Local SEO Guide together with PlacesScout and the Center for Statistical Consulting at the University of California, Irvine has released a report on local SEO ranking factors for 2017.
The study examined 200+ factors across more than 100,000 local businesses to find similarities in what made businesses rank in Google local packs.
Key Conclusions in The Report
- A good website and organic SEO ranking factors like keywords and backlinks have a high correlation with local pack rankings.
- Reviews are a key ranking factor for Google My Business.
- The relevance of off-site local signals as ranking factors continues to decline.
Ranking Factors Found by The Report
Local businesses who have invested a decent amount of resources into traditional SEO work are reaping some benefits. “Google still seems to be rewarding some level of optimized anchor text, around both keyword and city.”
2. Off-Site Local SEO Signals
Even though, in general, the relevance of off-site signals continues to decline, signals like citations and reviews on third-party sites are still valuable.
3. Google My Business
In addition to reviews, the study found engagement to be another major ranking factor for Google My Business.
“Google clearly uses engagement to order search results, and local packs are no different. So, things like photos are content for your users to engage with. Same with reviews, which means they are likely valuable in several different ranking contexts.”
4. Your Website
Whilst it’s possible to rank on a local pack without a website, having a website that ranks organically will further boost your rankings on local packs, the study finds.
“If you want to be in local packs, the best thing you can do is crush it in organic search.”
5. Categorical Ranking Variables
“Basic SEO ‘blocking and tackling’ was something that most businesses who performed well in packs had done. Things like optimizing their meta tags, making sure their website is mobile friendly etc.”
The complete study can be found here.