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Rick Hogan

Why Ranking High in Local Search is More Important than Ever


By 2021, mobile devices will influence more than $1.4 trillion in local offline sales. According to the website SEO Tribunal, 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase, while Nectafy has reported that 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device result in either a call or visit the business within 24 hours. If you are not performing well on local search for your most important keywords, you’re leaving opportunity (and revenue) on the table.

To grow your local presence online, your business needs to appear on the first page of the search engine results page for your target keywords. Studies have shown that only 25% of users go to the second page of search results, meaning the first page of results gets 75% of all the web traffic. While ranking high on Google may seem a daunting challenge, the reality is you’re not competing with national brands on local search, only your local competitors. By addressing the most important ranking factors, creating and executing a plan and measuring your progress, you can find success by developing a local SEO strategy that will pay dividends now and into the future.

Understanding Google Local Search Results

Google returns local search results when users search for generic or proximity-based products, services or businesses on a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). These local search results return paid ads, organic results and proximity-based Google Maps results generated as Google My Business (GMB) listings.

Let’s break down the anatomy of a Google Search Engine Results Page. The top of a SERP is populated with Google Ads, then the Google Maps results – which usually includes a Google Local Search ad above three Google My Business “Local Pack” listings, followed by organic search results, then more Google Ads at the bottom of the page.

Here’s an example of a Google Search Engine Results Page.

However, Google uses slightly different criteria to rank Google Maps (GMB listings) versus Google Organic results. Here’s a list of the top six ranking factors by level of importance to illustrate the difference between local pack GMB listings and local organic results.

Top 6 Google Local Pack Ranking Factors

  1. Google My Business
    For proximity-based searches, Google My Business (GMB) listings are an essential element to getting found on Google Maps. Create, optimize and update your free GMB listing with the available features and attributes.
  2. Links
    Links to your website from other sources are like votes of confidence that increase your domain authority. Votes from authoritative, credible sites offer more worthy contributions to your ranking.
  3. Review Quantity and Rating
    The volume of reviews, the overall rating and the diversity of review sources contributes heavily to local rankings on Google Maps, with growing importance as of late. Review generation and reputation management may be necessary to increase review quantity and ratings.
  4. On-Page Factors
    Search engine optimization of your website includes both the content and HTML source code, which must reflect relevant industry keywords.
  5. Local Citations & Local Directory Listings
    A large number of consistent, accurate local citations and local directory listings is important. This increases your trustworthiness in Google’s eyes and confidence in your Google My Business listing.
  6. Behavioral Signals
    Having a well-organized, content-rich and mobile-responsive website encourages users to engage with your brand, which influences your local ranking on Google Search and Maps. Your site should have pages dedicated to expertly explaining your products and services, include a FAQ section and have a blog that dives into topics related to your business that may be of interest to your potential prospects.

Top 6 Google Local Organic Ranking Factors

  1. Links
    Backlinks from credible, authoritative sites are the most important ranking factor for organic results. The number of backlinks, the authority of the referring domain and the diversity of link sources all contribute to your rankings.
  2. On-Page SEO
    Search engine optimization of content and HTML source code means optimizing your website for both users and search engines. Following best practices and using your target keywords contributes to higher rankings, since Google seeks to deliver relevant, useful results to searchers.
  3. Behavioral Signals
    This factor accounts for how users interact with your website and GMB listing – whether they spend time, engage and interact with your brand or whether they “bounce off” and move on quickly.
  4. Google My Business
    Increase rankings with the creation of a well-optimized Google My Business listing with relevant keywords that’s updated frequently with positive reviews, posts and offers and has maximized available attributes and features.
  5. Local Citations & Local Directory Listings
    When Google can verify online information from other sources through local citations and local directory listings, this increases your credibility and has a positive influence on your rankings. Manage and add additional listings to ensure consistency and accuracy of information.
  6. Personalization
    Google delivers local results specifically personalized to the user, based on their current location, context of their search, personal search history and more.

Get Started with Your Local Search Engine Optimization Efforts

With heavy competition to land on the first page of search results and get discovered online, your business needs to implement a comprehensive strategy to improve your local search rankings. The list of rankings factors to begin your local search engine optimization efforts can seem daunting, but a professional digital marketing agency can help. To learn how Bleevit Interactive can help jumpstart results for your business, schedule a complimentary local search consultation here.


  Rick Hogan, CEO & Co-Founder – Bleevit Interactive  Rick possesses over 20 years of digital marketing experience and started Bleevit Interactive with the primary mission of helping local businesses succeed online. When he is not working he can often be found hiking Great Falls, Virginia with his Labradoodle Lily, or sailing the Chesapeake Bay. If you have any comments or suggestions on how we can improve this post or otherwise want to give us a shout, send an email to hello@bleevit.com.

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