Aside from those lucky few fortunate enough to work within the deepest layers of Google, nobody really knows how the search engine behemoth creates its local search and ranking algorithms. And the moment some genius figures it out, you can bet Google will change it again.
Still, some experts dedicate their careers to understanding, following, and decoding Google’s local search ranking factors. Their findings are incredibly valuable for multi-location brands seeking to boost their online visibility, increase clicks on their business listings, and bring more customers through their doors.
An annual assessment of Google’s current local search ranking factors found there were 149 potential factors that local search experts think Google might use to rank businesses in the “local pack/finder/maps and local organic results.”
What Are the Top Local Search Ranking Factors for Google in 2023?
First off, what is a local search ranking factor? Essentially, they are the specific signals Google identifies within a listing that determines how Google ultimately ranks a business on the search engine results page (SERP) after a user submits a query.
In order, the report determined the following to be the top local search ranking factor groups in 2023:
- Google Business Profile (GBP) Signals: 32%
Google’s algorithm for ranking Business Profiles considers proximity and relevance, activity, and quality of information. Keeping your GBP up-to-date helps send signals to Google to rank your brand higher in local results.
- On-Page Signals: 19%
These signals pick up on-page content and HTML source codes. Optimize these by ensuring your content creates demand and is linkable. If people can’t link to it, it’s unlikely search engines will.
- Review Signals: 16%
Review signals are based on quantity, quality, diversity, and frequency of product reviews.
- Link Signals: 11%
Link signals are a way to communicate just how powerful your backlinks (an incoming hyperlink from one web page to another website) are to search engines.
- Behavioral Signals: 8%
Consumer click-through rates, mobile clicks-to-call, check-ins, etc., impact local business site rankings.
- Citation Signals: 7%
Citations are mentions of your business’s name, address, and phone number on a website that isn’t your own. Having your site listed in trusted directories can improve SEO.
- Personalization: 6%
Personalization is how Google provides users with search results based on their location, language, and previous search history.
Remember, only those insiders at Google truly know precisely what weight each factor has regarding search ranking. Still, these percentages offer valuable insights into what brands should prioritize when it comes to local search listing optimization.
Based on these findings, brands must highly prioritize keeping their GBP listings accurate and up-to-date for every location. Review volume and quality also remain essential to search ranking success indicating the importance of a strong reputation management and review response strategy.
It’s also important to note the likely changes that have occurred over the last five years to Google ranking factors for local SEO. Between 2015 and 2023, there was steady growth of on-page signal significance, brands appear to be investing more heavily in website content and optimization. And since 2018, local SEO experts have seen substantial year-over-year growth in its influence, highlighting just how vital the brand’s website SEO is to overall ranking opportunities.
Additionally, for the first time since reporting began, GBP signals fell. That said, it still stands as the more influential ranking factor. While it’s worth keeping an eye on this change over the years, it’s not worth overthinking for now.
Best Practices for Ranking Your Business Listings Higher on Google in 2023
- Keep Your Listings Accurate and Updated
Whether you’re a restauranteur, healthcare provider, or a brick-and-mortar, your visitors need to find you. With up-to-date listings, you’ll be able to maximize how often users find your business in local search results. There is listing management software out there that can help make this a cinch by providing an overview of how your listings are performing.
- Ensure Every Listing Is Complete
A complete listing is key to better ranking. Not only do you want your listing details to be accurate, they should be fully filled out with business details such as a physical address, contact information, website, hours, business category, and keywords. Having the specifics of your listings tidied up will ensure that you’ll be reaching the folks who want to reach you!
- Create High-Quality and Optimized Listings Content
There’s no denying that these days what someone sees online regarding your business will influence whether they choose to go with you, or a competitor. Adding some mouth-watering photos of the dishes at your restaurant, or a video from the practitioners at your medical office, will boost those rankings in a major way. There’s no better way to tell your story and stand out.
- Stay Informed on Industry Trends
There’s a lot of content out there to digest, we get it. Luckily, when you’re looking to stay on top of specific industry trends, there are a few easy ways to do so:
- Subscribe to newsletters and groups (ie. Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn) that focus on SEO and Google Ranking
- Follow businesses and influencers on social media that are experts in the field
- Set Google Alerts to receive emails about these topics when they pop up in the headlines
You’re never “done” optimizing your listings and website. Local SEO is an ongoing and always-evolving process, and your brand must consider it a consistent part of your marketing strategy. While it might feel like one more thing to add to your busy plate, the rewards will undoubtedly be worth it.