Home / Links Are Hot, Reviews Are Smokin, but Proximity Is Smoldering

Links Are Hot, Reviews Are Smokin, but Proximity Is Smoldering

How can you make it in the local 3-pack and gain high visibility in local organic search results? We break down Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors.

There are dozens of factors at play when it comes to visibility in local search, factors that seem to ebb and flow in importance with every confirmed (and unconfirmed) algorithm update. In Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, industry experts come together to help businesses and marketers make sense of these factors, narrow their focus, and gain a better understanding of what drives local search results.

The survey speaks to what it takes to make it in the local 3-pack and gain high visibility in local organic search results. (And if you’re not sure where these coveted spots are, just take a look at the below screenshot.) We encourage you to grab a cup of coffee and dig into the extensive survey results. While your coffee brews, read on for a quick overview of the survey’s top findings.

Local map ranking factors

This year’s results show a shake-up in factors that affect local 3-pack results.

  • Proximity to the searcher is the new number one ranking factor in local search results. If your location isn’t actually close to the searcher, it’s going to be tough to grab a spot in the 3-pack.
  • Proper Google My Business category associations and quality structured citations remain foundational to gaining visibility in the local 3-pack. Accuracy is a must.
  • Review signal importance increased over the past year, suggesting that Google is rewarding businesses with a higher quantity and variety of reviews.
  • Link signals (including the quality and quantity of inbound links to a site) took over as the second most important group of ranking factors.

Local organic ranking factors

Ranking signals for localized organic search results didn’t see as big of a shake-up as local 3-pack signals.

  • Link signals remain the most important category of ranking factors in 2017, with “quality/authority of inbound links to domain” surpassing “domain authority” as the primary ranking factor.
  • “Diversity of inbound links to domain” and “quantity of inbound links to domain” both increased in importance.
  • Click-through rate from search results and having a mobile-friendly/responsive site remain two of the top ten ranking factors.

So what? Ah, where do we start! Local search expert Darren Shaw summed up the survey results in plain language pretty well. In his blog post announcing the survey results, he wrote:

“You need to have a physical location in the city you’re trying to rank in, and it’s helpful for it to be close to the searcher. Then, make sure to have the proper categories associated with your listing, and get your citations built out and consistent on the most important sites. Now, to really move the needle, focus on getting links and reviews.”

Moz’s findings underline a business’s need to engage in a variety of activities in order to compete for a few precious spots in the local 3-pack and the first page of organic results. Businesses with higher relevance, stronger link profiles, more reviews, and an impressive accuracy rate will rank in a wider radius around their business and eat up a larger percentage of the local search pie.

Got that cup of coffee ready? Browse the full survey results here.

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