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Local Search Ranking Factors

    Pie Chart of Whitespark 2023 Local Search Ranking Factors by Percentages--Overall

    Overall (ave.) Local Search Ranking Factors
    Although Google does not publish its algorithms and they're too complex to reverse engineer, we know the fundamentals about what ranking factors are most important. Since 2008, a Local Search Ranking Factors a periodic report has been published based on a survey of leading SEO industry professionals. Currently the survey is being run by Darren Shaw of Whitespark, a provider of software and services that promote local search marketing.

    The latest report is The Whitespark 2023 Local Search Ranking Factors. The survey looks at both the organic local search and the Google Local Pack/Finder results, because the ranking factors, and how they're weighted, differ between the two sections of search results.

    Here are the top ranking factors for each, expressed as seven thematic groups of the many specific factors involved (the survey used 132 potential factors):

    2023 Local Pack/Finder
    2023 Local Organic
    Pie Chart of Whitespark 2023 Local Search Ranking Factors by Percentages--Google Local Pack/Finder Pie Chart of Whitespark 2023 Local Search Ranking Factors by Percentages--Google Local Organic

    Here's another way to present the data that more clearly illustrates how different the factors are to rank high in Google Local Pack/Finder results versus the Local Organic results. The first column is ordered by the average of the two.

    Overall (Averaged)
    Local Pack/Finder
    Local Organic
    27.5% On-page 19% On-page 36% On-page
    20.5% Google (GBP) 32% Google (GBP)  9% Google (GBP)
    18.5% Links 11% Links 26% Links
    11.0% Reviews 16% Reviews  6% Reviews
     8.5% Behavioral  8% Behavioral  9% Behavioral
     7.0% Citations  7% Citations  7% Citations
     6.5% Personalization  7% Personalization  6% Personalization

    The term on-page refers to a website—all the things you or your webmaster have control over. While the website is most important in this data breakout, it accounts for only a quarter of all ranking factors. The other 72.5 percent of factors concern things you don't have much control over (although you can influence them), because they are off-page. Links to your site, for example, are the major off-page factor.

    Again, these are thematic groupings. Within each grouping are multiple factors. For example, Reviews includes factors of first party (on your own website), third party (on Google, Yelp, etc.), quantity, frequency, diversity, and more. These are discussed in more detail on our local SEO pages for Review HELPER services correlating to each of the main factor groupings. When discussing ranking factors, the SEO industry uses the word signals in the sense that all these different factors are never determinant of rankings in themselves, but as part of a larger whole of factors in dynamic relationship to each other. This is what the algorithms sort through.

    In determining rankings for a given local search query, Google looks for signals of relevancy, authority, user experience and location concerning every page in its index. Some signals are weak, whereas others are strong.

    Since we're talking about Local SEO, the location component is critical in all signals, both on-page and off-page: on most parts of the website, in the anchor text of inbound links, in all the Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs), web directories and review sites that contain your NAP (name, address, phone) information. (Having correct and consistent NAP information in these directories is what's meant by Citations.)

    We bring the annual Whitespark Local Search Ranking Factors survey to your attention as an objective, highly credible source on the key issues and most important ranking factors in Local SEO.

    Review HELPER's services in Local SEO, presented in these pages, directly correlate to major ranking factor groups presented in this survey.