Every year, the SEO experts at Moz create a survey which they distribute to other SEO experts. These peeps are asked to weigh in on their opinions and knowledge in various categories relating to local search-engine ranking factors. Examples of these local search factors include keywords, domain authority, reviews, social engagement, as well as several others.
In the beginning of May, Moz and Local Search Association (LSA) hosted a free webinar to give a high-level overview of the new Local Search Ranking Factors for 2017. Since TIS primarily serves local businesses (and is a local business ourself!), we found it important to listen in on this webinar so we can be the best ally in your SEO efforts. Here're a few major takeaways of the webinar…
1. Google's new top-ranking factor is the proximity of a business's address to the point of search.
For years, the most important factor for local search rankings was the physical address in the city of search. Now, the #1 local ranking factor is proximity in address to the point of search. This means that less popular or lower-ranked businesses for its category can rank higher than a more popular business on Google, solely because of its location in proximity to the person searching. Many of the experts see this as a negative change to Google's local search because it reduces the quality of their local pack results.
2. That being the case, social signals have lost influence in search rankings.
While social signals used to carry much importance in a business's local search ranking, they now have decreased in influential weight by -22.89% since 2015. A strong social presence is still important to maintain, but the frequency and actual content you are posting on social media have less influence on both Google's local pack results and organic ranking factors.
It may not be a bad idea to reshift some of your team's focus on increasing the quality and quantity of link signals (inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, linking domain quantity, etc.)—as the link signals category has increased in local search influence by +16.73% since 2015.
3. Business “attributes” are more important than descriptions.
“Business Attributes” is a relatively new feature added to Google My Business in 2016. Rather than a business's description carrying more influence in local search results, a business's attributes—such as if they have wifi, free parking, wheelchair access, payment methods, etc.—are more important and sought-out information by customers. The more a local business has completely and accurately filled their Business Attributes section, the more likely that business will rank higher in local search.
There's still a ton of valuable info to learn from Moz and LSA's Local Search Ranking Factors survey results! Click here to check out the Local Search Ranking Factors report over on Moz. Need help tightening up your SEO practices? Contact TIS to learn how we can help.