How Does Local Search Actually Work?

How Does Local Search Actually Work?

For many small businesses, much of the information about SEO and local search is almost incomprehensible. There are “how to” articles which may be easy to understand, but don;t really explain the “why” of it all. On the other hand, the more technical essays are often not very forthright and straightforward. However, some of this is because Google and other search engines don’t really provide good insights into how their algorithms function. Thanks to the recent 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey results, provided by the good people at Moz, we can present a more direct answer on how local search actually works and the importance of on-site and off-site SEO strategies.

2017 Breakdown of Local SEO Factors

  • My Google Page – 19.01%
  • Links – 17.31%
  • On-Page – 13.81%
  • Citations – 13.31%
  • Reviews – 13.13%
  • Behavioral – 10.17%
  • Personalization – 9.76%
  • Social – 3.53%

Of course, the above list and percentages do not tell the whole story. For example, back in 2015, your My Google Page represented a weight of 21.63 percent. So, while it still has a powerful influence on local search, it has weakened. On the other hand, online reviews were once only 10.80 percent, but have increased by 21.53 percent. That said, many of the changes are not statistically significant.

All that said, despite the above list, the actual factor with the most influence on local search is something which you have little control: the proximity to the user. Unfortunately, this does not truly benefit you or the user. The “best” plumber in town is not necessarily going to be the closet. That said, a business with higher prominence and relevancy will rank have a longer reach around their location and thus will win a larger percentage of the local search results.

The one Local SEO factors that your business must look to improve is under Behavioral. These are the collection of signals that online users are sending to Google about your business. Are users staying on your site or are they returning to search for a better result? How many people are using Google Maps to get driving directions and traveling to your location? It is understood that Google is expanding ranking factors. How people are engaging with your business, on and offline, is at the top of their list.

Do you have questions? What haven’t we covered yet that is important to you? If you would like to talk about how local search actually works, or a related topic, please contact us.