The Most Important Ranking Factors in Local Search

local search rankingFor companies with a traditional retail space or office, there is simply nothing more valuable than local search. Local search is crucial to capturing targeted local “near me” traffic that can make a tremendous difference to bottom line business results.

Although some aspects of local search are intuitive, there’s always a hint of mystery that comes along with anything to do with Google. Luckily, independent researchers work around the clock to decipher how local brands of all sizes can achieve their goals.

The 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey is one example.

SEO experts at Moz are known for some of the most trusted search engine optimization tools. Their ongoing local search project recently took a year off, but it’s come roaring back with one of the most comprehensive attempts to look behind the curtain of local search.

What did they discover?

These are the top local search ranking factors for 2017:

Link Signals

For all the talk of a changing search world, links remain the most powerful signals around. Moz estimates they account for 29% of your search position. They include quantity of inbound links, anchor text, inbound domain authority, and inbound domain diversity.

On-Page Signals

Clocking in second with a weight of about 24%, on-page signals are all the many things you can control within your own site. For example, this includes keyword usage in text and titles, your own domain authority, and the presence of the business name, address, and phone number.

local search rankingBehavioral Signals

Behavioral signals are all those factors that indicate a site’s quality based on user behavior. Issues like clickthrough rate, check-ins, and mobile “click to call” usage all count here. Many of these are similar to what influences AdWords Quality Score. They account for about 11% of success.


Personalization is becoming a more important part of the modern Web experience. Personalized content can arise from factors like geographic location, device type, browser, and past user behavior. However, it’s only worth about 9% of your search ranking, according to Moz.

From here, the value of the signals drops off.

The remaining Local Search signals include:

  • Citation Signals: Volume and breadth of name, address, and phone number citations. 8%
  • My Business Signals: Business category, name keywords, and geographic proximity. 7%
  • Review Signals: Quantity, frequency, and diversity of reviews for the business. 7%
  • Social Signals: Social engagement over Facebook, Twitter, Google, and the rest. 4%

Although the depth and complexity of Google’s algorithms will always leave some things unknown, this report is a step forward for any enterprise that wants to increase its share of local organic search traffic. In 2017 and beyond, ongoing optimization and a content marketing strategy aligned with best practices will both be essential.