Proximity Is the New King of Local Search

Proximity is the New King of Local Search

Recent research by Moz has revealed that the proximity is the new king of the local search.

If you search for a local business, i.e dry cleaners using a mobile device in a small city, you are probably going see all the dry cleaners in the city are listed out on the map.

If you search for a local business in a large city however, you will only be able to see few options. For example, if you will search for “Restaurants”, you will only see 6-7 restaurants on the map. So how is Google determining which business to show? Is it about the number of links? mobile friendliness? positive reviews or a measurable presence in the local directories?

The thorough research revealed that it is just about one thing: “Proximity”. Businesses that appear on the map are closest to the searcher’s physical location. For example, take a look at the results we get for “plumbers”:


Local Search 1

Here’s a quick summary of the basic local ranking factors for the businesses in this local pack:


Local Search


Notice that:

  • None of the businesses have claimed/verified their Google listing.
  • None of the businesses have any Google reviews.
  • Only one of the businesses even has a website!

Surely, Google, there are more prominent businesses in Edmonton that deserve to rank for this term?

Here’s the data table again with one additional point added: proximity to the searcher.



For most local searches these days, proximity appears to be weighted more than links, website content, citations, and reviews in the local pack rankings. Google doesn’t seem to value the traditional local search ranking factors when determining which businesses to rank in the local pack. The main consideration seems to be: “Which businesses are closest to the searcher?” We have been noticing this trend for at least the last 8 months or so, and it seems to have intensified since the Possum update.

People are looking for the best businesses, not the closest businesses. If this is the new normal in Google’s local results, we expect that people will start turning to other sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. when searching for businesses. For more information on how this will affect Local SEO strategies, visit this link.


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