Local Search Ranking Factors in 2017

One of Google’s primary goals is to constantly improve their users’ experience and provide better, more detailed search results. To accomplish that, they’ve continued to introduce new services and make tweaks to their existing ones to provide more relevant results to their user base. It’s pretty reasonable that Google wants business owners, web developers, and web marketers to utilize their stuff – it’s mutually beneficial to both parties’ interests. Changes to various services and Google’s search algorithms means changes to the way local search results are displayed. As these changes are rolled out, you’ll need to refocus your optimization strategies if you want to keep your business on the first page. So – what are the contributing factors to making sure your site shows up locally in 2017? The breakdown might surprise you a bit.

The Breakdown

  • According to the Moz Blog, backlinks are still the most important factor for local search this year, making up 29% of localized organic ranking factors.
  • On-page signals weren’t far behind with 24%, so making sure your website is properly optimized with your name, address, phone number (NAP), keywords, and technical SEO is is still very important. (Notice that these first two factors make up more than half of what’s still important for showing up in local search – and they’re both decidedly “old school” SEO.)
  • Citation signals (8%), and My Business signals (7%), come in fifth and sixth places individually. But together, they come in strong for third place with 15%. For the typical small business owner, grouping these together makes sense – they both involve making sure your NAP, business name, and other pertinent information shows up consistently across Google Business pages, in citations, and directories.

local search ranking factors

  • Behavioral signals are next with 11%. Behavioral signals are made up of things like the click through rate to your website, mobile check-ins at your business location, and even click-to-call phone calls from mobile devices.
  • Personalization made up 9%, meaning the searcher’s location, search history, and social connections will affect the results they see in organic search.
  • Review signals take 7% of the local search pie. Getting good reviews not only helps your business look good to potential customers, they help your SEO efforts. Review quantity, velocity, and diversity are all factored in here.
  • Last but not least, social signals have an affect on your local organic ranking with 4%. People talking about your business on Google, Facebook, and Twitter can be great for business, but you’re better off focusing your efforts on other factors first if you’re trying to boost your ranking in local search.

What SMBs Should Focus On

For small to medium sized businesses looking to improve their local SEO efforts, there are a few strategies to focus on:

  • Optimizing your website or landing page and any content that’s on it
    • Presence of NAP (name, address, phone number) on your site
    • Technical SEO and maintaining best practices
  • Optimizing local business listings, citations, and directories
    • Google My Business categories, map and proximity, keywords in your business title, etc
    • Consistency in citations and business directories – NAP, URL, etc
  • Optimizing backlinks to your website and content marketing
    • Quality and amount of backlinks to your website, inbound anchor text in the links, etc
    • Content marketing and linking opportunities

The three strategies above make up 68% of local organic ranking factors. The other 32% certainly shouldn’t be ignored, but if you’re just starting out, or if you’re reviewing your site and taking a top down approach to optimization, this is probably where you should focus your efforts first.

We’ll look at these individually in some upcoming blogs. See you next time!

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