Whitespark has published the 2023 version of its Local Search Ranking Factors study (LSRF) built on a survey of 44 local SEO practitioners who offer opinions based on hands-on search engine optimization (SEO) work with clients.
Survey participants were asked to weight and rank Google attributes for each group ranking signal such as Google Business Profiles (GBP), on-page, review, link, behavioral, citation, and personalization. They are all in the local search algorithm for local pack/finder and local organic results.
The data is aggregated to give marketers direction on the general importance of each group of signals.
Participants were initially asked to come up with an approximate weight that Google’s algorithm gives for each area. For the local pack/finder ranking factor, 32% was given to GBP signals, 19% to on-page signals, 16% to review signals, 11% to link signals, 8% to behavioral signals, 7% to citation signals, and 6% to personalization signals.
For the local organic ranking factors, 36% was given for on-page signals, 26% for link signals, 9% for behavioral signals, 9% for GBP signals, 7% for personalization, 7% for citation signals, and 6% for review signals.
The weights have changed over time. David Mihm started the ranking report in 2008, and handed it to Darren Shaw, local marketing search expert at Whitespark, in 2017.
“Back in 2015, Google Business Profile signals were not as strong as on-page signals, but we can see the shift happening, increasing quite a bit until 2021 and now it’s gone down a little bit in 2023,” he said in a video. “
The local search experts were also asked to score the 149 ranking factors between 0 and 5. The scores were added in aggregate, and the top five were Primary GBP category, keywords in GBP Business title, proximity of the address to the point of the search, Physical addresses in city of search, and removal of spam listing through filters.
Shaw said one of the biggest changes in this year’s report was better understanding the factors that have the biggest impact on conversations. How to get people to convert. Scoring each of the 149 factors helps to determine that information.
There’s also a list of factors that can hurt rankings and a list that can get an SEO suspended.