The 2020 Local Ranking Factors Survey

The local ranking factors survey for 2020 is in! The latest survey is part of a 12 year old annual survey that was run by Moz, consisting of a number of leading local SEOs working as survey respondents. This year the survey has been taken over by Whitespark, the SEO team at Embryo have been attending the virtual conference to find out more.


Areas the Survey Focuses On

The survey focuses on the following seven areas:

  • Google My Business
  • Citation Listings
  • On Page SEO
  • Links
  • Reviews
  • Behavioural Signals
  • Personalisation

And then applies these to:

  • Local Map Pack – The three Google My Business listings found in SERPs
  • Local Finder – Accessible by clicking ‘view all’ underneath the map pack in SERPs
  • Local Organic Results – Standard local organic website listings in SERPs


Ranking Changes in Local Map Pack & Local Finder

graph showing ranking factor changes over time

From the findings in 2020, we can see that the major ranking factors for ranking your Google My Business listing within the map pack and local finder are optimising your Google My Business listing and receiving genuine reviews. This year on page, links and citations have declined in effectiveness for ranking within the map pack and finder, a trend which has been followed in varying degrees over the past couple of years.


Local Map Pack, Local Finder Ranking Factors Compared to Local Organic Ranking Factors

graph showing local pack and finder ranking factors vs local organic ranking factors

The above graph shows the comparisons for ranking in the local pack and local finder as well as in local organic results. The most effective activity for ranking within local organic is to focus on on-page SEO and link building. This further backs up that optimising your Google My Business listing and collecting genuine reviews is the most effective in ranking within the map pack and local finder results.


So What are The Top Local Organic Ranking Factors?

graph showing local organic ranking factors

Topping the list of top local organic ranking factors are quality/authority links followed by the volume of quality content across the website. Interestingly, the quantity of links from locally relevant domains and click through rate from search results are less of a ranking factor according to the research. In terms of link building, earning links from quality authority based domains is more effective than the quantity of links from other local based domains.


And What are The Top Map Pack & Local Finder Ranking Factors?

graph showing local map pack and local finder ranking factors

Overall your primary business category relevance in GMB has been found to be the most important ranking factor according to the survey. Interestingly having keywords within your GMB listing title is ranked as the second most effective ranking factor, however this is something that Google advises against. The third ranking factor is proximity of address to the point of search, this is something that search marketers can’t influence however and depends on how close the users is to the physical location when searching.


Key Takeaways

Overall ranking factors for local organic are similar to running a national or international campaign, building quality authority links should be at the forefront with a volume of quality content available across the website. For map pack and local finder, having your GMB listing in the most relevant category is the most effective way to rank your listing, followed by keywords in the GMB title (not recommended by Google), quality of links, using additional categories and including keywords within gained reviews.