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What Are Google's Ranking Factors for Local Search

Local search results are especially important for businesses that operate out of a physical location. Local SEO helps guide users to find businesses in their area that offer the services or products that they’re looking for. The idea behind local search marketing is to make sure that your business is on the map for potential customers performing a search specifically for your area. But what factors does Google take into account in order to measure the local search rankings?

What Are Google’s Local Search Ranking Factors?

The search ranking factors that Google uses for local searches include:

  • Google My Business:
    • Proximity
    • Categories
    • Keywords (in the business title)
  • On-page SEO:
    • Domain authority
    • Keywords (in titles and headers)
    • NAP (name, address, phone number)
  • User Personalization:
    • Device type
    • Location from which search occurs
    • Search history
  • User Behavior:
    • Dwell time
    • Click-through rate (CTR)
    • Mobile clicks to call
  • Reviews:
    • Quantity of reviews
    • First-party reviews
    • Third-party reviews
    • Velocity of reviews
    • Diversity of reviews
  • Links:
    • Inbound anchor text
    • Domain authority of links
    • Domain quantity of links
  • Citations:
    • Location data
    • Consistency of NAP (name, address, phone number) in Internet yellow pages
    • Citation quantity

Which Local Ranking Factors Are Most Important?

Google takes all of its ranking factors into account when adjusting local search rankings. However, are there some ranking factors that carry more weight within Google’s algorithm than others? According to Whitespark, the most heavily weighted ranking factors for local search traffic in 2021 are on-page SEO and Google My Business, depending on how the user searched. On-page SEO was most important for organic searches, with links coming in a close second. Google My Business was the most important ranking factor for Local Finder searches, followed by reviews.

These three factors, Google My Business, on-page SEO, and reviews, are have increased in importance over the years while some other local search ranking factors have decreased in importance. All of the ranking factors should be optimized for, however.

How Should I Optimize Google My Business for Local Search?

Google My Business has been increasing in importance as a search ranking factor over the years. Fortunately, it’s very easy to optimize in terms of the factors Google takes into account with GMB. The most important things to do in GMB are to make sure you use keywords in the Business Title, select the most appropriate Primary Category, make sure that your physical address is listed, and choose appropriate Additional Categories. Google uses this information to make determine whether your business is located near the searcher and whether it is the type of business the user is searching for.

How Important Are Reviews?

Reviews are becoming increasingly important for multiple reasons. Users use reviews to choose between different businesses. If they’re searching for a business type rather than a specific business, positive reviews can help point them in the direction of your business instead of a competitor. For this reason, reviews have been playing an increasingly large role in Google’s search rankings as well. Businesses with positive reviews are more likely to better meet searchers’ needs than those who have a lot of negative reviews.

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