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2017 Local Search Ranking Factors


The 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors were just released last week at the MozCon Local conference in Seattle, and this week’s video shares all the details! Watch and see how the factors have changed since last year’s study, so you’ll know how you need to adjust your SEO strategy for 2017!


Welcome back to another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn! This week, we’ve got some exciting updates about Local SEO to share…

Just last week at the MozCon Local conference, the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors were released. In the past, this study was conducted by David Mihm, but since he’s left Local Search to provide broader marketing services to small businesses, he passed the study off to Darren Shaw, owner of Whitespark.

Every year, the top 40ish people worldwide in Local Search are sent a study documents – and yes, I’ve been one of the top 40 people in the study for several years now. We each answer several detailed sections about which factors we think are the most powerful, based on our own personal experiences with clients and our own research.

The answers are then aggregated, and each year we get the official Local Search Ranking Factor results. This year, Darren broke the study into separate sections – map pack and map results get one pie chart, and localized organic gets another pie chart.

Keep an eye out on our blog, I’m going to be posting a long-form written analysis of the new ranking factors,
with comparisons to the previous version… but for now, I wanted to get the info to you as quickly as possible.

The most important change is huge – the number one ranking factor for local searches is now proximity.

In other words, for a user that searches for a particular set of keywords, the results that show up for those searches are most heavily influenced by how far away each individual result is from the user.

Let’s look at the results for 3-packs or map searches…

Looking at the pie chart here, we see the following percentages for each one…

  • 19% for Google My Business signals – this includes proximity
  • 17.3% for link signals – that’s other sites linking to your site
  • 13.8% for on page signals – that’s the content on your site
  • 13.3% for citation signals – that’s your directory listings
  • 13.1% for review signals
  • 10.1% for behavioral and mobile signals – this includes clickthrough rate from search results, mobile clicks to call, and mobile checkins for example – you can’t really optimize for these signals.
  • 9.8 % for personalization – You can’t optimize for these signals either. Google will personalize the search results for each user based on their individual search histories.
  • And a final 3.5% for social signals.

Overall, besides the proximity factor, we saw the biggest changes in these areas:

Inbound links and reviews both gained a lot of traction since the last version of the study. Behavioral and mobile signals and personalization also had good-sized increases.

On page signals dropped slightly in importance, while signals directly related to your Google My Business listing lost a bit more weight. Citation signals and social signals both took a big nosedive since last year’s study – they both lost over 20% of their value.

So what does this all really mean? If you’re wanting your dealership to show up in the 3-pack or in native map searches, you can’t do anything about proximity… but you CAN help your dealership show up by getting more (and better) links, and by getting more (and better) reviews.

But with proximity playing such a huge part in results in the 3-pack, most of you should be thinking more about the localized organic results – and honestly, there’s a ton of overlap between the two areas, so what works for one will work for the other anyway.

In localized organic, the 2017 results showed:

  • 28.6% for link signals
  • 24.4% for on page signals
  • 11% for behavioral and mobile signals
  • 9% for personalization
  • 8.4% for citation signals
  • 7.5% for Google My Business signals
  • 6.7% for review signals
  • 4.3% for social signals

The biggest changes came in these areas:

Just like the map pack changes, link signals had the biggest gain, followed closely by review signals. Behavioral and mobile signals and personalization both had slight increases.

On page signals had a noticeable drop in value, and citation signals and social signals both took a nosedive. GMB signals also decreased slightly.

So if you compare the map pack factors to the organic factors, while the percentages are different, the results are the same – links and reviews showed the biggest gains in signal weight, so it’s more important than ever to make sure that your dealership is working with an SEO provider who truly understands Local SEO and all of its intricacies.

Link building HAS to be a significant part of whatever your provider offers, or you’re really going to be missing the boat…

Like I said, keep an eye out for my blog post that covers the new ranking factors in depth, I’ll have that posted soon.

Until then, thanks for watching this week’s video. As always, if you’ve got questions or comments, leave ‘em down below and I’ll get back to you shortly. And, don’t forget to stop back next week for another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn.

Author Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at DealerOn. He has over 16 years of online marketing and web design experience, and has specialized in automotive SEO for the last 8 years, helping hundreds of auto dealers thrive while the industry has struggled during the recession. Greg speaks internationally at both automotive and SEO conferences, teaching thousands of small business owners and marketers how to get their sites to show up higher in local search rankings. Greg also spends his spare time doing freelance website design and SEO for local businesses. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.

More posts by Greg Gifford

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  •' Rachel Howe says:

    Love the video Greg! Interesting to see how things are weighted change over time. Weren’t reviews a non-ranking factor previously? I knew it was good to have them, but heard they weren’t a ranking factor. If that’s changed, I better get on it!

  •' Steve Stein says:

    These are great insights for us guys that don’t have time to dig into deep data. Thanks

  •' Mike says:

    With “Proximity to Searcher is the New #1 Local Search Ranking Factor” it seems that all that this analysis, strategy hard work and the role of the Local SEO Consultant for that matter are all on their way out?

    • Greg Gifford says:

      Not at all! Proximity isn’t the ONLY ranking factor… Just like before, when links were the #1 factor, it didn’t mean that the other factors were pointless. It’s the aggregate signal that matters, so all of the other factors (and the Local SEO consultant’s job) still matter… a lot.

  •' Lee Fogel says:

    Good stuff as always, Greg! Thanks for the insights and fresh look at the (digital) world around our dealership.

  •' Design Fleek says:

    Thanks for posting this data, Greg! It’s always so interesting to see how the ranking factors change from year to year!


  •' Stalin says:

    Hey Greg! Thanks for sharing this video. I appreciate the work you’ve done for this.

    Looking forward to get more knowledge from you.

  •' Physio says:

    Hi Greg. Something I’ve noticed but can’t confirm is that businesses that have Local Guides reviewing them rank higher, than businesses that have many reviews but not local guides. Do you get the same feeling? Thanks.

  •' Paloma Biwa says:

    Great lesson for local SEO. I have just got one local optimization project and my client was asking for the things I am about to do. I knew couple of things like Google My Business registration and local citation building but from here I got a clear picture of entire local SEO process. Getting positive reviews and being regular on Google Plus are important. Now I can send more comprehensive reports to my local SEO clients. Thanks for publishing this.

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