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Local Search: How to Rank on Google in 2013 [Survey]

Overall Local Search Ranking Factors

Moz has released the 2013 Local Search Ranking Factors, a survey of local experts that examines general, specific, and negative ranking factors. It has some interesting data about what local search marketers are utilizing and discovering when it comes to local search results.

When it comes to overall ranking factors, page place signals are considered the most important. This includes things like appropriate categories, keywords in business titles and proximity. This should come at no surprise and does highlight how important it is to ensure that when you’re listing your business locally that you’re selecting the most appropriate business categories as well as the keywords content.

The Local Search Ranking Factors ranks the most important ranking factors as well as the most important competitor difference makers, the things that make your site stand out more versus your competitors. For the foundational ranking factors, meaning the things you can do for your local listings, if these were the top ten:

  1. Proper Category Associations
  2. Physical Address in City of Search
  3. Consistency of Structured Citations
  4. Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
  5. HTML NAP Matching Place Page NAP
  6. Quantity of Structured Citations (IYPs, Data Aggregators)
  7. Domain Authority of Website
  8. Individually Owner-verified Local Plus Page
  9. City, State in Places Landing Page Title
  10. Proximity of Address to Centroid

For the things that set your local site apart for the competitors, the top 10 are:

  1. Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
  2. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
  3. Quantity of Reviews by Authority Reviewers (e.g.Yelp Elite, Multiple Places Reviewers, etc)
  4. Consistency of Structured Citations
  5. Quantity of Citations from Industry-Relevant Domains
  6. Quantity of Native Google Places Reviews (w/text)
  7. Domain Authority of Website
  8. Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations (Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts)
  9. Quantity of Citations from Locally-Relevant Domains
  10. Page Authority of Places Landing Page URL

It definitely stresses just how important the quality of your reviews are, but also the quality of the reviewer, such as Yelp Elite reviewers, which helps give more weight to refuse attributed to a person, as opposed to what could just be positive reviews from the owner or negative reviews from a competitor.

What is surprising on both lists is the domain authority of a website. While domain authority has been a major part of normal SEO, it is a bit more problematic with local businesses, especially with the number of new businesses starting up and others changing names.

Domain authority is something that a lot of local businesses are lacking, especially because many of them are newer businesses that depend heavily on local listing traffic. According to the survey, your website’s domain authority could play a significant part in the ranking factors and difference makers.

Moz also lists 30 negative ranking factors, but most of them are obvious and expected, such as a false business location, keyword stuffing in the business name, incorrect category listing, and multiple place pages for what appears to be the same business.

There are also many interesting comments made by local SEO marketers on what they find is important or detrimental to local SEO. You can read entire report here.

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