This year, two amazing things happened in the Search Marketing industry, which opened the doors to knowledge webmasters and website owners have had to pay thousands of dollars to SEO Experts for. These two studies, created by icons in Search, can be called the Fundamentals of Local and Organic Search for 2009 and should be shared by anyone seeking to get higher ranking in the immediate version of the search engine results.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

The first study was by Local Search Expert David Mihm, appropriately entitled Local Search Ranking Factors. 26 Search Engine Optimization Experts participated in this study.

For those who aren’t familiar with the fastest-moving phenomenon in Search, we’re referring to the local/maps section of the search results; typically A-J. In 2009, Google not only put this local/regional feature into non-geographical searches, but they also allowed business owners to view statistics about their listings, including impressions and clicks. Below is a review of Mihm’s study:

Top Local SEO Ranking Factors

  1. LBL Address in City of Search
  2. Citations from Major Data Providers
  3. Association of Proper LBL Categories
  4. General Importance of Claiming LBL
  5. Product/Service Keywords in LBL Title
  6. General Importance of Off-Page Criteria
  7. Volume of Customer Reviews
  8. General Importance of Customer Reviews
  9. General Importance of On-Page Criteria
  10. Full Address on Contact Page
  11. Proximity to Centroid
  12. Quality of Inbound Links
  13. HyperLocal/Web Crawl Citations
  14. Product/Service Keywords in LBL Description
  15. Location Keywords in Inbound Anchor Text
  16. Customer Reviews at Search Engine
  17. Location Keywords in LBL Title
  18. Product/Service Keywords in Inbound Anchor Text
  19. Inclusion of City, State in Title Tags
  20. Customer Reviews at 3rd-Party Websites
  21. Location Keywords in LBL Description
  22. Quantity of Inbound Links
  23. City, State in Contact Page Title Tags
  24. Product/Service Keywords in URL
  25. Product/Service Keywords in LBL Custom Fields
  26. Association of Marginal LBL Categories
  27. Location Keywords in URL
  28. LBL Phone Number with Local Area Code
  29. Association of LBL Videos
  30. Local Phone Number on Contact Page
  31. MyMaps/User Generated Content
  32. High PageRank Homepage
  33. Association of LBL Photos
  34. Creation of KML File
  35. Positive Customer Ratings
  36. Location Keywords in LBL Custom Fields
  37. Address in hCard Microformat on Website
  38. High PageRank LBC Landing Page
  39. Age of LBL
  40. Association of Coupon with LBL
  41. Participation in Local PPC

Negative Local SEO Factors

  1. Use of (800) # in LBL (most benign)
  2. Multiple Addresses on Contact Page
  3. Negative Customer Ratings
  4. Exclusive Use of (800) # on Contact Page
  5. Multiple LBLs with Same Business Name
  6. Exclusive Use of PO Box
  7. Multiple LBLs with Same Phone Number
  8. Multiple LBLs with Same Address (most harmful)

Organic SEO Ranking Factors

The second study, released 8/24/2009 by was simply entitled Search Engine Ranking Factors. 72 Search Engine Optimization Experts participated in this study, which also produced positive and negative factors for webmasters and site owners to pay attention to. Below are the results:

Top 5 SEO Ranking Factors

  1. Anchor Text from External Links
  2. Keyword Use in Title Tag
  3. Raw Link Popularity
  4. Diversity of Linking Domains
  5. Keyword Use in Root Domain

Top 5 Negative Ranking Factors

  1. Cloaking with Malicious Intent
  2. Link Acquisition from Link Brokers
  3. Cloaking by User Agent
  4. Frequent Server Downtime
  5. Linking Out to Spam

Top SEO Ranking Factors According

Number One SEO Ranking Factor

Now you have what all the industry experts believe to be the top SEO ranking factors. What are you going to do about it? You can hire myself or my team or a Local SEO company. Or you can study and implement all of these fundamental SEO best practices yourself. Or better yet, both. Either way, there is no doubt in my mind that the number one SEO ranking factor is taking action. That being said, how will you spend the rest of your week?