Top Local Search Ranking Signals You Need to Know

In 2021, it’s still all about the top search results. Getting your website on the first page of search results should be the focus of your SEO strategy. However, search ranking factors are often changing, due to different reasons. Different business and internet trends, competitive market, needs of the users, etc. – all of these combine to create a unique set of factors you should include in making your SEO spotless. Some of them are more important than others, but altogether, they make conditions for a successful SEO. However, discovering them is getting more and more difficult. That’s why our experts at AZ Citation Services created a guide on the most important local search ranking signals you should consider if you want to make your website part of the top search results.

Having a GMB profile

It’s probably one of the most important local search ranking signals you should know of. Not creating or claiming a Google My Business profile is surely one of the common SEO mistakes made by website owners. It’s probably the first place Google checks for information and makes sure the website is verified and can be trusted. Luckily, setting up a GMB profile is fairly easy, and it’s free of charge. However, you should previously check if there’s already a listing of your business there, made by another user. If there is one, be sure to claim it and make all the necessary information updates.

Remember: Filling the right information to Google My Business is more important than just creating a profile. It is necessary to pick a specific and correct business category, too. This way, Google will be able to sort the results in the right way and offer your website to the right kind of audience.

signal lights
Some of them are more important than others, but you should know of all local search ranking signals to make your website visible.

Covering main citation directories

If your business is present in more directories, which all unmistakenly point to the same location, search engines will surely trust you more. Start building your citations by covering main data aggregators, global and local directories that are related to your industry.

Photos make your business more reliable

When you can support all you say in the description with the right set of photos, the credit rating will automatically go up. High-quality photos that show your products, services, location, and even your employees will make sure both Google and the users trust your business more. It is one of those signals that directly affect the search results, so be sure to invest some more effort in it.


The way you add listings to global and local directories also counts. Firstly, your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) need to be correct and specific. Even the slightest mistakes can lead to confusion and losing some of the valuable ranking points. Furthermore, it is essential for your NAP to be consistent over the websites. Unique information and formatting will make you a trusted business, so be sure to avoid typos and variations.


When it comes to the trust factor, people tend to trust those businesses recommended by others. And the same goes with Google. With high-quality reviews, you can expect more trust from search engines, which will directly affect your visibility and ranking. Even though this seems quite simple and easy to do, that’s not always the case. Reviews that Google trusts the most are genuine and not ‘forced’. It’s against the rules to offer something in change of a positive review, or you can earn penalties.

a mobile phone screen with google search on it
Make your website Google-friendly.

By being user-friendly and offering high-quality services or goods, you can ‘make’ your customers leave positive comments on review sites. However, there are some additional  local search ranking signals related to the reviews you should pay attention to:

  • high-quality reviews include keywords, as well as correct information such as location;
  • the way you deal with negative reviews also matters – Google will recognize negative reviews that you didn’t deal with;
  • in general, both positive and negative reviews should have responses, which shows you care about the customer and that you’re a trusted business.

Activity on social media

Social media networks have become one of the main ways to find businesses, services, or products. Therefore you should invest some effort into creating and maintaining a profile on main social networks. Start with creating a Facebook page that will contain the specific and correct information, updated working hours, and photos of your business. Next, cover other social media networks such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. These can be very valuable for advertising, but will also earn you a positive score from search engines. However, don’t stop with only creating these profiles. Updating information,s sharing content, and most importantly, communicating with your followers also counts in local search ranking signals.


In the last couple of years, the number of mobile searches has increased a lot. Actually, the majority of searches happen through smartphones. That’s why having a website that is not mobile-friendly is a big mistake nowadays. If a user finds your website in search results and visits your website, they will be thrown off by the desktop version on a tiny screen. This will result in leaving your website and heading over to the next in line – your competitor. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly, but also easy to use – check your load speed, responsiveness, and other factors that affect smooth operation.

mobile phone
A website that is easily accessed with a mobile phone is more popular in search results.

Is there a unique formula to success?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific set of rules or guidelines that can be applied to every business. These are surely the most important local search ranking signals you should know about, but your business needs more than that. Dig deeper and find out the needs, requirements, and online behavior of your target audience, so you can be sure you’ve got what it takes.

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