How local businesses can rank better in Google - SEO ranking factors in 2016

A new study conducted by Local SEO Guide across 30,000 businesses reveals new information about how local businesses can rank better in Google.

The study set out to answer the question “How do you prioritize your local SEO operations?”, and came back with data about the similarities shared between Google My Business (GMB) pages that rank well in Google searches. 


Top Local SEO Ranking Factors


The study concludes that “links are the key competitive differentiator even when it comes to Google My Business Rankings”. Data from Majestic, including AC Rank, Trust flow, and Citation flow, proved to all be within the top 10 link metrics.

Website Signals

Traditional SEO ranking signals from a business’s website proved to be likely to influence the ranking of that business’s GMB page. Use of keywords, and the amount of words contained on a page, appear to be particularly influential. The study also shows that if a business’s website ranks well in organic search then its GMB page is likely to rank high as well.

GMB Signals

Signals within the GMB page itself ended up being among the top ranking factors. These include signals such as reviews, photos, and having the page associated with an Owner Verified profile. One of the most popular ranking factors was having a keyword in the GMB page’s business name. It’s so popular in fact, that the study says you will rank at least 1.5 spots higher.

Toolbar PageRank

Even though PageRank is officially dead, the study found that there was a high correlation between a high PageRank score and high ranking local pages. What’s Not So Important


Citation consistency is important, but the study says overall volume of citations doesn’t seem to matter that much. Once your citations are in place and consistent, move on to the more important stuff.

Geo Text

Geo text on a website, such as using the state and city in the title, ended up having a poor correlation with the ranking position of GMB pages.

Important conclusions:

  • When it comes to Local SEO in 2016, if you are not invested in links and your website, and instead focus predominantly on traditional Local SEO areas like Google My Business and citations then you are going to be at a competitive disadvantage.
  • While it’s been an established fact that having a keyword in your business name will help you rank higher in GMB searches, the data shows that Keyword in Business Name is the #2 most popular factor. In fact, if you have the keyword in your business name you will rank about 1.5 spots higher.
  • Google My Business (GMB) signals had a strong showing. Things like Reviews and Photos and having an Owner Verified (OV) profile correlated with positive GMB performance
  • If you rank 1-10 in organic search results you are much more likely to rank 1-10 in Google My Business results as well.

Read More: How to get more photography clients with local SEO

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