Local Search Ranking Factors for 2015

Moz conducted their annual survey with industry experts from companies such as DealerOn, AttorneySync, and Local SEO Guide. Moz asked them to rate ranking factors across localized organic and pack results. The results from this survey provide tons of insight that can be utilized to improve client rankings.

Pie chart of ranking factors by moz

Via Moz

The participants of the survey were asked to rank these 8 clusters of thematic factors across local results that include localized pack and organic. They did the ranking by giving each cluster a percentage, so that the results added up to 100%. All these themes are important, but let’s examine the top 3 ranked clusters to better understand what is so important. For a more detailed breakdown check out this website which talks about the do’s & don’ts of Local SEO Rankings.

  1. On-page Signals:
  • Presence of NAP – (Name, Address, & Phone) Contact information on client websites plus their contact information on third-party local business directories such as Zagat or Yelp. The NAP should be consistent across the web.
  • Keywords in titles – Keywords in the title of the pages are very important because that is what is shown in search engines. The usual set up for a title tag is primary keyword | secondary keyword| brand name.
  • Domain Authority – Domain Authority is a score, on a 100-point scale, developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. This is a factor by over 40 signals.
  1. Second we look into Link Signals:
  • Inbound anchor text – Search engines use this text to help determine the subject matter of the linked-to document. Make sure the anchor text is accurate and relatable to the content it is linking to.
  • Linking Domain Authority – This was previously mentioned and we know it’s a score out of 100. Another thing we have to keep in mind is the links coming into our site and how well they score on their own. If you have higher authority links coming into the site, it shows that you are more credible than others who are not getting these referrals (links) back to their site.
  • Linking domain quantity – The more of these high domain authority sites linking to your own site, the better your own ranking will get. In turn, many low domain authority sites linked to your site will have a negative effect!


  1. Third we look into My Business Signals
  • Categories – Categories are important because it shows search engines and users alike what kind of business you partake in and if your website has the services required for the user.
  • Keyword in Business Title – Having the correct categories labeled for your business is important, and with keyword in the title pages this will help convince Google that your site is the go-to place for your service.
  • Proximity – With the new map pack algorithm from Google it is now more important that you are labeled correctly and accurately, because the area one searches will now affect how results are displayed. If you have some close competitors nearby, you are fighting for those top three spots, or fear not showing up at all.

The expert participants of the survey were then asked to rank the top 20 factors that have the biggest impact on pack/carousel rankings, localized organic rankings, and then in a competitive market across both pack and localized organic. With the 20 rankings, I picked the top three listed in the survey and will talk about each factor. For the full report, click here.

Top 3 Localized Organic

  1. Domain Authority
    1. A score that Moz uses to predict how well a website will rank on search engines, which is factor by over 40 signals.
  2. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
    1. Multiple quality links from authoritative websites will show that your site is up to par with them. Websites ending with .gov, .org, and .edu usually carry better rankings then .com domains, but can prove to be harder to obtain.
  3. City, State in GMB Landing Page title
    1. A GMB Landing Page is what shows up when you find a business on Google search and it shows images, reviews, store info, an option to go to the website, and of course the title (which is helpful when the city and state is following the business name).


Top 3 Pack/Carousel Factors

  1. Physical Address in City of Search
    1. This is when a client searches for your service in your town. If you own a pizzeria in Wayne, NJ and a user searches for pizza in Wayne, NJ, your business will show up. However, if they searched for pizza in the next town over, your pizzeria will probably not show up.
  2. Consistency of Structured Citations
    1. The same NAP for each third party citation will help boost local rankings in searches.
  3. Proper GMB Category Associations
    1. Making sure that your Google My Business page has the correct categories your business falls under is vital because categorizing incorrectly can cause your business not to show up in searches and may hurt your credibility with Google.

Top Three Negative Ranking Factors

  1. Incorrect Business Category
    1. The incorrect business categories on both third party and GMB landing pages can cause two things:
      1. Prevents your business from showing up for the right type of consumer for your business.
      2. Inconsistency hurts your overall ranking in searches because it shows that information might be less reliable compared to competitors.
    2. Listing Detected at False Business Address
      1. This is self-explanatory. The wrong address means Google does not know where you are, which in turn means your clients are even more lost.
    3. Mismatch NAP/Tracking Phone Numbers Across Data Ecosystem
      1. Again, if you have multiple listings with different information on each listing, it shows less reliability because a client might be calling the wrong number. Even worse, it hurts your potential income if clients can’t reach out to you correctly.

Top 3 Difference-Making Factors in Competitive Markets

  1. Consistency of Structured Citations
    1. Having a lot of citations is like having a lot of publicity, so having consistent citations is like having a lot of good publicity!
  2. Domain Authority of Website
    1. Having a high Domain Authority will tell search engines like Google that your site is a well-established and reputable business and that you are an overall better choice for the user when ranked above the competition.
  3. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
    1. I mentioned before that .gov and .edu domains usually carry high domain authority over other sites that end in .com and .net. I want to stress that a backlink or inbound link to your site from a source that is .gov could possibly be better than 10 backlinks from .com domains, which is why they are usually very hard or costly to acquire.

This Moz survey helps local businesses by providing guidance to improve their SEO presence. I hope you enjoyed this little taste of Local Ranking Factors of 2015, and if you liked what you read and want more then great! This is just the tip of the iceberg with the amount of information you will find courtesy of the #TBTeam. Also, if you are a beginner looking for a place to start or just someone wanting to hone in on your SEO skills, please go ahead and read Best Practices for SEO Success.