From year to year, the only thing you can count on in local search results is change.
Last year's survey corresponded almost simultaneously with the Pigeon algorithm update. We're now one year in, and although no significant algorithmic changes have been reported since Pigeon, the Local Stack / Snack Pack results were fully rolled-out worldwide just prior to this year's edition. Given that context, I asked respondents this year not only to rate ranking factors across pack and localized organic results, as in previous years, but also the specfic factors to which they were paying more (and less) attention to since the release of this interface.
As with last year's survey, the individual factors listed in the results are consolidated to just the top 50 in each category.
As in recent years, the 2015 edition of this survey was divided into four parts.
I. General Ranking Factors
In this section, I asked participants to identify the influence of eight thematic clusters of ranking factors across the two primary types of Local results (localized organic, pack). In each case, they assigned a percentage of influence to all eight thematic clusters, totaling 100%. Businesses consistently ranked behind their competition in each of these types of results can use this section to prioritize their marketing efforts by theme.
II. Specific Ranking Factors
In part A of this section, I asked the experts to rank the top 20 individual ranking factors (out of a total list of 114) that have the biggest impact on pack/carousel rankings.
In part B of this section, I asked them to rank the top 20 factors from the same list, only this time to rank them based on impact on localized organic rankings.
In part C of this section, I asked them to rank the top 20 factors from the same list based on biggest impact in a competitive market, across both result types (pack and localized organic).
Results were then tabulated via inverse scoring, where the #1 ranked factor received the most "points" for that question, and the lowest-ranked factor received the fewest points. (The factors ranking outside the top 20 for all respondents ended up with zero points.)
III. Relative Change in Importance since Snack Pack / Local Stack
Here, I asked the experts to rank the five factors they were paying more attention to since the introduction of the Local Stack, and the five factors they were paying less attention to since that introduction.
Results were then tabulated via inverse scoring, where the #1 ranked factor received the most "points" for that question, and the lowest-ranked factor received the fewest points. (The factors ranking outside the top 5 for all respondents ended up with zero points.)
IV. Negative Ranking Factors
In this section, I asked the experts to rank 27 negative factors in order of most damaging to most benign.