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Phone Calls & Search Ranking are Most Important Local Search KPIs

Phone Calls & Search Ranking are Most Important Local Search KPIs
Key 'Takeaways' From This Post
  • Phone Calls are the most important metric for a local business (48%)
  • Search Ranking is a more important metric than website traffic (46% vs 35%)
  • Only 22% said that Revenue Impact was an important KPI
  • Phone calls much more important than online enquires (48% vs 27%)
  • Tracking a diverse set of metrics provides truest picture of local search performance

What are the most important KPIs in Local SEO?

Whether you’re a search agency, consultant, or local business, there are key metrics that are measured in local search no matter who is responsible for marketing.

In a poll we ran on we asked our users & readers to tell us which metrics they pay most attention to for their own local business or their local business clients.

Do the KPIs you track match those of the wider industry?

KPIs for local search

Key Findings:

  • Phone Calls (48%) & Search Ranking (46%) are the most important local search KPIs
  • Website Traffic (35%) & Online Reviews (35%) are rated high
  • Citations (25%) & Revenue Impact (22%) of lesser importance to SEOs

Phone Calls & Search Ranking come out on top!

Phone Calls & Search Ranking are considered the most important KPIs to track in order to gauge success of a local search campaign.

For any SMB, incoming phone calls are invaluable leads. They give a business a great opportunity to engage a customer, establish a relationship and impress them.

What’s more, call volume is something that the client / SMB themselves can actually witness first hand – it’s not a KPI that’s displayed in a ranking report, a chart or a spreadsheet – rather it’s something they will see the benefit from immediately and be able to judge the quality of leads that come in themselves.

In that sense they are ‘real world’ metrics rather than ‘SEO world’ metrics.

With call tracking, SMBs / SEOs can go a step further & better attribute phone leads to local search campaigns. Being able to analyze where calls have come from & take advantage of call recording means a business can analyze not just the quantity, but the quality of leads also.

However, it’s worth noting the well-documented perils of phone tracking, which if not implemented correctly can result in NAP inconsistencies which cause more harm than good.

Call Tracking – Read more:

Search Rankings are the 2nd most popular metric to track – 46%.

As a provider of Search ranking reports we’re happy to see this metric score so high – I assure you we didn’t rig the vote!

Even we were surprised to see Rankings trump other related metrics such as Website Traffic & Online Conversion. Whilst they are no guarantee of success, prominent ranking = visibility which leads to clicks, conversions and ultimately revenue. Without that search visibility all local businesses will struggle to get any meaningful returns from organic or local search.

Of course, with the recent changes in Google’s local results, ranking on the first page of Google now becomes a harder task, with the 7 pack, now reduced down to just a 3 pack (Snak Pack).

Website traffic & Online reviews

Website traffic (35%) is a more tangible success metric than rankings, but is rated less important than search ranking (& phone calls). Many SEOs clearly prefer to look at impact earlier in the earlier stages, with the knowledge that a good local ranking on relevant search terms will inevitably result in increased website traffic.

In a similar vein, Online Reviews, whilst not being an end conversion, can help a business convert traffic. The power of online reviews has grown in recent years – 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations – however it can be difficult to attribute their impact to Local Search performance.

Website enquiries & Citation volume

Website enquiries (27%) present a lower value conversion than phone calls as they are less immediate and don’t open up direct communication with customers in the same way. However, they do create leads for businesses to follow up on so shouldn’t be dismissed.

Citation volume & consistency is similar to search ranking in that it may not be an end conversion, but an essential part of solid local search optimization – 55% of experts say that accurate citations are ‘critical’ to local search ranking.

Again the quantifiable impact of citations and NAP consistency is less clear and not as tangible to clients as traffic, phone calls & search ranking may be. They are important metrics but not necessarily as powerful at showing campaign effectiveness to clients.

The Bottom Line

Revenue impact is ultimately the bottom line and the truest measurement of success for any SMB. Only 22% of respondents selected ‘Revenue’ as a key metric. But we have to remember that this is an SEO focused poll & we are therefore going to get an SEO /marketeers perspective on these metrics.

If the same poll were put to only to SMBs/business owners then I’m sure that revenue would be seen as a more important KPI.

But it’s important to remember that Local search optimization is a long-term plan. It takes time to yield results that impact the bottom line, but when they do, that impact is positive & lasting.

So, focusing too heavily on Revenue Impact in the early stages may not give enough time for optimization to have an impact. And if decisions to stop or persist in SEO work are based solely on revenue then good, positive improvements won’t be given enough time to show their potential.

Google My Business (GMB) insights are rated the least important KPIs for local search (8%).


In conclusion, as long as SEOs/Marketeers are held accountable for making progress & achieving targets in local search campaigns, it will always have some effect on the KPIs that are measured.

Whilst revenue is the end result, there are many stages & conversion points which must be reached before we arrive at that result. Having a rounded set of KPIs that consider all stages from visibility through to actual sales is of utmost importance.

It’s also important to be prepared to educate & inform clients about those metrics – particularly ones which may not immediately seem as important to them but that are still an integral part of any local SEO campaign.

How do these results compare to your own KPIs? let us know your thoughts in the comments.

About The Survey

We polled 589 BrightLocal users over 1 week in August 2015. From the responses, 73% were from the US, 13% from the UK, 6% from Canada, 3% from Australia & 5% from Rest of the World.

Got a different viewpoint on this subject or some useful insights you want to share? We’re interested in publishing unique content written by smart marketeers on our blog. Contact us with your details & ideas and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

Ross Marchant
About the author
Ross is the former Marketing Manager for BrightLocal. With 9+ years SEO and content experience, Ross spearheaded the marketing and CRM initiatives which focus heavily on creating useful and informative content. Ross coordinated the research program at BrightLocal which delivers unique insights into both the SEO industry and local consumer behaviours.