What, are you looking for it here? Sorry, I didn’t write it. Local search expert David Mihm  did with the newly updated edition of his Local Search Ranking Factors . If you’re a small business owner trying to get a handle on local search and what you need to get your site to rank, then I recommend you run, don’t walk, to that document and give it a few reads over. And when you’re done reading it, bookmark it. Because you’re going to want to refer to it again later.
There’s a lot of theory given on blogs about what is or is not important to local search ranking, but David’s document is compiled by 27 leading experts in the field, folks who do it every day. Together they ranked nearly 50 different criteria with respect to their influence in Yahoo and Google’s Universal results. The Universal local results are the the 10-pack, 3-pack or onebox results that appear when you perform a local query.
Some factors the SEOs looked at and rated the importance of were:
- Having complete local listings
- The proximately of your storefront to the searcher’s location
- Having product keywords in your business listing title
- Having the location keyword in the local business listing
- Associating video with your local business listing
- Associating photos with your listing
- Age of listing
- Having your full address on your contact page
and more than 40 others. Each criteria was then evaluated on its overall importance to ranking, as well as if that importance had increased or decreased in the past last year.
Even if you’re not interested in running a large SEO campaign for your Web site, there’s still a lot of knowledge to be gained from this report. As a small business owner, there’s a lot to do. You want to know which factors are most important so that you can focus on those. Information like this gives you the insight you need to prioritize what should be done immediately, what can wait a month, and what you’re better off putting on the back burner.
One of the most interesting things I got from David’s guide was the growing importance of getting local citations  for your Web site. Citations are mentions of your business name and address on other Web pages. That means in order to rank well in local search you should be reaching out to the many local organizations around you and letting them know your business exists. Get a mention from your Chamber of Commerce, from local blogs, local directories and resource sites, your school board association and anywhere else local business information is found. These citations are relatively easy to get (small businesses owners love helping one another out) and they’re very powerful to the local search algorithms.
If you’re a small business owner, I really do recommended you give David’s updated Local Search Ranking Factors  a read to give yourself a leg up in local search. He created an incredible resource to help SMB owners understand how Google and Yahoo rank Web sites in their local search results. Don’t miss out.