The Top Local SEO Ranking Factors in 2023.
If you are working to enhance both Local Pack and localized organic rankings simultaneously, it can be useful to comprehend the average significance of the local SEO ranking factors when combined:
- On-page optimization (25%)
- Links (22%)
- Google Business Profile (GBP) (21%)
- Reviews (12%)
- Behavioral (9%)
- Citations (7%)
- Personalization (5%)
It’s crucial to remember that each of these factors will require varying amounts of time to be invested, and the percentage does not correlate with the amount of time that should be allotted to each.
For instance, link building is a continuous task that is considerably time-consuming, while Google Business Profile (GBP) setup and management should not consume too much of your time.
Local Search Ranking Factors.
Google Business Profile Factors (Formally Known as Google My Business).
Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is widely seen as the most important factor in successful SEO strategies that focus on local SEO.
This group of elements covers all aspects of GBP except for reviews, personalization, and behavior, which are viewed as a separate set of ranking components and will be discussed later in this article.
The biggest influence on rankings is believed to lie with the following:
Including the exact keyword you are looking to rank for in the name of your business may have a significant effect on how you rank.
However, Google guidelines state that the name on the GBP must be the official name of the business.
There are over 4000 GBP categories to choose from. You may select one primary and up to ten additional categories, including secondary categories.
If someone is looking for an auto repair shop, Google is more likely to show a business that has chosen “Auto repair shop” as one of its categories than a business that is simply listed as a “gas station”.
When selecting your categories, be as specific as possible and tailor them as much as you can.
After you have gathered more reviews and authority in your local area, you can then aim for more competitive categories.
The link you provide from your Google Business Profile will impact your rankings.
For most small businesses, linking to the homepage is enough.
For businesses, such as restaurants or doctors’ offices, which have reservation links, those should also be checked.
Companies with multiple locations need to make sure that each GBP profile links to the specific web page related to the location.
Proximity to the User.
This is something that is out of your control, but when someone carries out a search, Google will prioritize businesses that are closer to the user.
Providing more information for users to read and absorb will keep them longer on your profile and will help your rankings.
Although these factors help your listing perform better in searches, other features within GBP can be used to increase conversions. This includes features such as photos, posts, Q&As, bookings, messaging, opening hours, and popular times.
Continuous studies are being conducted to determine if these features impact rankings, but since user behavior signals are such a big part of SEO today, it is best to strive for perfection when setting up and managing your Google Business Profile.
When it comes to local search ranking factors, several website elements are believed to have a significant impact on rank, including:
Domain Authority (DA).
This is a score developed by Moz that predicts a website’s likelihood of ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs). A local business with high domain authority is more likely to achieve higher rankings in both local and organic results than one with low domain authority.
Page Authority is similar to Domain Authority, but refers to the strength of a single page rather than an entire website. If a Google Business Profile links to a page on a company’s website with high Page Authority, it should generally experience better rankings than if the page being linked to has low authority.
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number).
It’s important for a local business to prominently display its NAP on its website, and ensure that it matches the NAP published on its Google Business Profile.
A local business website’s text content, tags, and internal links should reflect the keyword phrases that searchers are using to find what the business offers.
For instance, if someone is searching for “electric vehicle prices,” a local EV dealer with a page optimized for that phrase should expect to rank higher than a competitor who has not created such a page.
Technical and Security.
To remove ranking obstacles, a local business should ensure that its website is mobile-friendly, secure, renders properly across multiple devices, and is free of dangers such as malware.
Care must be taken in handling elements such as robots.txt configuration and page redirection to ensure that search engines can crawl, index, and trust the website.
When it comes to reviews and reputation, it is said that Google takes note of three kinds: those on Google Business Profiles, third-party review sites like Yelp, and first-party reviews hosted on a business’s own website.
Additionally, other factors may affect search engine rankings, such as recency, velocity, diversity, authority, and format.
Recency refers to the age of reviews, velocity to how often new reviews arrive, diversity to the spread of reviews on different platforms, authority to whether the review comes from a professional or a Local Guide member, and format to the difference between text-based and star-only reviews.
There are two types of online mentions of a local business’ complete or partial NAP: structured and unstructured citations.
Structured citations refer to formal listings of local businesses on platforms like Yelp, Nextdoor, or TripAdvisor.
Unstructured citations, on the other hand, are any other reference to a business on platforms like blogs, news sites, or other types of websites that aren’t formal local business directories.
It’s believed that both types of citations are important to Google, but structured citations, in particular, are thought to have a significant impact on local rank.
Some of the factors that may be considered when it comes to citations include:
Do the basic contact details on your citations match across the internet and align with what’s published on your website?
How many platforms are listing and citing your business?
How authoritative are the platforms that list or cite your business?
Are the platforms that list or refer to your business relevant to what your business does? While many formal local business directories list all types of businesses, it’s also important to be mentioned on sites that are specific to your industry or locality.
Links can be categorized into two types: internal and inbound. Internal links are those that are within a website, leading visitors from one page to another within the same site.
In contrast, inbound links are those that point to a website from third-party sites. Both types of links are believed to support local and organic rankings.
Factors associated with links include domain authority, which is a calculation of how likely a website is to rank in search engine results.
For inbound links, a ranking boost is believed to be more significant when they are from a domain with high authority.
Page authority, which considers the strength of a particular page that is linking to a website, is also a factor.
Quantity is another important factor, with businesses benefiting from having more inbound and internal links pointing to a particular page on their website.
Relevance is also critical, with links from websites that have a clear relationship with the site being linked carrying more weight in Google’s eyes.
Diversity of inbound links from a wide variety of relevant websites is also important, while link anchor text – the actual words the visitor clicks on when clicking the link – can influence ranking changes for specific keywords.
There are various potential behavioral factors that can impact your local and organic rankings. These factors include:
Click-Through Rate (CTR).
This measures how often people click on your listing or website page when it appears in search results, indicating to Google that it is a result of interest to users.
This refers to how long a person spends looking at your listing or page after clicking on it.
This measures how many people click on the “call” button on your listing to phone you.
This measures how many people click on the “directions” button on your listing to get driving directions.
This measures how many people click through from your listing to your website.
Apart from these factors, there are numerous other behaviors that Google might consider, including the public’s interaction with your photos, reviews, posts, menus, Q&A, bookings, and products.
Additionally, Google might also be interested in how users behave on your website, such as whether they stay on it once they click through, visit additional pages, or bounce away to another site immediately.
While many of these factors might not directly affect your local and organic rankings, they are still crucial to be aware of.
This group of factors includes both highly and minimally influential elements.
According to Google, they don’t heavily personalize their general search results based on a user’s search history.
Put differently, if someone was browsing for Chevrolet Bolt vehicles yesterday, Google won’t necessarily assume they want to see them again today.
While there are certain Google features and platforms that heavily rely on personalization, such as Google Discover, factors related to personalization tend to rate low on the priority list of local SEOs when it comes to improving local search rankings.
However, there is a significant exception to this rule, which is the location of the searcher.
The location of the user’s device at the time they perform a Google search has a major impact on the results they receive.
This phenomenon often referred to as “user-to-business proximity” or simply “distance,” is one of the easiest local search ranking factors to prove in theory.
You can observe this behavior yourself by searching for the same phrase from different locations while carrying your mobile phone around town.
It is highly likely that the local and organic search results will change based on the location of your device, and proximity also affects desktop searches.
Unfortunately, despite the significant impact of user-to-business proximity on local search rankings, there is often little a business can do to influence Google in this regard.
For example, if your competitor’s EV dealership is located across town on ABC Street, and a potential customer is also on ABC Street when searching for an electric car, your competitor will have an inherent advantage simply by being closer to the searcher.
In summary, although you may not have much control over personalization factors, it’s important to be aware of their existence.
As you may already know, achieving success in SEO is not a guaranteed outcome. It is a continuous process that demands consistent research, effort, and the flexibility to modify your strategy as necessary.
While a variety of factors affect search rankings, some tasks require more ongoing effort than others. Knowing where to focus your efforts and adapting your approach accordingly will be crucial in outpacing your competitors.