Marketing 2 min read

Study Finds UGC and Organic SEO Most Effective Local Web Traffic Draw

Naritsorn Hirunon |

Naritsorn Hirunon |

Local SEO Guide together with PlacesScout and the Center for Statistical Consulting at the University of California, Irvine has released a report on local SEO ranking factors for 2017.

The study examined 200+ factors across more than 100,000 local businesses to find similarities in what made businesses rank in Google local packs.

Coffee shops near me accra
Coffee shops near me | Local pack | Google

Key Conclusions in The Report

  • A good website and organic SEO ranking factors like keywords and backlinks have a high correlation with local pack rankings.
  • Reviews are a key ranking factor for Google My Business.
  • The relevance of off-site local signals as ranking factors continues to decline.
According to Local SEO Guide, here's what matters for ranking locallyClick To Tweet

Ranking Factors Found by The Report

1. Links

Local businesses who have invested a decent amount of resources into traditional SEO work are reaping some benefits.  “Google still seems to be rewarding some level of optimized anchor text, around both keyword and city.”

2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors | Local SEO Guide

2. Off-Site Local SEO Signals

Even though, in general, the relevance of off-site signals continues to decline, signals like citations and reviews on third-party sites are still valuable.

2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors | Local SEO Guide

3. Google My Business

In addition to reviews, the study found engagement to be another major ranking factor for Google My Business.

“Google clearly uses engagement to order search results, and local packs are no different. So, things like photos are content for your users to engage with. Same with reviews, which means they are likely valuable in several different ranking contexts.”

4. Your Website

Whilst it’s possible to rank on a local pack without a website, having a website that ranks organically will further boost your rankings on local packs, the study finds.

“If you want to be in local packs, the best thing you can do is crush it in organic search.”

5. Categorical Ranking Variables

“Basic SEO ‘blocking and tackling’ was something that most businesses who performed well in packs had done. Things like optimizing their meta tags, making sure their website is mobile friendly etc.”

The complete study can be found here.

What are your thoughts on these findings? Were they expected?

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  1. Jane Genuine September 11 at 6:22 am GMT

    I’m really a fan of SEO and I always believe in the local SEO strategy of

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