, or large enterprises (SMBs/SMEs).

Did you know that on-page SEO copywriting, unique long-tail keywords in titles tags and headers tags, your inbound anchor text, and domain authority are the most important local search ranking factors according to this new research by SEO Guru, Moz?

Today, let’s talk about the business of Local and how Google’s latest local search updates will be affecting your business. After all, Local SEO is one of the only fool-proof digital marketing strategies that can give you that ultimate marketing edge of your competitors.

If you own and operate a local business, I’m betting you have your share of similar local businesses that you’re competing with for in-store traffic, online marketing and lead generation.

In this article you will learn:

  1. The most the most important SEO factors when it comes to ranking in Local Search.
  2. The importance of having your NAP (name, address, phone) and other citations formatted consistently, everywhere online.
  3. Why domain authority (DA) and the quality and authority of inbound links still matter.

Local Search Optimization Updates and Ranking Factors

So as mentioned, Moz has recently released a very valuable study entitled Local Search Ranking Factors. This is an essential read for SEO company or agency that specializes in local search.

Local search is changing. Fast. Google recently made a major change in how it lists local search results when a user types in a local search query.

You may have read recently that Google local business listings changed from listing the top 7 local businesses (7-Pack), to only listing 3 local businesses (3-Pack or Snack Pack) in local search results. This recent update to local search results has been huge for any businesses lucky enough to be shown in the new 3-Pack.

This study by seoclarity showed “astoundingly, the new local listing format shows in the #1 rank position 93% of the time – a HUGE increase from the 25% of time that the old 7 pack used to show in the #1 position.”

Overall Local Search Ranking Factors

overall local search ranking factors
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Local Search Changes Summary


  • Looks like most SEO experts say on-page and link signals each took 20% – which leads the vote in terms of what the most important ranking factors are for local businesses.
  • Almost 15% of search marketing ninjas say business signals, found from your Google My Business Page, are vital to your businesses local search rankings.
  • These include your business category, the keywords used in the descriptions and business title. The proximity of the searcher to your business is also very important.
  • Interesting to note that social signals from established and ubiquitous social platforms like Facebook and Twitter come in last place with only 5.5% of the vote.


So How Important is Local Search for Local Businesses?


If you own and operate a local business and you don’t think you need a comprehensive, well researched mobile and local SEO strategy, I have news for you. You might be wrong.

BrightLocal, a handy SEO toolset, held a study of their own and found that local search is the most powerful channel for local businesses, generating 23% of site traffic.

That’s almost a quarter of all your local business website traffic coming from local search. I’d be willing to bed that a large majority of those searchers came from a mobile device.

This is why I recommend a solid mobile and local SEO strategy for every local business. At the very least, make sure you have high-quality inbound links and structured NAP and citations everywhere.

David Mihm, local search director from Moz who was behind the study says:

“As Google has gotten better at location detection on both desktop and mobile results, this rather arbitrary factor has been almost completely discarded…clearly the location of a business matters immensely, but only relative to where people are physically conducting their searches.”

What About Other Factors for Other Rankings?

What about things like localized organic ranking factors. The chart below shows that the factors are ranked very closely in terms of what’s most important for local search rankings.

Your website’s domain authority is strong as are the quality of inbound links. received 590

Note that the consistency in the city and province/state listed on your company’s Google My Business Page, the click-through-rate of your business in local search results, and the relevance of both topical and geographic keywords are also key factors to your business ranking high for local search queries.

local search ranking factors 2015
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As for local packs and the local carousel, the consistency of your businesses physical address and the consistency of structured citations are important local ranking factors.

Final note, interestingly enough, the most highly regarded local search ranking factors factors weren’t of the technical variety overall. Other less regarded items like business category and the proximity of the user to a business, from the point of search, rank high in 3rd and 4th place. 

The Wrap

Looks like on-page SEO factors as well as the optimization of key metadata items are the most important local search ranking factors you need to pay attention too.

Consistent NAP/citations on your Google My Business page, user behaviour, user proximity, as well as link signals will prove to be vital areas to focus on for your local business website optimization strategy.

Don’t neglect your local SEO strategy. Be sure you are optimizing your website, your content, and your Google My Business Page for the user first, then for search engines.

If you need a hand crafting your local search optimization strategy, SEO is our speciality.

Please contact me for a free phone consultation today.

Digital Strategy VPDM Digital Marketing St.Catharines