Local SEO Search Ranking Factors: Your Detailed Guide

Did you know that as many as 46% of all Google searches are local?

If we break it down, the monthly local searches are 97 billion. Over 12 months, this will total 1.17 trillion yearly, 3.2 billion daily, and 37,000 local searches a second.

As you can see, thousands of users are looking for local businesses daily. Searchers that enter keywords like “order cheese,” “restaurant near me,” and “buy iPhone 11pro max” want the top results for their current location—and the sites ranking for these local search queries get the highest CTR and conversions.

So, if you desire to rank at the top of your local search results, this article will explain the key performance indicators for a successful local SEO campaign.

What Makes a Local SEO Campaign Successful?

1. Ranking for Google Map Pack

google map pack

“A local SEO campaign is successful if the ranking in the map pack is improving with more clicks and interactions on your Google Business Profile, including clicks to the website and calls, than there were before.” Jason Mudd, CEO at Axia Public Relations

For example, if you are looking for the best restaurants near you, Google map pack pulls up a list of savvy spots where your cravings can be met. Or if you need a veterinary doctor to treat your pet, Google Map pack provides a list of professionals with the best reviews.

Ranking on Google Maps pack increases businesses’ local visibility and potential to attract new customers.


  • It has prime real estate on local search results by displaying above the traditional search results. It is #1 on search engine result pages, getting the highest organic, local, and mobile traffic.
  • Google map pack gets 44% of the total clicks on search engine result pages.
  • Searchers can learn more about the company, reach out via the contact number, and quickly locate the business’s physical location through Google Maps navigation.
  • 91% of consumers say positive reviews make them more likely to use a business. With Google Maps pack featuring customers’ reviews, local businesses can increase their conversion rate by ranking for them.


Google Map Pack, or Google Local Map Pack, features a business name, rating, pricing, address, hours, description, service options, and more. It is more or else like a billboard that provides ample information about a company without contact with any employees.

2. Organic Rankings in Search Results #1 Page

Let’s start with some statistics to clarify this point:

  • The top-ranking page gets 49% of the search traffic
  • The #1 result in Google gets approximately 32% of all clicks.
  • Only 0.63% of Google searchers click on results from the second page.


The target of every SEO campaign is to see an increase in a site’s online visibility, traffic and conversion. This feat can only be achieved by gaining dominance on search engine result pages, i.e. ranking consistently on the first page. Interestingly, the result of these two KPIs is what Lindsey refers to as driving more foot traffic and sales.

“A local SEO campaign is successful when it achieves the client’s goals, such as driving in more foot traffic or increasing sales”, Lindsey Chastain, Director of Client Services at At Large PR.

Google’s Local SEO Ranking Factors 

Let’s start by analyzing Google’s excerpt on how to improve local ranking:

“Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. Combining these factors helps us find the best match for your search. For example, our algorithms might decide that a business farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a closer business, and therefore rank it higher in local results.”

1. Relevance

“Relevance refers to how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for. Add complete and detailed business information to help Google better understand your business and match your profile to relevant searches.”

Google’s primary objective is to provide its users with the most relevant, highest-quality results based on their search queries. They won’t want to give the information about a local business in Texas to someone searching from Chicago. That’s why companies should provide well-detailed details about their business to help Google match their site with related searches.

2. Distance

“Distance considers how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search. If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, we’ll calculate distance based on what we do know about their location.”

Google even stated in their Help Center that they consider the searcher’s location to provide a more helpful result. This factor makes them match local businesses that provide services within the searcher’s location.

For instance, Google believes that if you search for “coffee shops,” you are likely looking for shops near you. The search results will feature a map pack of coffee shops within the searcher’s location.

For better visibility and ranking for local search terms, site owners/local businesses should optimize their site for their location, provide detailed information of their location on their Google Business Profile (we will delve fully into this aspect in the next segment), and create content optimized for their local area.

3. Prominence

“Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent offline, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands will likely be prominent in local search results.

Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business, from across the web, like links, articles, and directories. Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so search engine optimization (SEO) best practices apply.”

In simple terms, your business authority, which you can improve by getting more positive reviews and ranking for other search terms on SERPs, increases your local rankings.

You can watch Google’s official video on local ranking for a better understanding of the above-listed points:

3 Key Local SEO Ranking Factors 

1. On-Page Optimization Factors

A. Website Relevance and Quality

Search engines primarily rank sites relevant to searchers’ queries and provide valuable quality information for the searcher.

Once search engine algorithms analyze the searchers’ queries and understand their search intent, they explore several pieces of content in their index to determine each page’s relevance.

The primary strategy to boost your local ranking is by creating valuable content optimized with relevant local area keywords.

In Google’s SEO Starter Guide, the first sentence on how to make your site interesting and useful clearly shows the essence of creating quality content.

seo starter guide - optimize your content

How do you know if your content matches Google’s value standard? In Google’s SEO fundamental documentation, they provided a list of evaluators to check the quality of content:

Here are some questions to vet your content quality:

content quality questions

expertise questions

To summarize:

  • Focus on people-first content
  • Avoid creating content centered for search engines only
  • Follow the E-E-A-T and quality rater’s guidelines
  • Ask “who,” “how,” and “why” about your content

You might read all that has been said and still conclude that Google doesn’t explicitly prioritize content quality as a ranking factor.

In a 2016 Google Question and Answer session between Ammon Johns and Andrey Lipattsev, Google Senior strategist Andrey told us about Google’s core ranking factors.

Amon asked,

“We’ve heard that this (RankBrain) is now the third-most important signal contributing to results. Would it be beneficial to us to know what the first two are? Could webmasters build better sites?”

Andrey replied,

“Yes. And I can tell you what they are. It’s content and links pointing to your site.”

However, content with peak value not optimized for relevant keywords will affect its ranking. Keyword optimization helps search engines know the keywords for ranking your content.

MonsterInsights clearly emphasize keyword optimization as a crucial ranking factor in one of their blog posts.

Optimize your business pages and content with keywords relevant to your local areas.

Note: Search engines frown against keyword stuffing. Naturally, use your keywords across your site to avoid penalization.

B. Local Business Information

NAP denotes name, address and phone number. Google uses this data to establish trust and accuracy, local relevance, and business verification.

Google uses NAP citations to ascertain business proximity, a crucial factor for local ranking. Search engines use NAP data to identify businesses that match the location criteria if a user searches for a service or product in a particular area.

It’s expedient you use a consistent NAP across several online sources. When search engines encounter conflicting or inconsistent information about a business, it can lead to confusion and lower the trustworthiness of the data.

2. Off-Page Optimization Factors

A. Google My Business (GMB) Signals

A significant way to increase your business’s local ranking on search engine result pages is to optimize the presence of your Google My Business profile.

Caleb Rule, Rule Marketing Group, shares a case study on how his company increased their client’s online traffic by 40% by optimizing their Google Business Profile.

“Working with Lacher Construction, we (Rule Marketing Group) did some website optimization, on-site SEO, and Local SEO work. And right off the bat, we knew what would make this successful because we talked with the business owner, Rob Lacher. He said, “We get some leads, but they’re not always a good fit.”

So, we wanted additional lead generation (some from Local SEO, such as Google My Business) but also better quality leads.

Aligning the campaign to this objective oriented our client conversations.

Then, after doing the work, we made sure to tag the URL in the Google My Business listing with utms to denote those clicks in Google Analytics. After 3-6 months of work, we saw 40% of traffic and leads were coming in from GMB specifically!”

Google even stated in one of their documentation that using Google Business Profile improves a business’s local ranking. However, to be eligible for GMB listing, you must avoid prohibited content, accurately reflect your business, and comply with Google business profile policies and guidelines.

Most importantly, you must adhere to Google’s content guidelines for business profiles.

You must provide all the information required in your GMB profile for better visibility.

“Manage how your business appears on Google Maps and Google Search by claiming your Business Profile. Once you verify yourself as a listing owner, you can provide or edit your address, contact info, business type, and photos. This enables your local business information to show up in Google Maps and Google knowledge panel.

B. Online Reviews and Reputation Management

Positive reviews are proof of your business’s credibility.

Customers who have a satisfactory experience with your business, product, or services provide a good review. This review can be an anchor for your prospects to convert as customers.

Most importantly, search engines prioritize businesses with positive reviews and boost their rankings since they have the potential to provide more viable quality products or services.

C. Local Backlinks and Citations

Your business can gain authority, increase credibility, and be found by search engine algorithms using backlinks on your website.

Brian Dean, from Backlinko says in one of his blog posts:

“Google and other major search engines consider backlinks “votes” for a specific page, thus indicating relevance, quality, and authority to the web page. Pages with many relevant backlinks tend to have high organic search engine rankings.”

However, the importance of backlinks lies in their relevancy and quality rather than their sheer number. More links to reputable websites and high-quality content will affect your ranking.

As a local business, you should look for backlinks from companies that are reliable and pertinent to your unique offers. Search engines examine the website that links back to you. The more valuable that site is to your ranking, the higher it should be.

3. User Engagement Factors

A. Click-through Rate (CTR) and Organic Search Traffic

Even though click-through rate isn’t a core ranking factor, search engines use them to check the value of a page.

For instance, two pages covering the same topic but with different click-through rates send a signal to the algorithm. A site with more CTR signals searches engine algorithms that the content is relevant and trustworthy.

Udi Manber, Google’s former chief of search quality, says,

“The ranking itself is affected by the click data. If we discover that, for a particular query, hypothetically, 80% of people click on search position 2 and only 10% click on the resulting number, we will figure out that result 2 is the one people want. So we’ll switch it.”

Further Reading: Ways to Increase Clicks on Organic Search Results

B. User Behavior on the Website

Google prioritizes page experience as a core ranking factor. Their documentation on page experience emphasized that the algorithm rewards a site that provides a good page experience for its users.

“Google’s core ranking systems look to reward content that provides a good page experience. Site owners seeking to be successful with our systems should not focus on only one or two aspects of page experience. Instead, check if you provide a great page experience across many aspects.”

C. Social Media Engagement

Active social media presence allows businesses to reach a larger audience, including local users.

By regularly posting relevant content and engaging with followers, your business can increase its brand local visibility within the community. This increased visibility can lead to more brand mentions and citations across the web, positively influencing local search rankings.

Also, search engines consider social signals as indicators of a business’s popularity and relevance. Social signals metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and overall engagement on social media platforms notify search engines that the business is active, popular, and worthy of attention. This can result in improved local rankings on SERPs.

More so, when businesses share content or announcements on social media, it can attract attention from other websites and local influencers who may link to or mention the business in their content.

What’s Next?

Tracking local SEO performance! This practice helps you vet the performance of your local search engine optimization campaign, remove the cabbages, and optimize better strategies.

Local keyword tracking has always seemed difficult as rocket science, but keyword.com takes the burden off your shoulder. You can quickly discover and segment your local keyword rankings by country, city, ZIP code, and devices.

That’s why Bernie Clark, Founder of Majux, says,

“We have clients in major markets where accuracy and localization are essential. With Keyword.com, localization is dead-on. That’s a big thing.”

Keyword.com provides accurate device and geo-location tracking with detailed reports shareable with your clients in one click.

Most importantly, this tool is a Share of Voice tracker that analyses who is competing for your local keywords and how to outrank them.

Check it out yourself!