Although the local search landscape has changed pretty significantly, the fundamental elements of ranking well in Google’s local search results haven’t strayed dramatically from past years. That’s one of the main takeaways from the 2012 Local Search Ranking Factors report that’s just out today.
Organized (as always) by David Mihm, this year’s survey includes contributions from more than 40 local search marketers around the world. It looks at general Google signals such as Place Page vs. Website vs. Reviews (and more), as well the weight that specific factors may have on local rankings. The top five specific factors in this year’s survey are:
- Physical Address in City of Search (i.e., it’s hard to rank for “seattle real estate” if you’re based in Bellevue)
- Proper Category Associations
- Proximity of Address to Centroid (“centroid” is the geographic center of a city/town)
- Domain Authority of Website
- Quantity of Structured Citations
The survey goes on to separate positive ranking factors and negative ranking factors (i.e., having mismatched phone numbers can hurt local ranking visibility).
Not included is Google’s recent switch from Place Pages to Google+ Local Pages, which was announced right at the end of the survey period and — so far — doesn’t appear to have had much impact, if any, on local ranking factors.