2015 Local Search Ranking Factors

MOZ Local Search Ranking Factors 2015

Survey Results

For a number of years now, David Mihm has headed up one of the most important surveys in the Local Search marketing industry–The Local Search Ranking Factors Survey.   David co-founded GetListed.org, which he sold to Moz in November 2012.

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According to those who have reviewed the current Local Search Ranking Factors 2015 data:

Google’s local search algorithm seems to be maturing.

Overall, we’ve seen a continuation of the gradual trend towards Google rewarding quality on all fronts—from citations to links to reviews. And as more companies have implemented the table stakes of site architecture, keyword- and location-relevant title tags, and claiming their Google My Business pages, quality and authority become the differentiators in competitive markets.

The influence of Google+ on local results is on its way out (if it even existed in the first place)

With the removal of links to Google+ pages from Maps and even from the primary SERP, the always-awkward integration between Plus and Local has now been completely severed.

At this point, I view Google My Business essentially as a UI for structured data* and a conduit to AdWords. While Google’s original “business builder” vision may still come to fruition, it clearly won’t be under the social umbrella of Google+.

*as well as photos–increasingly important for conversion in a Knowledge Card-heavy future.

Behavioral signals are increasing in importance

Experts judged behavioral and/or mobile signals to make up 9.5% of the algorithm across pack and localized organic results. Granted, that number is not strikingly high, but it’s up 38% compared with last year’s 6.9%. Research from Darren Shaw and others in the past year has borne out this factor empirically at least in certain markets.

In localized organic results, clickthrough rate was judged the #4 overall factor, and in competitive markets, it moved up 8 spots from 2014, cracking the top ten factors for the first time. A number of experts noted additional behavioral factors beyond clickthrough rate may be playing a role, including post-click time spent on-site or pogosticking.

Citations are still crucial—but your focus should be on quality and consistency

Oddly, citations went from 15.5% to 13.6% as a general ranking factor, but specifically, citation quality and consistency remain top-five factors for both pack results and in competitive markets.

Reading between the lines, it’s the quantity of horizontal citations on traditional directories that is becoming less important. Algorithmically, this makes sense, as many of these sites have been hit by successive Panda releases for thin content. The authority passed by mentions on these sites has clearly declined.

Are links the new links?

Overall, links were up 9% as a general factor compared to last year, and a number of experts noted an increased focus on quality links since the rollout of the Local Stack / Snack Pack. Diversity of inbound links as a ranking factor in pack results moved up 22 spots from last year, and even in competitive markets, it rose 10 spots to #14. And in localized organic results, locally-relevant links, location keywords in anchor text, and product/service keywords in anchor text all moved up at least 10 spots in 2015.

Pigeon’s shift to the user as centroid has “stuck”

The decline of proximity to centroid as a ranking factor, particularly in competitive markets, now seems just about complete. As Google has gotten better at location detection–on both desktop and mobile results–this rather arbitrary factor has been almost completely discarded. We saw this trend start in earnest with the release of Pigeon last summer, and since the snack pack / local stack rollout, proximity to centroid is the factor that experts think took the biggest hit.

On the other hand, proximity to searcher moved up four spots in the pack-specific rankings, and 10 spots in competitive markets. Clearly, the location of a business matters immensely, but only relative to where people are physically conducting their searches.

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2015 Local Search Ranking Factors | MyBiz OnLine Services

Local Search Ranking Factors 2015

Roger Gill

About the author

Roger is the founder of MyBiz OnLine Services, LLC, an online marketing and advertising consulting firm that specializes in the design, implementation, and maintenance of customized online advertising and marketing plans for Insurance Agencies that produce measurable growth in sales and profits. MyBiz OnLine Services provides a Local Online Marketing Educational Blog Hub that incorporates some of the best current local online marketing resources via posts, links, and rss feeds.Roger is also the founder of The Insurance Advisor, LLC, an Independent Insurance Agency located at 9840 Oxbridge Place, Ste 101, North Chesterfield VA 23236.He also is the State Director of Virginia for Smart Choice®, a network of over 7000 insurance agents and 80 insurance carriers that provides independent insurance agents with access to top-rated markets, product training, and sales and marketing support.Learn more about Roger at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerlgill

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