Reviews have been the most important local SEO ranking factor in 2017

In the latest news about how to rank well on Google as a business, it has come to light that reviews are a prominent ranking factor when it comes to local search. This has been revealed by an annual study that Local SEO Guide has conducted into local SEO ranking factors. The study

shows that reviews can help businesses to feature well in Google listings even when their link profiles are low in quality.

Local SEO Guide’s research looked at over 200 factors spanning a range of 100,000 local businesses to uncover the similarities in those that ranked well using Google’s local pack. Even businesses that had less than favourable link profiles showed a high correlation between their organic ranking factors and local ranking factors. Businesses that ranked strongly in organic searches also rank well in Google’s local pack. On the other hand, businesses can also rank well in local packs when they don’t have any of the typically traditional SEO ranking factors, such as strong links and even a website!

The study also uncovered that plenty of good reviews on a Google My Business page can help businesses to rank well as part of local packs. Google may use reviews as a ranking factor a little like crowdsourcing for ranking, allowing genuine customer opinions to be heard. Most noteworthy is that the number of reviews isn’t as significant as the rating quality. Moreover, Google My Business pages with reviews mentioning certain keywords, ideally mentioning a city name too, showed higher Google local pack rankings. In these reviews, using a ranking keyword for a business as well as mentioning a ranking city name are strong indicators of good Google My Business results.

Of course, links still matter, but the study shows that websites without high-quality links don’t appear to have ranking issues in local search. The interesting fact from the data gathered is that websites that rank well tend to have links that are both low in quality and authority. In summary, businesses can rank in local searches even if they don’t have great links. However, websites with good link profiles still figure strongly in search results.

The study also appears to show that Google is still rewarding businesses who use optimised anchor text in terms of keywords and city names. Therefore, the message is that companies shouldn’t neglect their websites, even though, according to the study, small businesses tend to have poorer websites. Actually, some don’t even have a website at all!

Publishing a website is critical to organic search ranking, which means businesses stand a greater chance of ranking in local packs too. The conclusion of the study is that owning a website is a sound investment for a small business, just like any other business.

Finally, the key messages from the study are:

1: An optimised website is important.

2: Organic search rankings correlate to local pack rankings.

3: Good reviews on a Google My Business page are very useful in ranking.


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