Local search ranking factors


Google's Local Algorithm Updates

As much as we try to stay on top of search, and as much as we endeavour to predict that changes that might be implemented, the only certainties of Google’s algorithm updates are that they occur with regularity and require constant supervision. While we’ve all experienced – for better or for worse – the major changes instigated by the Google Panda and Penguin updates, the changes to local search have often gone under the radar, leaving many SEOs playing catch up for their clients.

Here at Whitefish Marketing, we pride ourselves on staying informed of the latest developments, which is why we’re pleased to provide you with a detailed look at the local search ranking factors that can help you conquer the digital environment on a local scale.

Localised search factors

 In order to determine precisely what you should and shouldn’t be doing, we’ve broken down our study into a comprehensive checklist for localised SEO factors. These top 20 factors – which are structured in terms of importance – provide an overview as to what your website needs to focus on when hoping to conquer the search engines.

  1. City, county, etc. featured in the landing page title
  2. Domain authority of your website
  3. Page authority of your landing page
  4. Quality of the inbound links to the website domain
  5. Quality of the inbound links to the landing page
  6. Physical address in the city of search
  7. Quality of structured citations
  8. Use of the product or service keyword in the website URL
  9. Click-through rate from search results
  10. City, county, etc. featured in landing page H1/H2 tags
  11. Inbound link diversity to domain
  12. Consistency of structured citations
  13. City, county, etc. featured in most/all website title tags
  14. HTML NAP matching My Business page NAP (name/address/phone)
  15. Geographic keywords in the website URL
  16. Quantity of inbound links to the domain
  17. Location keywords in link anchor text to landing page URL
  18. Inbound link diversity to page URL
  19. Proximity of address to the point of search (i.e. searcher-business distance)
  20. Quality of unstructured citations

These factors each play an integral role in dominating the local search rankings, drawing local custom to you business and website. The benefits of adopting such an approach are particularly valuable for those businesses offering services that are limited in the area they cover. For example, local independent tradesmen – builders, plumbers, carpet fitters, etc. – and restaurants will only be able to target a small proportion of customers in the country; by being able to be specific in the locale they focus on, capturing the attention of the right audience is far more effective.

Negative ranking factors

 Of course, while embracing the positive local ranking factors is important, it’s vital to avoid making mistakes that could negatively impact performance. What’s more, trying to manipulate the search engines into capturing audiences away from your local area could see your website blacklisted and penalised by Google. As such, you should actively avoid the following:

  1. Listing a false business location
  2. Listing an incorrect business category
  3. Mismatched NAP/tracking phone numbers across data ecosystem
  4. Mismatched NAP/tracking phone number on My Business landing page
  5. Mismatched address on My Business landing page
  6. Malware on website
  7. Keyword stuffing in the business name
  8. Violation reports regarding your My Business page
  9. Multiple My Business pages with the same telephone number
  10. No crawlable NAP on location landing page
  11. No crawlable NAP on website
  12. Google My Business associations with suppressed listings
  13. Multiple My Business pages with similar title and address
  14. Incorrect placement of your map marker
  15. Keyword stuffed My Business page descriptions
  16. Keyword stuffed title tag of My Business page
  17. Hidden My Business page address
  18. Location keyword in categories
  19. Multiple categories in same input field
  20. Choosing service area on My Business page instead of in-location visits

The evolution of the Google algorithm ensures that trying to distort search results by manipulation is harder than ever, and the penalties for doing so harmful to your business. By avoiding some of the most common negative ranking factors, you can ensure you stay in Google’s good books and ahead of the crowd.

Find out more with Whitefish Marketing

 The myriad changes to localised SEO ensure that staying abreast of every little detail is far from simple. For complete confidence that you’re maintaining best practice and performing as you should in the search engines, contact Whitefish Marketing in Folkestone today. We’ll be delighted to offer our expert SEO advice on staying ahead of the competition in your local area.


About Charli Carlton

Charli is head of content at Minerva Copywriting. When not producing great copy, she can usually be found daydreaming about exotic holiday destinations or in the pub with her mates.