Local Search Engine Ranking Factors: 2015

Google Local Proximity Search

David Mihm of Moz.com and approximately 40 of the top local search SEO experts have surveyed, developed, collaborated and published the annual 2015 Local Search Ranking Factors survey. And the search ranking factors are in. While some factors are still important, others are changing. Google is rewarding quality on all fronts, from centroid in proximity and links to citations. Those businesses with location-relevant title tags and keywords rank high in authority and quality. At the same time, the influence of Google+ is on the way out. Links to Google+ pages have been completely severed.

Participants in the survey were asked to identify the influence of ranking factors across localized, organic and pack results. Results were then tabulated via inverse scoring, where the number one ranked factor received the most “points” for that question, and the lowest-ranked factor received the least amount of points.

Behavioral Signals

More and more, behavioral signals are gaining importance. Mobile signals and behavioral signals make up almost 10 percent of the algorithm across localized and pack organic results. That figure is up 38 percent compared to last year. In localized organic results, click through rates were judged the number four factor. As a matter of fact, it was in the top 10 factors for search ranking. Experts have also noted that additional behavioral factors may be playing a role, including pogosticking and post-click time onsite.


Citations went from 15.5 percent to 13.6 percent as a ranking factor but are still crucial. For both pack results and in competitive markets, citation quality and consistency should be the focus. After you’ve read in between the lines, it’s easily seen that the quantity of citations is less important. And that’s apparent after many sites got hit by Panda releases for sparse content. For authority, it’s all about quality and consistency of citations.


Compared to 2014, links were up 9 percent as a general ranking factor. The diversity and quality of links play a strong role in the ranking factors in the snack pack. In competitive markets, it rose 10 spots. In localized organic results, product and service keywords in anchor text, location keywords in anchor text and locally-relevant links all moved up a minimum of 10 spots in 2015.

Centroid in Proximity

In local SEO, proximity refers to the distance between the business location and the user’s location and the business location and the centroid. Centroid used to refer to the city centroid, but it now refers to the Google+ Local Centroid. It’s the center point of the seven pack listings that appear for localized queries. In 2015, the proximity to searchers moved up four spots in the pack-specific rankings. In competitive markets, it moved up 10 spots. Without a doubt, the location of a business matters but only with regard to where folks are physically conducting their searches.

As you can see, there’s a variety of factors that go into ranking high in the search engines for your local business. If you’re looking for a diversified strategy and a team who never sits still and is always researching the latest algorithm updates, then contact us for a free quote today!

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