Top 5 Local Search Ranking Factors for 2023 PLUS Tips on How to Improve Them
How do you find a local coffee shop or business? You would type in a local search query on Google and select a business from the search results shown on the top page.
In fact, 46% of the billions of searches on Google have local intent, and 28% of local searches result in purchases (HubSpot).
To improve the local search rankings of your business to reach more customers and increase leads, which search ranking factors should you focus on in 2023?
The Local Search Ranking Factors 2023 annual report was recently published by Whitespark. The annual report surveyed 44 local search experts across 149 search ranking signals.
The Local Search Rankings report summarizes what local SEO experts believe Google may use to rank businesses in the Local Pack and the local organic search results. This information is very helpful since we do not know how Google’s proprietary local search algorithms work.
The report is focused on Google since they dominate the search engine market today. Google has 89% of the total search traffic in the US, and more than 90% in UK, Germany and France.
In this article, I discuss the top 5 local search ranking factors you should focus on in 2023 for the Local Pack/Local Finder and Local organic search. I also include tips on how to improve these ranking factors for enhanced local SEO visibility.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that improves the local search visibility of a business in a specific geographic area.
To perform a local search, you would type in a search query that includes a term like “near me”, or includes the city or location. For example, “florists near me” or “florists in dallas”.
For more information on local SEO, read our blog post on What is Local SEO? Why is Local Search Important?
Where do local search results appear on Google?
Local search results can be shown at several locations on the Google search results page for a local search query. Google’s local search rankings for a business are based on a combination of relevance, distance and prominence
On the Google search results page, local listings can appear in any of the following locations:
1. Local services ads and paid search ads
The local services ads and paid search ads like Google Ads are paid advertising. They are shown at the top and bottom of the search results pages(SERP). They are marked as “sponsored”.
2. The Local Pack
The Local Pack is the listing of three local businesses that is shown on the first page of search results. This is a highly coveted position on the SERP that has high visibility and clicks.
3. Local Finder
The Local Finder is the listing of additional businesses that is shown when you click on “More Places” at the bottom of the Local Pack for a local search.
4. Google Maps
When you click on the map pin of a business shown on the Local Pack or Local Finder, you are shown additional information about the business. This information is drawn from the Google Business Profile of the business, and is shown along with a map with directions to the business.
5. Local organic search results
The local organic search results are the list of blue links shown below the Local Pack for a local search. The top three positions on the first page of the local organic search results get the majority of the visibility and clicks.
Top Local Pack and Local Finder Search Ranking Factors
As shown in the example, the Local Pack is the listing of three local businesses shown on the top of the page for a local search query, usually right below the paid search ads. Ranking in the Local Pack is highly desirable and can significantly increase search visibility, views and clicks.
According to a study by Uberall, ranking in the Local Pack can result in:
- 88% more clicks for directions
- 76% more clicks to call
- 76% more clicks to your website
I. Top 5 Local Pack/ Local Finder Search Ranking Factor Groups
The top 5 search ranking factor groups for the Local Pack and Local Finder include:
- 32% Google Business Profile signals
- 19% On-Page signals (based on your website content)
- 16% Review signals
- 11% Link signals
- 8% Behavioral signals
II. Top 5 Local Pack/ Local Finder Search Ranking Factors
The individual search ranking factors that have the most impact on the Local Pack and Local Finder rankings include:
- Primary Google Business Profile category
- Keywords in the Google Business Profile title
- Proximity of business address to the point of search
- Physical address in city of search
- Removal of spam listings through spam fighting
Top Local Organic Search Ranking Factors
The local organic search listings are the list of blue links that appear below the Local Pack on the search results page. The top 3 organic positions on the first page of the organic results have the highest visibility.
According to a study by Backlinko, the top 3 positions on the first page of Google organic results receive 54.4% of all the clicks.
- Position #1 gets 27.6% of the clicks
- Position #2 gets 15.8% of the clicks
- Position #3 gets 11% of the clicks
This explains why the top 3 positions on the first page of Google are so highly competitive.
I. 5 Top Local Organic Search Ranking Factor Groups
The top 5 organic search ranking factor groups include:
- 36% On-Page signals (website optimization and content)
- 26% Link signals
- 9% Behavioral signals
- 9% Google Business Profile signals
- 7% Personalization
II. 5 Top Local Organic Search Ranking Factors
The individual factors that have the most impact on the local organic search rankings are:
- Dedicated page for each service
- Internal linking across entire website
- Quality & authority of inbound links to domain
- Geographic(City/Neighborhood) keyword relevance of domain content
- Keywords in Google Business Profile landing page title
Top Conversion Factors
While rankings help to improve visibility so that visitors see your listings on the top search results pages, conversions help to convert visitors into customers.
Here are the top conversion factors:
- High numerical Google ratings (eg. 4-5)
- Positive sentiment in review text
- Mobile-friendly and responsive website
- Quantity of native Google reviews (with text)
- Dedicated page for each service
Tips on how to Improve Your Local Search Rankings on Google
Here are some tips on how you can improve your local SEO rankings on Google.
1. Google Business Profile signals
The information in your Google Business Profile has a significant impact on the Local Pack and Local Finder rankings and counts for 32% of the overall ranking. It also accounts for 9% of the organic search rankings.
Your Google Business Profile should be complete and fully optimized. It should include your legal business name, primary category, business address, additional categories that are relevant, your business description, services, products and plenty of high quality images. You should also use Posts, FAQ and messaging to increase customer engagement and conversions.
Your company name on your Google Business Profile should be your legal business name. Do not try to add keywords or a city name to your business name in an effort to improve search rankings. That can trigger a Google Business Profile suspension which will significantly impact your local SEO visibility.
The proximity of the business address to the point of search and the physical address in the city of search, has a large impact on rankings in the local pack. This became even more important with Google’s Vicinity update introduced in November 2021. It is hard to rank locally if your business is outside the local area around the point of search.
For more information, please read our post on How to Create and Optimize a Google Business Profile.
2. On-Page Signals (based on website optimization and content)
The importance of on-page signals increased in 2023. This shows the growing importance of your website content in driving local search rankings. On-page signals count for 19% of the Local Pack/ Finder rankings and 36% for organic search rankings.
On-page signals consider your website content including the page content, title tags, heading tags, URLs, images and internal links when determining the relevance to keywords in the search query.
Your website content, especially your core pages like your Home page, About page, Products and Services pages, should be fully optimized. They should provide complete information about your business including contact details, and information about your team and your company. FAQ should be included on key pages to answer customer questions.
The most important ranking factor for organic search is to have a dedicated web page for each service. You should also have strong internal linking to related content across the entire website. A blog with relevant, high quality content also helps to increase internal and external links.
For a local business, the key web pages should have the city and geographic keywords in the title, meta tags, headers and website content. This is an important ranking factor for organic search.
The website page that is linked to your Google Business Profile is the Google Business Profile landing page. This could be your Home page or a location page for a multi-location business.
The Google Business Profile landing page is very important and should be fully optimized with important keywords. It should provide complete information about your business and services, along with contact details.
You should build up the page authority of the Google Business Profile landing page by building plenty of internal links to it from the primary content of other pages.
For more information, read our post on What is On-Page SEO? Plus SEO Best Practices.
3. Review Signals
Review signals did not change much in 2023 and count for 16% of the Local Pack/ Finder search ranking signals.
The review signals consider not just the reviews on your Google Business Profile but all the reviews for your business across the web. The reviews you get on other platforms like Bing, Facebook and Yelp matter too.
The quantity and quality of reviews, and the keywords used in your reviews, are considered for the review signals.
A new factor that was noted this year was that there should be a sustained number of reviews coming in regularly for a business. Not a sudden large burst of reviews coming in at once.
It is therefore important to collect customer reviews regularly across all online platforms that are relevant to your business.
4. Link Signals
The link signals have dropped over the last year. However, they still count for 11% of the Local Pack/Local Finder rankings, and 26% of the organic search rankings.
A link from another website to your website is an inbound link. It is important to regularly acquire inbound links to your website by focusing on providing great content. Having a blog on your website with regular and high quality blog posts helps to build inbound links to improve SEO.
You should build inbound links to your Google Business Profile landing page from local websites that are relevant to your industry. Building inbound links to service pages and location pages is important to boost page authority and rankings.
The quality and authority of the websites that link to your website matter for SEO and help to boost your page authority and domain authority.
5. Behavioral Signals
The behavioral signals are the signals which are sent to Google based on customer engagement with your Google Business Profile. These include click through rate, clicks to call and clicks on directions. They help to increase conversions but do not have a large impact on rankings.
To increase customer engagement and the amount of time they spend on your Google Business Profile, make your profile more engaging. Include plenty of high quality images, publish regular Posts and provide information about your products. Posts should include information on special offers and sales. Tests have shown that clicks on your Google Business Profile do provide a temporary boost to search rankings.
The 2023 annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey provides valuable information from over 44 local search experts across 149 local search ranking signals that drive rankings on the Local Pack/ Local Finder and Google organic search.
Overall, the report noted that there was a drop this year in the Google Business Profile signals and Link signals. That percentage change was picked up by the On-Page signals and Behavioral signals.
As a result, in 2023, local SEO experts are focusing more on optimizing and increasing website content to improve Local Pack / Local Finder and Organic search rankings.
Google Business Profiles are also being optimized to improve behavioral signals like customer engagement and click-through-rate, and drive conversions.
For more information, you can read the complete report at 2023 Local Search Ranking Factors by Whitespark. There is also an informative webinar in which a panel of local search experts discuss the Local Search report at 2023 Local Ranking Factors: What Matters Most by Uberall.
We hope you found these tips helpful to improve your local search rankings on Google. Check back soon for more blog posts.
Need Help With Local SEO?
If you need help with local seo, we can help. We help businesses with digital marketing services including Local SEO, SEO, Google Ads PPC Marketing, Web Design & Development and Digital Marketing Consulting services. We are located in Plano, TX outside Dallas and serve businesses in the USA. Contact us.
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- What is On-Page SEO? Plus SEO Best Practices
- How to Use Google Business Profile Posts to Connect with Customers