2021 Local Search Ranking Factors


Jenna Lamb, online marketing analyst at Ontario SEO
Jenna Lamb
December 15, 2021
2021 Local Search Ranking Factors - Ontario SEO

2021 was a year of significant upheaval in the Google search results with several major algorithm updates. However, when it comes to Local Search Ranking Factors for your Google My Business Profile, 2021 was a pretty stable year. Having a consistent and relentless local search strategy is key for success in 2022.

If you are a local business, the visibility of your Google My Business listing can play a critical part in the traffic that comes through your door. Knowing what factors are important in the Local Pack and Google Maps ranking can help you ensure you are capturing your share of local search traffic.

local ranking for search seo agency

What is a Ranking Factor?

We don’t know exactly what factors are written into Google’s ranking algorithms (it’s a proprietary secret) but industry experts use a suite of testing to estimate the importance of individual website and business attributes that are used by the ranking algorithms.

Local search ranking factors include:  

  • Google Business Profile 
    • The proximity of the business to the searcher
    • The presence of keywords in the business name
    • The number and diversity of Google My Business reviews
  • On-page 
    • The presence of keywords in page titles and copy 
    • The website domain authority 
    • The alignment of name, address and phone number
  • Links  
  • User behaviour 
    • Click-through rates 
    • Website engagements
  • Personalization
    • User search history 
    • User location 
  • Citations 
    • Online presence in aggregators (like YellowPages) 
    • Consistency in name, address and phone number 

2021 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey

A survey of experts weighed in with their opinions on the relative importance of ranking factors in the local search results. Survey participants ranked each attribute and then the data was pooled to provide a general look at what ranking factors were important in 2021.

There’s quite a bit of difference between how factors were ranked between the Local Pack/Google Maps and general organic search results. (Notice the difference between where Google Business Profile and reviews sit in these lists.)

Do you rely on your Google Business Profile listing or organic search? A combination of both?

RankLocal Pack/Google MapsOrganic Search
1Google Business Profile (36%)On-page (34%)
2Reviews (17%)Links (31%)
3On-page matches (16%)Behavioral (11%) 
4Links (13%)Citations (7%)
5Behavioral (7%)Personalization (6%)
6Citations (7%)Google Business Profile (6%)
7Personalization (4%)Reviews (5%)

Read the full study from WhiteSpark 

How have Local Ranking Factors changed this year?

There’s been a consistent increase in the importance of Google My Business reviews over the past few years and a decrease in the importance of citations. Personalization and Behavioral are at their lowest point since 2013.

Above all, the importance of your Google Business Profile continues to grow.

Changes in local ranking factors over time – Ontario SEO

Credit: WhiteSpark The 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors

Quick Tips for improving your Google My Business ranking signals 

  • Make sure your primary category is precise to what you want customers looking for. You can choose up to 10 more categories to give a better indication of what your business is about
  • Where possible include keywords in your business title but we aware of the importance of consistency in the use of your business name across your web properties  
  • Encourage your customers to leave Google reviews. Respond to all Google Reviews on a consistent basis. 
  • Photos of your actual business 
  • Make use of Google My Business content features such as providing service descriptions and adding posts about recent updates or news 
  • Encourage and respond to question & answers. 

What next?

Want to learn more about how to improve the visibility of your Google My Business listing in local search? That’s exactly what we do.