Local Ranking – The Moz 2015 Analysis and Results

For most businesses, it’s local customers who count – the local area or city where almost all their business comes from. So now that search engines differentiate very precisely between global / national search terms, and local search terms, it’s never been more important to get your local ranking right – because not doing so will kill your business, or at least severely restrict its growth.

The SEO community uses many resources in designing and optimizing its methods and offerings; things change rapidly – very rapidly in SEO and Search Engine world, and no one can keep personal tabs on everything. So there is a good strong tendency to share analysis and data. That’s what Moz did with it’s 2015 survey on local ranking, the results of which are summarized here. We use this data to help YOU rank your business and compete effectively where it matters most – on the web in your home town and zone.

Good luck – and please call us if you need help – we’re here for you.

The Moz 2015 Local Ranking Survey Results

Click here for the full results

High-level takeaways

Google’s local search algorithm seems to be maturing

Overall, we’ve seen a continuation of the gradual trend towards Google rewarding quality on all fronts—from citations to links to reviews. And as more companies have implemented the table stakes of site architecture, keyword- and location-relevant title tags, and claiming their Google My Business pages, quality and authority become the differentiators in competitive markets.

The influence of Google+ on local results is on its way out (if it even existed in the first place)

With the removal of links to Google+ pages from Maps and even from the primary SERP, the always-awkward integration between Plus and Local has now been completely severed.

Behavioral signals are increasing in importance

Experts judged behavioral and/or mobile signals to make up 9.5% of the algorithm across pack and localized organic results. Granted, that number is not strikingly high, but it’s up 38% compared with last year’s 6.9%. Research from Darren Shaw and others in the past year has borne out this factor empirically at least in certain markets.

In localized organic results, clickthrough rate was judged the #4 overall factor, and in competitive markets, it moved up 8 spots from 2014, cracking the top ten factors for the first time. A number of experts noted additional behavioral factors beyond clickthrough rate may be playing a role, including post-click time spent on-site or pogosticking.

Citations are still crucial—but your focus should be on quality and consistency

Citations are where the local rubber meets the local tarmac – and can sink or float your business. It  can be hard work building up a network of citations, but you simply MUST! [KR]

Oddly, citations went from 15.5% to 13.6% as a general ranking factor, but specifically, citation quality and consistency remain top-five factors for both pack results and in competitive markets.

Reading between the lines, it’s the quantity of horizontal citations on traditional directories that is becoming less important. Algorithmically, this makes sense, as many of these sites have been hit by successive Panda releases for thin content. The authority passed by mentions on these sites has clearly declined.

Are links the new links?

Links have always been a critical ranking factor, despite Google’s problem with black-hat SEO’s gaming the system.[KR]

Overall, links were up 9% as a general factor compared to last year, and a number of experts noted an increased focus on quality links since the rollout of the Local Stack / Snack Pack. Diversity of inbound links as a ranking factor in pack results moved up 22 spots from last year, and even in competitive markets, it rose 10 spots to #14. And in localized organic results, locally-relevant links, location keywords in anchor text, and product/service keywords in anchor text all moved up at least 10 spots in 2015.

No longer Essential to be near to City Center to Rank

The decline of proximity to centroid [city center – KR] as a ranking factor, particularly in competitive markets, now seems just about complete. As Google has gotten better at location detection–on both desktop and mobile results–this rather arbitrary factor has been almost completely discarded. We saw this trend start in earnest with the release of Pigeon last summer, and since the snack pack / local stack rollout, proximity to centroid is the factor that experts think took the biggest hit.

On the other hand, proximity to searcher moved up four spots in the pack-specific rankings, and 10 spots in competitive markets. Clearly, the location of a business matters immensely, but only relative to where people are physically conducting their searches.

Accreditation

The results are from Moz ,and the summary is  by David Mihm at Moz, accompanied by a few clarifying notes by me.

 

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