Analysis: Moz releases 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors survey

Since its inception in 2008, Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey has been the go-to guide for digital marketers and local businesses looking to increase their rankings in Google’s local search results.

Each year the survey asks various industry experts to share what they think are the most influential ranking factors in local search results based on their experience with Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) and algorithms. The survey is broken out into two main sections:

  • Local pack ranking factors (elements that affect search results that appear in the local 3-pack/snack pack).
  • Localized organic ranking factors (elements that affect organic search results for local business websites).

The survey includes the top 50 ranking factors for each section and groups various ranking factors into thematic categories. The survey also includes the top foundational and top competitive factors to provide insight into what businesses need to do to get listings ranked in the first place, and what can be done to out-rank competitors.

Local pack ranking factors

Google local pack ranking factors

Compared to last year, this year’s survey revealed a shift in the thematic factors that affect search results in the local pack. Google My Business (GMB) signals, such as proper business category associations, are still the most influential group of ranking factors; but, their importance decreased slightly from last year.

As GMB signals dipped, review signals increased in importance over the past year. These shifts suggest that Google is rewarding businesses who have a higher quantity and variety of reviews and that properly setting up your GMB account is still crucial if you want to rank in the local pack.

The most notable shift in local pack ranking factors this year was link and citation signals. This year, link signals took over as the second most important group of ranking factors, whereas last year citation signals held this spot. Citation building is still essential to a successful local SEO campaign but the focus is shifting from quantity/authority of structured citations to quality structured citations on the primary data sources (the four main data aggregators) and tier 1 data sources (major search engines and local directories).

Moz’s top 10 local pack ranking factors

  1. Proximity of Address to the Point of Search
  2. Physical Address in City of Search
  3. Proper GMB Category Associations
  4. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
  5. Consistency of Citations on the Primary Data Sources
  6. Domain Authority of Website
  7. Product/Service Keyword in GMB Business Title
  8. Quality/Authority of Structured Citations
  9. Consistency of Citations on Tier 1 Citation Sources
  10. Click-Through Rate from Search Results

Local organic ranking factors

Ranking factors of organic results in local searches on Google

Ranking signals for localized organic search results did not see as big of a shift this year as local pack signals. Similar to the previous year, signals were the most influential category of ranking factors in 2017. In fact, “Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain” surpassed “Domain Authority” as the No. 1 ranking factor for localized organic results.

“Diversity of Inbound Links to Domain” and “Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain” also increased in importance over the past year as both factors are now in the top five most influential ranking factors. Over the past few years, the survey’s results indicated that Google is putting more weight on inbound links. This year’s survey solidifies this trend as five of the top 10 factors impacting localized organic results are related to inbound links.

Similar to the results for the local pack ranking factors, citation signals decreased in importance for localized organic results in this year’s survey. All ranking factors related to citations moved down on the organic list as the focus also shifted to quality of structured citations on the primary data sources and tier 1 data sources.

Another notable shift in ranking factors for localized organic results is the decrease of importance placed on factors that focus on geo-modifiers on the site. For instance, “City/State in GMB Landing Page Title” and “City, State in Most/All Website Title Tags” both fell out of the top 10 most influential ranking factors, with each factor dropping at least 10 positions. This shift reinforces the notion that simply adding geo-modifiers to your site will not suddenly increase rankings for local search results.

Moz’s top 10 organic ranking factors

  1. Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
  2. Domain Authority of Website
  3. Diversity of Inbound Links to Domain
  4. Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content
  5. Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain
  6. Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally-Relevant Domains
  7. Click-Through Rate from Search Results
  8. Geographic (City/Neighborhood) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content
  9. Product/Service Keywords in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to Domain
  10. Mobile-Friendly/Responsive Website

Need help managing your brand’s local listings? Contact Mindstream Media Group to learn more about our Location Services.


Midwest Digital Marketing Conference – Day Two Recap

*Header image courtesy of UMSL Digital Twitter Feed

Mindstream Media Group’s Maggie Durnien and Chelsea Weidauer are checking out the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference  (MDMC) in St. Louis this week. The two-day event will cover all things digital marketing and feature speakers from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Microsoft, Salesforce, Pinterest, Adobe, Pandora and more! Our digital marketing product specialists will be providing daily recaps of the most interesting sessions they attend. Check out their Day Two recaps below. Click here for coverage of Day One.

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Midwest Digital Marketing Conference – Day One Recap

Mindstream Media Group’s Maggie Durnien and Chelsea Weidauer are checking out the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference (MDMC) in St. Louis this week. The two-day event will cover all things digital marketing and feature speakers from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Microsoft, Salesforce, Pinterest, Adobe, Pandora and more! Our digital marketing product specialists will be providing daily recaps of the most interesting sessions they attend. Their Day One recaps are below. Be sure to check out Day Two coverage as well. 

Session: Exclusive Chat with Facebook and Instagram


John Patton | Client Partner | Facebook

Derek Scott | Creative Strategist | Instagram

Recap by:

Maggie Durnien | Associate Product Specialist | Mindstream Media Group

During this session, attendees were given the valuable opportunity to ask questions on all things Facebook and Instagram to company insiders. With a majority of the audience coming from the agency side, the conversation and questions posed provided great insights into how to best use these platforms in an agency environment.

The conversation became fixated on the recent rollouts of Instagram Live and Facebook Live, along with Instagram Stories. When asked how to best use these features, Patton and Scott discussed how they are seeing these features play out successfully within the platforms.

According to the company representatives, here are some tips on how agencies can best use Instagram/Facebook Live and Instagram Stories:

  • First, define your brand’s purpose. To do this, decide what makes your brand different from your competition, then celebrate that element on social.
  • Make posts to Stories relevant and local to your audience.
  • Be candid and show what’s going on behind the scenes. This helps viewers understand your culture.
  • Focus on quality over quantity and avoid spamming users’ feeds.
  • Use creative animations that encourage viewers to swipe up for more information.
  • Promote a sense of community that urges viewers to engage with your brand and come back for more.

As brands continue to experiment with these features, it has been interesting to see all the creative ways they are used. From the immediate popularity of “going live” and posting stories, it is evident that the Millennial language is a visual one and Facebook and Instagram have definitely taken notice.


Session: LinkedIn – A Journey from Technology to Reality


Ben Zuckerman | Financial Advisor | Edward Jones

Recap by:

Chelsea Weidauer | Associate Product Specialist | Mindstream Media Group

Even though LinkedIn just underwent a full-on Beverly Hills makeover, the professional social media platform has always been more about function than appearance. This session focused on one of LinkedIn’s most useful functions: creating and fostering relationships to turn social connections into actual clients.

Here are four steps from Zuckerman, a financial advisor at Edward Jones, to help you do just that:

#1) Build a foundation
  • Starting from the base, the best practice to creating a LinkedIn page is to start connecting with those people you already know. This includes current clients, coworkers and potential prospects.
  • The goal for LinkedIn users should be to get over 500 connections. Therefore, the best place to start is with the people you know.
#2) Create your brand
  • Once you have started to acquire connections, the next phase is to focus your message and show your knowledge. Figure out what you want to educate the LinkedIn community about and become the expert on that topic to develop your brand identity.
  • Content is the most important aspect of creating a brand. Post different content throughout the day at different times to see when your targeted community is most influenced by it. This will help find the ideal connections.
#3) Identify ideal connections
  • To find connections in your targeted community, use the search bar at the top of the LinkedIn page starting with who you know. From there, search by occupation, location and unique queries (such as hobbies) to find prospects within the community.
#4) Technology to reality
  • Once your LinkedIn page is seamless and you have your ideal connections in mind, the final step is to reach into reality. Start by reaching out to the prospective client and asking them to connect.
  • Once the prospect accepts, reach back out and explain why you want to connect with the person.
  • After reaching out, write and mail a physical thank you letter to the prospect. This ensures he or she receives the thank you while grasping their attention.
  • Call the client later and talk about their interests based on their LinkedIn profile. This builds a relationship with the client and increases the potential for a business appointment.

Reaching out to prospective clients happens frequently in the digital world. LinkedIn is a great tool to reach out and connect with other business professionals. However, using the influence of technology and bringing it into reality will help you familiarize with a client and garner more customers.

It’s Not Just News: Google Is Having Trouble with Fake Biz Listings Too

Google has faced intense scrutiny lately amid accusations they’re helping spread falsehoods and half-truths across the web. I know what you’re thinking and no I’m not referring to “fake news,” I’m talking about a different section of Google’s search results – local business listings. 

In a blog post last week, Google representatives touted the results of a new study as evidence they have taken significant steps to address the issue of fake listings. The study, co-produced with the University of California-San Diego, examined more than 100,000 fake (or abusive) business listings on Google Maps from June 2014 to September 2015. 



To learn more about Google’s effort to fight fake business listings, check out the full article on LSA Insider.

[APRIL 2017] What the Latest LinkedIn Changes Mean for Marketers and Business Owners

If it’s been a while since you’ve checked your LinkedIn account, you may notice some drastic changes the next time you log in. After being acquired by Microsoft last year, the social media platform for professionals decided to continue to shake things up in 2017 by unveiling the most dramatic redesign in the platform’s decade-and-a-half history.

LinkedIn doesn’t have the best user engagement stats compared to other social media sites. Only 23 percent of LinkedIn’s 467 million users visit the site each month according to the company’s 2016 third quarter fiscal report. This latest redesign is their effort to give those numbers a boost.

But the redesign was more than just a cosmetic change, the company made significant upgrades on the front and back end of the site, changing the way a number of features operate. In this post, we’ll take a look at the changes that will affect marketers and business owners the most.


LinkedIn added a convenient search feature during the redesign – you can now complete a search for your keyword or phrase and toggle between pages to see different categories like People, Jobs and Posts.

However, they also hid one on us – you now need to purchase the “Sales Navigator” level of LinkedIn Premium to access the Advanced Search filters that were previously available to everyone. Those missing filters include “years of experience,” “function” and “seniority level.” In our opinion, this will only be of note to those using LinkedIn primarily for recruitment purposes.


This section is going to be relevant to anyone that published articles or long-form posts on LinkedIn. The update makes it so you can post right from the main site rather than having to click off to LinkedIn Pulse to write a blog.

For companies without a stand-alone blog site or companies that like to post original content to their different social sites, this feature could be extremely helpful. It could also help to boost LinkedIn’s use as a platform in general if this feature becomes widely used by companies and content creators.

Other Items

A few other items have changed, but won’t be quite as relevant from a business point of view.

  • Messaging is now available in chat format (rather than the previous look which had more of an email look to it).
  • The homepage feed has a cleaner look and additional information available to users.
  • Profile layouts have been updated and rearranged.
  • You can find more information and settings under your account info than with the previously format.

These will help to make the site more user-friendly and hopefully boost traffic to more than monthly visits for users.