Prioritizing local search engine optimization has become increasingly challenging. Marketers must worry not only about traditional SEO, but also traditional local signals like Google My Business, citations and reviews, according to a recent study.
For the 2016 Local SEO Ranking factors, the Local SEO Guide analyzes more than 100 factors across 30,000 businesses in an effort to determine how local businesses can rank better in Google. The results reveal how backlinks affect local pack rankings, why city names in titles may not be effective, why Toolbar PageRank is important, and how having a specific keyword in a business name improves rankings.
SEO Local Guide removed the quantitative analysis that Moz and Search Metrics perform around traditional organic ranking factors and teamed up with Places Scout to get the data that made the analysis possible. The company also partnered with the University of California Irvine’s Center for Statistical Consulting to conduct an objective statistical analysis, working with Megan Smith and Marija Pejcinovska.
Here's the details, but the overall results follow. The data in this study presents a good starting point as a way to prioritize investments in local SEO, especially for Google My Business.
1) Links are the key competitive online optimization tool that differentiate one business from another, even when it comes to Google My Business Rankings. The data shows that AC Rank, Trust Flow, and Citation Flow are all top 10 link metrics.
2) Keyword use and words on a Web page still matter when it comes to engagement.
3) Citations are more or less a commodity at this point, so for competitive searches and in competitive markets they are a poor differentiator between businesses.
4) GMB signals had a strong showing for ordinal variables such as Google Reviews and profile views. Things like reviews and photos and having an Owner Verified (OV) profile correlated with positive GMB performance.
5) The data shows that the Toolbar PageRank score is one of the top correlating link metrics.
6) Organic algorithms play a major role in ranking in Google My Business results. The data shows that a keyword in the company's business name is the No. 2 most popular factor for better rankings. In fact, if you have the keyword in your business name you will rank about 1.5 spots higher, per the data.