Domain Authority and Links Among Top Local Search Ranking Factors [STUDY]

A lot has changed in local search since Moz’s 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors study. There have been numerous changes to local SERPs, along with new ranking signals and algorithm changes rolled out in Google throughout all levels of search.

Moz’s local search ranking factors study is conducted through interviews with a panel of veteran search engine marketing professionals.

The study is divided in 4 main parts:

  • General ranking factors
  • Specific ranking factors
  • Ranking factors for Google’s local pack
  • Negative Ranking factors

Without diving into too much detail, you can read that in the report itself, I will just go over the top ranking factors in each category.


Top 5 General Ranking Factors:

  • Link signals (anchor text, linking domain authority)
  • On-page signals (NAP, keywords in titles)
  • My business signals (categories, proximity to searcher)
  • External location signals (web citations)
  • Behavioral signals (clickthroughs, clicks-to-call, etc)

Social signals fell to the very bottom of the list of general ranking factors, so take that for what you will.

Top 5 Local Organic Ranking Signals

  • Domain Authority of Website
  • Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
  • City ,State in GMB Landing Page Title
  • Click-Through Rate from Search Results
  • Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content

Rounding out the bottom of the list are numerical ratings in Google reviews, and across external sites like Yelp. So even though customers care whether a business has a 3 or 5 star rating, it doesn’t have much affect on rankings.

Top 5 Ranking Signals For Local Pack

  • Physical Address in City of Search
  • Consistency of Structured Citations
  • Proper GMB Category Associations
  • Proximity of Address to the Point of Search
  • Quality/Authority of Structured Citations

Rounding out the bottom of this list are local keywords in anchor text, and local keywords in your domain name. Those sorts of signals are likely not what would lead you to rank in Google’s local pack.

Top 5 Negative Ranking Factors

  • Incorrect business category
  • Listing detected at false business address
  • Mis-match NAP / Tracking Phone Numbers Across Data Ecosystem
  • Presence of malware on site
  • Reports of Violations on your GMB location

By and large, having incorrect information about your business cited all over the web is going to lead to negative ranking signals. Malware is, of course, always a negative ranking signal. Now it’s thought that having your Google My Business listing reported could lead to negative rankings for your business.

What I distilled here is a very small sampling of what’s included in the full report. Go check it out for a deeper look at 2015’s local search ranking signals.


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