2017 Local Ranking Factors

 Local SEO Guide in conjunction with the University of California, Places Scout and Irvine has released the results of their study in 2017 Local Ranking Factors results. The approach with which the study was carried out differs from the one that was conducted in Moz Local Ranking Factors survey. However, both were equally detailed in their assessment. 

The study of the 2017 Local Ranking Factors was conducted in 150 cities and examined 200+ factors in over 100, 000 local businesses to establish the variables that correlated with the ranking in Google’s local results. 

However, despite the efforts to include other unique variables in the study, the traditional tactics that are used in a local algorithm to rank pages and boost visibility in Google are still vital. These traditional tactics include:

1. Organic ranking factors such as keywords, links, anchor texts etc

2. And reviews

5 Star Review

These other factors besides the basic ones that were examined in the study include:

Google My Business (GMB)

Even Google asserts that reviews are the major driving factor of ranking in Google My Business results. Reviews are fundamental as a factor in Google ranking because it’s difficult to spam and abusing it in any form (vaguely or extensively) is illegal. However, based on the findings by the LocalSEO Guide in its report affirms that at a high level, having a keyword you are trying to rank in, in reviews has a high correlation with high ranking Google My Business results’. The other crucial undertaking with Google My Business is engagement which is also used by Google to prompt search results. Engagement also includes the use of photos by the users. The same approach applies to reviews which are also vital for ranking different forms of contexts. 


Even though there are some businesses that rank high without the website, it is still important to have a business site to boost online visibility. A website with content that has effectively incorporated the best SEO strategies has an excellent chance of ranking high in local organic searches. Applying the best SEO strategies in your website content not only increases the opportunity to rank higher in organic searches but also in packs. The importance of SEO in ranking pages has never changed, and it is equally valuable since the strategy was incepted. 

Off-Site Local Signals

It is vital for any website owners to pay keen attention to off-site local signals that drive more leads to their website. Some of the off-site factors that could easily boost your website competitiveness and leads include adding the links on the citation sites and through the reviews. In this era of the search engine, organic algo is one of the major driving factors of the local algo. You should also focus on listing local citation links especially when your brand is represented in several locations. 


In an interesting twist of the general excepted rules, there are those websites that still get higher ranking even with low quality and low-value authority links. The main reason why the websites still record positive results even with low citation and trust flows is that most businesses that rank high in packs also tend to have low-valued links and packs. Brands also tend to clean up when the local searches are conducted. Another important reason to note is the fact that the better ranking websites have significantly invested in SEO services in the course of their online marketing. They will most likely have lesser keywords in the anchor text. In addition to correlation, there is a higher chance that Google rewarded the better ranking websites that applied the SEO strategies in their anchor text for both keyword and city. However, there is a high likelihood that Google is more lenient on slapping the local sites with a penguin. This is further evidenced by the significant involvement of the organic algo’s in the ordering of the local packs.

Categorical Variables

Focusing on variable factors of the basic SEO such as blocking and tackling’ has a major positive impact on better performing websites. Simple and basic SEO practices that boost positive results for business websites include optimization of meta tags and ensuring that the sites are mobile-friendly or responsive. When these practices are combined with strong ranking correlation in local organic results, the websites will most likely get the best ranking it deserves. 

Engagement signals are also influential in proving strong correlation to an excellent ranking of the packs. Uploading images in GMB provides an opportunity for visitors to engage with your profiles. The best chances of engaging with your potential clients are through claiming your profiles and providing feedback to reviews.  

The Summary of the Above Findings

How to Prioritize your Investment in Local SEO Together with Local SEO Operations

There are some pressing questions that most websites owners or managers have, which even though this study offers a clear start, there are still implications for certain tactics:

1. Invest a lot in your website. Basic factors like organic ranking and links have proven that there is a strong correlation with the excellent pack performance. 

2. With Google My Business lacking significant leverage for the website owner/manager to utilize, focusing on reviews will have huge positive results. Failure to concentrate on review program and conduct a test on important SEO tactics such as getting your keywords and cities can derail your efforts of ranking better and getting more visibility. 

3. Avoid too much focus on Off-Site signals. The dependence of these signals to get better ranking is on decline and unless you have to, avoid them and direct more time and energy to other factors.

What Steps to Take After these Findings 

One of the most convenient and important ways to succeed is by analyzing the features of the business websites and profiles that have already thrived. Look at how those people have applied different factors and strategies on their websites and how Google is rewarding those efforts. 

The observed twist in these strategies is also shown on how SMB links tend to award low-value links from lower levels of the web with positive search performance. Google does not reward these features directly, but they are the features that are possessed by the search winners. We do not have the clear knowledge of how the website data is used by Google to rank pages when SERPs are ordered, but the above information is very helpful in getting started.  


Source: Search Engine Land