Proximity to Searcher is Now The #1 Local Search Ranking Factor

CEO Approved Content

CEO Approved Content

Moz, by far the best source of credible SEO info, recently released its 2017 local search ranking factors study. Basically, they ask for the opinions of dozens of local SEO consultants. And then they aggregate the opinions to get their data.

This year, the proximity of the searcher to the address they’re searching for became the top factor for determining search rankings.

So, all you have to do is create a floating warehouse that uses drones to deliver your products, just like Amazon. No joke. That’s a real possibility. Amazon has a patent for it!

But yes, I do jest. That project’s a little out of the reach of many businesses.

Instead, take a look at the other top local search ranking factors:

Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Your Website

This one continues to stay at or near the top year after year. And it should continue to remain there for the foreseeable future.

It’s simply the best way to determine the quality of your website. Think of it like asking other people what they think of a certain person. If Warren Buffet vouches for your investing skills, others will notice.

Links work the same way. If big-name websites link to you, Google believes your site has some cool content to offer.

Links may lose some of their ranking power as other factors (like proximity), gain it. However, I think links will continue to remain near the top. They won’t suddenly drop down and become completely irrelevant.

Proper Business Category Association

This factor used to be #1 in 2013. And in 2017, it’s still the third most important if you want to rank in the local 3-pack, which is this:

Of course, it’s a huge deal if you can get yourself ranked in this. So you must make sure your business is in the right Google My Business category.

Seems so simple when you think of it. But it’s really a big deal.

Domain Authority

Moz created this proprietary metric. Basically, it predicts your website’s ability to rank in search.

When you just start a website, your DA is 1. Powerhouse websites like ESPN and Amazon have a DA of 100. Disney currently sits at 88. A strong local website, for an HVAC company for example, will be in the mid-20s to low 30s.

“Domain Authority” is quite complex, like Google’s algorithm. But it’s not that complex. Basically, it measures the quality of the links pointing to your website. And it’s best viewed as a comparative metric to see the authority of your domain versus others in your niche.

You can download Mozbar, which shows domain authority, completely free.

Notice What’s Missing?

Believe it or not, content didn’t make the top 10 for ranking in either the local 3-pack or organic search.


Content’s important. It attracts links. You must have something worth linking to.

But content by itself isn’t as important to your rankings. Yes, you consistently need fresh content for search engines, and your readers. But content hidden alone by itself where no one can see it doesn’t do you much good.

FYI – you can read Moz’s entire 2017 local search ranking factors study here.

Happy ranking in 2017!

Joshua Cabe Johnson

Joshua Cabe Johnson

Joshua Cabe Johnson has been an SEO since 2008. He has personally helped over 1000 clients with online visibility and brand strategy for SEO growth.

Visual rankings has been helping small business owners online since 2002.

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