2018 Local Search Ranking Factors Released

Local Search Ranking Factors

The Moz 2018 local search ranking factors study is out

Updated for 2018, the Moz Local Search Ranking Study is the most comprehensive, valued study into local search. It gives a strong indication of what SEO strategies are working now and what should work in the coming year. The rankings are an aggregate of factors that leading SEO experts believe were the most important factors to consider in 2018.  

So what should you be spending your time on for local search success in 2019?  According to the Moz study (a very good place to start), here’s what you should be focused on:

Takeaways from the 2018 local search rankings report.

 

1. Google my Business

Impact on local pack/3 pack – 25%

Up > 6.09% from 19% in 2017

Google has been putting more and more features into GMB (Google my Business).   Ultimately they want to be the go-to destination for all local business searches. The service has been growing in importance steadily since 2015.  It is likely that this trajectory will continue in 2019 and beyond. 

Taking advantage of all GMB has to offer is paramount to your success.  This means:

  • Regularly creating Google my Business posts
  • Uploading new photos
  • Utilizing features such as video uploading

2.  Reviews

Impact on local pack/3 pack – 15.14%

Up 2.01% from 13.13% in 2017

Reviews have been increasing in prominence since the 2015 Moz study.  Every local business should have a review plan in place.  

This means:

  • Asking for reviews at every available opportunity (there are dozens of ways to do this)
  • Try to gain reviews on multiple platforms: Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages etc..
  • Respond to reviews both positive and negative
  • Monitor your reviews and flag any fake ratings to mitigate damage
  • Google reviews are best.

3.  Backlinks

Impact on local pack/3 pack – 16.53%

Down < 0.78% from 17.31% in 2017

Backlinks have remained central to the vast majority of successful SEO campaigns for many years.  Because of the shift in Google my Business prominence, backlinks have lost a tiny amount of influence.  Make no mistake, they should not be ignored.  It is highly likely that backlinks will remain as influential for some time to come.

This means:

  • Participating in local sponsorship opportunities in exchange for a link on their website
  • Joining local, or industry trade associations where a link is offered
  • Publishing press releases on local news websites
  • Guest authority for industry or local news blogs

 

4.  Behavior

Impact on local pack/3 pack – 10.17%

Down < 0.61% from 9.56% in 2017

Behavior looks at how people interact with your web properties.  Google is getting better at tracking this and is likely investing in it. This indicates that behavior will be a more influential SEO metric in the future.  With more features added to Google my Business there’s more to interact with it. This creates more data for Google to pull from.

This means:

  • How often your brand name is searched
  • How many clicks to calls you get 
  • How many reviews people read
  • How many images people look at

What not to spend time on

1. Social media

Impact on local pack/3 pack – 2.82%

Down < 1.76% from 4.58% in 2017

If your goal is to improve your local search position, don’t rely too heavily on social media.  Use it as an additional marketing channel but don’t expect it to have a significant impact on local SEO in 2019.

Search ranking factors from any trusted company, like Moz, is useful as a guide. But Google holds their true search ranking factors close to the vest. The ranking here are derived from the search industries leading players. Nonetheless, it’s only an opinion. 

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