Local SEO Ranking factors: 7 Keys To Local Search Success

local SEO ranking factors

Local business owners know that being visible online is crucial.

A strong local presence can make all the difference between being invisible and attracting a lot of customers.

We’ve covered in detail one of the most important SEO ranking factors for local SEO in our last blog post: your Google Business Profile. This is crucial to be listed in Google’s Local Pack.

This guide will take a deeper look at the topic and show you how to create a strong local presence.

A summary of the most important SEO ranking factors in your area. The weighting of different ranking factors depends on search type.

And much more.

Let’s get started.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO refers to optimizing your online presence in order to be found locally.

Local SEO includes optimizing your company’s Google Business Profile (formerly: Google My Business), creating NAP citations and identifying local keywords.

Google uses a combination three factors to determine local rankings: prominence, distance and relevance.

Prominence is a sign that your business should be well-known. This means a great reputation and name recognition. Google recognizes some businesses more than others and attempts to show this by showing distance. Google uses search terms for distance calculations if the user specifies a place (e.g. “coffee near 14th Street DC”) Google uses search terms to determine distance. Google will be able to find you relevant queries if your Google Business Profile contains complete information.

Google uses many ranking signals to make sure it provides results that are consistent with these factors.

Let’s take a closer view.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

Local search is essentially the same as any other Google search.

However, there is a crucial difference:

Google ranks local search results based on different ranking factors.

Local search results can be divided into two categories: the Local Pack (also known as Map Pack) or the local organic listings.

The Local Pack is a collection of top three local results that are displayed along with their location on Google Maps. These results are often found on the first page of search results for local searches.

Local Pack example

Local Pack results are calibrated according to the current location. You can find completely different Local Pack results by simply walking down the street.

You’ll find local organic listings under the Local Pack. These results are identical to the ones you would see on any other search result page.

organic local search results

Many people overlook the local listings and instead focus on the Local Pack. You’ll want to rank in both, as most local searches indicate strong buying intent.

Local ranking factors are weighted differently for Local Pack and local organic search results. While Google Business Profile signals are the most important for Local Pack, local organic results require on-page signals.

overview of local ranking factors


We can get an overall ranking by taking the average of all these factors.

Ranking FactorPercentOn-Page Factors23%Links23%Google Business Profile20%Reviews11%Behavioral9%Citations7%Personalization7%

Local SEO is a great way to get started. Focus on these factors if you are just starting out.

On-page Signals

Local SEO is not an exception. On-page signals are the foundation of all SEO efforts. These signals are closely followed by link signals in order to determine organic search results. They also play an important role in shaping Local Pack results.

Google stated that Google’s Local Pack rankings will be affected by your local organic search results placement.

This means that ranking high on your local organic results will result in better placement in the Local Pack.

Keep your eyes on the On-Page Basics

On-page SEO is a technique for optimizing web pages so they rank higher in search engine results. It is possible to increase your site’s ranking in search results, particularly in local organic searches by following these best practices.

These are some SEO tips to help you optimize your content for search engines.

Use concise, easily-understood URLs. Clear, concise URLs make it easier for users to understand the purpose of a page. The URL of your CMS can be easily modified by changing it to your target keyword or a slightly different version. Check out how these local businesses are doing it:https://www.compasscoffee.com/pages/french-press-brew-guidehttps://www.nicecream.com/on-site-cateringOptimize your title tag. Local search is where users want to find local businesses that match their needs. It is important to write a clear and relevant title tag. It is important to optimize your title tag for search by adding the target keyword that you wish to rank for.

optimized meta title

Write a strong meta description. Although meta descriptions don’t have a ranking, they are important in attracting visitors to your site. Ahrefs discovered that Google displays meta descriptions of pages as page descriptions about 1/3 of the times. This means that engaging descriptions are a great way for more people to visit your site.

engaging meta description

Optimize images. You can rank images in Google image searches. Make sure you give your images clear and easy-to-understand titles to optimize them. For faster loading times, compress them. And write specific alt-text descriptions.

Tip: Seobility is an on-page SEO tool that helps you optimize your entire website for the most important signals.

Make targeted pages

A targeted landing page for each area you serve is a great way to rank high in search engines for your local area.

This strategy is especially effective if you only have one physical location but are able to serve multiple localities.

If you are a caterer business located in DC, for example, you might create landing pages to serve each region.


You will want to ensure that each page on your website has a different content so as not to have duplicate content.

localized landing page for Alexandria

localized landing page Sterling

If your content is original, you can compete for local searches in many different areas you serve.

Link Signals

Google’s algorithm is built on links. Google looks at backlinks from websites with high authority to determine if your website is worthy of a top spot in its rankings. Relevant local domains can also be helpful for local organic rankings.

It is easy to determine link quality by looking at the domain authority (DA) of a site. This ranking, which ranges from 1 to 100, shows how quality of a domain. Higher domain authority (DA) ranks are more authoritative and will have higher quality inbound links.

The quality of inbound linking is by far the most important ranking factor for link signals.

Keywords are critical in anchor text for inbound links.

Use the best link building practices

Link signals are all about getting strong backlinks to your website. To rank local businesses, you can use the same links-building strategies you use for other websites.

Investigate competitor links. Researching competitor links can be a great way of finding new sites to link. Start by looking at the top-ranked websites for your search term. The free Seobility Backlink Checker allows you to analyze the link profiles of these sites.

Seobility Backlink Checker

You can see their backlink profile to see which ones they have built. This can be a great way to quickly build a list of prospects within your niche you can reach out.

Backlink Checker results

Create linkable assets. Linking to your website is easier when people are able to link to it. You might make cooking videos for restaurants that include easy-to-follow recipes. You might also create home repair guides if you own a hardware store. It’s much easier to share useful assets once you have them assembled.

Find Local Backlink Opportunities

Although standard link-building strategies are great, many local businesses have unique link-building opportunities.

You are likely to have local relationships with other businesses, organizations and publications within your community – some that you might not have even considered.

If you own a DC-area craft brewery, you might search for directories that are focused on this market.

find craft beer

You can also round up articles that might be a good fit for you:

local roundup article

It is easy to build these connections. First, reach out to people you know and then go on to cold outreach.

You can make it as simple as possible by finding a page on the site that a link to your website would make sense.

Tim Soulo, on Ahrefs’ blog, notes that a great outreach message does not ask for a share. It simply tells readers what’s great and concise about your content.

outreach email

Link to local business directories

Online business directories can be tailored to link to local businesses. Therefore, using them to create backlinks to your website is an easy way to get noticed.

These are some examples of results from a local Chamber of Commerce Directory:

local Chamber of Commerce directory

Different procedures apply to different localities. Contact your local Chamber for more information about how to be placed in their directory.

It’s a great way to get in touch with your local Chamber of Commerce.

Google Business Profile Signals

Your Google Business Profile is the single most important factor in how your Local Pack rank.

Whitespark’s 2020 study of local ranking factors found that Google My Business is more important than any other factor in your Local Pack position.

You’ll need to optimize your profile.

Google is continually improving its search features, including business profiles, to answer consumers’ questions within its SERPS. This allows users to stay longer on search results pages and keeps them there.

Google made nine changes to Google My Business in July 2020.

While many of these were created in response to the pandemic it is clear that Google is creating business profiles and a fully-featured portal for business owners.

Your Google Business Profile is a mini-homepage. It is a single-stop resource where users can find all the information they need about your business.

Accuracy is Guaranteed

When creating your Google Business Profile, it is essential to have accurate and complete information.

You will be asked to fill in your name, address and phone number (NAP) when you create your profile. It is important that your profile information matches what you see in other directories and business listings on the internet.

For other aspects of your profile, consistency is crucial.

It is important to maintain your business information, including opening hours and delivery options, especially during COVID.

Although this information does not directly affect your position in Google’s rankings it is important to keep it current. Customers who find out that you are closed will leave negative reviews about your business.

Select the Right Category

Google uses your business category in order to determine what your business does. It also helps customers find you by using keyword searches. It is crucial to choose the right category.

Too many people pick broad categories for their Google business profile. For example, “Attorney” is a generic category. To make it easier for users to understand what you offer, choose a more specific description such as “Bankruptcy Attorney” and “Family Law Attorney.”

choose a category

Write a killer description

Below your business name is a brief description of your company.

business description

Unfortunately, this is one of the few aspects of your profile that you cannot control. These descriptions are part of Google’s efforts to provide a consistent user experience.

Good news! Scroll down to see the “From Business” section. This section is where you can create your own description of your business to attract your readers.

from the business

Keep your profile up to date

Your profile should be updated regularly, which is the most important thing. Google offers a range of options to keep your profile updated, including the ability to add photos and respond to reviews. Google will rank your profile higher if you keep it updated. This shows that you are actively engaging with customers.

Our full Google Business Profile Guide provides more information on how to optimize and set up your Google Business Profile.

Review Signals

Local rankings are also affected by review signals. The Local Pack is based on keywords in native Google reviews, high numerical Google rating, and a large number of Google reviews with text.

Reviews have a significant impact on your business beyond the search location.

These are the findings of BrightLocal’s 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey.

87% of consumers report reading online reviews about local businesses at least once a week, while 34% say they do it every day. 79% of consumers trust online reviews more than personal recommendations from their friends. 52% won’t use a business that has less than four stars.

Google review quantity is now a ranking factor. It’s important to make sure you are regularly adding new reviews from customers.

The good news is: BrightLocal’s survey revealed that 72% of customers were happy to leave reviews. Ask, and you’ll soon have a lot of reviews.

It’s not enough for customers to leave reviews.

It is also important to make the process as easy and painless as possible.

It’s a great way for customers to leave reviews by sending them a friendly email.

A great review request is key. Keep it simple.

It’s easy to see how Airbnb does it:

airbnb review request


Behavioral Signals

Behavioral signals (also known as User Signals) are signals that are based on user behavior when they see your website in search results. Google uses behavioral signals to determine search results. This includes local rankings.

Google will determine if users aren’t clicking through, if they aren’t staying on your site for more than a few seconds or bouncing away right away that your site isn’t providing what they need.

Google’s algorithm is increasingly relying on behavioral signals. User behavior, unlike other ranking factors such as links, citations and on-page factors is much more difficult to manipulate for SEOs.

User signals can be influenced by two factors: how your website ranks in search results (which is controlled through your search snippet), and the user’s experience on your site. Also, ensure that the content of your website matches users’ search intent. You should give them the exact information they need when they type in their search query.

Citation Signals

Citations are online business listings that include the name, address, and telephone number of your company. Citations are most often placed in local business directories like the Yellow Pages.

yellow pages

Although your local business listing citations may not seem very important, they can tell a lot about you and your potential customers.

These are the findings of BrightLocal’s Local Citations Trust Report.

Customers say that they have lost trust in local businesses when they find inconsistent business information online. 71% of respondents say they have had a bad experience in the past year due to inaccurate business information online. 68% of customers claim they would not use a local business if they saw incorrect information online.

It is easy to build strong citations.

NAP Citations –

NAP stands to Name, Address, Phone Number. This is the most important information a customer should have about your business.

Citations are any online reference to your NAP. Although citations don’t have to link to you directly, they often do. Google uses citations to assess your online authority.

Building citations is very similar to building backlinks. It is important to find relevant directories in your area and make sure that your business is listed with accurate and consistent information.

Begin by looking for local directories. Yelp.com, Foursquare.com, and YP.com all offer great places to list your business. These sites have a lot of authority and are a great way to get an inbound link to you site.

Another reason to search for NAP citations: Being listed in high-quality directories can often get you placement in top searches results. Take a look at the following example. The local organic results for “restaurants in Charlottesville” are almost completely filled with local directories.

local directories in search results

Conduct a Citation Audit

You can improve your citation signals by reviewing your NAP citations. This is especially important for:

Your business has been around for a while. You have citations in many online directories.

It is easy to conduct a citation audit by going through your entire citations manually and examining them for accuracy.

You might not be aware of all the places where you have cited citations if your online presence has been around for a while.

A citation checker like Moz Local is much faster and easier.

Moz allows you to simply enter your country, company name and street address and click on Check Now.

Moz local citation checker

Moz searches all high-authority indexes and pulls up NAP citations relevant to your business. It also highlights any inconsistencies it finds.

This makes it simple for you to keep track of these inconsistencies and contact website owners to fix them.

Remember that the website will determine which step you take next.

You can edit the citation on some websites, such as Yelp. It can be tedious to go through each site and update them all one by one. Bright Local and Yext can help you with this.

The site owner must make the changes manually for websites that are not affiliated with yours. Sending a friendly, brief email to request an update to your listing is the best option.

Personalization Signals

Personalization is still not a standard, so it’s not surprising that it’s the ranking element with the lowest influence.

Personalization is a big plus for users. However, there is a fine line between personalizing your website and invading the privacy of users. You could end up creeping people out if you cross it.

bad example of personalization

It is difficult to strike the right balance between privacy and personalization. Personalization is an important factor in local ranking, but it’s not the most influential.

A strong local search presence can help you grow your business

A strong local presence can help you take your business beyond just getting by. It’s important to be visible online as the first contact point you have with your customers.

You don’t want to let your local SEO fall behind. This week, make a commitment to improve your SEO. To improve your on-page SEO, conduct a thorough review. Plan to build more backlinks. Make sure you have a Google Business Profile.

It takes dedication and time to improve your local search presence. You’ll see results in no time.

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