local search ranking factors

Local Search Ranking Factors In 2023

In the ever-changing landscape of local SEO, staying ahead of the competition is crucial for businesses to thrive in 2023. That's why understanding the local search ranking factors that can boost visibility and conversions is essential.

In the latest Local Search Ranking Factors Report from Whitespark, we dive deep into the insights provided by Local SEO experts that participated in the survey. These experts ranked 149 potential factors to help businesses improve their local search rankings and identify overlooked areas. While we certainly encourage you to read the report, we wanted to break it down and focus on the most important factors as well as anything that may have changed in 2023.

With a data-driven and strategic approach, businesses can leverage the top factors influencing the Google 3-Pack, including GBP signals, on-page signals, review signals, link signals, behavioral signals, citation signals, and personalization signals.

Key Takeaways

  • The rise of fake reviews or review spam ranking is a notable update in the 2023 Local Search Ranking Factors report.
  • Landing in the Google 3-Pack significantly increases visibility and clicks for businesses.
  • The top 7 factors influencing the Google 3-Pack are GBP signals, on-page signals, review signals, link signals, behavioral signals, citation signals, and personalization signals.
  • Optimizing GBP signals, on-page signals, review signals, link signals, behavioral signals, citation signals, and personalization signals can improve local SEO rankings in Google's local results.

Relevance of Business Information

Relevance of business information plays a crucial role in boosting local search rankings. This means that ensuring your business information is accurate and up-to-date is essential for improving your local SEO success.

Having consistent NAP (name, address, phone number) details across all online platforms is vital. This not only helps search engines understand your business better but also provides a seamless experience for potential customers. It's important to double-check that your NAP details are consistent on your website, social media profiles, and directory listings.

In addition to NAP details, having a complete and accurate business profile is also important. This includes providing relevant information such as your business category, hours of operation, website URL, and a detailed description of your products or services. The more detailed and comprehensive your profile is, the better search engines can understand and rank your business in local search results.

By prioritizing the relevance of your business information, you can improve your local search rankings and increase your visibility to potential customers. Make sure to regularly review and update your business information to stay competitive in the ever-changing local SEO landscape.

Quality and Quantity of Online Reviews

The significance of online reviews lies in their ability to shape perceptions and influence consumer decisions, ultimately determining the success of businesses in the digital age. Experts ranked review signals as one of the top 7 factors influencing rankings in the Google 3-Pack. This emphasizes the importance of operating in good faith and avoiding fake reviews or review spam, which has seen a rise in ranking.

To provide a visual representation of the importance of online reviews, we have created a table showcasing the impact of reviews on consumer behavior:

Importance of Online Reviews
1. 92% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision.
2. 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
3. Businesses with positive reviews see an average increase of 18% in sales.
4. 77% of consumers are more likely to leave a review if they had a positive experience.
5. Negative reviews can deter 40% of potential customers from using a business.

These statistics highlight the influence online reviews have on consumer behavior and the importance of actively managing and responding to reviews. By prioritizing the quality and quantity of online reviews, businesses can enhance their reputation, attract more customers, and improve their local search rankings.

Consistency of Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) across Online Directories

Consistency of Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) across online directories is a crucial ranking factor in local SEO. It plays a significant role in establishing trust and credibility with both search engines and potential customers. When your NAP information is inconsistent or contains errors, it can confuse search engines and negatively impact your local search rankings.

To optimize your NAP consistency, start by conducting a thorough audit of your business's online directories. Check for any discrepancies or inaccuracies in your business name, address, and phone number.

It's essential to ensure that your NAP information matches exactly across all directories, including Google My Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and other relevant platforms.

In addition to consistency, it's crucial to keep your NAP information up to date. If your business moves or changes phone numbers, make sure to update this information promptly across all online directories. This ensures that search engines and potential customers have accurate and reliable information about your business.

Proximity of Business to the User's Location

Boost your local SEO performance by considering the proximity of your business to potential customers' locations. The proximity of your business to the user's location is a crucial local search ranking factor in 2023.

According to the survey, Google has tightened the geographic radius for implicit searches. This means that businesses closer to the user's location have a higher chance of appearing in search results.

One way to improve proximity is by focusing on local SEO strategies that targeting location-specific keywords.  If the city is big enough, you can create location-specific landing pages on your website to further enhance your proximity signals.

User Engagement and Click-Through Rates

User engagement and click-through rates (CTRs) play a crucial role in local search rankings in 2023. Maximize the impact of your online presence by captivating their attention with compelling content that entices them to click and engage with your business.

When users actively interact with your website and spend more time on your pages, it signals to search engines that your content is relevant and valuable. This can result in higher rankings and increased visibility in local search results.

Click-through rates and time spent on page have a positive impact on local search rankings. These factors indicate that users find your content compelling and are actively engaging with it. On the other hand, a high bounce rate (when users quickly leave your website after viewing a single page) can negatively affect your rankings.  Additionally, a higher number of pageviews per session signifies that users are exploring your website further, signaling to search engines that your content is valuable and relevant.

To improve user engagement and CTRs, focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that meets the needs of your target audience. Optimize your meta descriptions and titles to entice users to click on your website in search results. Make sure your website is user-friendly, loads quickly, and provides a seamless browsing experience. Encourage users to stay on your pages by offering valuable information, engaging visuals, and clear calls-to-action.

Mobile-Friendliness and Responsive Design

In today's digital landscape, it's essential to have a mobile-friendly website with a responsive design.  Mobile-friendliness and responsive design have a significant impact on local search rankings. For many years, this was only a small ranking factor as Google was giving businesses time to adapt to the age of smartphones.  Now, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to rank on mobile if Google doesn't find your site is mobile-friendly.

A mobile-friendly website ensures that users have a seamless browsing experience on their smartphones or tablets and also leads to higher engagement and increased click-through rates. Additionally, a responsive design adapts the website layout and content to fit different screen sizes, providing a user-friendly experience across devices.

Website Loading Speed and Performance

Google's algorithm considers the speed at which a website loads as a crucial element in determining its ranking in search results. With lightning-fast website loading speed and optimal performance, businesses can provide a seamless browsing experience.

A slow-loading website not only frustrates users but also negatively impacts their experience and engagement with the site. This can lead to higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates.  You would be losing out on rankings, but more importantly, this would have a negative impact on lead generation.

To improve website loading speed and performance, businesses should focus on optimizing their website's code, compressing image files, minimizing HTTP requests, and leveraging browser caching.  If you are not a techie business owner, then I highly suggest reaching out to someone that can help.  (While we primarily provide digital marketing and Local SEO services, we are advanced experts in WordPress speed optimization, so feel free to contact us if you have site speed issues.

Social Signals and Online Mentions

Social signals, such as likes, shares, and comments on social media platforms, indicate the popularity and relevance of your content. Google takes these signals into consideration when determining search rankings. Therefore, it's a  good idea to create compelling and shareable content that resonates with your target audience.

I realize that social media isn't always the best way for local businesses to generate leads. But consider the following impact of having a good social media channel.

  1. An active channel makes people believe you are an active thriving business.
  2. People like to recommend local businesses and when that happens, you want to look like you are actually in business.
  3. Even posting nonbusiness info can go semi-viral, so it gets your name and brand out a local audience without paying for advertising.
  4. As we mentioned here, the signals from social media help you rank in Google, which WILL produce leads.

In the least, I recommend every business post once per week on Facebook / Meta.

Citations from Authoritative Local Websites

Citations from authoritative local websites will boost local search rankings. These citations, which include mentions of a business's name, address, and phone number (NAP), contribute to establishing the credibility and relevance of a business within its local community.

When local websites with strong authority and relevance mention a business, search engines view it as a vote of confidence, signaling that the business is reputable and trustworthy. This, in turn, leads to improved visibility in local search results.

To leverage this ranking factor effectively, businesses should strive to acquire citations from well-established local directories, industry-specific websites, and reputable online publications. Ensuring consistency and accuracy in NAP information across these citations is crucial for maximizing their impact.

Keywords in Business Titles and Descriptions

Make sure to include relevant keywords in your business titles and descriptions in Google My Business. This can significantly enhance your online presence and attract more potential customers.

This means that when creating your business's title and description, you should strategically incorporate keywords that are relevant to your industry, location, and target audience. Including keywords in your business titles and descriptions helps search engines understand what your business is about and improves the chances of your website appearing in relevant search queries. It also helps potential customers find your business when they are searching for specific products or services in your area.

As an example:

John's Services – No

John's Plumbing Installation & Repair Services – Dallas, TX – Yes

To effectively include keywords in your business titles and descriptions, conduct keyword research to identify the most relevant and high-performing keywords for your industry. Then, integrate these keywords naturally into your titles and descriptions, ensuring that they accurately represent your business and provide valuable information to users.

By optimizing your business titles and descriptions with relevant keywords, you can improve your online visibility, attract more potential customers, and ultimately drive more traffic to your website.

Use of Structured Data Markup

Improve your business's online visibility and attract more potential customers by utilizing structured data markup, which enhances search engine understanding and increases the likelihood of appearing in relevant queries.

Structured data markup is a powerful tool that allows businesses to provide precise and organized information about their products, services, and content to search engines. By using structured data markup, businesses can provide more context and meaning to their website content, making it easier for search engines to interpret and display relevant information to users.

Structured data markup helps search engines understand the key elements of a webpage, such as the business's name, address, phone number, opening hours, customer reviews, and even specific products or services offered. This increased understanding allows search engines to present more accurate and detailed information to users in search results, making it more likely for businesses to appear in relevant queries.

Furthermore, structured data markup can also enhance the appearance of search results by adding rich snippets, such as star ratings, product prices, and event dates. These visually appealing snippets can attract more attention from users and increase click-through rates to a business's website.

To implement structured data markup, businesses can use schema.org, a collaborative project between major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Schema.org provides a standardized vocabulary for describing the structured data on a webpage, making it easier for search engines to understand and interpret the information.

Online Reputation Management and Brand Consistency

Enhancing your online reputation and maintaining consistent branding can be the key to gaining trust, attracting loyal customers, and standing out from your competitors. To improve online reputation, you should actively manage and respond to customer reviews. This shows potential customers that you value their feedback and are committed to providing excellent service.

Additionally, maintaining consistent branding across all online platforms, including your website, social media profiles, and local directories, helps establish a strong and recognizable brand identity.

User Experience and Navigation on the Website

Ensure your website provides a seamless user experience and easy navigation, as 88% of users are more likely to stay and explore a well-designed website. The user experience and navigation on your website play a crucial role in attracting and retaining visitors. By focusing on these aspects, you can improve your local search rankings in 2023.

To enhance user experience, prioritize website speed and mobile responsiveness. Users expect fast-loading websites, and search engines consider speed as a ranking factor. Optimize your site's performance by compressing images, minifying code, and leveraging caching techniques.

Additionally, create clear and intuitive navigation menus, allowing users to easily find the information they are looking for. Organize your content logically, using descriptive headings and subheadings. Implement a search function to help users quickly locate specific information.

Furthermore, optimize your website for mobile devices, as mobile searches continue to rise. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly, with responsive design and easy-to-read text. Test your website on different devices and screen sizes to ensure a seamless experience for all users.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do user engagement and click-through rates affect local search rankings in 2023?

User engagement and click-through rates have a significant impact on local search rankings in 2023. These metrics symbolize user interest and satisfaction, indicating to search engines the relevance and quality of a website for local search queries.

What is the impact of mobile-friendliness and responsive design on local search rankings in 2023?

Mobile-friendliness and responsive design are necessities to rank in local search rankings in 2023. User experience on mobile devices is crucial, as Google prioritizes mobile-first indexing. Having a responsive website that adapts to different screen sizes and loads quickly is essential for higher rankings.

How does website loading speed and performance contribute to local search rankings in 2023?

Website loading speed and performance play a crucial role in local search rankings. Faster-loading websites provide a better user experience, reducing bounce rates and increasing engagement. Optimizing website speed can lead to higher rankings and improved local search visibility.

Do social signals and online mentions play a role in local search rankings in 2023?

Social signals and online mentions do play a role in local search rankings in 2023. They are considered as part of the behavioral signals that impact rankings. Optimizing social media presence and encouraging positive online mentions can positively influence local SEO performance.

What is the importance of regular monitoring and adjustments to local SEO strategy in 2023?

Regular monitoring and adjustments to our local SEO strategy in 2023 are crucial. By staying proactive, we can identify areas for improvement, track performance, and adapt to algorithm updates. This data-driven approach ensures our local search rankings remain strong and competitive.


In conclusion, the 2023 Local Search Ranking Factors Report from Whitespark sheds light on the key factors that can significantly impact local SEO rankings and conversions for businesses.

By optimizing GBP signals, improving on-page signals, and operating in good faith with review signals, businesses can enhance their visibility and clicks, especially in the Google 3-Pack.

The report emphasizes the importance of relevance, quality, and quantity of online reviews. It also highlights the significance of consistency of NAP information, proximity to the user's location, user engagement, and integration with Google Maps and Google My Business.

By following these data-driven and strategic insights, businesses can elevate their local SEO success in 2023.

Rob Thomas

Co-Founder of Sourceline Media, Inc with over 20 years of experience in digital marketing. Certified Google Ads Partner and expert in local search marketing with proven history of delivering high ROI ad campaigns and Local SEO. Expert in conversion optimization, social media, content marketing, software development, and WordPress development.