8 Local Ranking Factors for Small Businesses (2024)

Last modified on: April 15th, 2024

Doing local SEO for a small business? Here are 8 local ranking factors to keep in mind to improve local search visibility and get more traffic.

In a world that runs on smartphones and search engines, your place as a business in the local organic SERPs makes all the difference.

In this article, you'll discover important local search ranking factors for small businesses.

Find out how to improve rankings and increase organic traffic to your website below.

Local Search Ranking Factors

Local SEO is pretty straightforward once you understand potential local search ranking factors shared below. It just takes some consistent effort with these factors in mind.

Here are 8 simple local ranking factors for small businesses:

1. Content Personalization: Know Your Keywords

The first piece of advice is to publish website content that incorporates the keywords being searched in the locations you serve. Major search engines like Google aim to share the most relevant content with searchers.

Thankfully, there are SEO tools to help you with that. From all-in-one SEO platforms to free tools like Google Search Console and AnswerThePublic, there are many great tools available for doing keyword research and understanding the type of local searches happening around topics relevant to small businesses.

You can also simply search keywords related to your business on Google and check out the “People also ask” and “Related searches” sections for more topic and keyword ideas to incorporate into website content. Check out more keyword research tips here.

2. Behavioral Signals: Know Your Audience

It’s not enough to know what you’ll be writing about; you need to know who you’re writing it for. This is a chance to seek higher interaction.

Keep the following potential behaviors in mind:

  • How long a visitor has been on your site.
  • The average number of pages visited per user on your site.
  • The pages that visitors exit your site from.
  • The pages that lead to conversion actions such as form messages, calls, and sales.
  • Your most visited and least visited pages.

You can use Google Analytics to check these metrics related to SEO and gain insight into visitor behavior on your site. Use this insight to improve your web pages over time.

To keep it simple, strive for “quality over quantity.”

3. On-Page Signals: Be Mobile-Friendly

In the past, Google prioritized evaluating how optimized page content is for desktop searches. Today, for many sites, Google prioritizes the mobile version of site pages to determine site quality and search rankings, so mobile-friendly pages are super important.

Google Search Console (GSC) is the best free tool to monitor the mobile-friendliness of a website. GSC will provide email notifications if any pages aren't mobile-friendly including issue information and the ability to validate your pages once fixed.

Make sure your website pages can be crawled successfully and are mobile-friendly by using Google's mobile-friendly test tool.

4. Helpful Content: More Conversions

Effective SEO includes optimizing content to rank as well as creating content that gives local searchers what they're looking for.

Here are some tips for improving conversions:

  • Share contact information in the header and footer of your site.
  • Include a descriptive contact page on your site with contact info.
  • Use call tracking software to understand where calls come from.
  • Provide accurate business hours on your site and contact page.
  • Ensure your contact information is accurate on business listings.
  • Invite people to reach out to your business across pages.
  • Make incentives like a free quote or trial visible across pages.

5. Current Citations: Update Your Info

Imagine if you tried to call a business and it was the wrong number. That’s somehow even worse than if there were no number at all. Why? It destroys reputability in seconds!

Many local businesses neglect to keep their business listings and citations up to date. While it's understandable that running a business can be quite the juggle, it's a good idea to search up your business online and verify information accuracy from time to time.

Did your working hours change? Did you open a new location? Are you now taking in delivery requests? Let it all out in the open. People will appreciate keeping them in the loop.

6. Positive Reviews: Maintain a Reputation

Online reviews can make or break your business. Not only because local customers are attracted to high-rated products and services, but earning an increasing number of positive reviews can improve local rankings.

Check out reputable local SEO software like BrightLocal to better manage your online reputation. BrightLocal includes tools that can help you monitor, collect, and respond to online reviews.

7. Local Linking: Seek Inbound Links

One of the most important local SEO ranking factors for small businesses is link building. This includes a combination of creating links between your website pages and earning backlinks, which are inbound links to your site from other sites.

Whenever a high authority website links to your business, search engines prioritize your content a little bit more, simply because that means that your content is worthy and relevant.

When it comes to local SEO for small businesses, some of the strongest backlinks are from other local sites in the area/s you serve. Seek local community groups, local publications, and business partners for local link-building opportunities. If you can get these websites to link back to you, you’re already on your way to a strong backlink profile.

If you're struggling to earn backlinks, you can still grow and rank well in local organic results by creating helpful local content on your site, creating internal links between your site pages, maintaining up-to-date business listings, and earning online reviews.

By creating and sharing helpful content, you're bound to earn backlinks naturally. Finding ways to actively build backlinks usually just helps speed up the process. For ways to build links, check out these small business link building tips.

8. Local Listings: Google Business Profile

Having an updated Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business) is important to improve your online presence in local search results such as Google Maps and the local pack, and attract new business.

Claiming other local business listings online are important, too. They can help improve local search rankings, generate local traffic, link to your website pages, and build your online reputation, but note that a Google business listing is the most impactful listing to update, maintain, ad collect reviews on. These Google Business Profile tips can help.

When creating business listings, make sure to use consistent information when it comes to your business name, phone number, address, and local products or services. Having consistent business information across the web provides trust signals to Google and can help improve your local SEO rankings.


Ranking and being found in local organic search results is pretty much the new word-of-mouth. It's challenging to survive in today’s competitive markets without the online visibility provided by effective search engine optimization.

Keywords, behavioral patterns, on-page signals, local citations, positive online reviews, and quality links are all-important local search ranking factors to consider.

Also, having an optimized Google My Business listing is a necessity to get found well in Google Maps, rank well in local search results, and earn reviews. Information from Google business listings also tends to appear prominently in many local search results.

More SEO-Related Resources: