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Category, Name and Proximity drive GBP Local Pack rankings in 2023
29 March 2023 (Edited )
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A Handful of Factors Far Outweigh the Rest

A Handful of Factors Far Outweigh the Rest

Darren Shaw's 2023 Local Search Rankings Report newly released by Whitespark shows the results of a survey of "expert local SEO practitioners" who were asked to rank-order 149 potential factors believed to influence rankings in the Google Local Pack and Local Organic Search.

Top 5 Local Pack ranking factors were:

  1. Primary GBP category
  2. Keywords in the GBP name
  3. Proximity of business location to point of search
  4. Physical address being in the city of point of search
  5. Removal of spam listings

Top 5 Local Organic Search ranking factors were:

  1. Dedicated page for each service
  2. Internal linking across website
  3. Quality and authority of inbound links to the domain
  4. Geographic keyword relevance of domain content
  5. Keywords in GBP landing page title

In the process of identifying those key factors, the survey respondents categorized individual factors into 7 categories:

  • GBP signals: proximity, categories, keywords in name
  • On-page signals: NAP, keywords in TITLE, domain authority
  • Review signals: Reviews, quantity, velocity
  • Link signals: Anchor text, domain authority, linking domain quantity
  • Behavioral signals: CTR, mobile clicks-to-call, dwell time
  • Citation signals: Location data, NAP consistency, citation volume
  • Personalization: Search history, search location, devices

Most important Ranking Factor Groups identified were (Top 3):

Local Pack:

  1. GBP 32%
  2. On-page 19%
  3. Review 16%

Local Organic Search:

  1. On-page 36%
  2. Link 26%
  3. Behavioral 9%

The relative unimportance of the Personalization factor group - 6% for Local Pack, 7% for Local Organic - led Mr. Shaw to conclude "this is a factor group you can continue to ignore."

New factors that scored for the first time in the top 30 in 2023 were:

#13 - Sustained influx of reviews over time

#24 - Internal links to GBP landing page from other pages of the website

Factors that increased notably in importance in 2023 were:

  1. Proximity of address to centroid - up from #36 to #10
  2. Quantity of inbound links to GBP landing page from locally-relevant domains - up from #75 to #21
  3. Dedicated page for each service - up from #40 to #14
  4. Removal of spam listings - up from #10 to #5 (But "no more effective now than it ever was.")

Most important conversion factors across Local Pack and Local Organic were (Top 5):

  1. High numerical Google ratings (4-5)
  2. Positive reviews
  3. Mobile-friendly website
  4. Quantity of native Google reviews with text
  5. Dedicated page for each service

Most important factors identified that negatively affect ranking were (Top 5):

  1. False address: PO Box, UPS Store, Virtual Office, etc.
  2. Reports of GBP violations
  3. Association of GBP account with suppressed listings
  4. Reports of review gating
  5. Site hacked or infected with malware

Those same 5 negative factors were ranked 1 to 5 on GBP Profile Suspension Risk also.

Expert practitioners surveyed were located in:

  • USA 28
  • Canada 10
  • England 2
  • Cyprus, Denmark, Malaysia, Wales: 1 each
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