Local SEO Ranking Factors: What Affects Local Rankings?

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If you are looking for local SEO ranking factors, read this blog post to learn more about what affects your rankings.

The “proximity is one of the major ranking factors influencing local search results” are a few of the many factors that affect local rankings. The proximity, or distance, between a business and its customers can have an impact on how well it performs in Google’s search engine.

Local SEO Ranking Factors: What Affects Local Rankings?

Important Findings

  • The following are the most significant grouping elements for ranking in the Local Bundle/Finder: 1) Google My Business; 2) Reviews; and 3) On-page optimization
  • The most crucial areas to work on in order to rank in localized organic results are 1) on-page SEO and 2) links. 3) Behavioral indicators
  • Since 2018, the value of Google Business Profile has risen from 25% to 36% of Local Finder/Pack ranking relevance.
  • Since last year, the relevance of links as a Local Finder/Pack ranking element has reduced, with on-page SEO currently considered more significant.
  • The following are the top ranking elements for the Local Finder/Pack: 1) GBP primary category, 2) Keywords in GMB names, and 3) User reviews. 3) The distance between the searcher and the company address
  • 1) Quality of incoming links, 2) Volume of quality content, and 3) Internal connecting throughout the whole website are the top individual localized organic ranking variables.

Because Google’s algorithm for ranking local search results is based on so many different signals, it may be tough to decide where to focus your efforts. It’s critical to pay attention to a variety of distinct local SEO ranking elements to guarantee a local company ranks effectively for relevant search queries.

As more local companies realize the value of SEO, ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs) will become increasingly difficult. Understanding how to dominate the SERPs becomes even more useful as the race for search success grows more fierce.

Based on data from Whitespark’s Local Search Ranking Elements study for 2021, we’ll look at the most essential factors for ranking in both the Local Pack and the localized organic results in this post. We’ll also analyze how these outcomes have evolved over time and which tasks you should prioritize in the next year.

Where did this information originate from? Since its inception in 2008 by David Mihm, the Local Search Ranking Factors study has been done almost yearly, with Darren Shaw of Whitespark taking over in 2017. Around 50 local SEO specialists were polled for their thoughts on the most critical actions and criteria for local company rankings in the study.

In 2021, the Top Local SEO Ranking Factors

Local Pack Organically grown in the area
1. Google My Business Page (36 percent ) 1. On-page content (34 percent )
2. Evaluations (17 percent ) 2. Hyperlinks (31 percent )
3. On-page content (16 percent ) 3. Personality traits (11 percent )
4. Hyperlinks (13 percent ) 4. References (7 percent )
5. =Psychological (7 percent ) Personalization (n.d.) (n.d.) (n.d (6 percent )
5. =References (7 percent ) =GBP 5 (6 percent )
Personalization is number seven (4 percent ) 7. Evaluations (5 percent )

This table depicts the most significant local search engine ranking variables according to expert survey respondents in 2021. As you can see, they’re divided into two categories: localized organic and localized pack.

What’s the difference between the Local Pack and organic results that are localized?

Because the underlying techniques Google employs to surface these two sets of results are different, they are addressed differently in this poll. Localized organic results are the classic ‘blue links’ that connect to websites, whereas the Local Pack is made up of Google Business Profiles.

Local Pack And Localized Organic Results

We’ll go into the individual variables later, but first, let’s take a look at how the Local Ranking Factors survey has tracked ranking patterns over time. This should give you a good idea of how local search rankings changed in 2021 and where they’re likely to go next year.

If you’re trying to improve both Local Pack and localized organic results at the same time, it might be instructive to look at the average significance of the local SEO ranking variables when they’re added together:

On-page SEO is number one (25 percent ) 2. Hyperlinks (22 percent ) 3. pound sterling (21 percent ) 4. Evaluations (12 percent ) 5. Personality traits (9 percent ) 6. References (7 percent ) Personalization is number seven (5 percent )

It’s vital to keep in mind that each of these aspects will need a different amount of time; the percentage does not correspond to the amount of time that should be spent on each.

Link building, for example, is a time-consuming continuing effort, but setting up and managing your Google Business Profile (GBP) should not take up too much of your time.

2013-2021 Local SEO Ranking Factors

The local algorithm, like Google’s standard search algorithm, is often modified by Google. Because of this constant volatility, performing the best work for your customers will need constant monitoring of what’s going on in the SERPs. Local RankFlux—the only ranking fluctuation tracking solution for local search—can help you remain on top of this work.

If you’re a marketing firm that focuses on local companies, staying on top of the changing climate is crucial to your success. Variations in relevance of the elements that have the greatest influence on local search engine results may have a significant impact on customer conversions, thus changes in importance should be regularly observed.

Social signals aren’t included in the 2021 findings, as they weren’t in the 2020 Local Search Ranking Factors survey. Because social signals have been declining in relevance in connection to local search rankings for quite some time, it seems reasonable to leave them out of the study completely.

It’s worth mentioning that the absence of social signals has moved voting power to other considerations, which might explain recent modest inflations.

Factors Affecting Local Pack / Local Finder Rankings Over Time

Local Pack Data

Since 2015, the value of Google Business Profile for Local Finder/Pack ranking has steadily increased, jumping from 15% in 2015 to 36% in 2021. During this period, the relevance of links, citations, behavioral signals, and personalization has all decreased.

Factors Affecting Organically grown in the area Rankings Over Time

Local Organic Ranking Data

On-page SEO and links are the most important criteria for localized organic results, accounting for a combined 65 percent of ranking relevance, according to the Local Search Ranking Factors report.

Although the remaining variables are said to be less significant, they are still crucial to consider, and doing so may provide you with the last boost you need to outrank your opponents.

Surprisingly, after declining in value since 2018, citations have began to rise in importance again.

Individual Local Search Ranking Factors: The Top 15

Local Finder/Pack Local Organic
Primary GBP category Inbound connections to a domain’s quality/authority
Keywords in the GBP company name On the whole website, there is a large amount of high-quality material.
The distance between the address and the search location Internal links are used across the website.
In the city where the search is being conducted, there is a physical address. Relevance of topical (product/service) keywords over the whole webpage
GBP category with more options Keyword relevance of domain content in terms of location (city/neighborhood)
Google’s numerical ratings are high. Keywords in the title of the GBP landing page
GBP listing completeness The degree to which a website is focused on a given topic
Inbound link quality/authority Keywords in the anchor text of domain inbound links
Keywords in Google’s native reviews The number of inbound links from locally relevant domains to a domain.
Spam listings have been removed. The website’s domain authority
Keywords in the title of the GBP landing page The number of inbound links from industry-relevant domains to the domain.
Number of Google reviews written by native users (with text) Website that is mobile-friendly and responsive
GBP listing that has been verified On service sites, there is a lot of good stuff.
Inbound connections to the GBP landing page URL’s quality/authority Inbound links to the domain are diverse.
Proper map pin placement Keywords in the H1/H2 tags on the GBP landing page

When it comes to local search optimization, focusing your efforts on the specific elements listed in the table above is a wonderful approach to get ahead. However, keep in mind that there are many more contributing aspects than those listed above, so you should focus on a variety of optimization jobs.

Signals in Google’s Business Profile

The major category, the usage of keywords in the company name, and the use of extra relevant categories are all important individual ranking criteria inside Google Business Profile.

Since 2018, the effect and importance of GBP for Local Finder/Pack rankings has been increasing. However, its value for localized organic outcomes has changed marginally.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Finder/Pack 23% 20% 22% 19% 25% 33% 36%
Organic Results in a Specific Area 10% 10% 8% 7% 9% 7% 6%

This rising importance of GBP for local rankings is in line with Google’s ongoing evolution and improvement of this tool. New features are often introduced to improve the user experience, so it’s no surprise that the pound is growing more important to local business owners.

Many of the top 15 individual local search ranking variables are closely tied to Google Business Profile, as we can see from the two lists. Setting the major GBP category, completing and confirming the GBP profile, employing keywords on the GBP landing page, and more are all examples of this.

It’s evident that some of the acts on these lists are beneficial to rankings, but you don’t have much control over them or the ability to improve them.

The major GBP category, for example, is the most essential ranking criteria for the Local Finder/Pack, but after you’ve selected the appropriate category, you’re done.

Similarly, having keywords in the business name displayed on GBP may help with rankings, but if the company doesn’t have keywords in its name, there’s not much you can do (without breaking Google’s rules). This operation won’t need any more attention after you’ve put the name into the database.

What you can do, though, is ensuring that your Google Business Profile is “complete.” This entails ensuring sure you’ve completed all of the required parts and continuing to upload photographs and new Posts.

Customers are 70% more likely to visit and 50% more likely to consider buying from firms with a full Business Profile, according to Google data.

Factors in the Google Business Profile that have no bearing on rankings

It’s worth mentioning that if all you care about is raising your ranks, you don’t need to use every feature of GBP.

Experts in the 2021 Local Search Ranking Criteria study believe that numerous GBP-related factors have little impact on results.

These are some of them:

  • Photos with geotags that have been posted to GBP
  • GBP description keywords
  • GBP items’ keywords
  • Google Posts Keywords
  • GBP services keywords
  • Messages in GBP are now available.
  • Google Posting Frequency
  • Creating service zones

Remember that Google Business Profile is about more than simply rankings. Even acts that have little impact on rankings may still lead to conversions, so it’s a good idea to look at the larger picture.

A Word on Spam in Google Business Profile Names

GBP spam combating was mentioned as a potential rating element in the Whitespark survey for the first time in 2020, and this job has remained important throughout 2021.

Even while this isn’t a way to enhance your own listing, it may help you get traction if higher-ranking rival listings are punished for spam offences.

When it comes to Local Pack/Finder rankings, fighting spam has been the third most important step that experts have prioritized this year. This task is ranked second, after completeness of profiles, and keywords in the business title, which is ranked first. Some listing managers may continue to attempt to breach the criteria by improperly inserting keywords in the business title as long as keywords in the company title remain a high ranking factor.

Only 23% of local companies were actively battling GBP spam in 2020, indicating that large numbers of GBP profiles might still be winning via spammy strategies.

Spam can be combated much more easily using tools that display GMB profiles and company names on a map as part of a grid tracker. This is because a map display can readily present all of the necessary information.

Check out these links to learn more about Google Business Profile:

Examine the Signs

First- and third-party reviews, review number, review velocity, and review diversity are all individual review signal variables.

Over the previous three years, reviews have been significantly more important for Local Pack/Finder rankings, increasing from 12 percent in 2018 to 17 percent in 2021. Despite the tiny rise, it indicates the continued importance of reviews among customers. Since 2018, when links were demoted to second place, reviews have remained the second most significant Local Pack/Finder ranking element.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 12% 12% 11% 13% 15% 16% 17%
Organic Results in a Specific Area 6% 7% 6% 7% 6% 6% 5%

Strong numerical Google ratings, keywords in native Google reviews, and number of native Google reviews are all high ranking criteria in the top 15 Local Pack/Finder ranking factors.

According to the experts, a strong Google ranking based on reviews is the most important element boosting conversions in GBP. As a result, ratings may both assist local companies rank and drive sales.

Are you looking for a way to receive more positive feedback from your customers? You may be shocked to find that all you have to do in most cases is ask. According to statistics, 67 percent of customers who are prompted to write a review will do so!

As the relevance of online reviews for local rankings continues to rise, building systems to track, grow, and show reviews may be incredibly advantageous. This saves time while also improving the web reputation and rankings of a local firm.

Review monitoring may be automated using review management software like BrightLocal’s Reputation Manager. This ensures that you don’t miss any crucial input. This tool may also assist you in increasing the number of reviews you get.

It’s tempting to imagine that receiving five-star ratings on a constant basis is the only way to dominate reviews, but this isn’t the case. Google said in November 2021 that a balance of positive and negative ratings made a company look more trustworthy.

Remember that Google isn’t the only place where you should obtain feedback. Rankings and conversions may also be influenced by third-party review sites.

Check out these links to learn more about online reviews:

Signals on the Page

NAP data, keywords in titles, and domain authority are all individual on-page SEO considerations.

For both conventional and local SEO, on-page signals are critical. On-page SEO has been continuously significant for rankings since 2013, as seen in the chart below, and notably so for localized organic results.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 18% 15% 14% 14% 14% 15% 16%
Organic Results in a Specific Area 27% 27% 26% 24% 26% 32% 34%

The number of high-quality content on a site, as well as the topical keyword relevance throughout the whole site and domain authority, may all affect local results.

The significance of search engine optimization for your local company website should not be underestimated. Optimizing your website boosts your chances of getting seen in both general and localized organic searches. On-page optimization will always be important, therefore mastering this area of SEO is a good idea.

On-page SEO is heavily reliant on keyword research, and you should always be thorough while developing your plan. Make an effort to understand your target audience’s attitude and personalize your material to the terms and phrases you know they use. To better appeal to your clients, you must, in essence, think like them.

You’ll need to include the name of your location (city, town, state, etc.) in several locations across your website to be a significant contender in local search results. In the metadata for titles and descriptions throughout your site, you’ll want to incorporate location-specific keywords.

Create dedicated pages on your website for local information to increase your local authority in Google’s eyes. You’ll also want to mention your location often in your blog posts—and if you’re not already doing so, you should start!

What about firms with many locations? In this instance, you’ll need to develop different pages for each location on your website. On each page, be sure you include all of the appropriate NAP data, as well as your opening hours and any other pertinent information.

Not only is this beneficial to customers since they can readily discover the information they need, but it may also have an influence on local rankings for each of the listed places.

Enrolling in BrightLocal Academy’s How to Perform Local SEO Audits for Multi-location Businesses course is an excellent place to start if you’re looking to improve the SEO efforts of a company with many locations. This course will provide you with the skills necessary to audit a company with two locations or 200!

Check out these sites to learn more about on-page optimization:

Signals of Interconnection

Inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, and linking domain number are all individual link factors.

Link signals have long been recognized to help enhance organic search ranks, and the same may be said for localized results.

In 2021, links account for 31% of the localized organic ranking criteria, up from 24% in 2013.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 12% 12% 15% 17% 17% 15% 13%
Organic Results in a Specific Area 24% 25% 25% 29% 28% 31% 31%

The authority of inbound connections to a website was ranked as the ninth most significant element impacting Local Pack/Finder results in the Whitespark study. The importance of the authority of the links to the landing page indicated on the GBP listing is also considered.

Quality backlinks are a time-consuming and challenging effort, but they go a long way toward increasing a site’s authority and are a worthy investment of your time.

A word of caution: Bad backlinks may really hurt your site in the long run, so it’s vital to evaluate the quality of the websites from which you’re receiving connections. Downloading the SagaReach MarketingBar Chrome extension is an easy method to achieve this.

The SagaReach MarketingBar feature displays the domain authority of the website you’re on, as well as the page authority of the specific page you’re seeing. The higher these two figures are, the greater the site’s quality.

This tool may also be used to determine a website’s spam score. If the spam score is high, it’s usually advisable to stay away from this website since a link might hurt your SEO efforts.

The quality of incoming links is the most essential aspect in terms of localized organic ranking criteria, followed by internal connections throughout the whole site.

The eighth most significant ranking criteria for localized organic results is the use of relevant keywords in the anchor text of inbound links, with the amount of inbound links to a site from locally-related domains coming in ninth.

Check out these sites to learn more about creating local links:

Behavioral indicators

Click-through rate, mobile clicks to call, and dwell duration are among the specific behavioral ranking variables.

Behavioral signals have been steadily declining in relevance as a Local Pack/Finder ranking component for the last three years, falling from 10% in 2018 to 7% this year.

Behavioral cues have regained some of their prominence in localized organic search, rising to 11% this year following a brief dip.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 5% 7% 9% 10% 10% 8% 7%
Organic Results in a Specific Area 5% 7% 10% 11% 12% 10% 11%

Because behavioral signals are far more difficult to manipulate than other aspects, they are a dependable source of information for Google. These decisions are made by the searcher and can only be affected to a limited extent.

Why not use this time improving your GBP profile to provide the user the greatest possible experience instead of coming up with new tactics to influence user behavior? This entails writing SEO-friendly material for titles, meta descriptions, and posts, among other things. Make your listing as useful and cohesive as possible, and you’ll be on your way to ranking and conversion success.

Keep in mind that the ultimate purpose of SEO isn’t simply to boost ranks; it’s also to attract the ideal clients to a company for those all-important sales. When you start attracting the proper customers—those who are interested in learning more about your company—behavioral signals toward your site will organically improve.

Check out these links to learn more about influencing user behavior:

Signals of Citation

Location data, IYP/aggregator NAP consistency, and citation volume are all considerations in citation ranking.

Citations have lost prominence in the rankings over time, falling from joint second position in the Local Pack rankings in 2013 to joint sixth place this year.

Citations started to lose their importance as a ranking indication in 2015, according to the findings of the Local Search Ranking Factors study.

Citations for the significance of the Local Pack/Finder declined from 17 percent in 2015 to 7% in 2020, and remained at 7% this year.

Citations have fallen in relevance in localized organic search results from 10% in 2015 to 6% in 2020, before marginally increasing to 7% this year. Despite the fact that the percentage amount has only slightly increased, it has moved up the list, from joint-sixth significant in 2020 to fourth in 2021.

Even while citations have lost some of their luster, they are still useful for increasing exposure and establishing customer confidence. When a prospective consumer can see that a company’s information is accurate and consistent throughout the web, it helps to build trust.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 18% 20% 17% 13% 11% 7% 7%
Oranic Results in a Specific Area 11% 11% 10% 8% 9% 6% 7%

Structured and unstructured citations are the two forms of citations.

The most prevalent kind is structured citations, which are entries published by a company on relevant directories and third-party websites. Citations are a simple and fast approach for a company to get backlinks.

Google considers many of the websites where structured citations appear to be trustworthy and authoritative, making these backlinks useful to the company in issue. This may assist a company start growing its website’s authority, as well as give an existing website a boost.

Consider the following example of a recent Google search for ‘Cafe in Sacramento.’ There are multiple results from company directories, including the top three slots, as you can see!

Sacramento Cafe Highlight

Check out these links to learn more about citations:

Signals of Personalization

Search history, search location, and device are all ranking variables for individual customisation.

Personalization simply refers to the fact that you are more likely to receive results from websites you are already acquainted with and have visited regularly. However, it is impacted by a variety of things, including the user’s location and the language they employ.

Personalization peaked at 10% in 2017 in terms of Local Pack/Finder ranking relevance, and has remained around 6% since then. Personalization was routinely ranked at 9 percent for localized organic results from 2013 to 2017, and has been at 7 percent after 2018.

  2013 2014 2015 2017 2018 2020 2021
Local Pack/Finder 7% 8% 8% 10% 6% 6% 4%
Organic Results in a Specific Area 9% 9% 9% 9% 7% 7% 6%

Personalization may affect global search results, but it’s far less likely to affect local search results. This implies that there isn’t much you can do from an SEO standpoint to optimize a website for personalisation.

Businesses that service consumers in several nations may translate—and hence personalize—their material to target the appropriate audiences. Local companies may benefit from multilingual SEO, which is a widely untapped resource.

It’s worth remembering that in the United States, 60 million people—nearly a quarter of the population—do not speak English as a first language. If you own a company in a multicultural city, it’s probably a good idea to focus your website towards the languages that are regularly spoken in addition to English.

Check out these links to learn more about search personalization:

What Will Happen Next?

As you are probably aware, there are no certainties when it comes to SEO success. This is a process that involves continuous study, work, and a willingness to change your plan as you go.

Although a variety of variables influence search results, certain of the duties connected with them need much more continuing work than others. Understanding your priorities and being able to shift your attention appropriately can help you remain one step ahead of your rivals.

The findings from the most recent Local Search Ranking Factors study can help you evaluate your local search strategy for the next year. This professional guidance takes the guesswork out of local SEO so you can focus your time and attention where it matters most.

Finally, we’d want to express our thanks to Darren Shaw, the Whitespark team, and everyone who contributed their knowledge and experience to the survey!

Alix Coe

BrightLocal’s Content Marketing Manager is Alix. They are mostly interested in reporting on the newest industry news and offering insights into the realm of local SEO.

The “moz 2020 local search ranking factors” is a list of the most important factors that affect your local rankings. The factors are: on-page, off-page, social signals, quality score, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What affects local SEO?

A: Local SEO is the process of optimizing a website on a local level. This means that it will be more likely for people in your city to find and click through your site than other locations. It also increases the likelihood that someone who lives nearby would trust or buy from you, as they know you live close by and are familiar with whats available locally.

What are local ranking factors?

A: This is a system that distinguishes between players skill, and their ability to get better. For example, we may determine the player with the highest local rank has beat 230 songs in total so far.

What are the three factors that influence local search results?

A: The three factors that influence the local search results are click-through rate, cost per clicks (CPC), and ad position.

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