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First Thoughts on David Mihm’s 2015 Round Up of Local Search Ranking Factors.

Moz tweeted about 2 hours ago that the long running annual survey of what actually works in the Local SEO marketing world has been published. I had hoped to meet David Mihm down at Brighton SEO last week, and no doubt, judging from his slideshare deck shared from the Brighton crew yesterday there are a lot of changes coming through as the Big G continues to refine local search results.  Client work took precedence though and I had to miss the event. Oh tThe joys of still being a one man band 😉

Local ranking factors overview pie chart 2015

Local ranking factors overview from David Mihm’s latest gathering of data and observations from Local SEO and marketing professionals in the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK

The most obvious change in this year’s appraisal is how the quality of the website itself (the “On-page Signals” as Moz calls them) and the quality of backlinks into the site now seem to be the 2 most important factors. This is interesting; as in more general searches, which don’t seem to have a local component, links are still a massive part of the ranking factors mix: but declining slightly in importance. (According to both the Moz and Searchmetrics appraisals published earlier in the year).
“My Business Signals” – the Google business page is still significant (with some interesting caveats) and of similar impact to the now slightly less influential local citations.
It’s important to realise that the pie chart above is only a very general overview of what’s happening in search and I’ll just pick out a few of David’s “Ah ha” observations before I post this and dive in to the detailed data myself.

Key Points From the 2015 Overview

  • Quality is more important in everything you do! From your website content; to who you can persuade to throw you a link!
  • Google + influence seems to be waning as the Big G has disconnected the link between G+ and “My Business”. David hints at structured data and local Adwords as being tied in with this. (Most SEO types seem to be hinting that structured data will soon become a significant ranking factor in its own right, in the near future.)
  • Clicks, bounces, dwell time, and interaction with your website seem to be gaining in importance in local searches as well. These are lumped together under the Behavioural Signals heading and will be even more important as time goes on (my speculation!) Many contributors have highlighted click-through rate as being particularly influential when the local organic results are being competed for!
  • Citations are still influential, but simply splattering 20 more listings than your competitor isn’t going to cut it any more. It has become important to work on these local listings and push up their quality with decent descriptions, photos videos etc. where possible.
  • The importance of “traditional” backlinks has increased across the whole local ecosystem.
  • It used to be important to be near the centre (centroid !?) of a place to rank easily. It seems that a certain “Pigeon” has changed all that! Such a lot of search is happening on mobile devices now that Google is much better at picking up your location and showing you results nearby. (Not sure that that’s a consistent result as in Carlisle some of the results are nonsense!)

Conclusions? Not Yet, I Need to Plough Through the Data

David Mihm - local search guru at Moz. Blog notification of local search ranking factors 2015

Go see the original heads up on the Moz Blog itself and dig into the data behind the overview.

Well that’s a real quick skim of the overview from David and Moz I’m off to have a good firtle about in the data behind this survey and also to read the observations of the participants – I’m particularly keen to see if there is any UK input this year – I hope so because things are still a little bit different here than in the USA.