Overall Local Search Ranking FactorsMoz recently released their 2013 Local Search Ranking factors where they surveyed a panel of SEO professionals on their views of the year’s most important factors for ranking a local business on the search engines. The survey is robust and very informative on the changing landscape of local search.  Here’s a higher-level view of what was reported.

The survey was broken down into three main categories and then separated by different types of results (localized organic, pack/carousel, and maps) , which for the sake of simplicity we won’t go in-depth with the numbers and focus on the general ranking factors and the negative factors to avoid, as knowing these will help all results types, and you can read the Moz survey for further information.

  • General Ranking Factors
    • Identifies the importance of eight thematic ranking factors for businesses to prioritize when they are planning their online efforts
  • Specific Ranking Factors
    • In part A, participants were asked to rank a list of factors that would most benefit a business that is starting out in their digital marketing campaigns. (New to online)
    • Part B lists factors that would be most important to businesses that have a good, solid presence already.
  • Negative Ranking Factors
    • 30 negative factors were ranked, revealing which are the most damaging and should be avoided.

General Ranking Factors

The 8 general ranking factors that Moz felt were crucial to the rankings of local businesses:

  • Place Page Signals – 19.6%
    • These signals are from your actual business itself. These include things like your physical address in the city of the search term, if your business is in the correct category associations, if you have verified your listings on various sites (Google plus pages, Yelp, Superpages, Yellowpages, etc.), the product or service keyword in your business name, consistency of your name, address, phone numbers, etc.
  • External Local Signals – 16%
    • External and off-page signals consist of other places your business is mentioned online.  These involve your citations, or mentions from authoritative local sites such as Yelp, Zagat, the Internet yellow pages, and various other local directories, blogs and publications.
  • On-page Signals – 18.8%
    • On-page signals are based on your domain, website, and the optimization you have on it.  These things include proper usage of your Name, Address, Phone number, your keywords in the titles, meta, and copy.  It also looks at how authoritative your domain is.
  • Link Signals – 14.4%
    • Back links or other sites linking to your site and how they are structured make up your link signals.  Google still uses back link profiles as part of their algorithm and proper linking is still necessary.  Make sure your links are natural and not bought, spammed, black-hatted, etc.
  • Review Signals – 10.3%
    • This covers the quantity and quality of your reviews, how diverse they are and the velocity with which you obtain them.
  • Social Signals – 6.3%
    • These consist of your social media profile (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc..) and how much engagement you get from this channel.
  • Behavioral and Mobile Signals – 6.1%
    • These measure the rate of how many search users click through to your page, or click to call your business from the search engine, their check-ins, offers, etc.
  • Personalization – 8.3%

These are the fundamental signals that any business starting out or established online should be focused on.  These are also almost identical to the factors we listed in our previous blog post, How To Do SEO: Small and Local Business Guide for 2013.

Negative Ranking Factors

These are the top ten negative signals that the panel of SEO experts advise you should avoid or correct.

  • Listing detected at false business location
    • Having your business at a false location will alert the search engines, that your business might not be a legitimate one.
  • Keyword stuffing in business name
    • A natural business name is always preferred over names like “Dallas Plumbers Plumbing Fix Broken Sinks Brothers”
  • Mismatch Name, Address, Phone numbers for your business
    • Make sure that you have a consistent name, address and phone number for your business, you do not want to confuse your customers, or the search engines regarding where and how to locate you.
  • Incorrect business category
    • Make sure you only list the category(ies) that you serve.
  • Presence of multiple Google places pages with the same or similar business title and address
    • In the land of local SEO, having multiple pages for everything you do is not a good idea, especially following the recent panda/penguin updates to the Google algorithm. Stick with one online presence and grow it.
  • Reports of violations on your Google Places page
    • Google has a content policy that you must adhere to when creating content for your page.  Multiple violations can lead to them de-listing your page.
  • Having malware, redirects and viruses on your website
    • Make sure your site is clean and has not been hacked.  This is a very quick way to get de-listed also, if you don’t maintain the site’s integrity.
  • Not having  your name, address, phone number on your website that can be seen by the search engines
    • Make sure you have text elements that have your business name, address and phone numbers listed, do not put these in graphical elements.
  • Having multiple Google places pages with the same phone number
    • Again, do not create multiple presences with your same phone number, combine all of your services to one entity.
  • Including location keywords in your categories
    • With proper names, addresses and phone numbers, you will not need to include any geo-based keywords in your categories, the search engines will understand that you are a plumber that services Dallas if you have everything set up correctly.

There you have it. The relevant search signals that your business should be focusing on regardless of whether you are well established or just starting out in your local SEO efforts.