2010 Local Search Ranking Factors

June 10th, 2010 by Paula Keller French

Putting Together the Pieces of the Local Search Puzzle

Search Influence is honored to have once again been invited by David Mihm to take part in his annual study on Local Search Ranking Factors. The best part of this collaboration is that the questions have remained fairly constant from year to year in order to study the change from year to year that SEOs have observed in Google’s local algorithm.

2010 Local Search Factors Released

The 2010 Local Search Ranking Factors results, which were published early this week, feature input “from 34 prominent bloggers and practitioners.” While my personal local search experience began just a short 6 months ago, it’s been a whirlwind of claiming, verifying, re-verifying, suspending, categorizing, picture-adding, and detail-tweeking. Working with local listings has been an interesting and patience-testing experience, and reading the comments of fellow SEOs has certainly helped calm my anxiety. Luckily, everyone seems to have problems! I also believe it was beneficial after that period of time to sit down and analyze which aspects of our optimization efforts had been working and which may have turned into a waste of time.

The 2010 Top 5 Local Search Ranking Factors:

  1. General Importance of Claiming Place Page / Local Listing
  2. Business Address in City of Search
  3. Associating Place Page with Proper Categories
  4. Volume of Citations from Major Data Providers + IYP Portals
  5. General Importance of Off-Page / Off-Listing Criteria

My biggest take-away from the report confirms a thought I’ve had for a few months now: there is no end-all be-all trick to increasing rankings. The top two ranking factors: claiming your listing and having a business address in the city in which you desire to rank, each has its respective caveats. While claiming your listing is of high importance (4.40 according to the study), I’ve often seen un-claimed listings trump claimed ones.

Putting Together the Pieces of the Local Search Puzzle

In regards to the number two ranking factor, if you’ve been in a business location for 20, or even 2 years, outside the city limits and don’t have a business address in the city for which you desire to rank, you obviously wouldn’t change that just for your listing… or maybe you would?

That said, I wouldn’t assume one distinct factor would influence rankings, because that’s just not how these search algorithms work, but I felt it was worth it to point out for those of you who don’t deal with search rankings on a daily basis. So, when you are working on your listing, follow the rules, all of them, and work with as many elements available. Just remember – when testing out a new feature – keep an eye on your listing, or better yet, check out the blog of anyone who participated in this study and you’ll find some tips on whether or not the feature is ready for mainstream use.

Thanks to myklroventine for the puzzle photo!