Understanding the Recent Local Search Ranking Factors

It’s that time of year again, when the SEO experts over at Moz publish what’s become the most authoritative report on the state of local search ranking factors for the year. The latest version came out in mid-October 2014, and uncovers several interesting insights you’ll want to know as you head into the new year. Moz surveys experts in the local search field and comes up with a report that details what they suppose Google is using to rank local pages.

Sometimes it can be hard to wade through the SEO-speak, so simply speaking, here are our takeaways from the latest report, issued October 13, 2014.

What’s working in local search ranking

User Behavior matters – Google is now paying particular attention to what your user is doing while they’re on your site. They may be viewing clickthroughs, filling out forms, even getting directions as a signal that your site is providing a good search experience.

Proximity to the searcher – It would appear that the search algorithm is getting better and better at detecting user location. If your local pages are GEO optimized, you stand a better chance at Google connecting the dots and showing your results for searches in your area. Google is even showing improvement at knowing desktop locations, something it had not done in the past.

Your domain’s authority – This is rising fast. If you are a brand and are engaged in building authority and presence in the search engines, Google is deciphering this and helping your pages to rank ahead of the more spammy results.

Citations still work – Citations are still a large part of the plan, and even unlinked citations from an authority site are appearing to be very useful and advantageous. Still work to acquire more and better citations as part of ranking well locally.

Your on-page SEO is the largest single factor – Still the largest single factor in ranking well locally is your on-page SEO. Make sure your NAP data, title keywords, GEO locators, and local engagement are up to speed to help you get great results in local rankings.

I would certainly encourage you to read the full report, which can be accessed through this page.