Local SEO Ranking Factors - cover image

9 Local SEO Ranking Factors that will drive highly-motivated, local traffic for your business.

Local search has quickly become one of the most integral parts of marketing a small business. So, what makes a local SEO campaign successful?

As more businesses begin to recognise its effectiveness, Local SEO continues to get more competitive. Small businesses are realising the potential of a comprehensive local SEO campaign as it brings them tremendous amounts of search visibility, and the ability to connect with local customers.

With this increased awareness into the benefits of local search, comes a complicated search algorithm system that has dramatically changed over the last few years. Google and search engines alike are continually looking for ways to provide users with the most valuable and helpful information nearby; therefore, ranking well in local search results takes a strategic approach with a multitude of factors.

While the exact ranking formula for local SEO is not known, we do understand that several key factors work together to help local businesses appear higher in local search results and benefit from local visibility. Here are 9 essential Local SEO Ranking Factors:

Local SEO Ranking Factors in 2020 broken down by chart

1. Google My Business

Arguably one of the most crucial local SEO ranking factors, Google My Business is a free tool, set up by Google to provide users with local businesses through Google Maps. Properly setting up your GMB listing is an integral part of getting your business noticed by both Google and potential customers. Given that GMB is one of the first things that users will come across when searching for a company on Google, it is crucial to have your business listed, verified, and managed.

Search algorithms use GMB signals like proximity, contact information, categories, and updated content to analyse and decipher where and your business is shown to people in your area.

Not only is it incredibly important for businesses to set up, claim, and verify their GMB listings; but a comprehensive local SEO campaign will also work to optimise the listing for enhanced visibility.

56% of all local businesses have not claimed their GMB listing as of 2020

2. On-Page Signals

Various on-page factors are taken into consideration when your website faces analysis for local rankings. Firstly, is the use of relevant keywords. Search engines will look out for the use of keywords that are highly relevant and strategically placed  in your page titles, content, and throughout your website help Google to determine where your site belongs. Relevancy is vital for local SEO as the right keywords can help get your site ranking in specific areas for your industry.

The presence of vital details such as name, address and phone number (NAP) on pages also assists in on-page ranking factors. Google uses this information to determine important proximity details for your rankings.

Another local SEO on-page ranking factor is the mobile-friendliness of your website. 30% of all Google mobile searches relate to location. Having your website easily accessible and fast on mobile devices is an essential factor for both local SERPs and user experience. People are always looking for products and services nearby; you can make it easier for them to find you by optimising your pages for local search.

3. Online Reviews

Customers will almost always read available information on a business before making a purchase. Positive online reviews help to paint your business as trustworthy, reliable, and legitimate. Having positive reviews online not only has a significant impact on the decision-making process for potential clients but will also contribute to local search ranking factors.

Businesses receiving frequent positive reviews and ratings online will benefit from ranking increases. Local SEO ranking signals consider the total number, frequency, diversity, and quality of reviews that are generated for the business.

When a business is frequently receiving genuine glowing reviews for their services, Google takes that as a sign that customers are pleased with the provided services. And because Google wants to put the user first, businesses with good reviews will be served to users higher in the local search rankings. A significant part of a strong local SEO campaign is encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and ratings with platforms such as Google Maps, Yelp, Glassdoor and Trip advisor.

4. Backlink Profile

Backlinks are an essential element of building authority for a local business. Local businesses should aim to attract links from local, relevant, and authoritative websites for positive impact on their site. Getting good backlinks can be challenging – it’s important to remember that when it comes to other sites linking to yours, quality is more important than quantity.

Why local link building is important in a local SEO campaign

Receiving backlinks to your website from other authoritative sites is a crucial element to priority placement in search results. Local SEO ranking factors associated with backlinks apply to the quantity of the linking domains, the relevancy of the links, the linking domain authority, and the anchor text used to link to your website.

5. Online Citations

Online directories and citations are today’s equivalent of the old fashion Yellow Pages. Citations are great for getting consistent information about business out onto the web and acquiring local backlinks from legitimate and authoritative websites. Searchers use directories and citations to find products and services and their contact details. Search engines use citations to confirm necessary information about a business.

NAP consistency is an imperative element for local SEO ranking factors. Make sure your business name, address, and phone number information are the same across all directory and citation listings. The use of directories and citations reaffirms your accurate contact information to both search engines and users.

6. Proximity to Searcher’s Location

Google uses the searcher’s proximity as a ranking factor when determining which search results should appear for different searches. When we consider that almost two-thirds or Google searches come from mobile devices and most of those device’s opt-in to location searches, it means that your search results are constantly changing.

Stepping away from Google Business and Google Maps and looking specifically at on-site local optimisation that target the searcher’s location, one important step that businesses can take is to ensure that their content is targeting a local audience.

For service area businesses (SABs) such as plumbers, roofers, as well as online service providers that can service between states and even internationally, it’s important to consider ways to reach users based on their search behaviour.

Businesses can enhance their local relevance and visibility through content optimisation and local link building that helps Google to understand the context of their location and increases their chances of appearing for relevant search results.

7. Behavioural Signals 

There are several behavioural signals Google’s algorithm uses to determine ranking order for local search results. Behavioural signals are actions that your audience users indicate how they interact and engage with local business listings and websites. The most common user signals that are monitored include:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Mobile Clicks to Calls
  • Social Media Check-ins
behavioural signals for local SEO

All of these factors are analysed by search engines to help them determine which businesses are most relevant and are receiving the most valuable attention from the searchers. A comprehensive local SEO campaign will involve closely tracking behavioural signals to make adjustments that will better suit user experience for local searchers. By monitoring these signals, you can help your local listing rank higher in search results and draw more nearby customers to your business.

8. Local Landing Pages

Local landing pages are web pages that have been specifically designed to target users that are located in a particular area or geographical location. For businesses that provide services or sell goods in different areas, local landing pages are an important way to reach users in their desired target location.

For instance, a web development company that offers services in each state of Australia will need to create local pages that target each of their major service areas. In doing so, they will appear in front of prospective clients that conduct local searches for “Web Development Services + Location”. It’s a simple principle, however, it is an extremely effective way to ensure that your business reaches users beyond your physical service area.

9. Local Content Marketing

Producing and publishing content that is relevant to your local community can significantly improve your local search rankings. Users love connecting with brands on topics that are relevant, relatable, and community-based. Search engines serve to provide websites with exceptional value to users, and so, local content can hugely improve local search rankings.

Local content includes blogs, news pieces, articles, videos, graphics and event announcements relating to a local area. By using key phrases and location-based terms in the copy to draw users and search engines in, you can significantly improve local visibility for your business.


Identifying the factors and elements that affect Local SEO rankings is just the beginning of your local search marketing journey. The sooner your business jumps on to local SEO, the better – competition is being tougher, and local SEO is becoming crucial for both brick and mortar and service style businesses.

As you can see from the local ranking factors listed above, local SEO is no walk in the park for a small business. If you want to see long-term benefits from local SEO, you need to take a comprehensive and systematic approach that will integrate the many factors involved with search visibility.

Safari Digital are the leading local SEO experts in Australia. Working one on one with each client, we’ve developed an in-depth knowledge into the many local search ranking factors that businesses need to consider. We do SEO for businesses of all sizes but working on local SEO campaigns is something we love to do for one reason; our local campaigns deliver ridiculous ROI and generate enormous amounts of qualified leads.

Local SEO is the most powerful and most effective route to dramatically increase the quantity and quality of leads that your business receives through organic search. Get in touch with one of our local SEO specialists to learn more about local search for your business today.